Change the World

The Ultimate Gay Men’s Guide to Crowdfunding for Surrogacy or Adoption

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign for Surrogacy or Adoption

1. Start networking before you begin your campaign.

Gay dads – out of financial need or anxiety to get started – often want to jump straight into a crowdfunding campaign: setting goals, crafting donor rewards, picking a site. But our dads tells us that the best campaigns don't actually start with the campaign. They start with identifying potential donors from your own family, friends and coworkers.

"The biggest takeaway from our campaign was that you don't start your journey with crowdsourcing," said Kirk and Anthony. The couple raised more than $10,000 toward the cost of surrogacy with their second campaign. "We started to realize that we already had so many awesome friends and family who wanted to support us in becoming dads."

Kirk (left), 35 and Anthony, 34 from Portland, Oregon. Two crowdsourcing campaigns: IndieGogo and Generosity

2. Set a realistic campaign goal that targets a specific expense.

For some gay dads, setting a campaign goal can veer to extremes. Dads either shoot for the full price of their adoption or surrogacy, or they set a low goal out of modesty or uncertainty. Like most dilemmas, the best solution is somewhere in the middle. What worked for our gay dads was setting or achieving a goal that applied to a specific expense. Crowdfunding for Kirk and Anthony was used to "fill in any gaps" in their budget after accounting for loans, savings, and grants.

Ignacio and Ulises, another couple seeking surrogacy, set a crowdfunding goal for the total amount of the surrogacy. They fell short of their goal, but they used the money strategically.

"The amount that we raised was nearly the exact amount of the next payment due to the agency," the dads said. "We had just suffered two failed embryo transfers, and we were up against a financial brick wall. Luckily, we had just raised over $8,000, which was just enough to cover a third attempt."

The third time was the charm: Ignacio and Ulises embryo transfer was a success and ended up producing twins.

3. Choose a crowdfunding platform.

You've considered your immediate support network. You've picked a reasonable financial goal that tackles a particular expense. Now, you're finally ready to pick a crowdfunding site.

The top contenders are GoFundMe and IndieGoGo. These sites have high traffic rankings and allow for a wide range of campaigns. Other popular sites are Kickstarter and Generosity (by IndieGoGo). (Patreon only allows for creative projects, not personal.)

GoFundMe, IndieGoGo and Generosity all offer campaigns where, even if you don't meet your goal, you will keep the money raised. IndieGoGo also offers an all-or-nothing campaign in which you only receive the donations if you meet your goal. Most campaigns offer the option to reward donors at certain donation levels with gifts or prizes.

"GoFundMe allowed us to keep (almost) every dollar whether we hit our goal or not," explained Anthony and Dom, "Which was important because we needed every bit of financial help imaginable."

While setting up a campaign is free, crowdfunding websites do charge fees on individual donations. That's a 5 percent platform fee for both IndieGoGo and GoFundMe. There is also a processing fee for donations, which varies slightly; around 3 percent depending on the payment type.

The main difference between these two top sites often comes down to personal preference­ – what dads think of the marketing options, even down to which website "looks" better. If you're researching other sites, it is critical to know the platform and processing fees, what is required to receive the donations, and what marketing services are offered.

Anthony (left), 32, and Dom, 35, from Old Bridge, New Jersey. Crowdsourcing campaign: GoFundMe.

4. Come up with a marketing strategy.

In crowdfunding, getting more eyes on your campaign means more contributions. While your crowdfunding platform of choice may offer certain marketing options, you have to take your campaign into your own hands. That means a full digital and social media commitment.

"We definitely let ourselves get creative with branding," Kirk and Anthony said. "We started a blog. We also created Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts and started following others who were either potential supporters or just folks who great information and resources."

Ignacio and Ulises dipped into Ignacio's talents as a video editor to create original videos for their campaign. "We wanted our story to always be as authentic as possible, but to also be funny and lighthearted and full of joy, because that's who we are," they said.

Gays With Kids chatted with a spokesperson from GoFundMe who also shared this advice about creating a marketing strategy: "The best way for campaign organizers to get the word out about their GoFundMe is to use social media and their existing networks: friends, family, colleagues. With the power of social fundraising, GoFundMe enables people to go beyond their personal network and geographic boundaries, reaching a global audience." (Some general tips for a successful GoFundMe campaign can be found at the end of the article.)

Whoever you are, you have a story and a voice. Your marketing strategy needs to leverage what's special about you and your wish to start a family.

5. Create a schedule for updates to your donors – and keep to it.

Ask any professional YouTube or other social-media star about the key to success, and you'll always get the same answer: scheduling. Successful crowdfunding campaigns are no different. Campaigns depend on a comprehensive schedule of updates and contact with an audience of actual or potential donors.

"Momentum is key to success," Kirk and Anthony agreed. "Timing is crucial too. During the campaign we posted updates at least twice a day. We created mini-goals, like, 'Let's raise $500 by the end of the day!' And as we got closer to the mini-goals, we would update and post to the platform."

Keeping your campaign regularly populated with content keeps your story fresh and gives donors more to share in their own networks, bringing more eyes on your campaign.

6. Decide how you want to give back to donors.

Donation rewards are a common feature of crowdfunding campaigns­ – for example, a $10 donation could get someone a personalized mug. While many charity donors are just happy to donate and don't actually redeem the rewards, offering the rewards adds another incentive for donation and helps contribute to your authenticity.

Ignacio and Ulises made homemade gifts focused on the theme of joy – the joy they felt in realizing their dream of becoming dads.

"Our donors received a personalized thank-you card, and those that selected a perk received their perk: a Joy candle, a men's Joy t-shirt, or a women's Joy t-shirt," they said.

Ulises (left), 40, and Iggy, 45, from Long Beach, California. Crowdsourcing campaign: IndieGoGo

7. Prepare for negative comments.

Crowdfunding an adoption or surrogacy actually comes with a unique challenge: negative attacks from commenters. Many dads were surprised that these negative comments actually came from other gay dads. Most were targeted at those dads who were pursuing surrogacy, instead of adoption or foster care.

"We received unimaginable flack, even from those closest to us, who mistook our inability to drop $20K as an inability to afford the everyday costs of parenting," said Anthony and Dom. "Be prepared for that, because if you're not, it's going to sting badly."

"We were accused of begging for money, being selfish, irresponsible, and financially unprepared to become parents," Kirk and Anthony said. "Several people assumed that we had not done research, as if we were completely oblivious to the ways in which we could become parents."

While surprising, it's best not to get sucked into online debates with negative commenters. You as a hopeful dad know what's best for your family. Spend your energy on marketing your story and spreading your message­ – not debating about one way of raising a family over another.

Some general tips from a GoFundMe spokesperson:

5 tips to create a successful GoFundMe campaign

  1. For a GoFundMe to be successful, it needs to be engaging. Make sure to include a strong photo or video to help potential donors connect with your campaign.
  2. Write a clear, heartfelt, and detailed story in the campaign description, and be transparent about what the funds are for.
  3. If you have a Facebook account, be sure to connect it to your GoFundMe. It helps verify your campaign and makes it easy to share with your friends, family, and community.
  4. Social media, including Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, email and other channels, will help you get maximum exposure and awareness. Some of our most successful GoFundMes have had a hashtag.
  5. Post frequent updates, additional photos, and send thank-you notes to your supporters. This will keep your donors engaged and encourage more sharing.

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Change the World

Rebel Dad: 1st Gay Canadian to Adopt Internationally Writes New Memoir

David McKinstry set a legal precedent in 1997. A few years later, with his second husband, Michael, he did so again when they became the first gay Canadian couple to co-adopt children.

Excerpt #1 – From Chapter 1: The Search (1793 Words)

As the first openly gay Canadian man approved to adopt internationally, David McKinstry set a legal precedent in 1997. A few years later, with his second husband, Michael, he did so again when they became the first gay Canadian couple to co-adopt children.

The following is an excerpt from the first chapter of his new book Rebel Dad: Triumphing Over Bureaucracy to Adopt to Orphans Born Worlds Apart. Here, it's 1998 and David finds himself in India. While in India, David visits several orphanages with his guide, Vinod, on his quest to adopt. With Indian adoption officials being extremely homophobic at the time, David could not reveal that he was a gay man.

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Change the World

Are You a Bisexual Dad? Gays With Kids Wants to Tell Your Story!

After a recent reader pointed out our lack of stories featuring bi men, we're reaching out to try to increase exposure for the bi dad community!

Recently, Gays With Kids received the following message via one of our social media channels:

"Hey guys, love what you do. But where are your stories about bi men who are dads? Do they not exist? I get the sense from your page that most queer dads identify as gay. I identify as bi (or pansexual) and want to become a dad one day, but just never see my story represented. Are they just not out there?"

We can say with resounding certainly that YES bisexual dads absolutely exist. In fact, of all the letters in our acronym, far more LGBTQ parents fall into the "b" category than any other.

But our reader is certainly right in one respect--we don't hear the stories of bisexual/pansexual dads told nearly often enough. While we occasionally find stories to tell about bi dads, like this great one from earlier this year from a dad who just came out, we otherwise aren't often finding stories of bi dads nearly as easy as we do gay dads. We're sure this is due to any number of reasons--societal pressure to stay closeted from both the straight and LGBTQ communities along with erasure of bisexuality both come to mind.

But it's also because we haven't done the best job reaching out specifically to the bi dad community! We hope to change that. So if you are a bi man who is a father (or wants to become a father) and in a relationship with a man OR woman (or are single!) we want to hear from you! Click here so we can help tell your story and increase exposure for the bi dad community, or drop us a line at dads@gayswithkids.com!

Change the World

Two Clinics in Netherlands to Start Offering IVF Services to Gay Couples and Surrogate Mothers

At least two Dutch IVF clinics say they will serve gay couples in 2019 for the first time, according to a current affairs show

According to Pink News, the Netherlands will be the next country to offer IVF treatment to gay couples, starting next year. The news was first reported on a current affairs show De Monitor that undertook a survey of the country's fertility clinics. They found two facilities who have agreed to provide IVF treatment in the coming year.

This will add the Netherlands to the short list of countries in which gay couples seeking to use surrogacy to start their families won't have to look abroad to do so.

The article quotes a local clinician as saying on the show: "I think it's crazy that gay couples, but also women who have medical issues, have to go abroad to fulfil their desire to have children, while all medical and technical expertise and knowledge is in house."

Dutch gay couples may still face some legal headaches, however. According to Dutch Law, Pink News writes, the person that gives birth to the child is the legal parent. While the law was updated in 2014 to allow a non-biological lesbian parent to claim guardianship over her child, no such accommodation has yet been made for gay couples. They will still need to seek a court's approval before gaining legal parenting writes until the law is changed.

Read the article here.

Gay Dad Life

Gay Dad Creates a New Kind of LGBT Children's Book

Titled, "What Does a Princess Really Look Like?" the book differentiates itself from most other LGBT picture books. Namely, the story doesn't explain, clarify or justify its gay characters (who are dads). The characters are just a natural part of the story - the new normal.

Gay dad Mark Loewen's children's book debut made a splash in the children's LGBT literature pool this year.

Titled, "What Does a Princess Really Look Like?" the book differentiates itself from most other LGBT picture books. Namely, the story doesn't explain, clarify or justify its gay characters (who are dads). The characters are just a natural part of the story - the new normal.

"What Does a Princess Really Look Like?" is the story of Chloe, a girl who loves princesses. As she sets out to craft an imaginary princess out of paper, yarn, and colored pencils, she becomes disillusioned with the importance of beauty. Chloe realizes that the power of a princess is not in how she looks to others, but in the change she can affect around her. More than looks, her princess values knowledge, bravery, strength, assertiveness, and kindness.

"In a way, Chloe's experience is the LGBT experience," explains Loewen, "but I didn't realize this until after I finished the book. I grew up very concerned about how others saw me. Then I found my own happiness when I learned to look past other's opinions of me, and appreciate who and how I was."

Another key element of the message in this book comes at the end of the story. Chloe's dads help her realize what a princess is not: perfect. "Being OK with being imperfect has been one the most freeing lessons I've learned. And I want my daughter to get this message early on. We should aim to be the best we can, but if we aim to be perfect, we'll surely fail."

Loewen's book tour started in Provincetown, MA, during Family Week, a weeklong gathering of LGBT families, organized by Family Equality Council and Colage. "I can't describe what it feels like when I read my book to children who have LGBT parents, and when I turn to the page that shows Chloe dancing with her two dads. Their eyes sparkle with excitement as they see themselves in the story," Loewen describes.

Loewen's book was named one of 20 LGBT Books for Preschoolers to High School Kids in a post by the parenting site scareymommy.com. It was included in the online review magazine, Children's Bookwatch. Midwest Book Review described the book as, "A unique, entertaining, and iconoclastic picture story from beginning to end."

Bestselling author Rachel Simmons (The Curse of the Good Girl) praised "What Does a Princess Really Look Like?" for "helping girls expand their definition of what a princess can truly be." Katherine Wintsch, founder of The Mom Complex, endorsed the book for delivering "the right message at the right time for the next generation of brave young women." The librarian ran website, www.bendybookworm.com, described the book as "the beginning of a new Manifesto of Beauty for young girls."

Finally, www.mombian.com, a website for lesbian mothers, speaks to the LGBT aspect of Loewen's book. "I love that this is an LGBTQ-inclusive children's book with a message, but that the message isn't about LGBTQ identity. Not that that's not an important topic—but we LGBTQ parents and our children have multifaceted identities, and sometimes we want books that speak to other parts of us, while still showing families that look like ours."

Giving visibility to families with two dads is also Loewen's goal, and why he shares many of his family's experiences on Instagram and Facebook.

For more information about Mark Loewen and his upcoming projects visit his website. Mark is also the founder of www.bravelikeagirl.com, a website that helps parents who are raising girls.

"What Does a Princess Really Look Like?" is available on Amazon, or anywhere books are sold.

Fun

Check Out this Amazing Xmas Tree Cake Recipe By the Dad Behind "Preppy Kitchen"

We're thrilled to be working with John Kanell, the gay dad behind the popular "Preppy Kitchen" account, to bring you some amazing holiday recipes! First up: learn how to "paint with buttercream" in this incredible Christmas Tree Cake recipe

My husband and I love entertaining during the holidays, and a great cake is often the focal point for our gatherings. For this Christmas Tree Cake, I made a spicy gingerbread batter for the layers and piped a two-tone swirl of Italian meringue buttercream in between each layer. The red batch is spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, and cloves, while the white part is a mellow vanilla flavor. For those who don't know, Italian meringue buttercream is creamy, less sweet than your average frosting and PERFECT for cake decorating as it's quite smooth. I "painted" the tree on with a pallet knife and dusted it with confectioner's sugar for a snowy effect. My twin boys were mesmerized by the process as they watched from their highchairs. Maybe next year they'll be able to help out!


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Expert Advice

How to Get Your Little Ones to Eat (and Enjoy!) Their Vegetables

Meet David and Danny fathers and founders of Kekoa Foods sharing some tips on how to keep your little ones eating their healthy vegetables during the hecticness of the holidays.


Watch:

Tip Number 1 – Try to prepare your own meals with fresh ingredients. Doing so gives you better control over the amount of sugar, sodium and cholesterol you and your family consume.

Tip Number 2 – Experiment in your kitchen with herbs and spices you haven't used before. Some items we've added in recent years include cumin, tarragon, curry, turmeric and ginger. Start slowly, though, you can always add more next time.

Tip Number 3 – Use veggies instead of pasta to get more veggies in your diet. We like spaghetti squash, zucchini and beets for this purpose and toss them with our favorite sauce.

Tip Number 4 – Instead of adding cream to veggie dishes to get your kids to eat them, sprinkle them with just a touch of parmesan cheese and add fresh lemon juice. It enhances flavor without adding a significant amount of cholesterol or fat.

Sponsored

A 'Men Having Babies' Conference Started These Happy New Dads on Their Path to Parenthood

In the Bay Area? Sign up now for the next Men Having Babies Conference taking place this January 12-13!

Last year, after 12 years together, Jimmy Nguyen and Michael Duque were finally ready to become dads. And so in 2017 they began their journey to fatherhood. Little did they know how quickly that would become a reality. What began with a serendipitous sighting of an ad for an upcoming Men Having Babies conference resulted in the joyous birth of their son in October 2018. Here's their story.

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