MHB West was the last opportunity for gay men around the world who are considering fatherhood to get comprehensive guidance on surrogacy in an online-version of MHB’s signature “bootcamp” weekend-long conference, before the return to in-person events starting September 2021. Unique programs at this event included a panel on COVID-19’s impact on surrogacy, guidance on new financial assistance options for gay men, and how to attain surrogacy benefits from employers. In addition, the popular Personal Stories panel returned featuring YouTuber gay dads.
After 7 years of holding their annual West Coast conference in San Francisco, Men Having Babies, in collaboration with Our Family Coalition, offered the program this year in a virtual format.
The event utilized the specialized REMO platform that MHB has successfully used previously in multiple conferences around the world. The platform allows for general presentations, breakout sessions, expo "tables" and effective interaction. The MHB team’s experience and feedback from past attendees allowed the organization to plan its most comprehensive virtual conference to date, with more panels and interactive opportunities than before.
The program included interactive sessions with medical, legal and financial experts, as well as practical advice on everything gay men need to know when considering surrogacy:
- How to get your surrogacy journey started with online resources, member discounts, and financial assistance from MHB
- Specific surrogacy budgeting considerations
- How to evaluate various surrogacy destinations
- Legal considerations
- Insurance issues
- The impact of Covid-19
- Surrogacy benefits at your workplace
- Medical aspects of surrogacy
- Opportunities to meet and learn about surrogacy providers that support gay men
In addition, MHB’s popular Personal Stories panel included familiar faces, as YouTubers Bart Rose (“Two Men and A Baby”) and Daniel Marzoa (“The Marzoa Family”) shared their personal surrogacy stories and answer prospective dads’ questions.
Dr. Susanna Park of San Diego Fertility Center, one of the conference’s Platinum sponsors, was quoted saying, “Albert Einstein said, ‘The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.’ MHB changed in response to Covid by utilizing REMO for virtual conferences.” Dr. Park went on to say, “REMO is surprisingly fun to use! Covid social restrictions do not mean you have to pause your dream of having a family. We just need to change accordingly.”
The other Platinum conference sponsor, Same Love Surrogacy, has also joined MHB in several virtual conference settings this past year. Brad Spencer, from Same Love Surrogacy added, "MHB virtual conferences through the REMO platform provide intended parents throughout the world the opportunity to meet best in class Surrogacy & IVF professionals,” He summarizes the goals of the conference succinctly in concluding, “In just a short 2-day conference, intended parents can begin their journey to parenthood even during the Covid-19 pandemic."
Proceeds from the conference’s sponsorship fees benefit MHB’s Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP), which provides dozens of prospective parents with over a million dollars’ worth of cash grants, discounts and free services on an annual basis, from over 100 leading service providers. The majority of the 26 exhibitors at the MHB West virtual conference are supporters of GPAP, as well as the organization’s Membership Benefits Program, including Gold conference sponsors: Circle Surrogacy, IARC Surrogacy, California Fertility Partners, ORM Fertility, Fertility Specialists of Texas, Creative Family Connections, Simple Surrogacy, Northwest Surrogacy Center, Western Fertility Institute, SurrogateFirst, HRC Fertility, Fertility & Surgical Associates of California, Los Angeles Reproductive Center, Center for Surrogate Parenting, Creative Conception, and Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine.