Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Asks: Is Destroying an Embryo Similar to Abortion?

It's a question many LGBTQ parents using advanced fertility treatments will need to face — what to do with "left over" embryos.

Let me start off by saying that I have always been pro choice and support all laws that allow people to have full reproductive rights including safe and legal abortions. This is a complicated subject and not one that I ever thought I would really have to deal with on a personal level, especially being a gay man.

I remember a very heated discussion on abortion in my biology class back in university. I was young, idealistic and had very strong convictions about abortion. I was debating with a female classmate who was pro life. She felt there was no reason for an abortion ever, not even if raped by your own parent or sibling. I could not really understand her position, then or now. Don't get me wrong, I still don't agree with her, but now that I'm older and wiser, and also a parent, I have come to respect and accept opinions other than mine.


Turns out that men do have a say and I don't mean the male lawmakers that try and take these rights away. When my husband and I decided to have a child through surrogacy six years ago, this was an issue that we had to think about. When finding a surrogate to work with, it is important to find someone who shares similar beliefs and values as you do. You need to think about what would happen if you discover abnormalities with your embryo or even if the embryos split. Would you want your surrogate to abort or use selective reduction? These are real discussions that are needed prior to signing surrogacy contracts. Everyone has different beliefs, but these are important discussions that need to be dealt with early on. At the end of the day you can talk about this all in theory, but my husband and I knew going into this that it was always the surrogate's decision, as it was her body after all. We could not force her to do anything she didn't want.

MILO'S FIRST ULTRASOUND

There was a case in California in 2013 that demonstrates this, though there was no men involved, this could have easily have been my husband and I. A California woman named Andrea decided to be a surrogate for her friends that were unable to conceive themselves. During the six week check up they found out the baby had Down Syndrome and might not survive to birth. Upon hearing the news of the diagnosis, the baby's intended mothers decided they no longer wanted Andrea to move forward with the pregnancy. The surrogate had other ideas and refused to abort and decided to keep the baby herself.

In our case we were very lucky, though we had discussed a possible termination with our surrogate in certain situations but never had to act on it or discuss it ever again. We were blessed with a healthy little boy on June 27, 2014. So why so much talk about abortion you ask? We have decided not to have any more children; we are "one and done" as they say.

Here is our dilemma: we are left with nine embryos and don't know what to do with them. We have been paying $500 a year to keep them frozen since they were created six years ago. Every year when we receive the bill, my husband and I have the discussion: Do we keep paying, donate them to another couple or to science, or do we destroy them? We have contemplated all of these choices, and then we just pay the money and wait another year.

I love the idea of donating the embryos, but it's a very difficult decision. I have talked to a few couples who are looking for embryos but at the end of the day I couldn't go through with it. These couples didn't live close by and were perfect strangers. It's been recently brought to our attention that there is a facebook group for LGBTQ couples who are looking for donated embryos with an open adoption relationship. I think if we were to donate them, it would be to someone we knew and we could possibly have a relationship of some kind with my family after. The question then becomes how much of a relationship would we have with them? Would we co-parent on some level? Would we discuss parenting styles? So many unknowns.

Another option is that we could donate them to science, but this is something we have not discussed too in depth with each other. I like the idea of helping with the advancement of fertility options and stem cell research, but not sure this is the right option for us. I have to admit this is something I need to talk to more people about and do more research on. I also wonder if in the end if we should be keeping these embryos for our son in the future for any unforeseen reason.

MILO'S FIRST 3-D ULTRASOUND

If I can't find someone I know to donate them to, we will have to make the decision to destroy them at some point. This is where the discussion of abortion all of a sudden became very real to me. I have really had to think about how I feel about embryos and whether they are just a bunch of cells or my son's brothers and sisters. A recent bill, proposed by Anti-abortion lawmakers in Pennsylvania, would require burials and death certificates for "fetal remains," which in their terms includes any fertilized eggs that never implanted in a person's uterus.

I have to be honest—this is not an easy decision for me or my husband and I can't imagine how difficult it must be for most women to abort their fetuses. I completely respect their rights to do so, and I expect others to respect mine. It is such a personal decision. I have a friend who had an abortion when she got pregnant by her "holiday boyfriend" in her early twenties. She was in school, not married and was not really ready for a baby. Her family heavily pressured her to terminate the pregnancy and she decided that was the best decision at the time. I know there is not a day that goes by that she doesn't think about that difficult decision she made. She is happily married now, with a beautiful family but I feel it is one of her biggest sorrows in life. I worry it might be one of mine as well, which is why we keep paying to keep them frozen.

Recently the clinic that was storing our embryos had a failure in one of the freezers and the temperature went too high and 65 people lost their embryos. We were lucky to find out that we were not one of those of those people, but on the other hand, I sometimes think that it would have made the decision easier for us. I know that sounds awful, but I am just being truthful as I am not sure if I am ever going to be able to make a decision on my own.

I am currently a board member for a non-for-profit organization that helps gay men have babies through surrogacy. Through our conferences around the world, we discuss everything surrogacy related and termination does come up when we discuss "questions to ask your surrogate", but we never discuss what people do with their unused embryos. I was hoping this article might open up this conversation. We would love to hear from others what they are doing with their unused embryos. It might help us and others make more informed decisions.

Follow Frankie and BJ below!

Frank IG @frankien70
BJ IG @bjbarone
Family Is About Love IG @familyisaboutlove

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

Keep reading...
Expert Advice

What's It Like When You're NOT the Bio Dad to Your Baby

Lauren Mello of Circle Surrogacy breaks down some of the challenges facing the gay dad who will *not* become the biological parent.

If you're a gay couple considering surrogacy, one of the first decisions you'll need to make together is who is going to be the biological father. When it's time to create your embryos with your egg donor's eggs, you have a few choices when it comes to which dad will be providing his biology: one dad only can provide his biology, both dads can provide their biology and leave the fertilization to chance, or both dads can provide their biology and fertilize half of the embryos with each dad's sperm. Some gay dads choose this third option if they plan to have twins, or more than one baby through surrogacy.

Once embryos are created, you'll decide which embryos will be transferred into your surrogate mother. Hopefully a pregnancy results, and you'll be on your way to fatherhood!

The question is: what's is like when you're NOT the bio dad to your baby? We spoke with a few dads through surrogacy from Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation, about the emotions surrounding being a bio dad...and not being one.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Family Stories

Sister Act: How Four Siblings Helped Joey and Rob Become Dads

The husbands *also* received help from Men Having Babies, a nonprofit helping gay men become dads via surrogacy.

"I first learned about Men Having Babies while searching the internet for insurances that covered surrogacy," said Joey Guzman-Kuffel, 40, a Marriage and Family Therapist. "As I researched our surrogacy options the Men Having Babies link popped up. When I clicked on their link, I learned that this awesome organization was bringing awareness to men wanting to have babies and the possibilities to do so."

Joey and his husband Rob Kuffel, 47, Protocol Officer for the US Navy, have been together seven years after meeting via OKCupid.com. They chatted for a week via the app, then graduated to a phone call which lasted 3-4 hours. "I always knew that I wanted to have kids and knew that I needed to be with a partner that wanted to have kids as well," said Joey. Rob felt the same way. The two were married in May 2014.

Keep reading...
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

As a Gay Dad, What's the Impact of Letting My Son Perform Drag?

Michael Duncan was excited when his 10-year-old son asked if he could perform in drag for charity — but he also felt fear and anxiety.

As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

Keep reading...
Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

Keep reading...
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

Keep reading...
Surrogacy for Gay Men

Interested in Surrogacy? Check Out These Bay Area Events This Weekend

If you're in the Bay Area this weekend, two major events are happening that will be of interest for dads-to-be and surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF)

If you're in San Francisco or the surrounding area, clear your calendar this weekend. Two events are happening simultaneously that are significant for dads-to-be AND surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). For an outlines of both events, check out below.

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse