Yaroslav Koporulin and John O’Mahony are typical parents to their 2-year-old twin daughters, born via surrogacy, Claire O’Mahony-Koporulin and Violet O’Mahony-Koporulin. They proudly gush about their girls counting to 20 and reciting the whole alphabet. Their affection for their children can be heard in their voices as they recount the first time they were able to take the twins home from the hospital.
Claire and Violet are already showered with love from their dads but soon they will take on new roles in the family — big sisters to another set of twins. Koporulin and O’Mahony’s status will also change from simply parents to the first known gay couple in the U.S. to have two sets of twins via surrogacy.
Koporulin and O’Mahony’s journey first began when they met in 1996. Koporulin, now an artist, sculptor and graphic designer, came to D.C. from Moscow, Russia on a Russian American art exchange. O’Mahony, who originally hails from New York City, moved to D.C. after college when he was 23. A year and a half after meeting, O’Mahony went back to Moscow with Koporulin and worked at the U.S. embassy for four years before the couple moved back to D.C.
They decided to open two bed and breakfasts in downtown D.C. which they operated for 14 years. Eventually, the couple married in 2013 and started thinking about starting a family.
The couple says they first considered adoption but found the process difficult. They also knew foster care wasn’t for them.
“We don’t like foster care because it’s meant to get the parents back on their feet and then you have to give the children back” O’Mahony says. “It doesn’t make any sense to us because you can love a child and take care of them for three months and then you have to give them back. It’s not healthy for them or us.”
Another factor in their decision was Koporulin’s father who died in Russia in 2012. Koporulin says his father was close with them both and wanted them to have biological children.
The best option for Koporulin and O’Mahony became clear. They needed a surrogate.
Koporulin and O’Mahony found their surrogate, whom they now call a friend, through an agency. They also went to Shady Grove Fertility Clinic where O’Mahony says they didn’t have a great experience because, “They just have dollar signs on their faces.”
The process involved a lot of components. They found an egg donor, who was not the surrogate, and used sperm from Koporulin and O’Mahony with the same mother’s eggs. This way all of the children would be half siblings. Both embryos took and the couple became fathers to twin girls, Claire and Violet, in 2016.
The new arrivals changed their lives. They realized that working 13-15 hour days 365 days a year made parenting difficult. O’Mahony, who is an animal lover, decided to become a dog walker at DWDC (DogWalkingDC) to utilize a more flexible work schedule.
As the couple got into the swing of parenthood, they realized they wanted to expand their family.
“We weren’t like, ‘Let’s have two sets of twins.’ We were like, ‘Let’s have one set of twins one from my partner and one from me.’ We had frozen embryos left over. We were like, ‘OK, we’re stable and we’re enjoying raising our two girls so let’s do it again,’” O’Mahony says.
This time they decided to switch fertility clinics. They chose Columbia Fertility Associates and were thrilled with their experience.
Yet again, both embryos took to their surrogate and a second set of twins are due in February or March. The remarkable achievement will make Koporulin and O’Mahony the first known gay couple to be the father of two sets of twins.
They find out the sex on Oct. 27.
“We’re so excited so we can start picking out names,” O’Mahony says.
For other couples considering surrogacy, Koporulin and O’Mahony offer some advice.
“The hardest part is finding a surrogate. If you don’t have a good surrogate and they don’t text you back and they’re not reliable, the whole thing can take years and years. We did have someone who was going to be our surrogate before and she stopped picking up the phone. I’m not saying one minute, but if they don’t text back that day it’s not a good surrogate and go on to someone else right away,” O’Mahony says.
Koporulin adds: “Chemistry matters as well. Just trust your feelings.”
Their surrogate is also from Pittsburgh which was a benefit for the couple.
“Pennsylvania has the best surrogacy laws in the country. In Pittsburgh Yaroslav goes on as parent one and I go on as parent two. So on the birth certificate it says Yaroslav’s name and mine. Our surrogate is not even listed on the birth certificate,” O’Mahony says.
Koporulin and O’Mahony have a lot of plans for their future. They’re considering doing a reality show to document their growing family. They also are planning to sell Russian food at the 14th and Kennedy Farmers’ Market in April. They hope to open their own Russian restaurant in D.C. when their children are older. In the meantime, they invite people to keep up with their kids on Instagram @wodieblumensind or @omahony34.
Despite all the exciting changes, the best part about fatherhood for them are the little things.
“They call me ‘daddy’ and they call Yaroslav ‘papa’ because ‘papa’ is dad in Russian. When you hear them say daddy you’re like ‘Wow, I’m a father.’ It’s cute,” O’Mahony says.
Koporulin says that every stage of their lives brings something new to marvel over.
“When you’re in the hospital and they bring you your baby and you hold them for the first time. The first bottle, the first change of diapers. When you take them out in the car and drive them through D.C. and take them to your home. You know that they’re your children,” Koporulin says. “Right now, it’s the age where you see them learn and developing. When they come to you and run to you. They are sponges and they know so much and it’s so refreshing to see that happening.”