MHB's 6th annual Tel Aviv Surrogacy conference is offered in cooperation with the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers
The conference is structured to offer opportunities for the attendees to learn about a select group of surrogacy providers directly and through several expert panels (see agenda below). The net proceeds from sponsorship revenues will benefit the AIGF and our joint Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP). Read More...
MHB’s 2nd Brussels conference marks the emergence of an international coalition for ethical and viable surrogacy legislation
Men Having Babies joined leading Dallas LGBT organizations to bring its surrogacy parenting conference to prospective gay dads across the South!
For this event, MHB partnered with the Dallas Voice and several leading LGBT groups from Texas, who provided outstanding support in order to accommodate 25 Gay Parenting Expo exhibitors, and more than 150 parents, prospects, and professionals that attended.
The June 19th event was based on the successful model of programs Men Having Babies has already organized in NYC, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Brussels and Tel Aviv. It brought together under one roof community activists, experts, parents and surrogates who will share their experiences. The large event hall at the Wyndham Dallas Suites - Park Central was filled to capacity with prospective parents from all over Texas, as well as Florida, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, Nevada and California.
Watch the highlight video from the conference. You may view the entire program on the conference’s YouTube channel.
Now in its fourth year, the conference was significantly upgraded with a move to the spacious halls of the Dan Panorama Hotel. High-profile speakers included Amir Ohana, a member of the Israeli Parliament and a gay dad through surrogacy. He spoke alongside his surrogate, Michelle Pine, and shared his journey to a rapt audience at our Personal Stories panel.
For some, like Dr. Susanna Park of San Diego Fertility Center, what stood out about the conference was the enthusiasm of the attendees. "The conference was an informative, and truly enjoyable, opportunity to share information with intended parents, who were receptive, interested and engaged," Dr. Park said.
Others, like Victoria Ferrera of Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists, noted the strong sense of community among those present. "The Tel Aviv conference was an amazing opportunity for Intended Parents and surrogacy professionals to get together at a forum full of information and opportunity," Ms. Ferrera said. "There was a great sense of warmth and collegiality as lawyers, doctors and other professionals reached out to assist hopeful parents-to-be plan for having their children through surrogacy."
Men Having Babies' surrogacy conferences in Israel are unique in that they attract both gay and straight parents seeking to build or expand their families through surrogacy. Though surrogacy is legal in Israel, the supply of surrogates is extremely low, leading most Israeli citizens to go abroad for services.
The Israeli conference is one of six conferences held annually by Men Having Babies, along with events in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Brussels. It is always a spectacular event, and we look forward to returning in 2017 for our biggest and best conference yet.
Brussels conference offers European gay men hope of parenting through surrogacy and adoption in the USA and Canada
The “Brussels Conference on Parenting Options for European Gay Men” attracted more than 200 prospective gay dads from 10 countries, well above original estimates. "We were overwhelmed and moved by the large attendance and intense desire for parenting expressed by men who came from not just neighboring France and the Netherlands, but also from as far as Ireland, Portugal and Bulgaria,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, MHB’s executive director.
The high demand forced the organizers to add an overflow room where dozens of attendees watched the presentations via live video feed.
The conference brought together community activists, medical and legal experts, parents and surrogate mothers. Several workshops and panels offered peer advice on surrogacy and adoption of children from the USA, finding and picking professionals to help in the process, and information about MHB's Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP). “Even with the easing of legal obstacles to adoption by gay men, the reality is that across continental Europe there are very few domestic adoption opportunities,” said Anthony Brown, MHB’s board chairman. "Meanwhile, domestic surrogacy is either illegal or unavailable, and societal attitudes are much more hostile to surrogacy compared with those in the USA and England.”
To help prospective parents navigate the precarious legal landscape vis-à-vis gestational surrogacy, the conference offered country-specific panels with leading European legal experts.
To try to understand the unique attitudes on surrogacy in the continent, a round table of legal experts, social scientists, and community activists discussed “Legal and societal challenges for gay fatherhood across Europe, and the road ahead”. Their analysis pointed to a unique combination of lingering homophobia, general discomfort around assisted reproduction, concerns about possible exploitation of poor surrogates, and a mistrust of the perceived American commercial culture.
“We were aware of how sensitive the subject is, given the current political debates across Belgium, France, and the Netherlands regarding surrogacy and assisted reproduction legislation,” said Poole-Dayan. “However, we were surprised by the misinformation and hyperbole in some of the initial media coverage. A major Belgian newspaper actually claimed that we are ‘selling babies,’ and pointed to survey results of average expenses reported by parents, calling it a 'price list’.”
The conference's resource fair included more than twenty clinics, agencies and community organizations that help gay men through the process of either adoption or surrogacy in the USA and Canada.
Much of the misinformation revolved around the inclusion of service providers at the conference's resource fair. “The fact that we have to pay for professional services on our path to parenthood does not mean that we are 'buying babies’, just as using a dating service does not imply that one ‘bought’ their husband or wife,” said Poole-Dayan in an interview to Belgian public radio. “We are not legislators, so the most we can do is encourage transparency, and empower prospective parents, surrogates and practitioners to make informed decisions."
Large number of TV, radio and news journalists featured interviews with MHB board members, surrogates, European parents and conference attendees.
While the media coverage before the conference included some surrogacy critics, by Monday the tone changed and the prominent newspaper 'De Standaard' led with the headline “I would give an arm for a child” ("Ik zou mijn arm geven voor een kind"), highlighting the strong yearning of European gay men for parenting.
Following the conference numerous prospective parents expressed their appreciation and gratitude: "This conference opened a complete new world for us,” wrote one couple, “it truly helped us to cement our conviction about parenting and to start planning the next steps,” wrote another. “It was stunning and somehow uplifting to see over 200 gay men intensely looking for parenting options they did not have in Europe but the US offered to them,” wrote a social science researcher. A Belgian couple commented on the media coverage: "There was an item in the news today and a rather positive one. Lets hope this will spark a turning point and will raise the awareness in a good way.”
In a reception for International Family Equality Day, a clown helped entertain children who came with their gay dads from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
Conference organizers in the USA and Europe hope to continue to build on the progress achieved at the conference. To that end, a collaboration meeting took place with representatives and activists from the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium, France, Portugal, Ireland, and Switzerland. They resolved to work on the expansion of the Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP) to more European countries, the formulation of ethical standards for surrogacy, and developing resources and tools to improve the visibility, awareness and acceptance of gay headed families formed through surrogacy. "It was amazing to see so many guys from Europe dreaming of a family, and it’s great that we can help them in this process,” said Marc Faber from Meer dan Gewenst. "However, based on what heard form some journalists and politicians, there is a lot work to do in Europe. I hope that together we can make much progress, and I think that the Netherlands can help lead this effort."
Currently only residents of the USA, Canada, the UK, and Israel have full access to GPAP’s benefits that include over a million dollars worth of cash grants, discounts and free services for surrogacy and adoption in the USA. Arrangements are now expected to be made for these benefits to also be available to Belgians, Dutch, French and possibly residents of additional countries. GPAP is made possible thanks to support from MHB's loyal partners, including the conference's Platinum Sponsor, Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists. “We were excited to speak and meet with so many wonderful future parents and professionals from all over the world,” said Jennifer McArthur who represented Worldwide Surrogacy at the conference.
Upcoming Men Having Babies conferences include Chicago (Sept. 20, 2015), NYC (November 15, 2015), and San Francisco (Jan. 23, 2016).
MHB's Brussels conference attracts unprecedented media attention, sparking debate about surrogacy and gay parenting
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
Men having Babies joined leading Chicago LGBT organizations to bring its surrogacy parenting conference to prospective Midwestern gay dads!
Watch the highlight video from the conference.
The program included a “Surrogacy 101” workshop that provided an overview of the various surrogacy arrangements available to gay men, with the aim to prepare future parents to make decisions regarding their surrogacy journey. Speakers included Dr. Brian Kaplan from Fertility Centers of Illinois and Nidhi Desai, an attorney from Ballard, Desai, and Miller. Also, representatives of sponsoring surrogacy organizations provided a brief description of the services they provide.
Men Having Babies is a non-profit organization, and all fees and proceeds from sponsorship benefit the Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP), a program that was launched last year. GPAP was created as part of the organization’s mission to promote the affordability of surrogacy services for gay men. In 2014 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 facilitated access to nearly a million dollars’ worth of discounted IVF, surrogacy and legal services to dozens more gay couples.
Among the major supporters of the assistance program are some of the sponsors of the Chicago conference, including Worldwide Surrogacy, aParent IVF, Family Source Consultants, IVF NJ, RMA of CT, Fertility Center of Las Vegas, Simple Surrogacy and CT Fertility.
The event was hosted by the Center on Halsted, thanks to the assistance of Lynnea Karlic, Director of Community and Cultural Programs. “Center on Halsted partnered with Men Having Babies to present the first Midwestern surrogacy and gay parenting event because we realize that this is an issue that many gay men find important and often have difficulty finding information about,” says Lynnea Karlic, Director of Community & Cultural Programs. “Now that marriage is legal in Illinois for all couples, many individuals are deciding to choose this path and may be curious about different options for parenthood. This program is just one example of programming Center on Halsted provides throughout the lifespan for LGBTQ individuals in an effort to give access to resources specific to the LGBTQ community.”
American sign language (ASL) was offered at the event courtesy of Alternative Reproductive Resources, Lunch was underwritten by aParent IVF, and the seminar was recorded on video courtesy of Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists. Additional supportive community organizations that helped to make this event possible include the Family Equality Council, Milwaukee LBGT Community Center, Proud Parenting, and the Windy City Times.
About Center on Halsted
Center on Halsted is the Midwest's most comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people of Chicagoland. More than 1,000 community members visit the Center every day, located in the heart of Chicago's Lakeview Neighborhood. The Center’s vision includes a thriving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, living powerfully in supportive inclusive environments.
More information: www.centeronhalsted.org
About Howard Brown Health Center
Howard Brown Health Center, founded in 1974, is one of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations. With an annual budget of over $30 million, the agency serves more than 16,000 adults and youth each year in its diverse health and social service delivery system focused around seven major programmatic divisions: primary medical care, behavioral health, research, HIV/STD prevention, youth services, elder services, and community initiatives. HBHC serves men and women, infants, youth, and children through a multi-site operation based in Chicago that includes a main health and research center in the Uptown neighborhood, Aris Health, the Broadway Youth Center, and three Brown Elephant resale shops located in Chicago and Oak Park.
More information: www.howardbrown.org
About Men Having Babies
With over 1500 couples and singles worldwide, Men Having Babies (MHB) is the only international nonprofit organization dedicated to providing current and future gay surrogacy parents with educational and financial support. It offers seminars, exhibits, and workshops in NY, and teams up with LGBT family associations throughout the world to develop similar programs. In 2014 the organization’s Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP) awarded 10 couples and singles over $600,000 in cash grants and free services, in addition to dozens who became eligible for generous discounts from over thirty service providers. MHB also offers extensive online resources, a directory with ratings and reviews of surrogacy agencies and IVF clinics, a speakers bureau, and a vibrant online community forum.
More information: www.menhavingbabies.org
Large turnout at Men Having Babies' NY expo, major donations are announced to the Financial Assistance Fund
We are also introducing an expanded day-long format that will include breakout sessions (in addition to the panels, catered lunch and exhibit). Over two hours each prospective parent will be able to choose up to six "speed group consults" with the sponsoring agencies and clinics. The sessions will be offered by more than a dozen agencies and clinics, they will be 20 minutes long and take place simultaneously in 4 meeting rooms. See the program tab at the event page (shortcut: www.menhavingbabies.org/ny )for more details (full schedule is expected mid-August), and don’t forget to register early to get updates on the speakers, new sponsors and breakout sessions as they are added.
- We will start the process of incorporating as a nonprofit organization.
- We will raise funds through event and website sponsorships + raise funds directly.
- The funds will first serve to continue to develop our workshops, events and online resources.
- We will add advocacy to promote greater understanding and acceptance of surrogacy as one of the network’s goals.
- We will work towards establishing a fund to provide financial assistance to gay men who want to become surrogacy dads!
Fertility Authority features our network in a report titled "Gay Parenting Information Sources Growing"
Click here to read the article on Fertility Authority’s website.
The Network of European LGBT Family Associations (NELFA) will host the first "Men Having Babies - Europe" Surrogacy Seminar and Gay Parenting Expo on April 29, 2012. It will take place in Lloret de Mar, near Barcelona, Spain, as part of a 4-day conference and family gathering expected to attract hundreds of LGBT parents and parents-to-be. More than a dozen leading USA and European clinics and surrogacy agencies already signed up as sponsors and exhibitors, recognizing the growing interest in surrogacy in Europe. Read More...