‘I wanted a baby:’ Single men are increasingly having biological children via surrogacy

Bill Guest was about 30 when his biological clock kicked in, and he was single.

His friends were having kids left and right, and suddenly being a doting uncle wasn’t enough. Guest was single, wasn’t particularly interested in getting married, but he did very much want a child, and not an older child. single

“I wanted a baby,” said Guest, 40, of Villa Park. “I wanted to experience all of the stages of life.”

With Father’s Day approaching, single fathers such as Guest are a reminder of how far modern men will go to become parents.

He is one of the small but growing number of single men who are becoming fathers via surrogacy, in which a woman agrees to carry someone else’s baby. Surrogacy can cost more than $100,000 and involves finding a woman who wants to carry your child, achieving a pregnancy via in vitro fertilization, and navigating the emotional experience of pregnancy and childbirth with a surrogate who has her own needs, responsibilities and boundaries.

At Family Source Consultants in Chicago, which has facilitated about eight single-father/surrogate matches so far this year, up from about five last year, co-founder Zara Griswold said that single men, both gay and heterosexual, are pursuing surrogacy for the same reason single women are freezing their eggs: They really want biological children.

“Men who have a paternal instinct — it is no less than women who have a maternal instinct,” said Griswold.

“They will be as obsessed as a woman will be; they just want it so much. And then when they have their babies they’re so happy; they’re so grateful; they’re such great parents.”

Alternative Reproductive Resources, another Chicago agency, matches about three single dads with surrogates each year, according to CEO Robin von Halle.

Guest, a stay-at-home dad to Freya, 19 months, said that he looked into adoption through the foster care system, but the kids who were available were 6 or 7.

“I kind of gave up,” he said, but his mom, Josephine, urged him to go online and try again, and he found Men Having Babies, a nonprofit that helps gay men become dads. About 60 percent of the single dads via surrogacy at Family Source Consultants are gay; the rest are heterosexual.

by Nara Schoenberg, June 13, 2018, Chicago Tribune

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Blood Test Might Predict Pregnancy Due Date and Preterm Birth

The blood test is far from ready for use, but research is promising. If it works in bigger studies, it could help prevent deaths of babies born prematurely.

Scientists have developed an inexpensive blood test to predict a pregnant woman’s due date and possibly identify women who are at risk of giving birth prematurely.

The research, which is still preliminary and involved small numbers of women, was led by a prominent pioneer in the field of genetic blood testing, Stephen Quake at Stanford University, who said the test could eventually provide a low-cost method of gauging the gestational age of a developing fetus.pregnancy blood test

The test, which detects changes in RNA circulating in a pregnant woman’s blood, estimated due dates within two weeks in nearly half the cases, making it as accurate as the current, more expensive method, ultrasound, and more accurate than guesses based on a woman’s last menstrual period.

Using a similar analysis of RNA in blood from eight women who delivered prematurely, the researchers were able to correctly classify six of their pregnancies as preterm. If much larger studies achieve comparable results, the test could become a tool to help prevent unnecessary induction of labor or Cesarean deliveries, and could possibly help save babies would have died because they were born too early.

Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death in the United States. And 15 million babies a year are born prematurely around the world.

“I think it’s really a very exciting study that suggests an approach that may have a lot of potential for predicting preterm delivery,” said Dr. Louis Muglia, director of the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center at the University of Cincinnati. “It can certainly help you understand where the baby is in maturity,” he said, which could aid doctors in gauging when to deliver babies of women who go into unexpected early labor.

In the study, published Thursday in the journal Science, the team, which was co-led by Dr. Mads Melbye, who runs the Statens Serum Institute in Denmark, analyzed the blood of 31 Danish women taken every week throughout their pregnancies, which were all full-term. The researchers studied genes linked to the placenta, the maternal immune system and the fetal liver, and found nine of those genes produce RNA signals that change distinctly as pregnancy progresses.

“RNA is what’s happening in the cells at any given moment,” said Dr. Quake, who is also co-president of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, which funded the study, along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others. “We had this idea that we could make a molecular clock to see how these things change over time and it should allow you to measure gestational age and see where things are in pregnancy.”

by Pam Belluck, New York Times, June 7, 2018

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New Report: Continued Attacks Against LGBT Families Harm Children

As the three-year anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court marriage decision in Obergefell v. Hodges nears, two more states have passed legislation allowing taxpayer-funded child welfare organizations to discriminate against prospective families.

new report shows that these state laws are just the tip of the iceberg, and outlines how stigma, discrimination, and systematic attempts to undermine marriage equality harm the estimated 300,000 children raised by same-sex couples and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parents.

Coauthored by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and the Family Equality Council, Putting Children at Risk: How Efforts to Undermine Marriage Equality Harm Children examines two overarching strategies to undermine marriage for same-sex couples and protections for LGBT parents, and shows how these coordinated efforts pose a profound threat to the children in LGBT families. First, some government officials, state legislators, and courts have refused to fully recognize the marriages of same-sex couples and their relationship with their children. Second, there is an increase in individuals, businesses, child welfare providers, healthcare providers, government contractors, and even government employees claiming they have a right to discriminate not just against LGBT people, but also against the children of LGBT people, because of their religious beliefs. These license to discriminate efforts are reflected in legislation, court cases, and agency guidance around the country.

Just this year, two states – Oklahoma and Kansas – have passed laws allowing child welfare agencies to discriminate against adopting families, leaving the nation’s most vulnerable children with fewer prospective families. And later this month, the Supreme Court is expected to rule in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which has the potential to undo decades of nondiscrimination laws by allowing businesses to pick and choose which customers to serve. For children raised by LGBT parents in particular, the stakes are high. A same-sex couple could be refused pregnancy and birth healthcare services, a child with two mothers could be denied entrance to their local preschool, a child could be refused critical medical treatment because she was denied an accurate birth certificate listing both parents, or a qualified, loving same-sex couple could be rejected from fostering a child in need. In fact, as outlined in the report, all of these scenarios have already happened.

“It’s a sad day when laws prioritize politics over the well-being of children,” said Ineke Mushovic, MAP executive director. “Instead, we’re seeing a focus on laws that allow doctors to refuse to treat infants if they disapprove of the parents, that allow childcare facilities to discriminate against and kick out toddlers, and that would rather see kids move from foster home to foster home than be permanently placed with a loving, qualified same-sex couple.”

by The Seattle Lesbian, June 4, 2018

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Supreme Court Sides With Baker Who Turned Away Gay Couple

The Supreme Court sided with a Colorado baker on Monday in a closely watched case pitting gay rights against claims of religious freedom.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the 7-2 decision, relied on narrow grounds, saying a state commission had violated the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom in ruling against the baker, Jack Phillips, who had refused to create a custom wedding cake for a gay couple.gay cake

“The neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised here,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection.”

The decision, which turned on the commission’s asserted hostility to religion, left open the possibility that other cases raising similar issues could be decided differently.

“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” Justice Kennedy wrote, “all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, No. 16-111, arose from a brief encounter in 2012, when David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Mr. Phillips’s bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, in Lakewood, Colo. The two men were going to be married in Massachusetts, and they were looking for a wedding cake for a reception in Colorado.

Mr. Phillips turned them down, saying he would not use his talents to convey a message of support for same-sex marriage at odds with his religious faith. Mr. Mullins and Mr. Craig said they were humiliated by Mr. Phillips’s refusal to serve them, and they filed a complaint with Colorado’s civil rights commission, saying that Mr. Phillips had violated a state law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

New York Times, by Adam Liptak, June 4, 2018

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New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act Now Law

New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act Provides Legal Protections to Help Individuals Struggling to Conceive

The New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act sponsored by Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Annette Quijano and Mila Jasey to provide legal protections to those struggling to conceive a child who wish to use a gestational carrier has been signed into law.new jersey gestational carrier agreement act

The law (A-1704), titled the New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act, authorizes a written contract under which a woman agrees to carry and give birth to a child created using assisted reproduction on behalf of an intended parent.

Unlike traditional surrogacy, in which a woman is artificially inseminated with the semen of the intended father and gives birth to a child through the use of her own egg, a gestational carrier does not make use of her own egg and therefore is not genetically related to the child.

The issue of surrogacy garnered national headlines in the late 1980’s with the case of “Baby M,” in which the New Jersey Supreme Court found traditional surrogacy agreements invalid because they violated various public policies and state statutes.  In 2009, a New Jersey Superior Court ruled that the findings in the Baby M case apply to gestational surrogacy as well as traditional surrogacy cases.

Because advances in reproductive technology now allow for the transfer of an embryo into the body of a woman who is not genetically related to the child, traditional surrogacy agreements like the one in Baby M, and adoption, are no longer the only means by which a couple that is having reproductive difficulties may have children.

“Ignoring the legal issues that accompany technological advancements does not remove the challenges, it merely adds an additional burden on loving couples or individuals who are already struggling to have a child,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).  “With this law, intended parents and gestational surrogates will have the legal protections that were denied to them before.”

The law takes into account the advances in reproductive technologies and permit gestational carrier agreements, which would stipulate that upon the birth of the child, the intended parent becomes the legal parent of the child and the woman – the gestational carrier – would have no parental rights or obligations.

insidernj.com, May 30, 2018

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How Same-Sex Couples Divide Chores, and What It Shows About Modern Parenting

When gay and lesbian couples have children, they often begin to divide chores as heterosexual couples do.

When straight couples divide up the chores of daily life — who cooks dinner and who mows the lawn, who schedules the children’s activities and who takes out the trash — the duties are often determined by gender.

Same-sex couples, research has consistently found, divide up chores more equally.divide chores

But recent research has uncovered a twist. When gay and lesbian couples have children, they often begin to divide things as heterosexual couples do, according to new data for larger, more representative samples of the gay population. Though the couples are still more equitable, one partner often has higher earnings, and one a greater share of household chores and child care. It shows these roles are not just about gender: Work and much of society are still built for single-earner families.

“Once you have children, it starts to almost pressure the couple into this kind of division of labor, and we’re seeing this now even in same-sex couples,” said Robert-Jay Green, professor emeritus at the California School of Professional Psychology in San Francisco. “Circumstances conspire on every level to get you to fall back in this traditional role.”

Such circumstances include employers who expect round-the-clock availability, and the absence of paid parental leave and public preschool. It’s also smaller things, like pediatricians, teachers or grandparents who assume that one parent is the primary one.

“For, me, the choice to stay home seems easier than us both working and both stressing about who’s going to do what,” said Sarah Pruis, who is raising five children with her wife, who works full time, in Cheyenne, Wyo. “That just seems impossible.”

Gary Becker, the Nobel-winning economist, proposed a theory that marriage was about efficiency: Husbands specialized in earning and wives in homemaking and child rearing. But in recent decades, as women have gained reproductive rights and a foothold in the labor force, marriage has become more about companionship.

Yet women married to men — even when they work and earn as much as or more than their husbands — still do more domestic work, and social scientists have found that the duties are gendered. Feminine chores are mainly indoor and done frequently: cooking, cleaning, laundry and child care. Masculine chores are mostly outdoor and less frequent: taking out the trash, mowing the lawn or washing the car.

by Claire Cane Miller, New York Times, May 16, 2018

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Why we need to break the silence around domestic violence in LGBTQ families

In seventh-grade health class we watched a movie about alcoholic parents.

It was the first time I saw anything that resembled my family in a movie — the same yelling, crying and sporadic violence — except my parents never drank. I knew something was terribly wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. It would be three more years before I’d learn that the problems in my family resulted from mental illness. My mother’s partner had bipolar disorder.lgbt domestic violence

There was no health-class movie about bipolar parents, no helpline to call back in the 1980s. Even if there were one, I couldn’t have called it. My family was in the closet — my mother was a lesbian, and if people found out, she or her partner could lose their jobs. If they lost their jobs, we’d lose the house, and my biological father would have a very large weapon if he decided to fight for custody. There was another layer to the problem, too. There were so few visible lesbian families that I knew that confessing my family problems would reflect negatively on the whole queer community, people who were constantly struggling to be seen as equal to their heterosexual counterparts.

As a child of lesbian parents, I felt like I needed to be normal, well adjusted and heterosexual. My parents told me that many people thought gay people were perverts who wanted to hurt children or turn them gay. I understood that it was imperative not to throw my family like chum into the shark-infested water; doing so would be risky not only for our family but for all other queer families.

When I talk about the problems in my family, some people — usually heterosexual ones — are quick to point out that it’s important for me to clarify that not all lesbian families are like mine. But this should be a given. If a friend has a bipolar or alcoholic father, I don’t assume that all heterosexual men are alcoholics or suffer from mental illness. One family should never be singled out as a representative of their entire culture, but with so few visible gay families, it’s hard not to be treated as a voice for the movement.

by Lara Lillibridge, The Washington Post, May 8, 2018

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Unsung Heroes: Surrogate Mothers to Same-Sex Couples

Let’s give a nod to the surrogate mothers who simultaneously help queer people start families and move the needle on tolerance.

I loved my small-town upbringing, but even in that somewhat sheltered environment I always had a curiosity about other places, other people, and other experiences. Now as a gay fertility doctor often working with LGBT people to build their families, it’s rewarding to see the effect this LGBT family-building is having on changing the perspective about our community in small towns across the country.

Much of that change comes from an unlikely place.surrogacy

What I have learned in my work is that everyone involved in gay family-building becomes an ambassador for change. The gay parents, their family, and their child all open hearts and minds simply by living their lives.

Yet some of the most powerful agents of change are the surrogate mothers who spend nine months openly dedicated to helping people have children.

A large percentage of the surrogates I work with live in small towns across America. They often live in conservative areas that offer little interaction with LGBT people outside of whatever passes across their TV screens. Whether the hopeful parents I’m working with are gay, straight, bi — same-sex or opposite-sex couples — we rely on the willingness of women across the country to carry the babies of people who can’t otherwise have children.

I’ve found incredible enthusiasm from so many women when they learn the child they would be carrying is for a gay couple. Their dedication to helping other people build their dream family does not know prejudice. These women are a backbone of LGBT family-building, and their love has no bounds.

Yet their role in our movement extends beyond carrying the child for an LGBT person or same-sex couple. These women bring incredible pride to the service they provide others. They bring that message to their families, their friends and their local communities.

Even in those conservative small towns across America, they bring their pride in helping LGBT people have children.

Walking in the grocery store in their seventh and eighth month, people stop them to ask about the baby. At a friend’s house for dinner, they explain why they won’t be having any wine and a conversation about gay parents ensues. Their own husband and kids have to adjust a bit as mom’s lifestyle shifts for the baby she’s carrying.

The women I work with don’t hide from anyone the fact that it’s a trans woman or a gay couple whose baby she’s carrying.

I hear from the surrogates about these exchanges. They find it’s an opportunity to open people’s hearts and minds, often people who’ve never known an LGBT person.

by Dr. Guy Ringler, Advocate.com – May 11, 2018

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Some L.G.B.T. Parents Reject the Names ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy’

When Amanda Davidson, a 42-year-old Los Angeles-based artist and writer, welcomed her firstborn child in December — a boy named Felix — with her partner Isaac Schankler, 39, a composer, she chafed at the assumptions the medical staff members made about how the pair wanted to identify themselves as parents.

“‘Hi, Mommy! Where’s Daddy? Mommy needs to know this, but so does Daddy,’” she said with a big laugh. The binary clashed so much with how the couple sees themselves and exists in the world — she’s queer-identified, and her partner goes by pronouns they/their/them and uses the gender-neutral title Mx. — she refrained from calling herself anything vis-à-vis Felix for the first two weeks of his life.

She eventually settled on Mama. “I was racking my brain for a mama-alternate, but it feels right for the moment,” she said, adding that in her universe, “identity wiggles around,” and she’s open to other possibilities.estate planning

Mx. Schankler remembers reading the queer writer Andrea Lawlor’s essay on identifying as “Baba” (as opposed to some iteration of mother) in Mutha magazine and thinking that “dad” or “daddy” wouldn’t work for them either, so they opted for “Abba.” It means “dad” in Hebrew, providing a link to their Jewish heritage: “It does feel more gender-neutral, or at least doesn’t have quite the same baggage that dad and daddy have,” Mx. Schankler said.

Naming is particularly important to the pair as a means of signaling their queerness, since they “pass” as a straight couple. “We don’t look visibly queer,” Ms. Davidson said, “So in some ways, our choice of names helps us affirm our identities.”

The duo’s ambivalence about traditional monikers is reflected in a study, currently under peer review, on the naming practices in same-sex adoptive families. The study, by Abbie E. Goldberg, Clark University’s pioneering L.G.B.T. family scholar; Melissa Manley, a doctoral student, and Emma Frank, a recent Clark graduate, is one of the few on the topic. It found that of 80 participants — 20 lesbian couples and 20 gay couples — recruited from adoption agencies across the United States, including cities with high concentrations of lesbian and gay populations, all opted for derivatives of mother and father.

A quarter of them, however — 20 percent of the lesbian couples and 5 percent of the gay couples — participated in some version of “undoing gender.” Many do this by taking parental names from their native cultures or religions that strip away the binary in this cultural context, collapsing the dichotomy between terms by merging them, such as “Mather,” a fusion of mother and father, or creating nicknames (“Muzzie,” in one instance).

Ellen Kahn, the director of the Children, Youth & Families Program at the Human Rights Campaign, said the gender binary that underlies “mother” and “father” doesn’t jibe with some parents’ self-understanding and self-presentation: “For queer parents who don’t think of themselves as gender conforming, ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ may be a little discordant with the way they think about themselves.”

Both Dr. Goldberg and Ms. Kahn surmise that the couples who are using new terminologies are willing to do so because of the hard-won rights L.G.B.T. people have secured, particularly the right to marry. “Now there’s more willingness to push some of those boundaries,” Dr. Goldberg said, “because of greater legal recognition and acceptance.”

by Stephanie Fairyington – New York Times April 26, 2018

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All Evidence Shows That Children of Gay Parents Do Just as Well as Their Peers

Multiple studies have been conducted over the years, countless research has been carried out and endless debates have been had, all to show one thing.

That the children of gay parents do just as well as the children of straight parents. The myth that kids need a mum and a dad to have a fulfilled childhood has been repeatedly, conclusively disproved – so why is it still so pervasive?studies show kid of gay parents do great

Such views are ultimately rooted in outdated notions of what constitutes a good upbringing, stemming from conservative ideals of the ‘nuclear family’, with a mum, a dad and 2.4 children. In many cases, objection to LGBT families is motivated by homophobia as well – a belief that there is something different, and therefore undesirable or lacking, about same-sex parenting. But last year, researchers conducted one of the most comprehensive studies into same-sex parenting that has ever been carried out.

Scientists looked into more than three decades worth of peer-reviewed research into how the children in same-sex-parented families did in comparison to their peers from opposite-sex-parented families. The wide-ranging study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia in October 2017, found what had already been shown in multiple previous studies – that the kids do just as well.

Among the studies reviewed were the 2017 public policy research portal at Columbia Law School in the US, which itself looked at 79 studies investigating the well-being of children raised by gay parents; a 2014 American Sociological Association review of more than 40 studies, which found that children fared just as well in a number of areas; and the Australian Institute of Family Studies’ review from 2013, which found that there was no evidence of harm.

Researchers behind the study, titled ‘The Kids are OK: it is Discrimination Not Same-Sex Parents that Harms Children’, said at the time: ‘The findings of these reviews reflects a broader consensus within the fields of family studies and psychology. It is family processes – parenting quality, parental wellbeing, the quality of and satisfaction with relationships in the family – rather than family structures that make a more meaningful difference to children’s wellbeing and positive development.’

They added that studies that had shown poor outcomes for LGBT-parented children had been widely criticised for their limited methodologies.

by Ashtitha Nagesh, February 18, 2018 – Metro.co.uk

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