The International Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting

The Men Having Babies conferences focus on providing guidance to prospective parents, but they are also a meeting place for many committed surrogacy and gay parenting supporters, including parents, surrogates, researchers, professionals, and policymakers. Indeed, there are no other such opportunities throughout the year where all of these constituencies meet. As the leading resource in surrogacy and LGBT parenting, MHB has been approached over time by community leaders, surrogates and academicians with requests for collaborations and information sharing. The International Advocacy and Research Forums for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting were created in response to these requests, and are held at several of our major conferences worldwide.
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Who should attend these Forums?

The Advocacy and Research Forum is open to anyone who is interested in benefitting from and / or contributing to an ongoing discussion of the social, ethical, legal and empirical aspects of surrogacy and LGBT parenting. Stakeholders include community activists, researchers, students, surrogates, professionals, legislators, journalists and others. Most of the Forum’s sessions take place concurrent to the guidance sessions of our conferences, and as such they are not designed for intended parents (although they will be free to attend if so desire).

What do the Forums offer?

The Advocacy and Research Forum offers opportunities for formal and facilitated discussions about topics and developments relevant to parenting through surrogacy and / or by LGBT parents.

The topics covered in the Forums include the following:
  • Academic research currently published, ongoing and suggested.
  • Legislative developments related to surrogacy (such as in NY, Netherlands, Canada and UK).
  • Underlying ethical issues that manifest in the legal and social debates about surrogacy, including compensation, the timing and scope of consent, protections against exploitation, etc.
  • Ongoing international efforts to regulate or issue guidelines on surrogacy (such as by the Hague Conference and the UN’s Special Rapporteur).
  • Initiatives to promote ethical surrogacy practices and wider access to these options, including:
The format includes the following:
  • An opening session on the Friday afternoon (the day before the general conference starts) for all Forum attendees with presentations about general trends and developments in surrogacy legislation, research and social discourse.
  • A welcome reception follows the opening session on Friday evening.
  • Several meetings on the morning and early afternoon of Saturday of the conference. The meeting will be dedicated to either advocacy or research issues, but open to all Forum attendees.
  • Forum attendees will be eligible for coffee breaks, lunch and a happy hour on Saturday.
  • Forum attendees are be invited to join the general conference’s afternoon session on ethical, social and psychological aspect of surrogacy (times vary per conference):
    • Personal stories panel (typically 5:30pm)
    • A mindful look at surrogacy (typically 6:30pm)
    • The MHB Teen Panel (typically 7:30pm)
  • Additional meeting / working groups on the Sunday of the conference, including discussions or work on new / ongoing joint initiatives.

How to register?

Currently we have Advocacy and Research Forums planned during our conferences in Brussels, New York, San Francisco and Taipei. Admission to the Friday opening session only is free, but requires RSVP. There is a small fee for registration for the entire weekend, and in addition to participation at the sessions mentioned above you will be eligible for several coffee breaks, receptions and a lunch on Saturday. To register, go to the links below, or directly from the respective registration pages of each conference. Please choose from one of these options in the first question:
  • If relevant, choose “Researcher / community advocate / student / surrogate - interested in the Advocacy and Research Forum”.
  • Choose “Reporter / Media” if applicable, and you will have access to the Forum.
  • Choose “Professional in a relevant field” if you are a lawyer, agency owner, work for an IVF clinic or other surrogacy provider. You will have access to both the conference and the Forum.
  • Prospective parents or conference exhibitors that are already attending the conference need not register twice. Just use the last field (Comments / questions) to indicate “Interested in the Advocacy and Research Forum”.

Upcoming Forums

MHB Europe - September 20-22, 2019

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The Brussels Conference on Parenting Options for European Gay Men

Detailed Forum agenda - Brussels 2019…

Friday, September 20:

15:30-16:00: Registration (25th Floor)

16:00-18:00: Opening Session (Room 25.2, 25th Floor)

Overview of surrogacy related legislative developments:

  • On the national level, such as USA (and most recently in NY), Netherlands, Canada, UK, etc.
  • International efforts to regulate or issue guidelines on surrogacy, such as by the Hague Conference, the ISS and the UN’s Special Rapporteur.
Overview of academic research on Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting:
  • Major research questions across the various academic disciplines
  • Broad overview of findings of past research, and updates on recent studies
  • Studies in the pipeline, and possible future research questions
Initial discussion re the underlying ethical issues that manifest in the legal and social debates about surrogacy

Presenters will include Dr. Vasanti Jadva, Dr. Nicola Carone, Steve Snyder, Diane Hinson, Wilma Eusman, Rich Vaughn, Molly O'Brien, and more.

18:00-20:00: Welcome reception (Park Ballroom, 1st Floor)

Saturday, September 21:

9:00-9:15: Registration (26th Floor)

9:15-10:30: In-depth Legislative / Advocacy Session (Room 26.2, 26th Floor)

- Trends across several national / international legislative developments.
- In-depth discussion of underlying ethical issues that manifest in the legal and social debates about surrogacy:

  • Concerns about protecting surrogates against exploitation
  • Objections to compensation / restitution
  • The timing and scope of consent
  • Concerns about outcomes: medical risk, well being of all parties
  • Other challenges to social norms (family structures, gender roles / status, etc.)
10:30-11:00: Coffee break (26th Floor)

11:00-12:30: In-depth Research Session (Room 26.2, 26th Floor)
  • Presentations of findings of several recent studies (some not yet published)
  • Descriptions of ongoing studies by various groups individuals
12:30-14:30: Lunch / gay parenting resource fair (1st Floor)

14:30-15:30: Advocacy + Research Session (Room 26.2, 26th Floor)
  • Open discussion: research questions that can help shed light on social / legislative debates
16:30-20:30: Join the general conference programs: (1st Floor)
  • 16:30-17:30: Coffee break / gay parenting resource fair
  • 17:30-18:15: Personal stories panel - hear from several surrogates and European parents.
  • 18:15-19:30: A mindful look at surrogacy - Psychological and Ethical aspects.
  • 19:30: Happy Hour for parents / prospective parents.

Sunday, September 22:

8:30-9:00: Registration (26th Floor)

9:00-10:30: Initiatives to promote ethical surrogacy (Room 26.2, 26th Floor)

  • The Model for Ethical Surrogacy Compensation
  • The guidelines for the Evaluation of International Surrogacy Destinations
  • The development of a toolkit for expanding IVF and surrogacy benefits at workplaces
  • The development of a Surrogacy & LGBT Parenting Advocacy Library of research, position papers and other related articles
10:30-11:00: Coffee break (1st Floor)

11:00-11:45: Optional: time for work groups / committee meetings (Room 26.2, 26th Floor)
  • Next steps…

MHB New York - November 8-10, 2019

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The Case for NY Surrogacy Reform

Detailed Forum agenda - NYC 2019…

Friday, November 8:

The Stewart Hotel
371 Seventh Ave, New York City, NY 10001-3984

3:30-4:00 PM: Registration (Fitzgerald Foyer, lobby level)

4:00-4:40 PM: Major Concerns at the Heart of the Surrogacy Legislation Debate (Fitzgerald Ballroom)

Compensation, Commercialization, Choice:
  • Is compensated surrogacy also “commercial” surrogacy?
  • What is the compensation for?
  • Under what circumstances, if ever, does compensation amount to inducement or exploitation? Or: is compensated surrogacy by definition always morally wrong, even if it the result of a seemingly free Choice?
Cooling Off Period vs. Clarity:
  • Can a surrogate really fully consent and enter into a contract to 'hand over' a baby before the baby is born?
  • Should she have the right to claim legal custody during a “cooling off” period?
  • Or would she and other parties be better off with legal clarity of the baby’s status in advance? Would the child be better off? What would be the long term financial and psychological impacts?
Moderator: Michael Doyle, MD, MHB board
Graeme Reid, Human Rights Watch / head of LGBT division
Karla Torres, Center for Reproductive Rights / Assisted Reproduction Policy Counsel
Stephanie Decampos, former gestational surrogate
Michelle Pine, MHB board member and a former gestational surrogate
Lisa Schuster, former gestational surrogate
Silvia Schneider Fox, PsyD, MHB board member
Fabrice Houdart, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) / Human Rights Officer, and a father through surrogacy

4:40-5:10 PM: How Can Surrogacy Be Practiced Ethically? (Fitzgerald Ballroom)

Best Practices: What are the procedural best practices required to ensure the minimization of ethical, medical and psychological risks?
  • The role of medical, psycho-social and financial screening.
  • Assuring medical, psychological and legal independence and transparency.
  • Providing gestational surrogates with the security and support they require throughout the journey.
  • Which of the best practices should be in legislation? Which should be in regulations? Which should be left to be addressed by self-regulation or just recommended best practices?
Moderator: Anthony Brown, Esq.
Margaret E. Swain, RN, JD, AAAA / Director of ART Practice Group
Guy Ringler, MD, California Fertility Partners
Victoria Ferrara, Esq., Worldwide Surrogacy
Silvia Schneider Fox, PsyD, MHB board member

5:10-6:00 PM: Perspective From Domestic & International Legislation, and Academic Research (Fitzgerald Ballroom)

Comparative legal review of the proposed Child Parent Security Act (CPSA) in New York:
  • How does the CPSA address the major concerns at the heart of the debate?
  • What best practices exist at the CPSA for transparency, protection, independence and other concerns?
  • How does the CPSA compare with legislation elsewhere in the USA?
  • What does the experience of more restrictive legal approaches (such as in the UK and Canada) teach us on the issues of compensation and cooling off periods?
Concerns about Outcomes / Review of Research:
  • What do we know from academic research about the long-term psychological outcomes for all parties: the surrogates, their families, and the resulting surrogacy children?
Moderator: Risa Levine, RESOLVE board member
Denise Seidelman, Esq., Rumbold & Seidelman, LLP
Steven Snyder, Esq., International Assisted Reproduction Center (IARC)
Diane Hinson, Esq., Creative Family Connections
Richard Vaughn, Esq., International Fertility Law Group
Mary Riddle, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University / Department of Psychology

6:00-7:00 PM: Break / Reception (Astor Hall, lobby level)
(Refreshments will be served)

7:00-8:00 PM: Discussion: the Surrogacy Debate and Our Communities (Fitzgerald Ballroom)

At this session we will have two panels & audience discussions on some myths, judgements and how they affect us.

Panel A:
  • Why don’t you just adopt”?
  • Is surrogacy a “gay issue”?
Moderator: Sherman Taylor, MHB board chair
Risa Levine, RESOLVE board member
Nina Rumbold, Esq., Rumbold & Seidelman, LLP
Brian Esser, Esq, Equality NY
Alexis Cirel, a mother through surrogacy

Panel B:
  • How do judgements and misconceptions affect surrogates, their families, and the families they helped?
  • Does the surrogacy legislation debate contribute to the stigmatizing of surrogates and surrogacy families?
Moderator: Elliott Kronenfeld, LICSW, CST, surrogacy father
Stephanie Decampos, former gestational surrogate / CT
Marcy Grazioso, former gestational surrogate / CT
Holly Bearden, former gestational surrogate / TX
Molly Corcoran, former gestational surrogate / CT
Ryleigh Rivas, 19, a child of a surrogate
RJ Green, 18, a child of a surrogate
Elinor Poole-Dayan, 18, a child through surrogacy
Maddie Knöpft, 15, a child through surrogacy

Saturday, November 9:

5:00-9:00 PM: Join the General Conference Programs (Fitzgerald Ballroom)

  • 5:00-5:45 PM: Personal Stories Panel - hear from several surrogates and parents
  • 5:45-6:00 PM: Coffee Break
  • 6:00-7:15 PM: A Mindful Look at Surrogacy - Psychological and Ethical Aspects
  • 7:15-8:00 PM: Teen Panel: surrogacy children of gay dads and a son of a surrogate share their stories
  • 8:00 PM: Happy Hour!

MHB West Coast - January 17-19, 2020

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The San Francisco Surrogacy Conference & Expo by Men Having Babies and Our Family Coalition
  • General conference information will be available in September 2019.
  • Detailed Forum agenda coming in November.
  • See the 2019 event page.

MHB Asia - March 13-15, 2020

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The 2nd annual Taipei Conference on Parenting Options for Asian Gay Men