Become a Gay Dad

6 Surrogacy Tips That Every Prospective Gay Dad Needs to Know

We surveyed a group of dads who created their families through surrogacy to learn what advice they have to offer future dads. From our conversations, here are the top 6 tips that every prospective gay dad needs to know about surrogacy.

“I think the biggest decision I had to make was to mentally be prepared to commit to something other than myself. As a gay man, I never thought I would have the opportunity to have a family.” – John Riehs

  • Know why you’re choosing surrogacy.
  • When you create your family via adoption and, especially, via foster-adopt, you’re giving a child in need the gift of a family. People around you will admire you and call your child lucky. When you choose to pursue a family via surrogacy, you create a new child, a new life, a new person. As a result, the responsibility to make your parenting a success, to raise a happy, well-adjusted child, that heavy responsibility will rest on your shoulders alone. And don’t underestimate outside pressure: Often people will ask you why you chose surrogacy, and why you chose it over adoption – even though straight parents are rarely asked why they chose to create a baby! Be prepared to ask yourself – and answer! – a host of difficult-but-crucial questions: How important is a genetic link with your kids? How do you and your partner (if you have one) decide who’s going to be the bio dad? What are the criteria for your egg donor? Why do you want to bring a new child  into an alternative family? The answers to these questions will likely help you through moments of doubt – about finances, about donor choice, even about the surrogacy decision itself.

    John Riehs and his two kids

  • Understand all the people involved in your surrogacy and the roles they have.
  • “Get an agency to manage the entire project instead of putting the pieces together yourself." – Salim Stephenson

    Salim with his son Felix, born with the help of Salim's sister who was the gestational surrogate

    Surrogacy for gay dads has as many moving parts as adoption—if not more. Our gay dads told us how critical the right surrogacy agency is when you begin the process. Then comes the fertility clinic, the donor (the woman who provides the egg), the gestational carrier (if different from the donor), the lawyers, the hospital, and the insurance company.

    In several adoptions, even if it’s a newborn, the nitty-gritty of reproduction and pregnancy have already been taken care of. In surrogacy, you will be there from the start, and you’ll have a village of onlookers. Selecting the right agency, fertility clinic, donor and gestational carrier ensures your own health, the health of your pregnancy and the health of your carrier. Everybody has to do their job, including you. (If this all sounds complicated, watch our expert video for a detailed explanation on selecting the surrogacy agency and fertility clinic.)

    A very important note to add: Be sure to think of your gestational carrier or surrogate as an invaluable person responsible for helping you fulfill your dreams of fatherhood, and treat her with the utmost respect. Ensure that she is not being exploited, that she has read the contract in her native language, that she knows you (or you and your husband/partner) are gay, and, if there is remuneration, that she is being paid what you were told.

  • Know the laws, and understand that laws can change.
  • “Our first choice of clinic ended up setting us back months since they were not well versed in laws affecting same-sex couples and assisted reproduction.” – Frank Emanuele

    Norm (left) and Frank with their kids

    Laws on surrogacy can be difficult to navigate from state to state, or from country to country.

    While several states either don’t have laws on surrogacy or have courts that tend to rule favorably for surrogate families, a few outlaw surrogacy contracts or limit the access to surrogacy, particularly gestational, to straight couples. Parental presumption—determining who is listed on the child’s birth certificate—can also be a challenge. As in others areas of biology and technology, the law simply hasn’t caught up with today’s advances. This is why gay dads need to seek out an experienced lawyer in this field. But they have to do the research themselves.

  • Budget, budget, budget.
  • “We took out a 5-year loan … Being financially mindful before, during, and after the birth of our twins was always on our minds. This is by no means a cheap or easy process.” – Gil and Derek

    Gil (left) and Derek with their kids Luna and Leo

    The medical costs of surrogacy often surprise aspiring gay dads. Before even getting into the costs of the actual pregnancy, you must plan for harvesting the egg, fertilizing with donated sperm, making an embryo, and storing the embryo until ready to be implanted. The process can be overwhelmingly expensive and clinical, and for many gay dads, they can get lost in both the bills and the technical details. That’s why gay dads need a forward-thinking yet organic budget that can handle the medical demands of a successful surrogacy.

  • Be prepared to make hard choices about the future of your embryos.
  • Pregnancy has risks. The creation of a new life might challenge your beliefs in ways you can’t expect. If you use in vitro fertilization, how will you decide to reduce the number of embryos? If after a year of planning and you're anxious to bring home your son or daughter, there’s a miscarriage? If an early test proves positive for a birth defect or genetic illness, will you fight to keep the pregnancy? No one but you has the answers to these questions, and you need those answers now before you start looking into surrogacy. Challenge yourself and your beliefs so that if a decision needs to be made, you know you can better live with your choice.

  • Have a plan for how much you want your donor and your surrogate to be a part of your family’s life.
  • "Our surrogate, Natasia, is incredible.  Already close after she carried our son, but when my husband passed away when we were 11 weeks pregnant with twins, this bonded us forever. Natasia and her family (husband and now three children) are close. Wish we were closer, but we still remain in each other's lives. Thank goodness for social media!” – José Rolón

    José Rolón with his son and twin daughters

    Surrogacy agreements can work in much the same way as open or closed adoptions. Several gay dads told us that they kept some contact with donors or surrogates or both so that their children could understand where they came from, and not be misled at an early age about human reproduction. Sometimes the carrier is a close friend or family member, and carefully gauging the level of contact between the child and the carrier can lead to very fulfilling mix of two families. Sometimes, the donor becomes a valued female role model for the child. The more adult role models in a child’s life, the better, most gay dads who chose surrogacy agree.

    Editor's note: For more information on surrogacy, check out Men Having Babies, a non-profit organization offering surrogacy advice and support, including conferences and other events as well as financial assistance grants, for gay men around the world.


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    Surrogacy for Gay Men

    Gay Surrogacy in the U.S. for International Dads

    Kristin Marsoli of Circle Surrogacy breaks down the process of surrogacy for gay men outside of the United States

    Written by Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation, who has been helping international gay men become dads for over two decades.

    Becoming a gay dad through a surrogacy agency in the U.S. – when you live outside of the United States – can feel overwhelming. You may have questions such as: Why should I come all the way to the US for surrogacy? What do I need to know as an international intended parent? How do I get my baby home?

    We spoke with Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation who has been working with international gay parents for over two decades. Circle Surrogacy was founded by a gay dad and lawyer, and is the most successful surrogacy agency with a full legal team on staff who are experts working with international parents.

    Keep reading...
    Researching surrogacy but feel like it's all Ancient Greek to you? You're not alone! The surrogacy process is filled with jargon, so we've started this surrogacy glossary of commonly used terms every gay dad should know as he embarks on the surrogacy journey.
    Keep reading...
    Become a Gay Dad

    Jewish Agency to Help Cover the Costs of Surrogacy for Gay Couples

    Isaac Herzog, of the Jewish Agency's Chairman of the Executive, has made it a priority to support employees family-planning journeys, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

    According to an article in the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Agency for Israel is about to become first state organization to provide financial assistance to gay employees seeking child surrogacy services overseas. The move is intended to help offset the high costs associated with conducting surrogacy abroad.

    The move to do so was led by Isaac Herzog, the Jewish Agency's Chairman of the Executive, who has made it a priority to support employees family-planning journeys, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The decision will apply to the agency's roughly 1,250 employees. The loans can be used to help cover the costs of necessary medical procedures before surrogacy, and for the process of surrogacy itself, the article notes.

    Last year, in a controversial move, the Israeli government expanded the ability of single women to access surrogacy services in the country, but excluded single men and gay couples from the policy.

    Herzog said the following in announcing the new initiative:

    "We are also making a symbolic statement, because it reflects the egalitarian stance of a large organization that is recognizing the right of every man or woman to actualize their wish to be parents and to raise a family, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The Jewish Agency is one big family, and all its members are equal."


    What's it Like to Be a Child of the 'Gayby Boom'?

    Tosca Langbert, who grew up with two dads, writes a piece for the Harvard Business Review about what it's like being among the first children of the "Gayby Boom" to come of age.

    We've previously written about the pressure on LGBTQ parents to appear perfect, given that so many in the United States still feel out families shouldn't exist in the first place. And we know this pressure trickles down to our kids. But In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled 'The Gayby Boom Is Here to Stay," author Tosca Langbert eloquently writes, from her perspective, about the experience of beingone of the first children to come of age during an era when LGBTQ parenthood is far more commonplace. She and her two siblings, she notes, "were raised in a family that was an impossibility only decades ago."

    In the article, Langbert said she knew from a young age that her family was different from those of most of her peers, who had one a father and a mother. But otherwise, she writes, she didn't feel like her family differed much. "Like any other parents, Dad sat in the carpool lane after school and taught us how to ride our bikes," she writes, "while Papa took us to the movies on the weekends and separated the whites from the colors."

    Despite this mundanity, her family remained something to marvel at for much of her youth. When the family moved into a new neighborhood in 2006, it made the local newspaper, with a headline titled, "Gay Father Tests Tolerance in the Park Cities."

    She and her siblings have spent much of their lives, she explained further, having to respond to the question: what's it like having two gay dads? For Langbert, there is only one correct response, which is: Amazing! "Any other response, even if simply accounting for a family's nuanced experience, might as well be an outright admission of failure on behalf of the entire LGBTQ community," she wrote.

    Children of the 'Gayby Generation,' are also put in the position of having to come out on behalf of their parents, and "often with mixed results," she wrote. She gave the following anecdote as an example:

    "My father was asked to step down from his leadership position in my brother's Boy Scout troop on account of his sexuality. Even though my siblings and I were only fourth graders at the time, we understood that our family was under strict scrutiny, and that even the slightest misstep could beget severe consequences for how competent our fathers were perceived as being. In the face of this pressure, the first generation of 'gaybies' recognized the importance of presenting their families as perfect; doing otherwise would only present ammunition to those already dubious about the rights of LGBTQ parents to raise children."

    The entire article, which includes the perspectives of multiple now-grown kids that are part of the "Gayby generation," is well worth a read, which you can access here.


    Utah Bill Would Allow Gay Men to Enter Surrogacy Contracts

    Rep. Patrice Arent of Utah is sponsoring a bill that will remove a provision that currently prohibits gay men from entering into commercial surrogacy contracts in the state.

    Though Utah is not one of the three states that currently prohibit commercial surrogacy contracts, the state's current policy does specifically exclude gay men from doing so. That may soon changed, however, thanks to a bill in the state's legislature that was unanimously voted out of a House Committee that would remove that restriction.

    The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, a Democrat, was created in response to a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court this past August that found the ban on gay men unconstitutional.

    Gay men have been excluded from legally entering surrogacy contracts due to a provision in the current law that requires medical evidence "that the intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical or mental health or to the unborn child," Rep. Arent told the Salt Lake Tribune — a requirement that clearly excludes gay male couples.

    The state's original surrogacy law dates back to 2005, before same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, which accounts for the gendered language. Though the state's Supreme Court already ruled the provision unconstitutional, Rep Arent further told the Tribute that, "People do not look to Supreme Court opinions to figure out the law, they look to the code and the code should be constitutional."


    Colorado Republicans Try and Fail to Outlaw LGBTQ Marriage and Adoption Rights

    A bill introduced by four Republican state legislators in Colorado that would outlaw same-sex marriage and adoption rights was voted down.

    The "Colorado Natural Marriage and Adoption Act," which would have outlawed gay marriage and adoption in the state of Colorado, was voted down in the state legislature this week. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey and three of his conservative colleagues: Dave Williams, Shane Sandridge and Mark Baisley.

    If enacted, the bill would have enforced "state law that marriage is between one man and one woman" and restrict "adoption of children by spouses in a marriage ... that consist of one man and one woman."

    The bill, which had little chance of success, particularly in Colorado which has trended more progressive over the past several election cycles, was mostly symbolic, according to Sanridrge. "We all know this bill isn't gonna pass in this current left-wing environment," he told Colorado Public Radio. "It's to remind everyone, this is the ultimate way to conceive a child."

    In a sign of how far we've come on the issue of LGBTQ marriage and parenting rights, most Republican legislators in the state did not endorse the bill.

    Though the bill had little chance of passage, LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state are taking the threats seriously nonetheless. Daniel Ramos, director of the LGBTQ group One Colorado, told LGBTQ Nation that the bills were an attempt to return Colorado to its "hate status" of the 1990s, adding the aggressiveness of the measures were "a bit surprising."

    Surrogacy for Gay Men

    Dads Talk About Surrogacy Process in New Video for Northwest Surrogacy Center

    The Northwest Surrogacy Center interviewed some of their gay dad clients for a video to celebrate their 25th anniversary of creating families through surrogacy!

    Image: NWSC Clients

    Last year, Northwest Surrogacy Center celebrated 25 years of helping parents realize their dreams. And they celebrated in style by inviting the families they've worked with over the past two and a half decades to join them!

    At the party, they took the opportunity to film queer dads and dads-to-be, asking them a couple of questions: how did it feel holding your baby for the first time, and tell us about your relationship with your surrogate.

    Watch the video below and get ready for the water works!

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