Gay Surrogacy in the Suburbs

Many people think surrogacy is just for gay men living in big cities. But Brett Griffin-Young worked with a surrogate to create his family while living in a small town

By Brett Griffin-Young, gay dad through surrogacy and Circle Surrogacy's International Outreach Associate.

If you've ever looked for an apartment or bought a house (or watch any HGTV real estate show), you've probably heard the phrase, "Location! Location! Location!" Because where you live sets the stage for the rest of your life and your children's lives.

Or does it?

Surrogacy in the 'Burbs?

Surrogacy is becoming more and more common as a family-building option. Agencies work with singles and couples from all over the world to help grow families. Many celebrities, too, have turned to surrogacy.

Surrogacy is readily available in big cities. But what if you don't live in New York or LA or London? What if you live in a small town, hours from a big city? Is surrogacy still accessible? And, on top of that: what if you are gay and living in a small town? Is surrogacy a viable option?

We're Gay! In a Small Town! And We're Doing Surrogacy!

When my husband and I first started thinking about becoming parents as a gay couple, one of our first concerns was that we didn't live in a big city where lifestyles and decisions tend to be more accepted. It was 2008 and we were living – and still do live – in the suburbs of a small city in the Midlands of England. We didn't know anyone who had done surrogacy, let alone any other gay parents.

We were concerned how our neighbors would react– less for ourselves personally than for any children we had. Would they be accepted? Would they have any friends? If we had a boy would his friends be allowed to have sleepovers at our house? While these may seem like silly questions, to us they were important and what kept us up at night.

When we first started telling people that we were planning to have a baby or two through surrogacy, our neighbors and friends had the usual reactions and concerns of anybody who doesn't have an understanding of what surrogacy is. We got all of the usual, "But what if she decides to keep the baby?!" and, "How do you know she's not smoking, drinking and taking drugs?!" However, not once did they say that gays should not have children! Perhaps some of them thought this, but none of them said it.

Brett and his family

Big-City Thinking In Our Small Town

What astonished us most was how quickly our friends and neighbors became surrogacy advocates and gay parent rights activists! People who probably have never once in their lives given more than a cursory passing thought to the rights of gay people, were now cutting newspaper articles out to excitedly share with us around advancements or changes in the law. It warmed our hearts that our community was rallying around us – and gay parenting.

During our first surrogacy journey, we quickly started to realize that even neighbors whom we did not know very well had our backs. And the joy and celebration when we brought our son home was unbelievable! He was a bit of a local celebrity and only a few days old. All of our initial concerns about people's reactions to us having a baby were soon diminished, and as our son - who is now 8 1/2 years old - has grown over the years, and as we have added to our family, all of our concerns have been dismissed.

Gay Parenting in Suburbia

My children and my family are accepted in such a way that it is barely even noticed that we are a gay family. My son has more of his friends sleepover than any other child I know. I am the go-to parent when there is a snow day and children need looking after; or if a parent is running late for school pick up, I am the one they call. The teachers and school have been incredible in dealing with the "Two Daddy Scenario", avoiding potentially contentious days for kids with same-sex parents, like Mother's Day, by embracing my children's Nana.

Homophobia and ignorance towards same-sex parents and their families has not been our biggest issue, in fact, it has never been an issue. In my personal experience, it's been the do-gooders who tend to be more potentially damaging. Slightly over-the-top reactions upon meeting you and your family, leading into inappropriate questions as they try to prove how liberal they are. One time we were asked about the paternity and the relationship with our egg donors in front of our children, with no regard that this could be sensitive information which has not yet discussed with our 5-year-old son!

As the International Outreach Associate at Circle Surrogacy, I talk to potential parents each and every day, sharing my story. And no matter if you're gay or straight, single or coupled, selecting your surrogacy agency is a monumental decision. It needs to be the right agency for you.

But what I can tell you is this: where your agency is located in respect to where you live, does not matter. As I mentioned, I live in a small town in England. Circle Surrogacy is located in Boston, Massachusetts. I had an amazing experience and relationship with my agency, and we were thousands of miles apart! Circle travels extensively to meet with Intended Parents in person, but also offers consultations via Skype.

Since my son was born we have come to know many same-sex families, many of whom do not live in big cities, but like us pursued surrogacy in suburbia. They, too, have found that their small town has not only embraced surrogacy, but them as fathers. And I love it!

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Daughter of Married Gay Couple Who Used Surrogacy Abroad Isn't Citizen, Says U.S. State Department

A decades-old law can be used to discriminate against gay couples who use surrogacy abroad.

James Derek Mize and his husband Jonathan Gregg are both American citizens, but their daughter, born via a surrogate, may not be, at least according to the U.S. State Department.

The New York Times took an in-depth look at this case in a piece that ran in the paper yesterday. While James was born and raised in the U.S, his husband Jonathan was originally born in Britain. That may be enough, according to the State Department, to deny their daughter citizenship.

"We're both Americans; we're married," James told the New York Times. "We just found it really hard to believe that we could have a child that wouldn't be able to be in our country."

According to decades-old immigration law, a child born abroad must have a biological connection to a parent that is a U.S. citizen in order to be eligible to receive citizenship upon birth. Children born via surrogacy are determined to be "out of wedlock," according to the Times report," which then requires a more onerous process to qualify for citizenship, such as demonstrating that a biological parent is not only an American citizen, but has spent at least five years in the country.

The intent of the law, which dates back to the 1950s, was to prevent people from claiming, falsely, that they are the children of U.S. parents. But LGBTQ advocates argue this archaic policy is being used intentionally to discriminates against same-sex couples, who often have to rely on donors, IVF and surrogacy in order to have biologically children, and are thus held to a higher standard.

"This is where our life is. This is where our jobs are," James told the Times. "Our daughter can't be here, but she has no one else to care for her."

Read the whole story here.

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Netflix Documentary Explores a Gay Chinese-American's Path to Parenthood Via Surrogacy

"All In My Family," a new short documentary by filmmaker Hao Wu, explores his family's struggle to accept his sexuality and decision to pursue surrogacy in the United States

Filmmaker Hao Wu's latest documentary, released on Netflix this past week, explores his coming out story and his path to becoming a gay dad via surrogacy in the United States. Viewers watch as Wu comes out to his Chinese parents, who are not accepting of his sexual orientation.

As the film's synopsis notes, Wu, the only male descendant in his Chinese family, was "raised with a certain set of expectations - excel at school, get a good job, marry, and have kids." He achieves each of these goals, but as a gay man, he hasn't done so in the way his family had hoped. The film follows Wu brings his husband and children to China to meet his family, many of who are still unaware of his sexual orientation.

"I wanted to show the challenges for gay people of Chinese descent, what kind of cultural and generational barriers and differences they have to negotiate in order to build a family of their own," Wu said in an interview with InkStone.

Watch the moving documentary in full here.

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We've shared hundreds, possibly thousands, of stories about GBT men who've become dads through the many different paths to fatherhood. We've thanked the women who've made our dreams come true; we wouldn't be dads without their, in many cases, selfless acts of love. Amongst the courageous birth moms, and our co-parenting counterparts, are the surrogates who carry our children. It's a very personal decision to become a surrogate, but Shelly's choice was simple: if she could help others experience the joys of parenthood, she would.

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The best kind of inclusion is when you're not singled out but instead included right along with everyone else. This kind inclusion inspires others to pursue their own dreams and desires, just like any one else. As part of our popular culture, we know that brands are uniquely suited to inspire us in this way.

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David Burtka sits down with us to talk about his new book "Life is a Party."

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Couple That Met at the Gym Now Spotting Each Other Through Fatherhood

How two real New-Yorkers became two soft-hearted dads

This article is part of our family feature series with Circle Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency that has been helping LGBTQ+ singles and couples realize their dream of parenthood for the past 20 years.

Byron and Matthew Slosar, both 41, met ten years ago at one of New York City's Equinox gyms. "I asked him for a spot on the bench press," smiled Byron. The couple were married September 22, 2012.

Surrogacy was always the way Byron and Matthew wanted to become parents. They chose to wait and become dads later in life, until they had established careers and the financial means to pursue their chosen path.

They signed with Circle Surrogacy after interviewing a few agencies. "We immediately connected with their entire staff, particularly Anne Watson who lovingly dealt with my healthy neuroses on the daily for 1.5 years," said Byron. "They definitely personalized the service and helped us understand all 2,000 moving parts." The dads-to-be were also very impressed with how much emotional support they received from Circle.

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Adopting an Older Child Through Foster Care Was the Best Path for These Dads

After learning more about older-child adoption through You Gotta Believe, Mark and Andrew decided it was the best way for them to form their family.

"Hey! I got adopted today! These are my dads, Mark and Andrew!"

Jeremy was 16 years old when he found out his new dads wanted to adopt him.

In late August 2017, husbands Mark and Andrew Mihopulos, 34 and 36 respectively, remember driving out to the east end of Long Island. They knew at the very same moment they were driving, social workers were letting Jeremy know they wanted to adopt him. "We expected Jeremy to be hesitant or feel mixed emotions," shared Mark. "We didn't know how he would feel about having two dads and about having white parents and family, as he is a black young man."

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