Tenth annual Men Having Babies Conference highlights: heartwarming personal stories of teens born via surrogacy and a spirited discussion of the future of surrogacy in New York State

On November 2, 2014, Men Having Babies (MHB), the world’s only nonprofit dedicated to providing educational and financial support to current and future gay parents via surrogacy, held its largest conference ever. Hosted and co-sponsored by the JCC Manhattan, more than 250 current and future parents, surrogates, doctors, lawyers and surrogacy professionals participated in a day filled with in panels, workshops and a fair with over 30 organizations from the USA and beyond.

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In addition to providing personal and expert advice for prospective parents, the conference featured the first ever panel of teenagers born via surrogacy to gay parents in a partnership with the Outspoken Generation program of Family Equality Council. The teens mesmerized and enchanted the audience as they shared with humor and maturity their feelings, experiences and stories about their unique family situation. The entire panel, along with the rest of the conference, is now available on the MHB YouTube channel.

“From a small meeting in 2005 at the NYC LGBT Center, we have become a worldwide network with almost 2000 members, a host of five annual conferences around the world, one of the best online resources about surrogacy and the founder of the only financial assistance program for men having babies via surrogacy,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, executive director of Men Having Babies. “The teen panel demonstrates how far we have come,” said Poole-Dayan, whose twin children were among the panelists. “Gay men could barely envision such a program ten years ago–our community had very few families via surrogacy and the kids were babies or toddlers.”

Anthony Brown, board chairman of Men Having Babies, stated that gay men still face great obstacles in their quest to be parents, including unique biological, legal and social constraints. “Unlike heterosexual couples, single women and lesbian couples, male couples require both egg donation and surrogacy, which according to our surveys, costs, on average, $110,000,” said Brown. “And while gay marriage is now legal in both New York and New Jersey, the irony is that both states’ treatment of surrogacy rank among the top five most restrictive in the U.S.

Brown explained that the legal restrictions are forcing gay men in the region to travel out-of-state, add substantial costs to an already very expensive process, and make it challenging for couples to form bonds with their surrogates. “Our mission is to lower these barriers and help prospective parents, surrogates and practitioners make informed decisions about every aspect of the surrogacy process.”

In the afternoon session, co-sponsored by Empire Pride Agenda, experts addressed the state of pending legislation allowing paid surrogacy in New York State, and discussed emerging best practices and model legislation that can minimize risks and maximize the long-term well-being of all persons involved in surrogacy: children, parents, surrogates and egg donors.

The featured speaker, Professor Susan Golombok from the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge presented findings from the only longitudinal study ever conducted of families via surrogacy and surrogates. Speaking about the ethical issues that have been raised about surrogacy, Golombok stated: “we found that surrogacy families are generally very well functioning, the children showed positive psychological well-being, and the results were also very positive in terms of how the surrogates felt.”

Proceeds from the conference sponsorship benefited the Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP). “Creating a Gay Parenting Assistance Program was our dream for many years, and we finally launched it at our conference last year,” said Brown. “Gay men who lack the financial resources to build a family via surrogacy can receive financial grants, and access to free or discounted services. In the past year we awarded $600,000 in cash grants and free services to gay couples and individuals who would otherwise never have been able to become parents. We also facilitated access to discounted IVF, surrogacy and legal services worth close to $1,000,000 to dozens more.

GPAP is made possible thanks to support from MHB's loyal partners, including this year’s Platinum Sponsor, Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists, LLC. “I am happy and honored to support Men Having Babies, an organization that has been working tirelessly for years to bring the possibility of parenthood through surrogacy to the gay community as a more widespread and available path to parenthood,” said Victoria Ferrara, a surrogacy lawyer and the agency’s founder.

Over half of the more than thirty exhibitors of the New York conference are among the major supporters of the Gay Parenting Assistance Program, including platinum sponsor Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists, LLC, as well as Simple Surrogacy, Tammuz, CT Fertility, ORM, RMA of CT, IARC, NWSC, Fort Worth Fertility, Fertility Center of Las Vegas, IVF NJ, Fertility Source Companies, ART Parenting, Creative Family Connections, Family Inceptions, and Lotus Surrogacy.

Upcoming Men Having Babies conferences in 2015 include San Francisco (Jan 10), Tel Aviv (Feb 13-14), Brussels (May 2-3) and Chicago (Sept 19).


About Men Having Babies

With almost 2000 couples and singles worldwide, Men Having Babies (MHB) is the only international nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational and financial support to current and future gay parents via surrogacy. It offers seminars, exhibits, and workshops in NY, and co-hosts several other events around the world by partnering with LGBT family associations in Europe, North America and Israel. In 2014 the organization’s Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP) awarded $600,000 in cash grants and free services to gay couples and individuals who would otherwise never be able to become parents, and helped dozens more prospective parents to became eligible for generous discounts from over thirty surrogacy service providers. MHB also offers extensive online resources, a directory with rankings and reviews of surrogacy agencies and IVF clinics, a speakers bureau, and a vibrant online community forum.
More information: www.menhavingbabies.org