Become a Gay Dad

5 Common Questions About Surrogacy in the United States

These five questions and answers should get most gay men started on their journey to fatherhood through surrogacy. At times, surrogacy with egg donation can seem to have too many obstacles, to be too complicated, or to require too much work, but the rewards of a successful surrogacy are immeasurable!

As both a gay dad with kids who has gone through the process myself and the medical director of a large in vitro fertilization (IVF) program in Connecticut, I have counseled hundreds of patients on the best way to navigate this process.  The many steps can seem overwhelming, but it is important to note that using an egg donor and a gestational carrier has the highest pregnancy rates in any in vitro fertilization program’s practice. This is because we are maximizing the opportunity to achieve pregnancy by using healthy sperm, a young and healthy egg donor, and a woman as the carrier who has successfully delivered children in the past.

I decided to write my first blog for Gays With Kids to encourage gay men to get started in the process of bringing little people into their home.  Obviously the first step is to decide that you want to be a parent. The next step is to decide what questions to ask and where to start.

Gay dads-to-be can start the surrogacy process either with an in vitro fertilization clinic or with a surrogacy agency.  Both of these are necessary to move forward. Roughly half of my consultations are with couples starting the process without an agency; however, getting a head start by seeking and contracting with a surrogacy agency can shave time off of your family building journey.  It all depends on how much information you need before you feel comfortable taking the next step.

Below are the five most common questions that clients ask.

  1. What is the typical timeline to achieve a pregnancy?

From the time of initial consultation with the clinic or the surrogacy agency it takes about 6-12 months to achieve pregnancy.  There are multiple factors involved, including personal, medical, and financial issues. If after your initial consultation you decide to sign on with the surrogacy agency, the agency will ask for a deposit to begin the search for a carrier.

A surrogate is a woman who agrees to help another individual or couple have a baby by achieving a pregnancy using her own egg and carrying a pregnancy to term.  A gestational carrier is a woman who performs the same service using an embryo created with another woman’s egg.  As a result, a surrogate has a biological link to the baby, but a gestational carrier does not.

Every experience with an egg donor and gestational carrier (or surrogate) is unique, including the timeline. Gay couples need to select an egg donor and a gestational carrier (or a surrogate). Finding an egg donor typically takes 2-6 months, depending on the donor source (e.g., donor egg agency, known donor) and your chosen donor availability.  Finding a gestational carrier or surrogate typically takes 6–12 months, and includes interviewing the woman, her spouse or partner, medical screening, psychological screening and agreeing on a contract.

It is the responsibility of the agency to find the gestational carrier or surrogate and perform the non-medical screening.  (There are some agencies that perform the psychological screening, but most do not.)  It is the responsibility of the IVF center to perform the medical screening and the psychological screening (unless already performed by the agency). The timeline is extended if the egg donor or gestational carrier does not successfully pass the screening requirements.

  1. How are egg donors, gestational carriers and surrogates screened?

Reputable fertility practices follow the guidelines from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) with oversight from the (American) Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The egg donation process starts when a young woman connects with a clinic that provides egg donation services. During the initial screening, the donor completes a thorough questionnaire cataloging her family history, personal medical history, and some of her personal achievements and lifestyle choices. It is likely that she will be asked the question why she would like to be an egg donor.

Once this initial screening is complete and the clinic or egg donor agency is comfortable with the answers about her medical, family, and social history, the potential egg donor is invited to the clinic. She is then screened for infectious diseases, genetic conditions, and gynecologic health. In addition, she completes psychological screening by a mental health professional to assess whether this is a good choice for the young woman and to rule out any mental health issues. When the medical, genetic, and mental health screenings are in order, the donor is considered part of the donor egg recipient pool. The donor is then available for matching with intended parents.  Intended fathers will choose an egg donor in part by characteristics such as ethnicity, education and physical attributes.

Gestational carriers and surrogates are women between the ages of 21 and 40 (or, depending on the clinic, 42) who have had healthy pregnancies without preterm labor, pregnancy-related diabetes or other complications of pregnancy, and who have delivered healthy children. Carriers must go through a process that reviews their physical and mental health; they are screened for gynecologic health related to their uterus and for infectious diseases. Psychological counseling is completed in order to make sure they understand the process and the implications of their decision. Prior to signing, a background check and a home study may be recommended or required.

The agency will also make sure that gestational carrier and surrogate candidates will deliver in a state deemed safe to deliver in; insurance issues will also be discussed.

  1. What are the costs of working with a gestational carrier or surrogate?

The costs of working with a gestational carrier or surrogate include many variables: (a) agency fees for finding and screening a gestational carrier or surrogate; (b) legal fees for creating the contract; (c) medical costs for the IVF treatment, which vary depending on the carrier’s or surrogate’s insurance; and (d) reimbursement of the gestational carrier or surrogate, typically $15,000-$30,000 depending on where she lives and her own expectations. The total fees for all these services range from $50,000 to $80,000.

At my practice, we assign a financial advisor to help clients determine what the medical costs will be.

Additionally, there are costs for the intended father(s) to travel to be with the gestational carrier for medical appointments and for the birth.

The costs associated with a gestational carrier therefore are her reimbursement, medical screening costs, costs of the agency to find and screen her, mental health screening and completion of contracts.

At my clinic, we have two fixed costs plans in regards to medical expenses that will be reviewed with intended fathers.

  1. Why should I use an agency rather than find a gestational carrier or surrogate on my own?

Many patients ask about looking for a gestational carrier or surrogate on their own in an effort to trim costs. I highly recommend utilizing an agency as they are specialized in finding suitable carriers and streamlining the rigorous screening process. Agencies vet their candidates with thorough initial screenings that weed out all but a fraction (about 10 percent) of the women who apply. Beyond this, agencies have experience finding a personality match with the intended parents.

  1. Should I try to find a gestational carrier or an egg donor first?

Intended parents can search for an egg donor and a gestational carrier simultaneously. Typically it takes less time to find an egg donor and create embryos. Embryos created prior to finding a gestational carrier can be cryopreserved through an advanced technology called vitrification. Once a gestational carrier is found, the best embryo(s) will then be thawed for the transfer into the carrier. If, however, the gestational carrier is found first, the intended father(s) may need to pay to keep her on hold while an egg donor is chosen and embryos are created.


Dr. Mark Leondires is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology as well as reproductive endocrinology and infertility. For two consecutive years, Dr. Leondires has been selected through a peer-review process for "Best Doctors in America," which represents the top five percent of physicians across the country. He is also a Castle Connelly “Top Doctor” for his work in the field of reproductive endocrinology. Dr. Leondires married his husband in 2010; together they have two sons. The combination of his professional and personal experience with surrogacy makes him exceptionally qualified to help gay men become fathers through surrogacy.

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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.
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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."

Gay Dad Life

Why Date Night Is So Important

When you're a parent, time alone with your significant other isn't a luxury — it's a necessity.

Even before the morning sunlight — and my eyelids — have lifted, I'm reminded that I'm somebody's father. It's usually around 5:40am when my 8-year old son Maxwell pokes his head into our room shouting "cock-a-doodle-doo" at the top of his lungs. He's usually wearing an adorably comfy onesie, a look he thankfully refuses to retire. His rooster call is followed up with strict demands in quick succession:

"Warm milk!"

"Turn on the lights."

"Where's your phone?"

"Put on Nick Jr."

"Feed me yogurt while I play Fortnite!" (Note: we don't… well… anymore.)

This Groundhog Day routine follows us as we pick out his clothes for the day —"Comfy camouflage t-shirt and sweat pants!" he insists (shoot me now). We then make him breakfast, prepare his packed lunch and then make sure his completed homework is in his schoolbag.

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Popular

'Our Family is Complete': Congrats to Gay Dads on Their Recent Births and Adoptions!

Join us in congratulating all of the gay men in our community whose families grew recently!

Wishing all of these gay dads congratulations on their exciting news this month. From becoming first-time dads to finalizing adoptions, congrats to everyone in our community on their wonderful news!

Circle Surrogacy is the proud sponsor of this month's congrats post. They were founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. "For over 20 years we've helped LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!"

Congratulations to Andrew and Edward on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

For Andrew and Edward, their foster parent training plus home study took about a year. "We had a brief placement of twin girls that were four years old two months after we had been approved," said Andrew. "Then we took a break as it was a difficult process, the 'loss' aspect, when that placement ended."

Then on March 15, 2017, their case worker sent them information about two little babies - a boy and a girl - that were still in the NICU and only nine days old. "It was a foster case with an uncertain future, but we decided those little babies needed us!" They dads took a leap of faith and on July 10 this year, their twins' adoptions were finalized. Andrew and Edward have a wonderful bond with the paternal grandmother as well as a special relationship with the twins' father. "We all love these twins, and the more love they have the better their lives will be."

"Adoption is one of those experiences where one side experiences incredible joy while the other side experiences incredible loss," continued Andrew. "We are grateful to experience this joy knowing that biological family members are happy for us to experience that joy."

Congratulations to this Mt Airy, Philadelphia, forever family of four!

Congratulations to Sean and Thomas on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

Together 15 years, London couple Sean and Thomas recently finalized the adoption of their twins.

"About 3 years ago we started meeting adoption agencies and were approved as prospective adopters the following spring," shared Thomas. "We were anticipating a long wait, but quite quickly were matched with our twins. At the time they were nearly five."

After a fairly long transition period for everyone to get settled in, the adoption was formalized the day after Father's Day. "Two years after matching, at times it seems like the kids have been with us forever and other times a blink of an eye. But it is certainly the most life-changing, transformative experience and we cannot imagine life without them. It's wonderful that our family is now official!"

Congratulations to Phillip and Clinton on the birth of their daughter Madison!

Little Madison joined her dads on July 1, 2019, after coming into the world via surrogate.

"I caught Madison as she was born," said Phillip. "I have never felt such an exhilarating rush in my entire life! We were genuinely in love at first sight!"

Now that we Phillip and Clinton are dads, they say they feel a "sense of wholeness" in their lives! "We have a new motivation and purpose in life! It's truly the greatest blessing!"

These new dads and the apple of their eye live in Texas.

Congratulations to Michael and Tyler on the birth of their twins, Elliot and Oliver!

Herriman, Utah, couple Michael and Tyler have been together for 9 years, and married for 3. "In the beginning of our relationship we knew how important family was and how much we wanted to be dads," said Micheal. "After we got married we met with a couple surrogacy agencies and were advised to meet with an IVF clinic before proceeding. In doing so, we found that going through a surrogacy journey independently was very possible."

So the dads decided to shift gears and work in that direction, booking a follow up appointment with the clinic. "We met with their 3rd party coordinator over the surrogate process and she did not have any inquiries of any surrogates." Serendipitously, and unbeknownst to the husbands at the time, their future surrogate made an appointment to talk about being a gestational carrier for a same-sex couple. "The next day we got the unexpected call that someone was interested and open to meet. From there the rest was history as we continued with the surrogacy process."

Over a year later, the dads welcomed their two sons. "The first time we got to hold the boys, it felt so natural to us, as if nothing else in the world existed and time stood still as we got lost in the moment."

Congratulations to Adam and Josh on finalizing the adoption of their daughter!

Adam and Josh got engaged on Good Morning America on Valentines Day, and welcomed their Christmas miracle baby into their lives on December 26th. On July 12 this year, they celebrated becoming a forever family of three.

"For an event that always seemed like it would be the end of our adoption journey, Baby K's Finalization Day felt more like the beginning of a greater adventure," shared Adam. "Since day one, Baby K was always loved and 100% part of our family, but we are so filled with joy to see this day come and make it officially official. We cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives not only watching Baby K grow and develop, but also to see the two of us learn and grow in this new role as parents."

Congrats to these Dallas dads!

Congratulations to Dan and Martin on the birth of their son Herman! 

Copenhagen couple Dan and Martin welcomed their second child through surrogacy on July 11 this year in Florida, USA. Herman joins big sister Ellen, born March 1, 2015, in Vermont via surrogacy. Here's a little more.

"Two amazing American women and their families took us in as their own and we're forever bonded," said Dan about their path to fatherhood experience. "It has been an amazing journey with both of them, our family is complete."

Congrats to the Danish family!

This post is sponsored by Circle Surrogacy

Circle was founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. To this day, that belief is at the core of everything we do. For over 20 years we've helped straight and LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!

We're an agency comprised of social workers and lawyers, accountants and outreach associates, and program managers and coordinators; but, more importantly, we're an agency made up of parents, surrogates and egg donors, who are passionate about helping people build their families, and invested in each and every journey.

Circle is proud to have helped so many gay families achieve their dreams of becoming parents. Together, we make parenthood possible.®

News

Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals.

In a post on Facebook, Ed Smart, father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, came out as gay. He also discussed his strained relationship with his Mormon faith, claiming he felt he didn't feel comfortable living as an openly gay man in a church with a difficult history with respect to its LGBTQ members. He and his wife, Lois, have filed for divorce.

"This is one of the hardest letters I have ever written," he began the letter. "Hard because I am finally acknowledging a part of me that I have struggled with most of my life and never wanted to accept, but I must be true and honest with myself." He went on to acknowledged a new set of challenges facing he and his family as they navigate a divorce and his coming out — in the public eye, no less — but concluded, ultimately, that it's a "huge relief" to be "honest and truthful about my orientation."

He went on to condemn The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. "I didn't want to face the feelings I fought so hard to suppress, and didn't want to reach out and tell those being ostracized that I too am numbered among them. But I cannot do that any longer."

In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Ed Smart further discussed his reasons for coming out now, as a 64-year-old man.

"I mean, I knew that it would probably come out at some point, just because people can't leave things alone. I did anticipate that it would happen at some time, but my intention in writing it was to try to let my friends and family know, you know my extended family ... know where things were. So, you know, I was really concerned about how the rumor mill starts," he told the paper. "I knew that at some point in time, that would come out," he elaborated. "I didn't know when it would come out, and so I would rather have it come out the way that it did versus having some rumors going around, and you know the crazy way things can get twisted."

In 2002, Ed Smart's daughter Elizabeth was abducted at knife point by a married couple from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah. She suffered physical and sexual abuse at the couple's hands, for nine months, until she was finally rescued by police. During the ordeal, papers — including the Salt Lake Tribute — speculated about Ed Smart's sexual orientation based on some fabricated information sold to the paper by tabloids like the National Enquirer. (The Enquirer retracted the story, and the reporters at the Tribute were ultimately fired.)

"I think that in April I started feeling like I needed to prepare something," Smart told the Tribute. "Because during Elizabeth's ordeal, there were things said, and it wasn't what I wanted to say, and I was not going to allow that to happen again."

As to how his family has taken the news, Smart said they've been "very kind" to him. "I think it was very difficult to have this kind of come out of the blue. I don't think any of them knew I was struggling with this, so it was something they were, if you want to call it, blindsided by. I totally get that. They've really been very wonderful."

Congrats to Ed Smart on making the difficult decision to live his truth. Read his full letter here and his interview with the Tribute here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

"Rollercoaster and Sons," Explores the Journey of One Single Gay Dad Through the Foster-Adopt System

When it comes to the foster-adopt system, "there is no roadmap," said single gay dad Chase Turner

Guest post written by Chase Turner

Many of us thought long and hard about what avenues were best to pursue being a dad. For me, fostering to adoption was the selected road. There is no roadmap here, many things that came my way were learned by doing. Along the way, I started wishing I had a better support group or people who could understand what it's like to be gay and attempting to adopt. Often we (people who are LGBT) feel scrutinized and judged for choices that the majority makes but for us there is pushback. Once my adoption was complete, I felt it was necessary that I put pen to paper and write this story, from a gay male perspective.

My goal was to provide a voice in the space of foster care and adoption where there is a void. Additionally, I wanted to provide an authentic look at all facets of the process, from the kids, to the obstacles and challenges that happened within my personal life. I do hope you enjoy and more importantly can relate or prepare yourself for a similar journey.

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Fun

Gay Dad Penguins Strike Again! This Time in Berlin Zoo

The latest male penguins to care for an egg together are Skipper and Ping in the Berlin Zoo.

First, there was Roy and Silo — the two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that served as inspiration for the famous children's book And Tango Makes Three. Then Magin Sphen got together in Sydney, where aquarium keepers gave the cocks (Calm down, that's what a male penguin is called!) a foster egg to care for.

And now, please welcome Skipper and Ping in Berlin to the latest list of gay dad penguins! As soon as the two emperor penguins arrived at the city's zoo, they set about trying to start a family, said Berlin Zoo spokesman Maximilian Jaege to DPA news.

"They kept trying to hatch fish and stones," Jaeger said.

So the zookeepers loaned the penguins an egg from a female penguin, who is apparently uninterested in hatching eggs on her own, according to the BBC.

Unsurprisingly, the gay penguins are killing it as parents. "The two male penguins are acting like exemplary parents, taking turns to warm the egg," Jaeger said,

Read the whole article on DPA here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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