Become a Gay Dad

The Unscrupulous Surrogacy Agency, the Homophobic Egg Donor and the Gay Couple

In an extensive look into the unsavory practices of Planet Hospital, an article last week in The New York Times (see end of this article) described the plight of Chris Pommier and Jonah Winn-Lenetsky, a gay couple that lost tens of thousands of dollars to the medical tourism agency.


One of 40 or so other couples, Chris and Jonah paid the Cancún, Mexico-based agency for surrogacy services they never received. The New York Times article detailed the financial debacle and how the fertility clinic housing their samples cut ties with Planet Hospital mid-process, saying they weren’t receiving payment.

The article omitted, however, to mention the role homophobia played in the already muddied process. In Cancún, the couple entered their new fertility clinic to see a woman they recognized in the waiting room. They’d only seen her photo, but they immediately knew who she was: their egg donor. The donor spotted them, too. “And that’s where everything breaks down,” says Chris. The process was intended to be anonymous. But, as the men found out, over the next few days the donor called around frantically to confirm her suspicions: that she was donating to a gay couple. Chris discovered their identities had accidentally been revealed to her in an email from one of the agencies involved. “Turns out, she was incredibly homophobic and would never, never, never, never donate to a gay couple,” says Chris. Instead of donating her egg, the would-be donor got on a plane to return home. “It was just a disaster. We didn’t even get to the point of possibly finding out if we could get pregnant.” (Chris' story could not be independently verified.)

The couple is now seeking surrogacy in the United States while trying to recoup their lost money through a GoFundMe campaign.

* * *

Gays With Kids asked Chris to share what he and Jonah, through their own experiences, have learned about surrogacy.

First Steps

"I would definitely recommend that people get online and start talking to other people who have become dads or moms. But particularly if you’re a gay man looking to start a family, talk to other gay dads. You’re going to need support – emotional support. Even if it’s not as traumatic and crazy as our experience, there’s always going to be something."

International Surrogacy

"I would have pursued it up until just recently. There has been a lot of success in India for a long time. For many years, India was sort of the go-to-place for surrogacy. But then they closed their doors to gay people and singles. A lot of people used to go to Thailand. In May of this year, there was a military coup. Just about three or four days ago, the military was, like, ‘Oh, hey, what’s all this surrogacy stuff going on here? We don’t want gay people coming here and getting babies.’ So, it looks like Thailand is no longer going to be available. I feel like the global climate is not open to international surrogacy right now." (see link to more information on surrogacy in Thailand at the end of this article.)

Relationships

"Jonah and I are lucky. It seems like we’ve got a good schedule of freaking out. It seems like when one of us is freaking out, the other one is not freaking out. Thank god. That said, we have arguments about money, we have had arguments about what the next steps are going to be -- you know, maybe we should just adopt. We have really strong feelings about all of those things."

Adoption

"I think I’m more open to adoption than Jonah. I want a family. My friends are having kids. They were having kids a couple of years ago. I just want to catch up. But I think we really just want what so many others want: we want to have our own biological kids. We just have to pay for it. We’re committed to having -- really giving ourselves the chance to have kids that are genetically related to us."

Sharing Their Story

"It’s embarrassing. It is, because I feel like we made some stupid mistakes. I’ve found that as our story is getting out more; really the vast majority who comment [on the New York Times story], the people who matter in my life, have been incredibly supportive. And the more I reach out to the gay dads in my community, the more love and help and support I get."

Advice to Others

"You’re going to need more patience and more perseverance than you think you’re going to need. Whatever much patience you think you’re going to need, just multiply that by a hundred. Be patient, go slow, and if it doesn’t feel right, change it."

(The New York Times article on the practices of Planet Hospital can be found here. For more information on surrogacy in Thailand, click here. To learn more about the couple's GoFundMe campaign, click here.)

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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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Politics

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.

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Politics

Gay Russian Dads Forced to Flee Moscow

Fearing the Russian government might take their adopted kids into custody because of their sexual orientation, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev fled Moscow

A married couple in Russia, with two adopted children, were just forced the flee their home in Moscow for fear that the authorities would take their children away, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.

Trouble started last month after investigators in Russia opened a criminal inquiry into the proceedings that had allowed the gay couple, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, to legally adopt the two boys —adoption by LGBTQ people in Russia has typically not been recognized. The government became aware of the adoption proceedings after the gay couple brought their 12-year-old son to the hospital, who was complaining of a stomachache. The boy was fine, but after he mentioned offhand that he was adopted and lived with two fathers, the doctor called the police.

Andrei and Yevgeny granted an interview with Deutsche Welle after escaping Moscow, but on the advice of their lawyers have yet to disclose where they are currently located. Here is a quick recap of that conversation:

"In connection with the 'propaganda of non-traditional values,' the state representatives are accused of having neglected their duty of supervision," Andrei said, when asked to explain on what basis the Russian government might take his children into custody. "This means that lesbian couples could even have their biological children taken away because, through their lifestyle choices, they propagate "certain values."

Yevgeny also explained the events that led to the couple's harrowing escape "I was alone in Moscow at that time. A week after Andrei and the children had left the country, there was a knock on my door, but nobody called 'police, open up.' After half an hour the violent knocking stopped. My parents' home was searched. They were looking for the children and our Danish marriage certificate because we got married in Denmark in 2016. My friends then got me out of the country."

Read the full interview here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

This Couple is Using 'Wheel of Fortune' Winnings to Help Fund Their Adoption

Need to raise money for your adoption fund? Why not try your luck on Wheel of Fortune like these guys!

Doug and Nick Roberts connected three and a half years ago via a dating app, and on their first date, the two immediately felt a connection. Doug, a psychologist, and Nick, a neuroscientist, were married 18 months later. Today the couple live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and they're ready to start their next exciting adventure together: fatherhood.

The husbands would like to have children, and Nick has always wanted to adopt. "We considered surrogacy, and may consider it in the future as we expand our family," said Doug, "but right now, it is cost-prohibitive. Adoption was easily the right choice for us as we begin to grow our family.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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