Gay Dad Family Stories

Boston Will Always Have a Special Place in the Hearts of These Gay Dads

Matt and Rej met in Boston and got engaged in Fenway Park. The latest chapter of their fairytale Beantown romance? Fatherhood.

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.

Husbands Matt Ottaviani and Rej Gareau met in Boston in 2013 via OKCupid. A couple years later, the two returned to get engaged in Fenway Park. And in the latest chapter in their fairytale Beantown romance, it's also where they would begin the process of becoming dads with the help of Circle Surrogacy.

Matt and Rej dated for a short time while they were both living in Boston. Once Rej's studying was complete, he returned to Canada (where he is from) and they continued their relationship long distance. In a little under a year, Matt followed his heart to Ottawa. Together they braved the cold, bought a house, and got married in October 2015, following a proposal at Fenway Park orchestrated by Rej, and including friends and family. Their loved ones watched as Rej got down on one knee on the baseball field, and asked Matt to marry him.

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Surrogacy for Gay Men

What Professionals Will I Work With on a Surrogacy Journey?

There will be LOTS of people involved in your surrogacy journey. Kristin Marsoli of Circle Surrogacy breaks down the team of people you can expect to work with.

A surrogacy journey, while monumental, is also a complex process with multiple milestones, many of which are new territory for intended parents. You will likely form the strongest relationships with your egg donor and surrogate, however there are many other professionals who you'll encounter on your journey who will educate and support you on your way to parenthood.

Here are the types of professionals you can expect to work with on your surrogacy journey working with an agency such as Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation:

Parent Outreach Team

When you start your research on surrogacy and surrogacy agencies, if you contact Circle Surrogacy, your first point of contact will be a member of our Parent Outreach Team. This person solely supports intended parents at the very beginning stages of their journeys, before they've signed on with an agency. The Parent Outreach Team is a wonderful resource to answer questions about the surrogacy process, surrogacy costs, how to choose an agency and more. At Circle, many of our Parent Outreach Associates are also parents through surrogacy, so they can share their experiences and understand exactly what it's like to be in your shoes. When you have your surrogacy consultation, you'll meet with a Parent Outreach Associate and a Lawyer to discuss your personal surrogacy needs and journey. Your Parent Outreach Team will support you through signing on with the agency.

Circle's Parent Outreach Team

Egg Donation Matching Coordinator

It's time to match with the first of two women who will be very important in your journey to parenthood: your egg donor! Selecting an egg donor may come easy to some, but others may take more time determining their perfect match. Our egg donor coordination team will help you find the right egg donor to meet your needs. They will help you navigate the egg donor database and coordinate your egg donor match.

IVF Doctor and Clinic Coordinators

You'll work closely with your IVF clinic professionals, including coordinators and, especially, your doctor. Your IVF doctor will advise you on your IVF journey and embryos, evaluate your egg donor and surrogate to determine they are ready for the process medically, and perform the egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Some intended parents come to surrogacy having already identified a clinic, others look for guidance in choosing a clinic that will best suit their needs.

Program Manager and Coordinator

Perhaps the professionals you will work the closest with will be your Program Manager (PM) and Program Coordinator (PC). As your journey support team, your PC and/or PM will be your day-to-day contact during your entire journey, from the moment you sign on with the agency, until the birth of your baby and beyond. Your PC and your PM ensure that you are meeting every milestone, having a smooth journey, and preparing for the arrival of your baby(ies).

Social Workers

Early on in your journey, you'll have an intended parent support call with one of the agency's social workers. During this call, you'll speak with the social worker about your upcoming journey, setting up expectations, talk about matching preferences and more. Social workers are also available to intended parents throughout their journey should they have a bump in the road, or if they need help navigating and talking through a situation.

L-R Alicia Abdella, Manager of Intended Parent Support and Social Worker, Jessica McCaffrey, Intended Parent Attorney and Scott Buckley, VP of Client Services

Lawyers (both at Circle and local attorneys)

During the surrogacy process you will work with a lawyer for the following milestones:

  • Drafting, negotiating and finalizing your surrogacy contracts
  • Establishing your parental rights
  • Safely returning home

Intended parents will be assigned a Circle attorney who will be part of the Coordination team. Parents can also expect to work with local counsel – lawyers who work out of the state from which their gestational carrier resides. Local counsel will help with establishing parental rights.

Surrogate Matching Team

A key milestone during your surrogacy journey is matching with your gestational carrier. At Circle, the Matching Manager – who is also a lawyer – presents intended parents with the profile of a gestational carrier whom she believes will be a great match. The match is based on a few criteria: legal fit, personality fit, geographic location and views on surrogacy. The Matching Team will help coordinate your first call with your potential surrogate, and work with you to find the most suitable match.

Trust Accountant Team

Each surrogacy operates a little differently; however if you work with a full-service agency such as Circle Surrogacy, a Trust Accountant will manage any outgoing payments to surrogates, egg donors and third parties. Upon matching, trust accountants keep intended parents informed of the monies needed to fund all expected expenses up until 6 months post delivery. They can also answer any financial questions intended parents may have.

Medical Billing Team

Intended parents will interact with the Medical Billing Team when they are matched with their gestational carrier. The team determines what intended parents can expect to pay for medical expenses from local monitoring, pregnancy and delivery, based on their specific case. The Medical Billing Team also reviews each medical bill from monitoring, physicians and the hospital prior to payment to ensure accuracy, and advocate for intended parents should medical facilities need to be called for any discrepancies.

Gestational Carrier's OBGYN

Around the 10th week of pregnancy, the IVF clinic will discharge your surrogate from their care and she will start seeing her OBGYN. Your surrogate will select her OBGYN that is local to her, and usually the same doctor she saw for her own pregnancies. Many intended parents attend the 20-week ultrasound with their surrogate, at which time they meet the OBGYN in person (in some cases, IPs have been "attended" ultrasound appointments via video on their surrogate's phone!).

The entire team at Circle

Hospital Staff

Your baby will be delivered at a hospital in your gestational carrier's home state; many times, it's the hospital where she delivered her own children. Circle recommends touring the Labor & Delivery section of your surrogate's hospital to help familiarize yourself with its staff and layout in advance. Many intended parents combine their visit for the 20-week ultrasound and the hospital tour. Touring the hospital with your surrogate enables you both to ask questions of the hospital staff and prepare for baby's delivery.

Embassy personnel (international intended parents)

International parents will work with their agency's legal team as well as local counsel to ensure they can return home safely. Some intended parents will need to travel to the embassy to secure travel documents for their baby(ies).

There are so many experienced professionals involved in a surrogacy and egg donation journey. It's important to understand with whom you'll be working throughout each milestone. While every agency operates differently – and an independent surrogacy journey will involve fewer agency professionals – these are the professionals intended parents can expect to work with on a journey with Circle Surrogacy. And because Circle is a full-service agency, many of the professionals mentioned above – outside of IVF clinics, local attorneys, hospital and embassy personnel – are all under one roof, making the management of your journey smooth and secure.

Change the World

New York: It's Time to Legalize Ethical Surrogacy

New York, one of only three states to prohibit compensated surrogacy, is faltering on a bill to legalize the practice in the state

With the Democratic takeover of the State Senate in the 2018 elections, legislators in New York have been busy passing any number of long-held progressive priorities, from a sweeping package of bills strengthening rent regulations to others aimed at expanding and protecting voting access in the state. But as the legislative season comes to a close, another initiative, which looked all but assured to pass just a couple months ago, now stands in limbo: the legalization of gestational surrogacy via the Child-Parent Security Act.

New York is just one of three states that doesn't already permit surrogacy in some form, but we are closer than ever before to finally legalizing this important family-building option for LGBTQ people and those who struggle with infertility. The Child-Parent Security Act has passed the State Senate, and Governor Cuomo has promised to sign it. But the legislation is now stalled in the State Assembly, where a number of legislator and advocates have unfortunately spoken out against it. Assemblywoman Deborah Glick has called the practice "pregnancy for a fee" and the "commodification of women." Gloria Steinem likened the practice to allowing "profiteering from body invasion."

But State Senator Brad Hoylman, the bill's sponsor and himself a gay father of two via surrogacy, is nonetheless pressing ahead. "My two beautiful daughters were born through gestational surrogacy," he wrote via Twitter. "They are everything to me. Every family in NY, whether LGBTQ or struggling with infertility, should have the same opportunity."

We at Gays With Kids couldn't agree more, which is why we've brought you countless stories of gay dads, like Senator Hoylman, who have realized their dream of fatherhood through the incredible medical advancements of the last several decades that make surrogacy possible.

But even more importantly: we've brought you the stories of surrogates themselves — a perspective so often left out of the morality debate surrounding surrogacy — who help illuminate the incredible and diverse set of reasons women decide to become surrogates. The joy many of these women take in helping others realize their dream of parenthood via surrogacy is truly palpable, and couldn't sound more different from the alarmist and coercive reality painted by surrogacy's critics.

Here are just a few of their voices:

  • Shelly Marsh, told us of the urge she felt after becoming a mother herself to help others who can't start families as easily. She subsequently worked with two separate gay couples to do exactly that. "My girls are my life," she told us of her decision to become a surrogate. "If I have the ability to share that love with someone else, that is what I wanted to do."
  • Heather Manojlovic told us about some of the reasons she enjoyed working to make fatherhood a reality for gay intended parents. "The fact that I was able to help someone that may have had to overcome a lot of adversity during his lifetime to fulfill a dream meant so much to me," she wrote.

  • Another surrogate we profiled told us about the experience of working with an HIV positive man, a population of people who once thought biological fatherhood would never be in their future, become a dad through the Special Program for Assisted Reproduction (SPAR) program. "I knew they didn't have the same number of gestational carrier match options that gay men who weren't part of the SPAR program had," she wrote. "It felt even more gratifying for me to be able to be the person who helped make their dreams come true."

To be clear: surrogacy does indeed raise any number of moral and ethical issues that should absolutely be discussed before legalizing it. Abroad, surrogacy is often left unregulated, which creates a system that does in fact take advantage of women and their families who serve as surrogates. And let's face it: surrogacy is expensive, meaning this form of family creation is far too often available to just a privileged few.

But rather than ban the practice completely, why not work to improve these shortcomings?

Many efforts are underway to help tackle surrogacy's hefty price tag. The non-profit organization Men Having Babies has been fighting for years to offset the considerable costs associated with surrogacy for gay men. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is currently vying for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President, has suggested insurance companies be required to cover some parts of the process, such as IVF treatments, for LGBTQ couples and others who can't get pregnant independently. And an increasing number of corporations, like Target, are offering benefits to their employees to cover some aspects of surrogacy's costs.

Senator Hoylman has also taken steps to shore up protections for surrogates by including a "Surrogates' Bill of Rights," the first of its kind in the country, as part of the legislation. Under the bill, surrogates will have guaranteed access to legal advice and extended medical benefits. By passing this legislation, New York will finally catch up to the 47 other states that already permit gestational surrogacy in some form, allowing LGBTQ people and others impacted by infertility to realize their dream of parenthood in the state they call home. But we will also have the opportunity to do something arguably more important — set the national standard for the ethical practice of surrogacy.

If you live in New York State, please take a second to send a message to your representative asking them to support the bill.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

'Broadway Husbands' Meet Potential Surrogate for First Time

Bret and Stephen talk about meeting their potential surrogate for the first time, and their second "team day" at RMA of Connecticut

In their latest video documenting their surrogacy journey, Bret and Stephen talk about meeting their potential surrogate and her husband for the first time.

Bret played tour guide for the couple, he said, who had never been to New York.

"It was super exciting, I think we were a little nervous," Bret said. "Would we even recognize each other even though we'd FaceTime'd each other? Would there be weird things, ticks we didn't catch? I was worried that I would weird them out, which I think I did."

"He did," said Stephen with a smile.

In the rest of the video, Bret and Stephen talk about their second "team day" at RMA of Connecticut, where the husbands had another opportunity to meet and greet all the professionals involved in their journey.

Check out more videos from the Broadway Husbands here!

Broadway Husbands Talk Second Team Day

In this video you'll hear Bret and Stephen discuss:

Bret and Stephen discuss meeting their potential surrogate for the first time in person (0:43)

The dads-to-be chat about about their emotions around meeting their potential surrogate for the first time (1:15)

Recap of their first Team Day with RMA of Connecticut (watch the video about their first Team Day here) (1:38)

Bret and Stephen describe what's involved in their second Team Day and the medical side of matching with their surrogate (2:25)

They discuss the group therapy session with their surrogate and her husband (3:18)

They husbands wrap up by talking about their overall experience with RMA of Connecticut (4:51)

Gay Parents To Be®

Gay Parents To Be® is the leading international fertility program serving the LGBTQ community. Our full-suite of fertility services was founded by our Medical Director, Dr. Mark Leondires, a gay dad through surrogacy and egg donation, and leading advocate for the LGBTQ family-building community. Gay Parents To Be® is a single-source destination with a trusted partner network, including surrogacy and egg donation agencies and reproductive attorneys. We are the only East Coast IVF Clinic designated as a fully-inclusive LGBTQ Healthcare Leader by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) .

When you're ready, we're here to welcome you: https://www.GayParentsToBe.com




Gay Dad Family Stories

This Surrogate Helped Two Different Gay Couples Realize Their Dreams of Becoming Dads

Shelly Marsh says her daughters are her "life," and wanted to share that love as a surrogate for two different gay couples.

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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Surrogacy for Gay Men

Gay Dads Ask: Can We Make Surrogacy Cheaper?

The guys behind Daddy Squared are back with the second season of their podcast! And they're starting by tackling a common question: why is surrogacy so expensive?

Through our podcast we have met so many dads in various stages of the parenthood journey. But whether it's in gay dad Facebook groups or in face-to-face interaction, there's no doubt that the biggest issue gay dads tackle is the cost of surrogacy.

Bringing a biological baby into the world can cost $180,000. For twins it can be around a quarter million. The biggest question is: Can we make it cheaper?

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Sponsored

A 'Men Having Babies' Conference Started These Happy New Dads on Their Path to Parenthood

In the Bay Area? Sign up now for the next Men Having Babies Conference taking place this January 12-13!

Last year, after 12 years together, Jimmy Nguyen and Michael Duque were finally ready to become dads. And so in 2017 they began their journey to fatherhood. Little did they know how quickly that would become a reality. What began with a serendipitous sighting of an ad for an upcoming Men Having Babies conference resulted in the joyous birth of their son in October 2018. Here's their story.

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Sponsored

'Broadway Husbands' Bret and Stephen Learn Some New Surrogacy Lingo In Their Latest Vlog

Enjoy our fourth video in our series that follows Broadway husbands Stephen and Bret on their path to parenthood via surrogacy

In our next vlog with "Broadway Husbands" Stephen and Bret, the dads-to-be talk about the process of choosing an egg donor and creating embryos.

After learning they'd have to wait for their donor to "cycle twice" before beginning, the guys offered a word of wisdom to future gay men who are interested in surrogacy:

"Just so you know they call it 'bleeds,'" Bret said.

"Yeah they said they're waiting for her 'second bleed,'" Stephen added.

"So if they tell you that, don't be shocked," Bret cautioned. "I guess that's just a phrase that they use medically?"

Bret, a New York actor, and Stephen, a Broadway dancer, make up the dynamic duo behind @BroadwayHusbands. Gays With Kids is extremely excited to have front row seats, as this theater duo vlog about the highs, lows, complications and revelations of their surrogacy journey.

Watch this latest installment of their journey and follow along as we learn about their hopes and their worries, gain insight on their mindset about starting a family, and the factors that helped them choose surrogacy and, ultimately, their fertility clinic, Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT).

Watch the video:

In this video you'll hear Bret and Stephen discuss:

The process of choosing their egg donor (0:15)

Filling out the egg donor questionnaire (0:29)

Exploring RMACT's egg donor profile database (0:47)

Bret and Stephen discuss the egg donor they selected and what they learned and loved about her (1:00)

The next steps for their egg donor; she has to cycle twice before they can do an egg retrieval (2:10)

Overall thoughts and excitement on the egg donor process (2:45)

***

Gay Parents To Be®

Gay Parents To Be® is the leading international fertility program serving the LGBTQ community. Our full-suite of fertility services was founded by our Medical Director, Dr. Mark Leondires, a gay dad through surrogacy and egg donation, and leading advocate for the LGBTQ family-building community. Gay Parents To Be® is a single-source destination with a trusted partner network, including surrogacy and egg donation agencies and reproductive attorneys. We are the only East Coast IVF Clinic designated as a fully-inclusive LGBTQ Healthcare Leader by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) .

When you're ready, we're here to welcome you: https://www.GayParentsToBe.com



Fatherhood, the gay way

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