Tom Daley on becoming a dad and why UK surrogacy laws need to change

Tom Daley is sitting on a sofa in a central London hotel suite with his husband, Dustin Lance Black, while their seven-week-old baby, Robbie Ray, snoozes peacefully beside them – and it’s clear the new fathers (both dressed in baby blue) are entirely besotted with their son.

“We don’t ever turn on a TV anymore, we just stare at the little one,” Tom Daley, 24, tells The Independent. “It’s been so crazy. It feels kind of surreal still, the fact that we have a…”

He stops mid-sentence to coo at baby Robbie, which I soon realise is to become a regular occurrence during our interview.surrogate lawyers, surrogate lawyer, surrogate attorney, legal surrogate, surrogate legal

“But he’s brought so much love and joy to the family,” Daley continues.

Born to a surrogate in June, Robbie is apparently a very well-behaved newborn. “He’s a great baby,” says Black, 44. “I think we got a starter baby, I think we got the best baby on the planet.”

“But we might be biased,” adds Daley.

The Olympic diver and his Oscar-winning screenwriter husband met in 2013, married in 2017 and revealed they were going to be fathers in 2018 – an announcement which wasn’t met entirely positively by the public.

“I think that’s why we want to help educate people because I think a lot of them were under the impression that the baby was going to be ripped from his mother’s arms,” says Daley. “People will have their opinions and that’s fine. All we want is what’s best for the little one.”

The couple had their son through surrogacy but admit they didn’t know a great deal about the options open to them as a same-sex couple beforehand. “It was an education, we had to learn,” says Black. 

By Rachel Hosie, theindependent.co.uk, August 22, 2018

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Is there a Marital Presumption for Male Couples in New York?

Is there marital presumption for male couples in New York?  Recent case law suggests that we are heading in that direction.

Is there marital presumption for male couples in New York?  Up until now, there has been no clear guidance on this.  While certain NY jurisdictions have held that the marital presumption of parentage exists for lesbian couples, male couples who have their children with the assistance of a surrogate mother, or gestational carrier, have not had specific judicial input… until now.marital presumption for male couples in New York

Before I discuss the details of the case, entitled In re Maria Irene D., it is important to understand the judicial reach it has and the implications of that for couples throughout New York State.  This case originates from an appeal made from a New York County Family Court decision granting a second parent adoption.  That appeal was heard in the Appellate Division, First Department, which hears appeals from cases in New York County and the Bronx only.  Therefore, until appealed to the New York Court of Appeals (our highest court), it only creates precedent for the Bronx and New York Counties.  Other NY counties may cite the case as a reference, but are not bound by its findings.

In re Maria Irene D. involves a child born in September 2014 to a gay couple, Marco and Ming.  Marco and Ming entered into a civil union in the UK in 2008 and converted that to a marriage in 2015.  Their daughter was born with the help of a surrogate mother who gave birth in Missouri.  Because both fathers were British citizens, and due to the law in the UK surrounding the legality of surrogacy, the couple obtained a parentage order in Missouri that terminated the rights of both the surrogate mother and egg donor and awarded Marco, the genetic father, “sole and exclusive” custody of the child.  In many cases, a pre or post birth order will list both intended parents as legal parents, but because the couple planned to secure UK citizenship for the child at some point after her birth, the parentage order could only list the genetic father.

Marco and Ming, along with their daughter, moved back to Florida, where they had been living, and stayed there as a family until October of 2015.  At some point after the birth of the child, Marco began a relationship with a man named Carlos and his relationship with Ming failed.  Ming had moved back to the UK in October of 2015 to find employment.  Carlos filed a petition of adoption with the New York County Family Court in January of 2016 and the petition was granted in May of 2016.

marital presumption for male couples in New YorkAdoption petitions ask one very important question, whether the child is subject to any proceeding affecting his or her custody or status.  In this matter, Carlos and Marco failed to disclose that, at the time of the child’s birth, both Marco and Ming had signed the surrogacy agreement together as a married couple.  Also, Ming had started a divorce proceeding seeking joint custody of the child prior to the finalization of the adoption.  Carlos and Marco failed to disclose that to the court as well.

The court held that there were two important reasons for overturning the adoption granted by the New York County family Court to Carlos: that Ming and Marco were considered legally married by the court at the time the time they began their surrogacy journey and at the time of the birth of the child.  Their daughter was, essentially, born in wedlock; therefore, Ming was entitled to notice of the adoption proceedings.  The court also faulted Carlos and Marco for failing to disclose the relevant information that there was a court proceeding filed by Ming in Florida that affected the custody of the child.

So does the marital presumption for male couples in New York protect a separated parent from losing custody of their child?  In this case, yes.  What we do not know is whether the fact that Carlos and Marco’s failure to disclose vital information in their adoption petition was the driving factor in the court’s decision, or whether it was the marriage of Marco and Ming.

With this information, male couples in NY may be struggling with whether to secure their parental relationships through second or step parent adoption.  Because the players in this drama were foreign nationals, different rules applied to how parentage was established immediately following the birth of their child.  Most US couples who have children through surrogacy can obtain parentage orders that create parentage for both fathers depending on the State where their child is born.  This decision is certainly a step in the right direction but married NY couples should also consider step parent adoption as a means to create unassailable parental rights that are portable across the country and around the world.  While the second/step parent adoption process is comprehensive and time consuming, it is worth it when you think about how much may be spent defending your right to your child born through surrogacy.

Anthony M. Brown, head of Family and Estates division of Chianese & Reilly Law, PC and has extensive experience in helping same-sex couples through the adoption process, having gone through the process himself. If you have yet to create a legal relationship with your child or children, call 212-953-6447 or email Anthony at Anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

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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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Why seeing my gay son enter parenthood with twins made our relationship stronger

Early last month, my husband and I became grandparents for the first time, when my son and his husband became the fathers of twins.

There is a plethora of options for a gay couple to explore when they are considering parenthood. Adoption? Co-parenting? Surrogacy? Who will donate the egg and/or sperm? What are the legalities? And where do you even start such a process?

I am so very grateful — perhaps relieved is a better word — that my son and his husband live in a city with a large LGBTQ population. This has meant that from the moment they knew they wanted to become parents, they had access to a wealth of knowledge and experience. This is knowledge and experience that my husband and I, for lack of personal experience, simply couldn’t help them with.

The conversations I had with my son and son-in-law while they were taking their Daddies & Papas 2B program at a local LGBTQ community centre in downtown Toronto were some of most intimate and emotional conversations I have ever had with him. The roles in our relationship were completely reversed: the child was teaching the parent.Twins

It was a special time in my relationship with my son, and I will always cherish it.

You know who was even happier than John and me about the thought of babies? Our own parents. My father lived long enough to see my son marry the man he loved, but never knew that he would be the first of our three boys to have children. Still, the twins now have three great-grandparents who are healthy, and so very proud to talk about — and advocate for — gay marriage and same-sex parenthood.

I got to watch my mother hold a newborn girl named after her, and her great-grandson, named for my son’s grandfather-in-law. She marvelled at their perfection, and talked about the modern miracle of these babies’ conception and births through the egg donation of my son-in-law’s sister, and the generosity of a surrogate mother who carried the twins healthily to term. It was one of the most perfect moments in my life.

Sharing love. Sharing challenges. Supporting one another. Sharing wonder. This is how we family.

My grandchildren were born in June, which also happens to be Pride Month. What will they know of the struggles that brought us to the place where their daddies could be legally married? Will they know why, when PFLAG – the national organization to help with issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression – walks down Yonge Street during the Pride Parade in Toronto, men and women who are watching the parade from the sidewalk hold each other and sob?

My grandchildren are the son and daughter of two men who love each other so much that they were willing to take on the challenge of creating a family of their own in a world where that can be difficult, and resistant to such a thing. Financially, it is overwhelming. The legal paperwork is daunting. The persistence, the determination, the multitude of conversations, considerations and decisions that they tackled to get to parenthood makes me hopeful for their children. These babies are so wanted, and so deeply loved.

The day the twins were born, at around five in the evening, my husband and I assumed new roles. Since then I’ve been thinking of all of the books I’ll read to the children, and the songs we’ll sing. I’ll teach them to bake their father’s favourite cookies. I’ll take them to Young People’s Theatre. We’ll hike and we’ll bike. My husband is building special kid-friendly farm scenes into his model train set. In other words, we’ll become like any other loving grandparents who hope to do right by their children’s children — with one particular difference.

One Saturday night earlier this month, a gunman walked into a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., reminding us that the world is still a dangerous place for LGBTQ people, and for the people who love them.

He reminded me that as a mother, as a grandmother, and most basically as a human being, I have a responsibility to fight homophobia and transphobia.

Of course I am an ally — but in order to call myself an ally I have to be an active one. In doing things like walking with PFLAG in Toronto’s annual Pride Parade and in writing about my family, I am taking a stand for my son and his husband. I am vocally supporting all of the same- sex marriages and partnerships and the “gayby babies” that may result from those relationships.

June 29, 2016 by Patti Paddle, TVO.org

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Gay couples are becoming reproductive refugees as more countries outlaw surrogacy

The options for becoming parents are narrowing for gay couples as both developed and developing nations increasingly outlaw surrogacy, many becoming reproductive refugees.

Gay couples who need surrogacy to start a family are now reproductive refugees as more and more countries outlaw surrogacy, according to advocacy group Families Through Surrogacy.

With surrogacy criminalized in many Western countries, would-be parents have typically turned to developing nations including Thailand, India and Nepal to find surrogates. But even these countries have, in recent years, closed their doors to international surrogacy. What’s more, countries that do still allow international surrogacy – such as Ukraine, Georgia and Israel – do not extend that offer to same-sex couples.

Sam Everingham, executive director of Australian advocacy group Families Through Surrogacy, told The Atlantic that outlawing reproductive rights for gay couples in their own countries sent them on ‘a constant chase’ across the globe, with more and more countries officially outlawing the practice as time goes on.

According to Doron Mamet, the head of Israeli surrogacy agency Tammuz, surrogacy has become such a political sticking point that it may not be available anywhere within the next ’10 to 15 years’. Interestingly, Mamet points out, while politicians and anti-surrogacy activists are eager to stamp out the practice, ‘The only group that wants it to continue are the people in need and the surrogates.’surrogacy refugees, international surrogacy, gay dads

Why outlaw surrogacy in developed countries?

In Australia, couples found to have practised commercial surrogacy in the country can go to jail for three years.

Australia’s federal government has recently ordered a review of the nation’s surrogacy laws, following high-profile cases of surrogacy gone wrong abroad. The government appears to be in favor of commercial surrogacy remaining illegal in the country, forcing gay parents to fork out huge sums for surrogates in the US, as cheaper options in developing countries dwindle.

UK gay couples find themselves with the same problem, as UK law also criminalizes commercial surrogacy.

In an interview with Gay Star News, the founder of gay parenting blog Gay Dads Australia, Rodney Chiang-Cruise, told of the frustration the gay community felt about criminalization of commercial surrogacy in Australia. He argued that legalizing the process within Australia would help make it ‘a fair, equitable, respectful process for all parties’. See more on that here.

While altruistic surrogacy is legal in Australia, figures from Families Through Surrogacy show that just 35 babies were born through altruistic surrogacy in Australia in 2013. Conversely, more than 400 babies were born to Australians through surrogacy abroad.

The cost of going through the surrogacy process in the US is around AUD $200,000.

GayStarNews.com by Laura Chubb, June 7, 2016

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Kids of Gay Dads Are Just Fine, Study Finds

We’ve heard it before, but another study couldn’t hurt, right? New research from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that children of gay dads are just as well adjusted as their peers born to straight parents.

In preliminary findings published Saturday, pediatrician Ellen C. Perrin of Tufts Medical Center and her research team compiled survey responses from 732 gay fathers in 47 U.S. states about their children. Of these dads, 88 percent said it was “not true” that their child is unhappy or depressed, whereas in a federal survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of parents in the U.S., 87 percent said the same of their children. Similarly, while 75 percent of the parents in the federal survey said that their child “does not worry a lot,” 72 percent of the gay dads said the same. All in all, the numbers nearly line up.

gay dads, gay fathers, gay parenting

And in some cases, these dads are raising happy kids against the odds: Perrin’s research found that 33 percent of the dads reported encountering “barriers to sharing custody of their children.” Another 41 percent ran into pushback trying to adopt a child, and 18 percent encountered it while using surrogacy to have a baby.

The survey results also help break down trends in how gay dads have kids. While the largest percentage of gay dads have children through adoption or foster care, 36 percent say their children were born while one of the dads was in a straight relationship. Another 14 percent became parents through surrogacy.

The research, to be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting this week, adds to the small but growing body of research about gay parents and their kids. Recent studies have shown that children of lesbians have higher rates of self-esteem and lower rates of conduct problems than their straight-parented peers. And earlier this year, researchers released an enormous literature review of 19,000 studies about gay parenting published since 1977, finding—you guessed it—that children of gay parents are no worse off than any other kids.

Click here to read the entire article.

Newsweek.com, by Zoe Schlanger – 4.30.2016

HIV Positive Dads Follow Their Family Dream

These HIV positive dads fathered children. Science has come a along way to help HIV+ dads have families of their own.

Aslan always believed he would be a father—if not with a partner, then by teaming up with one of his straight, single female friends. But “at the age of 36, I became infected with the [HIV] virus,” he said. “I thought my whole world collapsed. Everything crashed with that. I believed that there would be no child.” He was gay and single, living in a cosmopolitan city in his southern European country, when a female friend asked him to pair up to make a baby. He had heard that it could be done safely, but when he told her his HIV status, her reaction, he said somewhat morosely, was “very naturally, not very brave.” Unwilling to face that rejection again, he spent years trying to bury his profound desire become one of many HIV positive dads.

Things were different for Brian Rosenberg and Ferd van Gameren, who were already in their forties by the time they began thinking about having kids. Their early years together focused on keeping Brian, who is HIV+, healthy and Ferd negative. But once protease inhibitors emerged and Brian’s health was stable, the couple decided to focus on enjoying life. They moved from Boston into a one-bedroom Chelsea co-op in New York City, started summering in Fire Island, and hopped around their friends’ parties having “a gay old time,” as Brian put it.Donor

After several years, though, all that began to pale. “We started thinking that life had to be more meaningful for us than the next party, the next fabulous vacation.” They wanted a family, and all the responsibility, love, and exhaustion that went with it. They tried adoption first, but when one birthmother backed away, their hearts were broken–so they discussed surrogacy. Given his HIV status, Brian assumed that Ferd would be the biological dad–but Ferd wanted to raise Brian’s bio children. And so in 2009 Ferd went online and found the Special Program for Assisted Reproduction, or SPAR, dedicated to helping HIV-positive men father children safely. The program is run by the Bedford Research Foundation and its director Dr. Ann Kiessling.

Back in southern Europe, by 2011, Aslan was learning about the same option. He was seven months into a new relationship that seemed as if it would stick—and despite himself, he began to imagine having a family with this man. Coincidentally, an American friend forwarded him an article about Circle Surrogacy, which worked with HIV-positive gay men in the States. “And it gave me, like, a wow, big hope, a new window to plan my life again!” Aslan quickly contacted Circle Surrogacy, which connected him with Dr. Ann Kiessling. “She was very kind and explained all the procedures, that it’s completely safe. And this was the start.”

But how can HIV positive dads father children?

“How” has both a practical and a technical answer. This article will tell you the practical steps to take, one by one, with some technical information mixed in along the way. Experts agree that it can be done safely. According to Dr. Brian Berger of Boston IVF, over the past 15 years fertility centers have helped conceive thousands of babies fathered by HIV-positive men—and not a single woman or child has been infected as a result.

So how can an HIV-positive gay man become a biological father? Let’s look at the process, step by step.That’s because, apparently, HIV cannot attach to or infect spermatozoa—the single-cell swimmers that deliver chromosomes to an egg. Sometimes the surrounding fluid—the semen, the ejaculate that carries the sperm along, and which is made separately—does include HIV. But sperm is made only in the testes, which are walled off from the rest of the body, heavily fortified against the illnesses or infections that might affect the rest of the body, for obvious evolutionary reasons. Because sperm doesn’t get mixed with semen until the very last moment, at ejaculation, it remains safe. And after decades of research, the medical profession has figured out how to use only the uninfected sperm to fertilize an egg.

Step 1: Make sure dad is healthy. 

The first, and most important, step is to ensure that the prospective dad is healthy—that his HIV levels are undetectable or nearly so, his T-cell count is high, he’s free of other complications or infections, and he is working closely with a doctor to stay in good health. Says Dr. Bisher Akil, a New York City physician who specializes in caring for HIV-positive patients, “Can HIV positve dads become parents? The answer in 2014 is absolutely yes.” In 2014, no one should use his HIV infection to stop from having a full and normal life, he emphasizes. “The only point I make to potential fathers is that they need to take care of themselves and make sure they have their infection under control. The occasional medical problem that might appear, whether or not related to HIV, needs to be treated very aggressively. They need to be compliant with medications and treatment. That’s not any different from any father with a chronic illness. Now that they have responsibility of having a child, we want to take them through their lives.”

Click here to read the entire article.

April 5, 2016 via gayswithkids.com

Jason and David: Gay Dads Before They were 30

 

Gay dads David and Jason Bragg-Sutton are a different kind of gay dads. Living north of Tulsa, Okla., in America’s heartland, they have become the parents of three children adopted through the foster care system.

But that’s not what’s different about them. What is? The fact that both did so while under the age of 30.

 

For David Bragg-Sutton, it was a no-brainer. He and his husband became a couple some six years ago, when they were 21 and 26, respectively. Soon afterward, they decided they wanted to start a family, and soon.

Adopted in infancy by a pair of older parents, David says he knew that he wanted to be an active participant in his kids’ lives, when they’re young children and as well as adults. In short, he wants to experience the world with them.

Gay dads

“I want to hang out with them,” he said. “I don’t want to say no to going on a vacation [because of physical limitations]. That was important to me. I want to grow with my children,” David says. “I want to live my life with my children.”

But when David and Jason embarked upon their journey to create a family, they had to change plans and adjust expectations in a big way. They knew they wanted multiple children, for example, but they planned to add them gradually. They also wanted to raise an infant.

After plans for surrogacy with a mutual friend didn’t pan out, they found themselves looking at Oklahoma’s foster care system, and facing some hard truths.

“When we got into the foster care system, our worker told us, ‘You are going to face barriers, as gay parents and as gay parents seeking an infant,’” David says.

Their initial experiences seemed to bear this out. After filling out reams of paperwork, David and Jason opened their home for potential children. And then they waited for 13 months.

Most gay dads have experienced that wait, in one way or another. Fundamentally, it doesn’t matter if the wait is three months or three years. It’s still a period of reflection and anxiety. For the Bragg-Suttons, it was a time of adjusting their expectations, of rethinking what they were willing to do.

At the beginning, they were only interested in seeing children who were young and available to adopt on their own.

But then their social worker began to prod them to change their approach. Eventually they said they were willing to consider sibling groups and somewhat older kids.

They began spending hours at the offices of the Department of Human Services, looking through packets of children who were legally free for adoption.

“We wanted to be very researched,” Jason says. “We really dug into what we signed up for.”

Finally, they were connected with a sibling group of three children, Taylor, 10; Madelynn, 6; and William, 5. On Oct. 5, 2013, they heard they were matched. On Oct. 17, they met the kids at a pizza parlor in Tulsa.

via GaysWithKids.com – February 19, 2016

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