The right stuff – weathering the highs and lows of family building

Gay dad Sam Everingham is a leading expert and advisor on international surrogacy. In preparation for the upcoming Growing Families seminars aimed at intended parents in the UK and Ireland, he explores the lay of the land now were in a worldwide pandemic

"For gay couples and singles desiring family, surrogacy is becoming increasingly common.

While some match with UK surrogates, even these teams often decide to do the IVF component offshore for financial or legal reasons. More often hopeful parents need to engage with foreign surrogates – this can be financially and logistically complicated. I have heard horror stories of trusting couples sending sperm overseas and then sending funds to a surrogate they met online, only to realise months into the process they were being scammed.

Alex and Cedric with their daughter Chloe

Understanding the law is important. Some countries allow egg donation but not surrogacy. Some allow single women or single men to create family and others do not. In some jurisdictions you must be a married heterosexual couple. And the rules continue to change. Russia has recently banned single males & gay couples, while new programs are emerging in countries such as Albania.

Amongst this landscape, Growing Families has had to pivot. Much of our day-to-day work now assists parents with travel for births and helping singles and couples make wise decisions around where and when to commence.

Despite being born 4 months premature Chloe is now thriving

The Covid-19 crisis has added an extra layer of complexity. Across the board, more patience is required. Some surrogacy programs have nine to twelve month wait lists.  Over 80% of one Colombian providers staff have had Covid and the infection rates amongst their surrogates and donors is also huge.

Being prepared to weather the rollercoaster of potential medical and interpersonal hurdles is essential for those considering whether surrogacy is for them. I recall one gay couple undertaking host surrogacy with a surrogate in a town two hours away, doggedly persisted with home insemination every month for a year before the process finally worked.

Alex and his Belgian-born partner Cedric live in London, UK, and are the parents of Chloe, born through surrogacy in February 2019 in Alabama.  Chloe was an astounding four months premature weighing a tiny 1.5 pounds. This couple had to drop every to rush to the US, pre-Covid. The medical care was thankfully astoundingly good. Despite several setbacks, including three brain surgeries, Chloe is now a normal toddler learning to understand both English and Cedric’s native language French.  Undeterred, this couple are expecting their second child in August.

Alex and Cedric admit “Our first experience was challenging, given the circumstances of Chloe’s birth.  Every day with Chloe is full of joy though, and we would encourage any same-sex couple to consider the journey.  Key is to be prepared and accept that everything will not always work according to plan.  We feel very lucky that Chloe is developing well despite her tough start.  She is very ‘switched on’ and energetic.”

In early March, Growing Families webinars will feature Cedrics’s incredible journey to parenthood along with five other recent European parents who engaged in jurisdictions such as US, Colombia & Canada – outlining the processes, hurdles, costs and the ultimate joys. They will be joined by experts from around the globe.

Growing Families is an information and referral hub for singles and couples hoping to build their family with the help of donor IVF and/or surrogacy.

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