More LGBTQ millennials plan to have kids regardless of income, survey finds

 The price of parenthood can be costly for LGBTQ millennials, and all LGBTQ families, especially those dependent on assisted reproductive technology.LGBTQ millenials

Since they married in 2015, LGBTQ millennials, Jonathan Hobgood, 37, and his husband, Kerry Johnson, 36, have wanted to be dads. At first, the couple saw adoption as the best path to parenthood, but South Carolina, where they live, is one of 10 states with religious exemption laws that make it more difficult for same-sex couples to foster and adopt, and they worried that adopting would set them up for a legal nightmare down the road.

“Our concern was that if we did a private adoption and the birth mother decided a couple of years later that she wanted her child back, we would be in for a rather extensive legal battle to try to keep the child,” Hobgood told NBC News. “So we just decided, ‘Well, let’s take ourselves down the surrogacy path from there.’”

In reality, a court-ordered private adoption would have provided the secure, legal parent-child relationship Hobgood and Johnson were looking for, but it is common for prospective parents to have misconceptions about how the law treats parental rights, according to Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality.

The couple did their research. The cost of hiring a female surrogate, they learned, would be steep — $120,000 to $150,000, a price that Hobgood, a project specialist for a medical insurance company, and Kerry, a management analyst with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, could hardly afford. But it did not deter them.

“I knew I wanted to be a child’s father,” Hobgood said. “I really just wanted to go through and enjoy bringing up this wonderful child who is a part of our family.”

Hobgood and his husband are among an increasing number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the U.S. planning to have children, according to data released this year by Family Equality, a national nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ families. And despite the additional financial barriers for many prospective parents in this group, this increased desire to have children was found across income levels, according to a report the group released this month, “Building LGBTQ+ Families: The Price of Parenthood.”

Family Equality polled LGBTQ millennials -500 LGBTQ and 1,004 non-LGBTQ adults, and found that the desire to become parents is nearly identical among both lower- and higher-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Forty-five to 53 percent of LGBTQ people between the ages of 18 and 35 are planning to become parents for the first time or add another child to their family (compared to 55 percent for their non-LGBTQ counterparts, a gap that has narrowed significantly compared to older generations).And those making less than $25,000 a year plan to have children at a similar rate to those making over $100,000, according to the report.

Amanda Winn, the organization’s chief program officer, was surprised by the findings.

“I was expecting that folks who were living at the poverty line would report lower rates of wanting to bring children into the home knowing that finances were tight, but that’s not the case,” Winn told NBC News. “That innate, strong desire to have families exists regardless of income levels.”

LGBTQ prospective parents are more likely to face financial hurdles than their heterosexual peers, according to the report. Reasons include their relatively lower annual household incomes and the additional costs associated with having a child using an option other than sexual intercourse, which is considered by only 37 percent of LGBTQ people planning to start their families or have more children.

Assisted reproductive technology: ‘an impossible barrier’ for some

Thanks to advancements in assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, more LGBTQ people can have children through nontraditional methods, and interest is growing. Forty percent of LGBTQ people are considering such technology to conceive children, according to a Family Equality survey published in February — but many of these prospective parents will pay for it out of their own pockets, and the technology can be expensive.

“Most LGBTQ+ individuals will learn that their health insurance plan does not cover the cost of fertility treatments at all, and, if they do, the individual or family unit must prove that they have been ‘trying’ to conceive for 6-12 months before coverage begins,” the Family Equality report states. “This stipulation in the policy results in high monthly expenses for some and creates an impossible barrier for others.”

nbcnews.com, by Julie Compton December 27, 2019

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Opinion – What Happened to All Those Frozen Eggs?

Frozen Eggs was supposed to be as revolutionary as birth control. It hasn’t lived up to the hype — but it has still changed women’s lives.

Frozen eggs – The potential for egg freezing to allow women to pause their biological clocks is one of the most astonishing developments of recent fertility science. The promise was thrilling: Women could enjoy more time to find the right partners, break up with the wrong ones and become emotionally and financially ready to become mothers.Egg Donations

Enthusiasts even fantasized the technology would promote gender equality by giving women control over their fertility so that they wouldn’t have to scale back their career ambitions during their 20s and 30s. “Freeze Your Eggs. Free Your Career” blared a 2014 cover of Bloomberg Businessweek.

When Facebook and Apple announced that same year that they would pay for egg freezing for employees in a “game-changing perk,” Apple said in a statement, “We want to empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families.”

Egg freezing was an act of self-care — and professional advancement — for the modern woman.

“All the talk in the beginning was about how egg freezing would be as big as the birth control pill and liberate women,” said Janet Takefman, a reproductive health psychologist at McGill University in Montreal, who has counseled more than 200 women considering egg freezing.

And women responded to this promise. In 2009, the first year the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology started collecting egg freezing data, 475 women went through the procedure, in which an average of 10 eggs are surgically removed and preserved in liquid nitrogen after 10 days of hormonal stimulation. In 2017, more than 9,000 women froze their eggs.

Now we have a chance to look back and ask: Did egg freezing live up to its hype?

The most obvious question is whether egg freezing worked by allowing women to have children later. Although SART collects data on pregnancy rates using frozen eggs, it doesn’t break out whether women had frozen them as part of in vitro fertilization treatment or fertility preservation during illness, or to delay childbearing. So I contacted four fertility clinics that have been in the field the longest to find out. (I froze my eggs at two of them and haven’t yet thawed.)

nytimes.com, by Sarah Elizabeth Roberts, December 21, 2019
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Taiwan Surrogacy – After gay marriage law passes, Taiwan emerges as new market for LGBT+ surrogacy

Taiwan Surrogacy – After gay marriage law passes, Taiwan emerges as new market for LGBT+ surrogacy

On Geoffrey Li’s 40th birthday last year, he put aside his dream of an early retirement on an idyllic island and instead decided to raise a child in Taiwan with the assistance of surrogacy in Southeast Asia.Taiwan surrogacy

Li and his husband — whose twin boys are now three months old — are among an increasing number of gay couples in Taiwan becoming parents through surrogacy even though the procedure is illegal on the self-ruled island deemed a wayward province by China.

 

Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage in May and more than 2,000 same sex couples have since wed, prompting a rush of commercial surrogacy agencies to head to Taiwan to help more LGBT+ couples seeking to start families.

“Having a child in the world to care for, who will return our love unconditionally, is an amazing experience we did not expect to have,” Li said.

Globally, the popularity of surrogacy — where a surrogate mother is either implanted with a sperm and egg or becomes pregnant using her own egg — is soaring, particularly among LGBT+ couples who want to become parents.

Global fertility services were estimated in an initial valuation to be worth about $21 billion in 2018 with the industry forecast to grow to $41 billion by 2026, according to India-based market research firm Data Bridge.

Surrogacy laws around the world vary.

For example, Taiwan, France and Germany prohibit all forms of surrogacy, while Britain, Canada and New Zealand allow some forms of altruistic surrogacy but it is illegal to pay a woman for her services.

Taiwan’s Assisted Reproduction Act forbids any form of surrogacy and any attempts to amend laws, as recently as 2017, have failed due to opposition from women and children’s rights groups.

Conservative groups, such as the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, have actively campaigned against LGBT+ parenting and marriage equality.

But although two-thirds of Taiwanese voters — about 7 million people — opposed changing the country’s civil code to recognize same-sex marriage in a 2018 referendum, parliament in May passed a law legalizing gay marriage.

New frontier

Under current laws, same-sex couples can only adopt children who is biologically related to at least one of them, with activists marking this as one of the next frontiers in the fight for LGBT+ equality on the island of 23 million people.

The Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy (TLFRA) group said they are in contact with at least 300 “rainbow families” and expect the number of same-sex parents to rise as the new gay marriage law spurred visibility and acceptance.

“Part of the (LGBT+) community is celebrating, while part of the community has a lot of fighting to do,” said Chu Chiajong, administrative secretary of the TLFRA.

This has been encouraged by the arrival of commercial surrogacy agencies, mainly from the United States, in Taiwan where hundreds of gay couples are willing to pay up to $140,000 to start a family — almost 10 times the average annual salary.

There is no legislation concerning surrogacy at the federal level in the United States and some states allow commercial surrogacy arrangements.

Men Having Babies, a New York-based non-profit that helps gay men become fathers through surrogacy, hosted its first conference for prospective Asian gay parents in Taipei in March.

About 320 people attended, forcing the organizers to request a space twice the size of the room originally booked.

“People were revelling in it. They were proud of the fact this was happening,” said group founder Ron Poole-Dayan, who was part of one of the first same-sex couples in the United States to father children through gestational surrogacy.

American Fertility Services, San Diego Fertility Center and International Surrogacy Center were among the sponsors of the event, which included a panel on budgeting, testimonies from parents and surrogates and on-site consultations with clinics.

Croatian court allows gay couple to become foster parents

A Croatian gay couple are set to become foster parents after a landmark ruling by a Zagreb court, local media reported. The couple filed a lawsuit after authorities abruptly rejected their bid to foster children.

A Croatian court in Zagreb paved the way for a same-sex couple to foster children in Croatia, overruling a previous rejection by a child welfare center, according to Croatian media.Croatian court

“We are overjoyed,” one of the men, Ivo Segota, told the Jutarnji list daily.

Segota entered a so-called life partnership with Mladen Kozic in 2015. In 2017, they applied to become foster parents with the Zagreb Social Services Center.

“We were received very warmly and nicely … because Zagreb has a chronic deficit of foster homes, especially those who have the conditions and desire to foster several children, which forces the centers to separate biological siblings,” Segota said.

Despite successfully passing multiple tests, the center unexpectedly broke off communication and eventually rejected their plea. The provided explanation, according to Segota, was that there were no legal conditions for them to become foster parents as a life partnership couple.

The couple appealed the decision to the Family Ministry, but their appeal was rejected. They then sued against the decision.

Under Croatian law, same-sex marriages are not allowed. Life partnerships are equal with heterosexual marriages in all aspects except one — adopting children. The couple’s attorney, Sanja Bezbradica Jelavic, argued that keeping the two from becoming foster parents amounted to discrimination.

DM.com, December 20, 2019

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Utah boy speaks out after he says teacher bullied him for having gay parents

A Utah boy is speaking out after he says he was bullied by a substitute teacher for being adopted by two gay men.

In an interview with CBS This Morning, 11-year-old Utah boy Daniel van Amstel opened up about the experience, which happened on Nov. 22 at his elementary school just outside Salt Lake City.same sex parenting

It began when the teacher asked students what they were thankful for, to which he replied that he was “thankful for my dad and dad, my family, my dogs and everybody that I live with now,” the fifth-grader told CBS.

Though the Utah boy has lived with his parents, Louis and Josh van Amstel, for six months, he was only officially adopted on Thursday.

Daniel spoke of the excitement leading up to the adoption in class, which reportedly led to the teacher making homophobic remarks and questioning why he’d be happy to be adopted by them.

“That’s when one of the three kids, ones in my class, they stuck up for me and said, ‘Let’s stop,’” Daniel said. “But she kept going and she said: ‘Are you going to be gay?’”

“I was very mad,” he continued. “It’s not right … to insult other families, even if you don’t like them.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.”

GlobalNews.ca by Meaghan Wray, December 20, 2019

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NY Health Department to begin issuing nonbinary death certificates in 2020

New Yorkers who didn’t identify as male or female in life will no longer be labeled as such in death, the Health Department announced Tuesday by introducing nonbinary death certificates.

Beginning in January, the roughly 54,000 death certificates the department issues each year will have a third gender option — “X” — or nonbinary death certificates, in addition to male and female markers.nonbinary death certificates

Trans men and women will still be identified as male or female on their death certificates, according to a spokesperson for the department.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called the move “another valuable step to honor the identity of those who have passed.” First Lady Chirlane McCray applauded the change as “a clear message to nonbinary New Yorkers that we respect and honor their fundamental rights in every phase of life.”

Records like amended birth certificates, statements from the deceased person, medical records and other documents could all be used to determine the deceased person’s gender identity, along with input from the decedent’s loved ones, health officials said.

“What might appear like a small change to some, is in fact everything to many,” said City Council member Carlos Menchaca. “In death as in life, we want dignity and respect.”

The department will also allow families to apply for retroactive changes to old death certificates.

The City Council voted in 2014 to ease requirements for gender identity changes to birth certificates. Previously, applicants had to submit a legal name change and provide evidence of “convertive” surgery. The new rule took effect in 2015, and more than 1,600 gender-revised birth certificates have been issued to New Yorkers since. So far this year, 362 people have applied for a gender change on their birth certificates.

BrooklynEagle.com, December 19, 2019 by Alex Williamson

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Stonewall House, New York City’s First Ever LGBT-Welcoming Senior Housing, Opens Its Doors

Stonewall House in Brooklyn is New York City’s first LGBT-welcoming senior housing. Its population will be roughly 50 per cent LGBT and 50 per cent straight—and it opens today.

Stonewall HouseDiedra Nottingham is getting ready to move into her new apartment at Stonewall House, and she could not be more excited.

The 69-year-old lesbian will be one of the first tenants of Stonewall House, the first ever LGBT-welcoming senior housing development in New York City. This historic building will be declared officially open today, Tuesday, with the first residents expected to move into the 145-unit building near Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn before Christmas, with the rest of the residents moving in throughout January. 

The Daily Beast exclusively reported on the construction of Stonewall House in March. It is the largest such development in the country, and its construction has been overseen by BFC Partners, the developer of Stonewall House, in partnership with SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older people. The stars and stripes and the rainbow flag both fly proudly at the top of Stonewall House.

“In 2019, in this 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall uprising, we couldn’t think of a better name for the first building of this kind,” Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE, told The Daily Beast. “People will be able to live their lives freely and openly in this building. We see our elders as heroes and want them to be treated as such when living in their own homes. That’s what we want to accomplish with this building.”

“I’m moving in in the first week of January,” Nottingham, who presently lives in the Bronx, told The Daily Beast. “I always wanted to be in a gay-friendly environment without discrimination, and the glares and looks you can get from people. It’s a great community and area. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and joining new groups. I have been an advocate for the LGBTQ community even back when we were illegal.”

Luis Lizardi from Puerto Rico lost everything due to Hurricane Maria when it struck in September 2017. The 67-year-old gay man told The Daily Beast he had faced homophobia on the island, and had suffered a heart attack as he tried to survive there after Maria

Lizardi has been living in shelters in New York City since June of this year, and more recently has slept on a friend’s sofa. He is finalizing his lease to move into Stonewall House.

“If I could, I wish I could move in tomorrow,” Lizardi told The Daily Beast. “I’m dying to be there, you have no idea. It means peace of mind, being able to take my clothes out of my bags, and be in a place more or less permanently. I hope to be there for the rest of my life, and find new friends.”

The DaileyBeast.com, by Tim Teeman, December 17, 2019

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Opinion – The Big IVF Add-On Racket

IVF Add Ons – This is no way to treat patients desperate for a baby.

There are few things as unsettling as sitting in an in vitro fertilization clinic hearing you need a team of experts — embryologists, lab techs and nurses along with a reproductive endocrinologist — to help you become pregnant.embryo

What comes next can be a blur. First, you meet with the clinic’s financial counselor to assess whether you have enough money for a complex, invasive $15,000-$20,000 IVF cycle. What follows are drug injections, blood tests, invasive ultrasounds, surgical egg retrieval, and fertilization ahead of an embryo transfer. Before your first hormone shot, you’re well into head-spinning, unfamiliar territory.

Then the doctor tells you there are “add-ons” you might want to consider.

Might you have interest in endometrial scratching? What about vasodilation, human growth hormones, intralipids, assisted hatching, oocyte activation, physiological intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or embryo glue? Post-fertilization, there is also embryo pre-implantation genetic testing to consider. Interested?

These extras come with price tags ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. All are presented as ways to increase your chances of a pregnancy. What are you willing to try? What can you afford? The ball is in your court.

This is no way to treat patients at their most vulnerable.

That’s the conclusion my colleagues and I arrive at in a new paper on the ethics and regulation of IVF add-ons.

An add-on is anything that is not essential to carry out an IVF cycle. Such measures, patients are told, will improve the likelihood of a live birth — and yet our examination revealed a startling absence of robust research into the effectiveness and the safety of these add-ons. Despite this, their use is widespread, and regulation of them is minimal.

The most expensive add-on category is pre-implantation genetic testing. These tests were originally developed to identify embryos at risk for genetic diseases. Today, however, they are primarily sold, at a cost of $6,000 to $12,000, as a way to screen for chromosomal abnormalities that could lead to failed implantation or miscarriages.

In October, however, a large study found that a single abnormal cell does not doom an embryo and determined that one of the tests, PGT-A, made no difference to rates of live births. Worse still, patients who opted not to transfer embryos based on the test’s results may have lost potentially viable ones.

There is also endometrial scratching, a procedure, sometimes costing as much as $500, that purposely irritates the endometrium, the innermost lining of the uterus, before IVF While it’s promoted as increasing the chance of an embryo implanting, a recent large randomized trial found no benefit. Beyond significant patient discomfort, risks include bleeding, infection and uterine perforation.

Then there are intralipids, an emulsion of soybean oil, egg phospholipids and glycerin administered intravenously and described as a way to decrease natural killer cell activation in the immune system and ostensibly aid in embryo implantation. This emulsion is priced around $400 per infusion; typically several are recommended. Side effects include headache, dizziness, flushing, nausea and the possibility of clotting or infection. A meta-analysis last year found that intralipids and other forms of immunotherapy should not be used in routine clinical practice.

Such procedures are often presented to patients in the form of a stack of papers, written in legalese or medical jargon. Resourceful patients might take to the internet to learn more, where searches might deliver densely written scientific articles, and ads might direct them to companies or clinics eager to promote their own brands of add-ons.

Why is all this happening? It’s because IVF remains an under-regulated arena, and entrepreneurial doctors and pharmaceutical and life science companies are eager to find new ways to cash in on a growing global market that is projected to be as large as $40 billion by 2024.

NYTimes.com, December 12, 2019 by Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos

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Kindergartner Invites His Entire Class to His Adoption Hearing

Nearly two dozen kindergartners gave testimonials in a Michigan courtroom about how much they loved the soon-to-be-adopted boy.

The 5-year-old boy, wearing a blue vest and a maroon bow tie, sat on a swivel chair in front of a judge as his kindergarten classmates filled two rows of courtroom seats behind him. The students held rulers adorned with paper hearts — the theme being “love rules.”Open Adoption

The boy, Michael Clark Jr., was one of 36 children to be adopted on Thursday during Kent County’s 23rd annual adoption day in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Twenty-one kindergartners and several parents, teachers and school administrators attended Michael’s hearing, said Carlye Allen, the principal of Wealthy Elementary School, where Michael is a student.

He invited his teacher and classmates to the ceremony because, he said, he wanted his whole family to be there on his special day, Ms. Allen said.

Judge Patricia Gardner, the presiding judge of the 17th Circuit Court’s family division and founder of the county’s adoption day, asked all the people in the courtroom to stand up and say what they loved or appreciated about Michael, Ms. Allen said.

One boy declared, “Michael is my best friend.”

Another child stood and said, “I love Michael.”

David Eaton, Michael’s adoptive father, said he started tearing up listening to the children’s testimonials. Michael seemed touched too, though it was hard to tell with a child that age, he said.

“He was in his swivel chair up front, swiveling around and facing his classmates,” Mr. Eaton said. “He felt like a king of a castle on that day, just loving it.”

After the official documents were signed, the kindergartners waved their handmade heart signs in the air. They were bumping in their seats with excitement, and all the adults were “extremely emotional,” Ms. Allen said.

“I think he understands that this means he has a permanent home now,” Mr. Eaton said. “He’s not going to be taken away.”

NYTimes.com by Maria Padilla, December 7, 2019

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He Gave Thanks for His 2 Dads, Louis and Joshua van Amstel. His Teacher Condemned Gay Couples.

The substitute teacher was fired from a Utah public school. One of the boy’s parents, Louis van Amstel of “Dancing With the Stars,” wondered how she had become a teacher in the first place.

A substitute teacher at a Utah public school asked members of a fifth-grade class what they were thankful for before they left for Thanksgiving break.van Amstel

When one of the students answered that he was “thankful for finally being adopted by my two dads,” the teacher retorted that “homosexuality is wrong,” one of the boy’s parents said in a video that has gotten widespread attention on social media. The teacher then told the student that it was sinful for two men to live together, the father said.

The substitute teacher was fired soon after, according to the staffing company that had placed the woman at the school, Deerfield Elementary in Cedar Hills, Utah.

The father, Louis van Amstel, who is known for his role on “Dancing With the Stars,” wrote on Twitter and Facebook that his son, Daniel, 11, had been bullied by the teacher.

“It shouldn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, bisexual, black and white,” Mr. van Amstel said in an interview on Sunday. “If you’re adopting a child and if that child goes to a public school, that teacher should not share her opinion about what she thinks we do in our private life.”

Mr. van Amstel, 47, credited three girls in the class with alerting the principal about the teacher’s actions and with speaking up on behalf of his son, who he said didn’t want the teacher to get in trouble.

“The woman, even when the principal said, ‘Well, you’re fired,’ and escorted her out the door, tried to blame Daniel for what she said,’” Mr. van Amstel said.

NYTimes.com, December 2, 2019 by Neil Vigdor

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