Expert Advice

Get the Book: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction

Dr. Kim Bergman's new book "Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Reproduction" breaks down surrogacy, egg donation and sperm donation.

Guest post written by Dr. Kim Bergman

If you are reading this article, chances are good that you are thinking about building a family. You've been dreaming about your baby, first smiles and first steps, family vacations and holidays spent together. As with any dream, you might need some help to fulfill it. Thanks to advancements in medical technology, and a changing legal climate assisted reproductive technologies (ART) for the LGBTQI community can help make your dream a reality.


In my new book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction, I will walk you through the essential aspects of assisted reproduction, review your options, and offer you guidance on what can seem like a daunting, complicated, and mysterious process. In addition to legal and financial considerations, there are psychological issues that must be handled with care. But while the journey is complex, with thoughtful planning, it is entirely doable. In Your Future Family, I'll outline the essential pieces of the puzzle you'll need. We'll cover the basic science of sperm, eggs, embryos, conception, pregnancy, and birth. I'll discuss how egg donors, sperm donors and surrogates are screened, and how to choose one, and I'll share stories of people I have helped through the process. I hope to show you that it is not only possible but also highly probable that you can become a parent.

I travel the world talking about this issue and I'm asked the same basic questions over and over:

  • Where do we start?
  • How do we find reputable experts to help us?
  • What are the unique issues LGBTQI parents face?
  • What are the legal issues we might be faced with?
  • How do we put the biological pieces together?
  • How do we tell our story to family, friends, and our child?

This book is designed to answer these and other commonly asked questions. My primary goal is not just to provide the nuts and bolts of assisted reproduction for the LGBTQI community but also to share the human element of the process. Throughout the book I include real stories about people becoming parents. I hope to bring the scientific, medical, and legal information to life, helping you to be educated and encouraged while keeping your expectations realistic.

I have written this book to help anyone who is contemplating having a baby with the help of others. It's also for family members, friends, employers, neighbors, and anyone else who knows someone who is either contemplating or building a family through third-party assisted reproduction. In particular, grandparents, aunts, and uncles will find this book useful as it both explains the basic process and helps one talk about it with other people.

LGBTQI folks creating families through ART is beautiful and healthy

Bill, John, Olivia and Vivienne: Mentioned in the book – surrogate was pregnant with twins. One twin, Gabriel passed away and then they had the second daughter, Vivienne.

It is about love, collaboration, and a desire to raise a child. I love being a mom. It's the one thing that I always knew I wanted. I was one of those little girls who played with baby dolls, naming them and planning their futures, and even their children's futures. When I met and fell in love with my wife, Natalie, my wish to be a mother didn't go away, even though I knew there was never going to be a man in the picture. I always knew that I would be able to fulfill my dream of becoming a mommy. Thanks to a sperm donor, my wish came true. When my daughters, Abby and Jenna, were born, it was rare for lesbians to have a baby. My kids are, essentially, the first generation of children born to LGBTQ parents. Natalie and I were in the vanguard. We learned a lot along the way. As a licensed psychologist, I realized what an advantage I had because I understood the importance of open, honest communication, support, trust, and flexibility, and it is this understanding that I bring to my work and that I offer to you in the pages of Your Future Family.

Are you ready?

Alan and family: This is the family Kim wrote about where single dad Alan has three kids from one batch of frozen embryos but at two different times. Kids are son Isaac and twins Natalie and Naomi, this is the story where Alan's mom thanked Kim for making her a grandma (she has since passed).

When Natalie and I had our first conversation about possibly starting the process of donor insemination and becoming parents, a flipped switched in us and we were in. Period. End of discussion. From that moment on, nothing was going to stop us. When our first insemination attempt didn't take, we tried again. And when that didn't work, we tried again. And then we switched donors, thinking maybe different sperm would help. And when that didn't work, we tried again. And again. And then we switched donors again. We kept at it until finally, at last, I got pregnant with Abby. But never did we doubt that I would get pregnant and that we would be parents. We had decided that no matter what, we were going to be parents.

You can build a family, no matter what

Scotch and Todd Holland: This family is mentioned in the book. The kids are triplets, but because of how they look folks think they are twins and a singleton.

There is nothing more rewarding than building a family, and these days almost anyone can do so. The barriers that existed as few as ten or twenty years ago no longer stand in your way. If you are truly committed and you are willing to be patient, your wish can come true.

I must warn you, however, that having a baby through assisted reproduction is a marathon, not a sprint. You've got twenty-six miles to run, and no two miles are the same. And the marathon starts long before you start the race. You've got a whole lot of planning, training, and commitment ahead of time. You have to keep your eyes on the finish line even when things are really tough. Some miles are easy, others are excruciating, some are euphoric, and some are boring. That's exactly how having a baby through assisted reproduction feels. You plan, you put the pieces together, and you learn all you can about the process. There is a lot of waiting, anticipating, excitement, and sometimes disappointment. It proceeds in fits and starts, and sometimes you wonder if you'll ever see the finish line. But then, when you finally get there, it's the greatest thing ever. So, if you think you might be ready to take the first step, check out Your Future Family and read on.




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Gay Dad Life

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Just in time for Father's Day, The T.C. Mott Children's Hospital in Michigan released a new national poll of 713 fathers that found a majority experience some form of criticisms as new parents. While we have long known new mothers are subjected to criticism, less studies have focused on the experiences of dads.

About half of fathers (52%) say they have been criticized about their parenting style or choices. The common source of criticism is the child's other parent (44%), though the report didn't explore if this finding was equally true for LGBTQ couples. Grandparents (24%) and the father's own friends (9%) were also common sources of criticism. Dads even reported receiving criticism about their parenting from strangers in public places or online (10%), as well as professionals like teachers or health care providers (5%).

Among some of the findings:

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Kids Raised by LGBTQ Parents Do Better in School, Says New Study

Even when controlling for income and wealth, children raised by LGBTQ parents were found to have slightly higher test scores

According to new research at the Belgian university KU Leuven, children raised by same-sex couples may actually do better in school, by some measures, than those raised by heterosexual parents. In the research, which was reported on by the Washington Post, the study's authors used government tracking data in the Netherlands to find that children raised by same-sex couples achieved better test results, and were 7 percent more likely to graduate from high school, than children raised by different-sex couples.

As reported in the article: "The results indicate that children from same-sex couples outperform children from different-sex couples on standardized test scores at the end of primary education by 0.18 standard deviations," the researchers wrote in their paper. "Our results suggest that children from same-sex couples are 6.7 percent more likely to graduate than children from different-sex couples."

This study is unique in that prior studies of the educational attainments of children raised by LGBTQ parents often had small sample sizes of only a few dozen kids. This study, however, included the academic achievements of 1,200 kids raised by same-sex couples, and more than a million children raised by opposite-sex couples, born between 1995 and 2005.

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According to the LGBTQ Family Building Survey, recently released by the Family Equality Council, the majority of young LGBTQ say they are interested in becoming parent. This marks a dramatic shift when compared with the attitudes of older generations.

Among the survey's findings:

  • 63% of LGBTQ Millennials (aged 18-35) are considering expanding their families, either becoming parents for the first time, or by having more children
  • 48% of LGBTQ Millennials are actively planning to grow their families, compared to 55% of non-LGBTQ Millennials, a gap that has narrowed significantly in comparison to older generations
  • 63% of LGBTQ people planning families expect to use assisted reproductive technology, foster care, or adoption to become parents, a significant shift away from older generations of LGBTQ parents for whom the majority of children were conceived through intercourse.

Despite the expected increase in LGBTQ parents, most providers, they note, "do not typically receive training about the unique needs of the LGBTQ community; forms and computer systems are not developed with LGBTQ families in mind; insurance policies are rarely created to meet the needs of LGBTQ family building; and discrimination against LGBTQ prospective parents by agencies and providers remains widespread."

The Family Equality Council goes on to recommend that family building providers "from reproductive endocrinologists and obstetricians to neonatal social workers, family law practitioners, and child welfare workers" begin preparing now to welcome future LGBTQ parents.

Read the full report here.

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There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.

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