Do kids think of sperm donors as family?

How do we define a parent — or a family?

Bioethicist Veerle Provoost explores these questions in the context of non-traditional families, ones brought together by adoption, second marriages, surrogate mothers and sperm donations. In this talk, she shares stories of how parents and children create their own family narratives.veerle-p

Click here to watch the Ted Talk.

National Organization for Marriage Announces International Anti-LGBT Group

Brian Brown, director of the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage and president of the anti-LGBT hate group World Congress of Families (WCF), has announced the launch of the International Organization for the Family (IOF).

IOF is the new name of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, which is the parent organization of WCF. The name and mission of the Howard Center have been re-tooled for an international arena, though WCF, which will remain a project of the IOF, according to Brown’s announcement, has always been extremely active internationally. Its world conferences serve as a key nexusfor religious right leaders and activists and the formulation of policies that are detrimental to LGBT people and reproductive health, and they provide a platform for anti-LGBT rhetoric and conspiracy theories

The IOF, which was ironically announced on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, has been in the works for a while.gay hate

In August of this year, the Howard Center sent out a letter to supporters signed by President Emeritus Allan Carlson, in which he stated that the Center’s board of trustees resolved to “sharpen the focus” of the organization “on international family questions” which reflect the reality “that key family policy battles now occur more frequently at the transnational level in bodies such as the U.N., the Organization of American States, and the European Union.” To that end, the board of directors of the Center resolved to change the organization’s name to IOF.  

The name of the Center’s policy journal is also changing from The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy to The Natural Family: An International Journal of Research and Policy, but senior editing staff remains the same.

In keeping with the mission of the Howard Center and WCF to dictate the so-called “natural family” –– that marriage is only for one man and one woman –– as the only correct way to be a family, IOF’s first order of business was to release the “Cape Town Declaration” at a WCF regional conference at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.

The declaration purports to affirm marriage as only between a man and a woman, and “the patrimony of all mankind” to secure for children the “birthright of all men: to know the faithful love of the man and woman whose union gave them life.” The declaration goes on to assert that a “thriving culture will therefore serve marriage — and all society —by promoting purity outside it and fidelity within.” These “thriving cultures” will also discourage pornography, adultery and divorce, and will resist attempts to “redefine marriage” to include “same-sex or group bonds, or sexually open or temporary ones.”

Southern Poverty Law Center – December 19, 20165

Click here to read the entire article.

Conscious Surrogacy – Making the Best Decisions For Your Family

Is there such a thing as conscious surrogacy? Yes, and those considering surrogacy will be confronted with some serious ethical questions.

Conscious surrogacy is a process. It is critical to understand some of the questions, and dilemmas, that you will face if you choose surrogacy to help you have your family.  If you are prepared to answer these questions before your surrogacy journey, and if you are comfortable with your answers, then you are ready to have these conversations with a potential surrogate mother.

What are some of the questions that you will face on your conscious surrogacy journey?

Do I want a single embryo or double embryo transfer? Do I want twins?  One of the first questions you will have to consider is whether you want to try and have twins with your surrogate mother.  Many choose this option for economic reasons.  If you know that you want more than one child, consecutive surrogacy journeys may not be an option.  But there is much more to consider.

conscious surrogacy

Twin pregnancies are much harder on the surrogate mother.  It can mean doctor ordered bed rest for your surrogate and more doctors’ visits, particularly in the third trimester.  Twin pregnancies also bring a higher risk of complications for the surrogate, such as preterm labor, and hypertension.

Twins arrive earlier. A normal singleton pregnancy is 40 weeks.  Most twins arrive early, at or before 36 weeks, which means that one or both of the children may require an extended hospital stay in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit.)  Some doctors state that in 50% of twin pregnancies, a NICU stay is required.  This by itself may give parents pause about choosing a double embryo transfer.  Studies show that consecutive singleton births result in better medical outcomes than a single twin birth.  With all the information, you can make a conscious decision.

Do I want PGD or PGS? Preimplantation genetic diagnosis or screening is now being offered by most IVF facilities.  PGD or PGS allows a parent to view the genetic material of their child before an embryo is implanted in a surrogate mother’s womb.  PGD/S can show whether a child has any genetic disorders, the sex of the child and other genetic traits that may complicate a pregnancy.  While infertile couples who use IVF (in vitro fertilization), or anyone with a preexisting genetic condition,  may be familiar with PGD/S, couples or individuals who have their families with the assistance of a surrogate mother will most definitely be asked whether they want the information that PGD/S provides.

Knowing whether there is a genetic complication prior to embryo implantation may be in the best interests of all parties, however, choosing the sex of your child before it is born ventures into an ethical quagmire. Most families do not have this information and, while the technology exists, you must ask whether you want the information that it can provide.  The mental and physical health of your surrogate mother must be a priority in making this decision.

Do I want to selectively reduce if complications arise? Perhaps the most important questions you will confront is whether or not to selectively reduce, or abort, an embryo or fetus if there is a danger to the surrogate mother or to the child.  In reality, no state will enforce a gestational carrier contract which requires selective reduction.  The surrogate mother will always have the final say.  But you must know what you want first before you can discuss it with your surrogate.

While abortion is one of the most controversial topics in American society, it is routinely a part of conversations that intended parents have with their surrogate mothers. Surrogacy agreements attempt to cover all possible outcomes and obstacles that can arise during a surrogate pregnancy.  The most important aspect of this topic is being able to communicate your beliefs and desires with your surrogate.

There are many more issues that intended parents will face. Conscious surrogacy is about understanding the major decisions surrounding these issues and being able to come to a place of peace with each one, first with yourself, then with your surrogate mother.  Respecting her autonomy during the pregnancy will take you a long way toward reaching this goal.  Maintaining open and honest communication with your surrogate mother will also help to ensure that the journey is successful for all involved.

For more information about surrogacy, please visit http://www.timeforfamilies.com or email me at Anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

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Gay men increasingly turn to surrogates to have babies

Cliff Hastings and Ron Hoppe-Hastings sailed through the vows at their 2011 civil union ceremony, until they got to the part about entering into fatherhood together.

“We cried our eyes out,” says Hastings, 41. The topic of parenthood was emotional for them, he says — they both really wanted kids — but there was more to it than that: “We didn’t know what the options were. We both thought that having kids might be more of a pipe dream than an actual reality.”

Today, Hastings and Hoppe-Hastings are the proud fathers of 11-month-old twin girls conceived with the aid of an egg donor and grown in the womb of a surrogate, a woman who carries a baby (or babies) for other people, often heterosexuals with fertility issues.surrogacy

No one tracks how many gay men are having babies via surrogates, but observers say that the numbers are growing.

“I’ve definitely seen an increase,” says Dr. Eve Feinberg, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

“As gay marriage has become legal, I think it’s become much more socially acceptable for men to pursue fertility treatments and have babies.”

Five years ago, surrogacy for gay men was “unheard of” at Fertility Centers of Illinois, Feinberg says. When she left the practice in July, 20 to 30 male couples were pursuing surrogacy in a given year.

An informal survey of fertility clinics in more than 10 cities conducted for the Tribune by FertilityIQ (www.fertilityiq.com), a website where patients evaluate their fertility doctors, found that 10 to 20 percent of donor eggs are going to gay men having babies via surrogacy, and in a lot of places the numbers are up 50 percent from five years ago.

Cost remains a big barrier, according to FertilityIQ co-founder Jake Anderson, with costs for gay men, who typically need a surrogate and an egg donor, coming in at about $100,000 to $200,000. But with employers increasingly paying for fertility treatments for heterosexual couples, and lesbians pushing for insurance benefits that include them, gay men will likely gain more insurance coverage as well, according to Anderson.

“We think this is going to be pretty darn commonplace,” he says. “Maybe not tomorrow, but five years from now, 10 years from now, everybody will know a few people who have built their families through gay surrogacy.”

Hastings and Hoppe-Hastings, who are married and live outside Champaign, Ill., thought that they would adopt their children. But then, about three years ago, one of Hastings’ high school classmates posted pictures on Facebook. She was pregnant, and when Hastings congratulated her, she explained that she was a surrogate, carrying a baby for a heterosexual couple. The friend got Hastings in touch with the agency that had arranged her surrogacy, Family Source Consultants in Chicago.

by Nara Schoenburg, Chicagotribune.com, November 23, 2016

Click here to read the entire article.

Same-sex parents now account for 1 in 10 adoptions in England

Data published today has revealed that one in 10 adoptions in England is by a same-sex couple.

The data comes from the Department for Education, which published an update on children in care and fostering.

The stats reveal that of the 4,690 children adopted in the year ending March 31, 450 were adopted by same-sex couples.adoption

200 children were adopted by same-sex couples in civil partnerships, 70 children were adopted by married same-sex couples, and a further 180 were adopted by same-sex couples who are unmarried.

The growth, coupled with a decline in overall adoption by opposite-sex parents, means that the total proportion of children adopted by same-sex couples is at 10 percent for the first time.

It represents a drastic rise from 2012, when just 160 children were adopted by same-sex couples, accounting for less than five percent of adoptions in that year.

Gender breakdowns show that adoption has become more popular for both male and female couples, with 250 children adopted by same-sex male parents, and 200 adopted by same-sex female couples.

The data points have been rounded to preserve anonymity.

Tor Docherty of LGBT adoption charity  New Family Social, said: “Although the total number of adoptions fell in England in 2016, it’s heartening to see that agencies continue to consider and successfully place children for adoption with same-sex couples.

by Nick Duffy, December 8, 2016

PinkNews.com.uk

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Arkansas Court Upholds Gay Marriage Birth Certificate Law – Blow to Same Sex Couples

Arkansas‘ highest court on Thursday threw out a judge’s ruling that could have allowed all married same-sex couples to get the names of both spouses on their children’s birth certificates without a court order, saying it doesn’t violate equal protection “to acknowledge basic biological truths.”

The state Supreme Court also issued a rare admonishment to Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox, saying he made “inappropriate remarks” in his ruling that struck down the birth certificate law. Fox had cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage in his ruling last year that said married same-sex couples should have both names listed on their children’s birth certificates, just as heterosexual married couples do, without requiring a court order.Family law

In the state Supreme Court’s decision Thursday, the justices sided with the state attorney general’s office, saying Arkansas has a vested interest in listing biological parents on birth certificates.

“What is before this court is a narrow issue of whether the birth-certificate statutes as written deny the appellees due process,” Justice Josephine Linker Hart wrote in the court’s majority opinion. “…In the situation involving the female spouse of a biological mother, the female spouse does not have the same biological nexus to the child that the biological mother or the biological father has. It does not violate equal protection to acknowledge basic biological truths.”

Cheryl Maples, who sued on behalf of three same-sex couples, said she hasn’t decided yet whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The three couples who sued were allowed to amend their children’s birth certificates last year under a ruling issued by Fox.

“There’s no requirement that DNA be given or that there be a biological relationship to a child to get on a birth certificate for a father, for the non-birth parent,” she said. “All you have to do is legitimize the child and you’re entitled, if you’re heterosexual. This is wrong.”

Judd Deere, a spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said the state is “gratified” by the court’s decision.

“If any changes are appropriate it is the job of legislators to do so, not the circuit court,” he said.

Associate Justice Paul Danielson dissented and Justice Rhonda Wood concurred in part and dissented in part.

by Jill Bleed, ABCNews.com, December 8, 2016

Click here to read the entire article.