Surrogacy for Gay Men

A Dream Becomes Reality, After a Men Having Babies Conference

New Yorkers David and Brian said their dreams of fatherhood crystalized only after receiving a "ton of information" at a Men Having Babies conference.

New Yorkers David F.M. Vaughn 39, and Brian Becker, 37, are new dads. Over the past three months, the two most important things they've learned as fathers is "patience, and how to swaddle LIKE A CHAMP!" David and Brian chose surrogacy as their path to fatherhood, but making that decision was one of the more difficult parts of their journey. Brian's siblings are adopted, and while they still want to make adoption part of their family journey, certain opportunities arose that made their surrogacy decision easier. Brian's sister enthusiastically offered to be their gestational surrogate, and they discovered more about the process with the help of Men Having Babies (MHB).

But let's jump back to the beginning of their story.

The year was 2011. David, an actor (today he focuses more on writing and directing), met Brian, a marketing director, through "My sister met her husband on there - now a family of 8 - and she begged me to join," said David. So he decided to give it a go, and both his sister and a best friend wrote a glowing endorsement for his 'About Me' section. At the same time, Brian was also considering joining Match. "He was previewing some guys and I was one of two guys who piqued his interest and made him decide to join," said David. "Then by pure coincidence, I came across Brian's profile a week later and 'winked' at him. And that was that. Our first date was at a restaurant in Studio City called Mexicali."

In their profiles, David had said 'definitely wants kids,' and Brian had marked 'possibly.' As their relationship got more and more serious, so did the topic of children. At a family event, just after Brian and David became engaged, the topic of kids came up. When the two fiancés mentioned their interest in surrogacy, Brian's sister, Erin, quickly said "I'd do it!" Although nothing more was said that night, the idea planted a seed in their dads-to-be heads.

David and Brian were married in October 2017, on a big boat that circled Manhattan, and "it was four levels of party," said David. "We got married and had the reception all on the boat, and to be honest the best part was the ice cream sundae bar. Oh, and also marrying Brian."

When a friend on Facebook reposted an ad by Men Having Babies about their upcoming seminar in New York City, and said "Any of my gay friends who want to become dads should go to this!" David was intrigued. So he and Brian attended and spent the whole day going to all the panels they could, and speaking to many vendors as possible. "We, like most people, walked out a little defeated when the costs of surrogacy were explained. But we also had a ton of information to start digesting and discussing."

Their MHB conference experience sparked the first practical moment for them to explore parenthood. "MHB provided a safe space for us to walk in pretty ignorant of the entire process, and walk out with some sense of how it could happen for us, and some practical steps to take to move the needle forward. Also, the group Facebook page was invaluable to learn more about the process of surrogacy."

The seeds had definitely been planted. David and Brian were starting to get specific about how to begin their family. They recalled Erin's comment and wondered if Brian's sister was serious or not. So Brian phoned Erin to find out if she had been, and without missing a beat, she said "I'll do it."

"It was just an amazing, selfless moment and frankly, I was caught off guard by her decisiveness," said Brian. "I offered her all the outs. 'Well, I mean…talk to your husband…and you can take time to think about it…and we won't be mad if you say no…' She did concede that she should check with her husband – but he was equally supportive right out of the gate. They're pretty amazing, needless to say. And from there it was full speed ahead!"

In 2018, they were able to retrieve 13 healthy embryos. The husbands' advice to others considering surrogacy is to split the journey into two: embryo creation, and the rest. "It takes the pressure off, and it makes it more financially feasable to do the whole thing without selling everything you own," said David. "Splitting the process in two parts makes the first step feel more manageable and lets you get started – AND if needed - it gives you a moment to pause so you can save again for the second half of your journey, while your embryos relax on ice."

Later that year, the couple managed to pregnant on the first transfer! They announced to the world, via Instagram, on March 30, 2019, that they were expected a little one, due August later that year.

On August 7, their son Emmett was born. "It was a whirlwind day for sure, but switching from this 'theoretical' and 'hypothetical' baby we had been talking about for two years into he's ACTUALLY here was abrupt and crazy," shared David. "It took a while for me to realize that his, indeed, was the baby we had made and had waited for. THIS is him. He's here."

While the past three months have seen little sleep, the new dads have experienced a new level of love. Both Brian and David are forever thankful to their sister for carrying their son Emmett, and to MHB for providing a safe and informative space for them to learn about gay surrogacy. "It's imperative to have a safe space for gay men to come and learn about becoming dads in a non-judgmental atmosphere," said Brian. "It's also incredibly validating to see other fathers on the same path – both those further along than you who give you a sense of your future, and those who are just starting who remind you how far you've come (and who give you a chance to share your own knowledge and experience!)."

The dads are also huge fans of the online MHB surrogacy group and recommend anyone interested in surrogacy to "read, read, read. You will learn so much by watching others talk about aspects of surrogacy, it will demystify the process. We've learned so much, not only about the mechanics and finances of surrogacy, but also had a forum to ask advice on a million little decisions (like how to fly with a 3-day old!)."

Congratulations to this new family of three!


Men Having Babies upcoming conference is returning to New York on November 9th and 10th. Register for your tickets here: David and Brian will be joining the Personal Stories panel at this year's conference, and they're ready and excited to answer questions and share their story!

Men Having Babies is a non profit that began in 2012. Since then it has become an elaborate online resource, seminars around the globe, an ever-growing mailing list, and it's teamed up with LGBT family associations to develop similar programs in Chicago, San Francisco, LA, Barcelona, Tel Aviv and Brussels. Their Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP) offers to ease the monetary burden for those who simply cannot afford surrogacy.

So far, 36 babies have been born with the help of GPAP, and there are currently 52 active recipients of GPAP, this includes:

  • 22 recipients waiting on embryos and matches
  • 5 have embryos and are awaiting surrogate matches
  • 7 have matched with a surrogate and are awaiting transfer
  • 7 are re-cycling (1 or more failed transfer or miscarriages)

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The report issued by CEDAW recognized growing international criticism of the unregulated practice of surrogacy around the world, which often leads to the exploitation of women who work as surrogates. However, since surrogacy became illegal in Cambodia, over 60 women working as surrogates — the very people put in danger of exploitation — have been arrested and subjected to criminal proceedings. The women were only released according to VOA, under the condition of raising the surrogate children until they are 18.

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Already, three HIV positive men have signed up to serve as donors, including Damien Rule-Neal who spoke to the NZ Herald about his reasons for getting involved in the project. "I want people to know life doesn't stop after being diagnosed with HIV and that it is safe to have children if you're on treatment," he told the Herald. "I've experienced a lot of stigma living with HIV, both at work and in my personal life that has come from people being misinformed about the virus."

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"I'm thankful for finally being adopted by my two dads," said Daniel, one of the boys, when it was his turn.

Rather than grab a tissue to dab her eyes, or ask the classroom to join her in a hearty round of applause to celebrate Daniel finding his forever family, the teacher took it upon herself to impart her personal religious beliefs onto the young boy. "Homosexuality is wrong," the teacher said in front of the class, adding that it was "sinful" for two men to live together.

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Louis expressed thanks that the staffing company responded as quickly as it did following the incident — and also stressed that his neighbors and community have rallied behind he and his family in the days afterward, offering support. He wanted to dispel stereotypes that Utah, because of its social conservatism and religiosity, was somehow inherently prejudiced.

"It doesn't mean that all of Utah is now bad," he told the Times. "This is one person."

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