Increasingly both single gay men and gay couples are engaging in surrogacy to fulfill their dream of fatherhood. Sam Everingham profiles two extraordinary journeys from dads who will be at Families Through Surrogacy’s fifth conference for intended parents in March.
“For gay men in particular international surrogacy is a fast moving minefield with many risks. Options in countries with little or no legislation can be attractive because they are more affordable, but can be subject to sudden changes or being shut down all together. A key reason we at Families Through Surrogacy run our events is to help educate anyone considering surrogacy so they can make the best informed choices and reach their goal to be parents.
When I first came across intended dad David Gonzalez in 2014, he and partner Dennis had already been on their surrogacy journey for two years. David had grown up in a large family in Spain, so children had always been important to him. They joined Surrogacy UK in 2012 and created their online profile and worked hard to engage with the surrogate community.
A potential surrogate approached them, but she had no children of her own. She also really wanted to be a mother which raised a few alarm bells. David and Dennis declined, though David admits, ‘You are quite desperate as an intended parent so you have that temptation of just trying it anyway’.
Then they met staff from Planet Hospital at a London ‘parenting show’. The (now defunct) surrogacy agency pushed them to consider an egg donor and child via their Mexico program. Pressured to sign up or risk losing their preferred egg donor (a common sales con), within months they had deposited thousands of pounds and their sperm samples in Mexico. Then delays started. They were strung along until months later they (along with dozens of other hopeful parents to be) learned Planet Hospital had collapsed. They had lost their deposit and would need to start again from scratch.
Focussing back on domestic surrogacy in the UK, they turned to another online group for independent surrogacy. Eventually they met a surrogate who already had five children of her own and had done two surrogacy journeys for another couple. By February 2015 she was pregnant using traditional surrogacy and they welcomed a daughter in November.
Their surrogate offered to carry again to give their daughter a sibling. At 26 weeks their much-awaited sibling was still-born. Resolute, she agreed to another insemination, buoyed by her doctor’s assurance that this was a one-off. This time they were rewarded with twins, though pregnancy complications ensued leading to twins being delivered early at 32 weeks.
David will talk about the joy of parenthood despite their journey of enormous setbacks at FTS London conference on Saturday 10th March.
When you talk to James Phillips it’s his broad Scottish accent which strikes you. James now lives in London and was a single gay man when he decided to engage in cross-border surrogacy in late 2013. A regular traveller to Thailand, he went to great lengths to choose a Thai egg donor and surrogate who would agree to stay in contact. While James planned all he could meticulously, things never quite went to plan. During the pregnancy attempts he fell in love, his surrogate conceived twins and the Baby Gammy scandal caused his clinic to close its doors.
The experience was nerve-wracking, emotionally intense, but ultimately filled with joy when boy and girl twins were delivered in January 2015. James has documented his journey in a recently published book Surrogacy: Our Family’s Journey (£11.99 from Amazon.co.uk).
While Thailand and other Asian nations are now closed to foreigners wanting to create a family, a number of reliable (and far less reliable) options remain. There is renewed interest in countries with more legally stable frameworks: the USA, UK and Canada. Meanwhile, ‘new frontier’, higher risk surrogacy programmes for gay men are emerging in countries as diverse as Kenya, Nicaragua and Guatemala.”
FTS events are popular because honesty and transparency is their priority – protecting the interests of intended parents, parents and surrogates is paramount. For anyone thinking about starting their family via surrogacy these conferences are well worth the ticket price as they are the best place to make valuable new contacts. The atmosphere is always open and friendly and your taken care of with food and refreshments included (the food is always very good – take it from us, we've been!).
The FTS London annual London conference, March 10th will focus on the USA and the UK, exploring the complexities of surrogacy and how best to lay the groundwork for successful journeys. At least ten UK surrogates will speak on panels and a range of parents will be on hand to share their stories. Sessions will address questions about trust, logistics, sourcing donors, matching with surrogates and legal parentage. Topics not to miss include the nuts and bolts of the surrogacy processes; an honest appraisal of which IVF techniques are evidence-based and which are not; parent and surrogate panels; and issues to consider when choosing an egg donor. Tickets for intended parents are from £55 including lunch, morning and afternoon tea.
FTS are also hosting their Dublin conference on 11th March.
For more information and to book tickets visit: http://www.familiesthrusurrogacy.com/uk2018/