Callum reflects on a thought-provoking work trip
After just three weeks at We Are Family magazine I’ve all ready become emotionally invested in routes to parenthood for gay and lesbian couples. From even my very basic understanding of IVF and surrogacy it occurs to me how scary it must be to embark on that journey, there just seems to be buckets of information, and tons of abbreviated terms to try to understand – it really is a bit of a jungle for a newbie such as myself.
So when we heard about the Men Having Babies conference in Brussels, it seemed pretty serendipitous - some of the top surrogacy lawyers and reproductive specialists would be passing through London – so Hannah (my editor) and I arranged to meet with them. We hopped on a coach from Bristol to London on the first Tuesday morning in May.
When we arrived at Victoria the sun was out so we avoided the tube and took a nice spring city walk to the South Bank where we had arranged to meet the Oregon Reproductive Medicine team.
I was excited, intrigued as to the type of people we might meet, and worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with these über-successful doctors and scientists. When Craig (their representative) approached with Brandon and Andrea I felt those worries wash away. The smiles on their faces said so much, they were just as excited to meet us, and I felt a sense of everyone is here for the same reason – to help people have babies. All three of them were very kind and talked through their respective roles at ORM and, while the science-y details were still a little foggy, the understanding for me came with the passion for the purpose that everyone had, and that made me feel included in doing something… good. I’ve always considered my job at We Are Family as one that’s good for the soul. The meeting was a success and I really believe in the work they do.
(Photo: Brandon, Andrea and Craig from Oregon Reproductive Medicine, with Hannah from We Are Family magazine)
After our goodbyes and good lucks we set off for some Mexican street food and then to meet surrogacy expert Richard Westoby.
Richard has worked closely with We Are Family magazine and is widely respected by many clinics and law firms around the world because he doesn’t work for profit; he is a married man with twins through surrogacy in the US, and his purpose is essentially to make sure others making a move to parenthood have the best information and support – which is something he felt he had lacked.
He’s a 6ft 4ish charismatic man with a massive, comprehensive understanding of surrogacy, IVF and the laws surrounding them. He’s a real font of knowledge and he explained a lot to me in a way that I could understand. Richard invited me along to a meeting he was having with Diane Hinson, the owner and founder of Creative Family Connections LLC, the next day.
Hannah had left the night before so I was going this one alone (well, with Richard). We met Diane and Ruthi, her senior manager, in a comfortable room in the Royal Park Hotel. I explained that for me this was very much a sort of emotional insurance for my future - learning as much as I can now will make it so much easier for when I eventually walk down the road to parenthood myself. In fact, all of this baby talk made me a little broody! Diane and Ruthi were very warm and totally relatable - I liked them from the first hug instead of handshake, they were both really excited by our magazine and they’ll be working with us in the future.
So after meeting some great people and learning a lot over the two days in London, I set off to Victoria to jump on my coach back to Bristol. A nice opportunity for a nap.
Callum, We Are Family sales team