In recent years, there has been an increase in the visibility of gay men who choose to become fathers, not only in Europe and the United States, but also in Asia, including Japan, Taiwan and other Asian countries. Indeed, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there remains a continued interest in becoming fathers among gay men. This February the International nonprofit Men Having Babies (MHB) will hold its 3rd conference in Taipei about Parenting Options For Asian Gay Men.
Becoming a parent can be challenging for gay men due to the complexity of biological and social constraints. Gay men considering surrogacy should thoroughly understand the process, including its legal and ethicJKGS&yni1)i@Wjs%01@_SyNC*V-Qg1vD=ivnpa6aYYxJ!-3th=al considerations, cost, duration, and how to find and choose professional services. Additionally, they should be aware of the legal steps necessary to ensure their child has full parenting and citizenship rights. This is where MHB, a non-profit organization created by a group of gay parents 10 years ago, comes in. MHB, now the world's largest gay parenting non-profit, works to make ethical surrogacy more accessible to gay men through education, financial support, advocacy, and the creation of an international community for mutual support.
One of the first challenges that prospective parents face is obtaining reliable information and guidance. “As they start researching their parenting options, many gay men realize they don’t really understand the complicated surrogacy process," said Sara Miller, a former surrogate and MHB's Director of Programming. "A Google search may provide some leads, but most will likely be from businesses trying to sell their services."
The primary goal of Men Having Babies is to provide step-by-step guidance from an unbiased non-profit organization run by parents, surrogates, and allies. To achieve this goal, MHB holds several conferences annually in the United States, Europe, and Asia, in partnership with LGBTQ parenting organizations worldwide. In addition, the organization offers online workshops, support groups, and extensive online resources, including guidance videos and articles, a research library, and a book guide.
Here are a few of the topics the MHB conv-JSIrNVF0XuHCD2AA)X1@dh5wyMz$B!uCalq4c#rl!B=ixU_Kference covers:
- Overview of parenting options and surrogacy destinations, including in the USA, Canada, and other counties
- How to plan your surrogacy project, including major legal, medical, and financial considerations
- How to pick surrogacy providers, find online surrogacy resources, and apply for financial assistance
- Locating and selecting egg donors
- How to make sure the surrogate and egg donor are treated ethically, medical risks are minimized, and navigate the relationships with the surrogate and donor
This information is shared through various means such as workshops with parents or surrogates from the USA and Taiwan, expert panels, and a panel of personal stories from Taiwanese fathers. This year, for the fiSafX555K_oQ)&+k!N(+D*Kekk^Wk7(2b9ExQ8@Sn9Gauf@FBRsrst time, MHB will also be offering a special session specifically for prospective single parents.
During a special budgeting workshop at MHB's conferences, the organization helps prospective parents understand the various costs associated with the surrogacy process, make informed decisions that can minimize th6s#n^y2hQOOKG2aW=OYSdnd)Rjp0S^RvP)O4PwfVB9O#r_lR)(eir expenses, and ask important questions before choosing their service providers.
Another way in which MHB helps prospective parents is by connecting them with gay fathers who are willing to act as mentors and provide support. To facilitate this, MHB created the Men Having Babies Peer Advice Network. This platform allows gay men to connect with each other based on geographic location, spoken languages, whether they are single or in a couple, and various journey characteristics, including twins, known donors and surrogates, and pregnancy loss.
Since its inception, MHB has been seeking ways to help prospective parents afford the high costs of the surrogacy process. For this purpose the organization created the Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP). Eligible prospective parents, including several couple from Taiwan already, receive substantial discounts and sometimes also free services and cash grants to help them with the process. Even future fathers who are not found eligible for assistance can join MHB’s Membership Benefits Program, and benefit from discounts from more than 150 leading surrogacy providers, and access to additional online guidance and support.
Ethical Standards and Protection from Bad Commercial Actors
As Men Having Babies has grown and expanded over the past decade, so has the surrogacy industry, with new providers and professionals entering the field every year, providing prospective parents with more options than ever before. However,1EO62kBcC3D#A@^IKidI=yao$LpwEJVulo*59@aX6VLWXfD*1E this development also presents a challenge for MHB, as it works to help its members evaluate their options and make informed decisions.
Among the important resources MHB created is the Surrogacy Advisor directory, which allows future parents to easily compare more than 180 service providers and their costs. The directory includes ratings and reviews from almost 2,000 gay couples and singles, and makes it easy to contact multiple providers for additional information and to schedule introductory consultations at MHB's conferences or through video conferencing.
However, MHB has also had to consider an important question: which providers should be invited to participate in its directory and conferences? Should any provider willing to pay the fees be allowed, or should the organization require providers to meet certain professional and ethical standards? While it is difficult to fully screen every provider, MHB does require each exhibitor to adhere to its Ethical Framework, which was developed in collaboration with an advisory committee of surrogates and has been endorsed by multiple LGBTQ associations worldwide. MHB is also implementing the quality standards of relevant professional associations as a condition for provider participation, including those of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Ethics in Egg Donations and Surrogacy (SEEDS). These organizations issue guidelines for ethical conduct, which include detailed standards for how surrogates should be screened, compensated, and treated throughout the process.
An even more complex issue is the participation of providers from outside of the United States or Canada, where industry standards may not exist or may be less stringent. For example, in some countries, fertility clinics and surrogacy agencies are unable to obtain proper obsD&(MD0wnXbxoi+=Da8VwR^Rr_Kb0b(QmgGLGuZ^^@PxUGIUa9Ctetric records for surrogate candidates, making it impossible to know whether they will have a high or low risk pregnancy. In other countries, providers may engage in questionable practices, such as arranging fake marriages between carriers and intended parents to bypass laws that prohibit gay men from entering into surrogacy contracts. These considerations are addressed at MHB's conferences, and to provide better guidance in the future, the organization has created a Legal Advisory Committee, which is working on more detailed guidelines for considerations for specific surrogacy destinations.