Large turnout at Men Having Babies' NY expo, major donations are announced to the Financial Assistance Fund

Men Having Babies seminar NY 2012
About 150 prospective parents attended Men Having babies’ 8th annual expo, where several large donations to the new Gay Parenting Financial Assistance Fund were announced. Additional funds are to be raised in an October 1st fundraiser featuring comedians Judy Gold and Alyse Kenny (among others), where hundreds of parents will join at the NYC Gotham Club in solidarity to help make the dream of parenthood within reach to more of their less affluent friends.
The donations, totaling $40,000, were made by CT Fertility, Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists, New England Fertility, and Kiran Infertility Center. “The fund was created as part of our mission to promote the affordability of surrogacy and related services for gay men through financial assistance,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, the organization’s executive director, “and we are well on our way to meet our initial goal to raise $200,000 and give out several $10k and $20k grants.”

The announcements were made at the organization’s 8th annual Surrogacy Seminar and Gay Parenting Expo, where for the first time sponsorship fees from 16 fertility clinics and surrogacy agencies also benefited the new fund. Signifying the steady increase in interest in this parenting option, the September 22 event attracted a record number of exhibitors and prospective gay parents. With about 150 attendees, this event was more than twice as large as any of the previous 7 seminars. “This was the largest and most extensive program to date dedicated exclusively for gay prospective surrogacy parents,” said Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, a Men Having Babies board member, “it included 24 breakout sessions in addition to the expert and personal stories panels, and a surrogacy and gay parenting exhibit.”

“While gay parenting may be increasingly perceived as ‘the new normal’, it is still financially out of reach to many prospective parents,” said Poole-Dayan. He points out that Heterosexual couples, single women and lesbian couples can become biological parents relatively easily, and those who need more advanced infertility services can approach the dozens of foundations that provide financial assistance to infertile people. “However to date there was not a single comparable fund to assist gay men, who are not considered ‘infertile’ even though they need substantial third party assistance in order to become parents.” A survey conducted among more than 200 gay couples who had children through surrogacy found that gay parents spend an average of $110k on their parenting journey, and that many have underestimated the required costs by ten thousand dollars or more. “It is not surprising that about 50% of responding intended parents have expressed an interest in financial assistance to people who cannot afford the entire process,” said Ron.

Men Having Babies, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that was recently spun off from a program that ran at the NYC LGBT Center since 2005. It started as a peer support network for biological gay fathers and fathers-to-be, offering monthly workshops and an annual seminar. Over time, elaborate online resources were developed, the group’s mailing list expanded to about 1000 couples and singles from around the world, and it was asked to organize seminars, exhibits and workshops in other locations (the first European Men Having babies Seminar took place in April 2012 in Barcelona). The organization has recently launched several new initiatives in addition to the financial assistance fund, including the SurrogacyAdvisor directory of reviews and ratings of agencies and clinics, a surrogacy Speakers Bureau, and the ‘Living The New Normal’ community blog.

“Most of these initiatives have in common our desire to help make parenting possible for many gay men for whom the high costs of surrogacy have been a major obstacle,” said Anthony Brown, a Men Having Babies board member. “I grew up hearing, ‘grow up, get married, have kids’ and for the longest time I didn't think it was possible. When my husband and I attended the Men Having Babies workshops a few years ago, we realized that our dream could become real. The amazing amount of information we received was exactly what we needed to navigate through the surrogacy process. The only problem was that the process was simply too expensive. We were fortunate enough to have had a very special friend who, upon her death, left us the money we needed to start the surrogacy process. But I know that there are many others out there that lack the resources and are desperate for the financial support we can provide with the new fund.”