Their first date was over lunch during a Proposition 8 protest, where they joined hundreds of others railing against the passage of California’s same-sex marriage ban. The two men took a break from demonstrating, threw their hearts on the table and talked about their desire to have kids.
So it was somehow appropriate that in June 2013, nearly five years later, Bill Taroli and Yang Li stood in a delivery room and welcomed their son, Henry, one day before the US Supreme Court overturned Prop 8. A couple weeks later, with their newborn in their arms, they exchanged vows and were legally married.
Having Henry required careful and complicated planning over the course of several years. To become fathers, they needed a support group, legal help, extensive research, reams of documents, reproductive science and about $150,000. But none of that mattered without the help of two women: an egg donor and a surrogate.
One embryo brought them Henry. Five remaining healthy embryos they kept frozen in storage at the Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco. They imagined the sibling they might someday give their son and stayed in touch with the women who’d helped give them life once — and might again someday.
Then came the news in March. A freezer or cryogenic storage tank at the facility failed, causing the level of liquid nitrogen to dip too low and the temperature to rise. The malfunction jeopardized the status of thousands of eggs and embryos inside,