Gay Dad Family Stories

Gay Dads Freddie and Jeff Featured in CNN Documentary About Surrogacy

"Just in three days, I see the world differently," said new dad Jeff after the birth of his son Jace.

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.

"On our third date, Jeff and I discussed our desire to become parents someday, so we've always wanted to be dads," said Freddie. Jeff and Freddie Beisler-Snell met through a mutual friend and have been together 13 years, married for three. Right from the very beginning, they saw fatherhood as part of their future. In May 2019, they welcomed their son Jace via surrogacy.

When Jeff, 40, and Freddie, 36, started their journey, they began looking into adoption. Although they both yearned for a biological connection to their future kids, they didn't know much about surrogacy, or if it was a viable option for them. After doing a little more research, they attended a Gay Parents To Be event, sponsored by RMA of Connecticut taking place in Atlanta. "This event was great because it opened our eyes up to the entire surrogacy process," said Freddie. "After the event, we did some additional research on potential agencies and IVF doctors. We ended up narrowing down our search, and landed on Circle Surrogacy as our agency, and RMA-CT for our IVF clinic."

And from there, their surrogacy journey began.

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Change the World

Judge's Decision in NY 'Compassionate Surrogacy' Case Involving Gay Dad Overturned

Though compensated surrogacy remains illegal in New York State, "compassionate surrogacy" arrangements are remain legal

Last week, an unanimous four-judge panel, part of the New York Appellate Division in Brooklyn, New York, revived a gay dad's petition to adopt his son born via surrogacy. The dad, identified as "Joseph P." in court documents, had earlier been denied his petition to adopt by a Queens County Family Court Judge, John M. Hunt. The Queens judge denied the petition because compensated surrogacy contracts are illegal in New York. However, the child born to Joseph was born via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning his gestational surrogate was not compensated.

The Appellate court's decision, written by Justice Alan D. Scheinkmanm called Hunt's decision "clearly erroneous," and held that a new Family Court judge should re-hear the case.

Judge Hunt's decision is all the more confusing since Joseph had actually already become a father via surrogacy in New York—three times over. In each instance, he used donor eggs and a friend serving, voluntarily, as the gestational surrogate. He had his first child in 2012, and then twins the following year. In all three instances, a Family Court judge granted Joseph's adoption petition, given that each child was conceived via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning no money changes hands in the course of a surrogacy journey between carrier an intended parent. This type of surrogacy arrangement is not illegal under to New York law. The social worker in Joseph's latest attempt to adopt, Gay City News noted, also gave him a favorable review, calling him "a mature, stable, and caring person who intentionally created a family of himself, the twins, and John."

Gay City News notes: "Justice Scheinkman provided a careful description of the laws governing surrogacy in New York. The Legislature provided that surrogacy contracts are unenforceable and treated as void. However, the only surrogacy contracts actually outlawed are those where the surrogate is compensated. It was clear to the Appellate Division that the Legislature did not mean to outlaw voluntary surrogacy arrangements, merely to make them unenforceable in the courts. Those who enter into a compensated surrogacy agreement face a small monetary fine and people who act as brokers to arrange such agreements are liable for a larger penalty. There is no penalty for voluntary, uncompensated surrogacy arrangements."

Read the full article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A "Village of Women" Helped These Gay Men Become Dads

Elliot Dougherty's mother-in-law served as a gestational carrier, and his sister donated eggs, so that he and his husband could become dads

All good love stories start hot. Ours just so happened to, literally. The summer I turned 23, during the sweltering heat, I stood at an invisible crossroads. I felt a momentum pulling at me, but I couldn't tell from which direction. I had been putting myself out there as a hairstylist and building my portfolio by working with local photographers and designers. At the beginning of July, I received a Facebook message from a young man named Matthew Eledge. He sent me the script to a short film he was directing, hoping I might be interested. We met a few days later on a humid summer day at a quaint French cafe in the Old Market of downtown Omaha. Drinking wine, we discussed our inspirations for hours.

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Change the World

Surrogate Pens Powerful Op-Ed, Urging New York Legislators to Legalize the Practice

Victoria Ashton says she was "fully in control of her body" while serving as a surrogate for two New York families.

In an essay for Gay City News, Victoria Ashton, who has serves as a gestational surrogate for two New York-based families, powerfully defended her decision to help others form their family, and urged legislator to enact the Child-Parent Security Act (CPSA) to legalize the practice in New York State.

She says, for her, the decision to become a surrogate was "easy." After she had her own two children, and her family felt complete, Victoria says she "still felt this nagging desire to bring more children into this world. I loved being pregnant and both of my pregnancies were easy and textbook. But since I thought the only way to be pregnant again was to have another child of my own, I tried to push it aside and move on, because at the time two children was the perfect fit for us."

So she began to educate herself and research the process for becoming a gestational surrogate. "I understood the commitment, I understood the process, I understood the risk — but my overwhelming desire to help someone in need by giving them life is a reward that tops it all. Somewhere out in the world another family or couple deserves to be just as happy as I am. A man or woman deserves to be called Mommy and Daddy, if they wish. They deserve to experience firsts. They deserve unconditional love."

Victoria also sought to clear up misconceptions that some may have about the role and rights of a surrogate throughout the process, saying she had "full control over" her body throughout the process. "I made decisions about my own body and my own health," she wrote. "I felt protected and secure. It was a partnership from day one." But, she noted further, she was lucky to live in a state where surrogate enjoy full protection under the law. "Had those not existed," she wrote, "it would have complicated my own decision."

Currently, those protections don't exist in New York, she pointed out. But the soon could, if the New York State Child-Parent Security Act (CPSA) is passed. The bill, Victoria writes, "goes above and beyond in providing the necessary protections that create successful surrogacy partnerships."

Read Victoria's full essay here.

Gay Dad Life

Women Recount Reasons Why They Served as Surrogates in Moving Essays for Marie Claire Magazine

"We've gained an extended family," Nichole Vaughan said of the single gay man to whom she served as a surrogate

In a recent article for Marie Claire, five women who have served as surrogates recounted their experiences in personal essays for the magazine.

"I have a sister who's 11 years younger than I am, who has a heart condition, and has been advised not to carry for herself," said Nichole Vaughan, a 33 year old women in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. "I've always wanted to be a surrogate for her. Since she's not quite settled down, I decided to be a surrogate for someone else first, learn to separate myself. Make sure my body could do it."

The intended parent she ended up carrying for was a single gay man. "We've gained an extended family," she said. "The first time the gentleman came up and met my kids, who were 9 and 4 at the time, he told them, 'I'm going to be your cousin in Miami.' That's how my kids refer to him. They're like, 'I have a cousin in Miami.'"

Nichole went on to give advice to other women considering serving as a surrogate. "I wouldn't do this if you don't have a very supportive group of friends and family. If they're not there in the beginning, then it'll be a very difficult road. We had to travel [to Miami for the transfer] so I needed my children watched. My doctor required me to stay flat for 72 hours afterwards, so you have to account for that as well. Some people stay in a hotel, but fortunately, that's where my intended father lives, so we stayed with him. It was a good way to bond."

Now that Nichole has successfully served as a surrogate, she still plans to do the same for her sister one day. "I'm very excited to do this again for my sister. I may even do it again for somebody else; I'm tossing that around. I really enjoy it. I love being able to bless somebody else."

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Which States Allow Gay Men to Legally Use Traditional Surrogacy?

Traditional surrogacy provides gay men and couples a unique opportunity to have their own biological child, but the practice is not legal everywhere in the United States.

In traditional surrogacy, as opposed to gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is both the egg donor and the carrier for the intended parents, and therefore is genetically linked to the resulting child. Traditional surrogacy provides gay men and couples a unique opportunity to have their own biological child, but the practice is not legal everywhere in the United States. Check below to see where your state falls. Looking for a more general overview of surrogacy? Start here.
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What is surrogacy, and what can gay men expect if they pursue this path to parenthood? For gay men specifically, surrogacy is the arrangement or legal agreement whereby a woman carries a pregnancy for a single gay man or gay couple who will become the newborn's father(s) at birth. The surrogate relinquishes any biological tie or maternal role to the baby.

The process requires either in vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to place the fertilized egg into the surrogate's uterus, or intrauterine insemination (IUI) to impregnate the surrogate. An IUI can only be used for traditional surrogacy.For most gay men, creating a family through surrogacy is the only opportunity to have a paternal biological connection with their children.

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