5 Important Steps and for Gay Male Couples Hoping to Build a Biologically Related Family
(Purchase, NY) Gay male couples who want to start a family have more options than many are aware of. While adoption and foster-parenting have always been viable options, many couples are unaware that through assisted reproductive technology (ART), men have the opportunity to be biologically related to their children. Dr. Samuel Pang, Medical Director at RSC New England, part of the Attain Fertility® network, offers advice and information about the process and how to get started
“Perhaps the most exciting news for male couples who want to become parents is that through surrogacy and egg donation, they can now have genetically related children,” said Dr. Pang, who was the first Reproductive Endocrinologist in New England to provide in vitro fertilization (IVF) services to a gay male couple. “There are many steps to be taken and many people involved in the process,” he continues. “My first recommendation would be to contact specialists at a fertility center who can help navigate the journey to becoming parents.” From choosing an egg donor and surrogate, to learning about financing and legal issues that need to be considered, Dr. Pang stresses the importance of working with a professional fertility team, which he says is the safest and most reliable way to ensure the health and safety of the carrier, the donated eggs, and ultimately the baby.
Following are 5 important steps for gay couples to take when embarking on the journey to parenthood:
- Get a Semen Analysis
Whether one or both partners are providing their sperm, it is important for both to be aware of any medical issues that may lead to infertility like past illnesses, chemo therapy/radiation, or other genetic or health conditions. Dr. Pang alsorecommends that the partner providing his sperm have a simple semen analysis test which will determine the health of the sperm. The test can be done through a primary care physician or a fertility specialist and will determine the number, movement and development of sperm. If fertility issues are detected, it is helpful to know that many male-factor infertility issues can be treated by a fertility specialist. Many couples who choose to have more than one child will take turns providing the sperm so both men will want to have the semen analysis.
There are two types of surrogates: traditional surrogates who use their own eggs and carry the baby to term and then must surrender their parental rights upon the birth of the child. The more widely used surrogate is a gestational carrier who does not use her own eggs, but those of an egg donor, and therefore, does not have a genetic link to the baby. “Some couples choose to have a relative or friend for their surrogate and egg donor while others choose a gestational surrogate and anonymous egg donor through an agency. Couples who choose a relative or friend to be the egg donor or gestational surrogate should seek legal counsel regarding the legal implications of using a relative or friend,” explains Dr. Pang.
- Learn About Financing
“Cost is an important issue to understand from the very beginning,” says Dr. Pang. “Most health insurance plans do not pay for assisted reproduction technology services for gay men because their inability to conceive is not due to a disease. Therefor the cost of having a biologically related baby through ART will be significant, and couples should be prepared. ” He suggests that couples speak to a financial counselor at a fertility clinic to understand the financial commitment and financing options it that are available, including the Attain® IVF Refund Program for Donor Egg treatment.. The refund program involves paying a one-time, flat fee for up 3 fresh IVF and unlimited frozen embryo transfers. There’s a refund of up to a 100% if the couple does not take a baby home, which provides peace of mind that their financial assets are preserved for other family-building options, if necessary.
- Seek Professional Legal Counsel
“Couples are often surprised by all of the legal issues they have to deal with when starting a family through a surrogate and egg donor,” Dr. Pang says. Couples are strongly advised to seek professional legal assistance to address a number of important issues including: Living wills to determine fate of the embryo(s) or the baby if the intended parent(s) become incapacitated or die before the baby is born, and second-parent adoption. It is important to understand that surrogacy laws vary from state to state. Surrogacy is illegal in some states, and other states are not "surrogacy-friendly" so this information is critical when selecting a surrogate: which state does she live in, and which state is she going to deliver the baby.
- Emotional Support
Pregnancy and preparing for parenthood are exciting and stressful for all parents-to-be. For couples becoming parents through assisted reproductive technology, the excitement and stress can be doubly so. “Not only can the actual process take a long time, but it is one that will involve the couple and fertility specialist team, and potentially many other people including egg donors, gestational carriers, lawyers, and often financial counselors. Those are a lot of personalities and information to deal with,” Dr. Pang explains Having the support of friends and family is essential, and seeking professional counseling to discuss fears, emotions, and expectations will help couples cope with the complexities of the journey to parenthood.
“While this may all seem daunting at first, taking these steps and understanding the process will help very much and result in a healthy baby and happy family,” Dr. Pang concludes.
Other helpful resources for gay couples starting out on their journey to parenthood include:
Attain Fertility: http://www.attainfertility.com
RSC New England: http://www.gayivf.com/
The American Fertility Association: http://theafa.org