Modern Family at L.A.'s Iconic Gay Bar: Inside Two What Happens at the Abbey Stars' Co-Parenting Plan
"I think I speak for the two of us when I say that has been a lifelong mission for both of us — to become parents," Lawrence Carroll tells PEOPLE
What happens at The Abbey stays at The Abbey … until this Sunday, when E!’s new reality show will take fans behind the scenes of one of the most famous gay bars in the world.
PEOPLE caught up with two What Happens at The Abbey stars, VIP hosts Brandi Andrews and Lawrence Carroll, ahead of the series premiere and it’s safe to say that these two — who are both gay — are as close to non-romantic soulmates as it gets.
So just how close are they? Well, they’re having a baby together — and while they’re not pregnant just yet, they couldn’t be happier about the journey they’re about to embark on.
“This is something that is sacred to us,” Carroll, 31, tells PEOPLE. “It means a lot to both of us. I think I speak for the two of us when I say that has kind of been a lifelong mission for both of us — to become parents.”
“Some people think that I’m just having a baby for Lawrence, or that he’s just donating his sperm,” says Andrews, 30. “And I’m like: ‘No, we’re raising this baby together!’ ”
Andrews and Carroll met around five years ago while working at the Los Angeles’ hotspot and clicked instantly, eventually moving in together.
“We’ve been best friends ever since, and there was one particular Sunday at The Abbey — I had just stopped dating a girl that I was seeing and I was venting to Lawrence about it,” Andrews recalls. “I was like: ‘I’m so done, I’m not dating anymore, I’m just going to have a baby by myself.’ And he was like: ‘You know what, I’ve been thinking about doing the same thing.’ ”
Their plan “kind of just snowballed from there,” as Andrews puts it. The two decided to have a baby together — but as they quickly found out, there’s quite a bit of preparation that goes into a gay man and a lesbian woman raising a child together.
“Medically, Lawrence is only considered the donor, so we have to go through all of the legalities to list him as the father so he has those rights,” explains Andrews. “We actually found this out during filming when we went to the fertility specialist.”
“She just looked at us and said: ‘You’re not going to like what I’m about to say next,’ and then she hit us with what Brandi just said — medically, I’m not considered the father,” says Carroll. “Legally, I can be, but we have to go through all of the paperwork. So that’s when a different reality set in.”
“We realized there was a lot more to this than we thought,” says Andrews. “So we wanted to make sure that we have a clear understanding of it. We also have to go see a psychologist — not for them to decide whether or not we are fit to be parents, but for them to ask the questions that we’re not asking each other and make sure that we’re on the same page about everything.”
Three years since making the initial decision to have a child together, Andrews and Lawrence are still working through all of the necessary steps — but they’re planning on moving into their new home together this summer and will begin the artificial insemination process in January.
So how did the two decide on artificial insemination as the way to go? Well, having sex was “off the table.” (Check out the exclusive clip above for more on that.)
“Yes, that’s the free way to do it, and if you want to have a couple of glasses of wine and then forget it ever happened, by all means. Straight people do it all the time!” says Carroll with a laugh. “But for us, we know each other so well and we respect each other’s boundaries.”
“For me it’s a spiritual thing — like an energy situation,” says Andrews. “I’m not attracted to men in that way, and I wouldn’t want to put that energy into my child. My body is sacred to me in that sense, and even though he’s my best friend, I just wouldn’t want that.”
“We’re on the same page about that,” says Carroll. “And according to our doctors, we’re both extremely fertile, thank God — so artificial insemination seems to be the route that’s best for us right now. God forbid that doesn’t work, then in vitro [fertilization] is going to be our backup. God forbid that we can’t afford that, then we’ll be looking at adoption. But we really want a child of our own.”
FROM PEN: How Princess Kate Is Changing the Royal Parenting Rules
Another thing that’s important to them is raising their child under one roof.
“Living together is a top priority,” says Carroll. “We want to make sure that we’re building a strong family unit for our baby.”
“Obviously, our lives will change and we know that,” says Andrews. “[One or both of us] might eventually get married — you never know. But we know that life doesn’t stop after we have the baby, and we have to keep adapting to our child. We have to keep adapting to our lives.”
So how do they envision their lives with their child and significant others in the picture, too?
“This baby belongs to us. It’s our child,” says Carroll. “We’re the leading actors in this, and whoever comes into the picture after that is a supporting actor or actress. It’s not that we don’t want them showing love to our children or anything like that, but they need to understand that they would have no legal rights. Like, you’re here for us and for our family, and we’re here for you, but you didn’t bring this baby into the world.”
“I feel like after we have a baby, that’s it,” says Andrews. “Like, I have a baby and I have a person that I share this baby with — I have a family. So if you want to date me, this is what it comes with.”
“It’s not for everybody, and we get that,” she adds. “But this is our family, and this is our way of making our family. If people that we date can’t accept it, then they don’t need to be in our lives.”
And at the end of the day, all that matters is making sure their baby has all the love and support they need.
“What it’s all about is being good parents,” says Carroll. “As long as you’re being good to that child and making sure they’re going to be the best that they can be and providing for them, that’s all that matters. That’s what this should be all about.”
What Happens at The Abbey premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on E!