Making a Difference: Men Having Babies
The infertility community is filled with extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. In 2005, Ron Poole-Dayan, then a father of 4 year old twins from surrogacy, asked the LGBT Center in New York City to create a monthly workshop for men who are interested in biological parenting. The workshop began having monthly meetings, which are still held to this day, where surrogacy & fertility experts were invited in to help answer questions from intended parents. It wasn’t until the first seminar was being organized that someone suggested calling it “Men Having Babies.” In 2012 MHB left the NY LGBT Center and created an independent nonprofit organization. Over time, MHB developed a full format seminar which gives intended parents the unique opportunity to learn about the process and meet the people who can assist them in theirs. The nonprofit has started having larger events, expanded to new locations, and the program evolved to a two-day format with many more sessions, speakers and topics.
We had the opportunity to chat with Men Having Babies to gather insight about how they help men on their journey to parenthood and learn more about the organization!
The MHB educational conferences are a rare opportunity for gay men who want to become parents through surrogacy to get under one roof a wealth of information, advice and access a wide range of relevant service providers.
What are some of the resources that Men Having Babies provides?
Over the years, we have compiled many resources dedicated to helping new prospective parents navigate the world of third party reproduction! On our website you’ll find articles and information from trusted third party professionals, FAQs about current hot topics (i.e. COVID) and ‘normal’ FAQs for someone just starting a surrogacy journey, personal stories, and a book library featuring families with gay dads who had their kids with the help of a surrogate.
Another impactful resource for intended parents is our Membership Benefit Program and our Gay Parenting Assistance Program. Both these programs offer opportunities for intended parents to lower the cost of their surrogacy journey through discounts with participating providers. This helps to lower financial barriers facing intended parents on their journey to parenthood. RADfertility is a proud sponsor & participant in the Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP)!
Members also have the added resource of specialized workshops and support groups to help them with every step of the journey.
What piece of advice would you provide to an intended parent that is beginning their family building journey via donor egg and surrogacy?
Be ready to learn the virtue of patience during your journey to parenthood through egg donation and surrogacy! Even if you put together the BEST team in the industry to be your partners on this journey, things can (and will!) go off plan at times. The goal is to bring home a healthy baby at the end (with a healthy egg donor, surrogate, and new parents as well) – but the entire journey is complex and involves many moving parts. Keep your eye on the end goal – and know that everyone walking this journey with you has the same end goal.
What can be expected at a Men Having Babies workshop or seminar?
It’s an experience we cannot adequately put into words! Our conferences are immersive, uplifting, emotional experiences where we’ve put together educational content necessary to take you from day one of your journey, through what to expect when bringing baby home. You’ll be surrounded by LGBTQ allies, current parents who have walked this same journey to parenthood themselves, and the providers you need to work with to make it all happen. You’ll be given curated content, access to experts, and the ability to network with peers. Expect to leave the event encouraged and empowered to start your own family building journey.
We understand that affordability can be a major obstacle. What are some of the programs you offer to help individuals and couples with surrogacy affordability?
Men Having Babies created The Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP) as part of our mission to make building a family more affordable for gay prospective parents that need financial assistance for their surrogacy journey. GPAP annually facilitates over a million dollars worth of financial support for gay prospective parents in two forms: Stage I (discounted services) and Stage II (pro-bono services and grants). This is done via:
- Stage I recipients are able to access discounted and free services donated by more than seventy leading IVF, surrogacy, egg donation, legal, and other complementary services like escrow, insurance review, and medication.
- Stage II recipients are paired with providers who have donated their services. Additionally, MHB works with Stage II recipients throughout the entire journey to ensure they can be successful. Even with donated services the costs can be unattainable, for recipients that need it, we also help bridge that financial gap through grant funding and interest free loans.
This past summer we launched our Membership Benefits Program where MHB future and current parents can become formal members of MHB by making a qualifying annual donation, and in turn benefit from significant discounts from a growing list of surrogacy providers and a wide range of exclusive peer guidance resources and offerings. All current MHB members are automatically eligible to apply for GPAP.
Is there a large community of surrogacy parents willing to talk with intended parents about the process? Support groups, online chats, etc?
We have a wonderful community that is ready to help other intended fathers starting the process. Our Facebook group Men Having Babies – Planning Biological parenting is a robust, active group of guys. Some just thinking about the process, all the way to dads of older children. We also have networking opportunities and personal story panels at our conferences as a way of sharing individual stories and for intended fathers to speak with dads who have gone through the process.
We also offer groups to our members – from support for journey setbacks to learning how to successfully handle the stress of a journey and improve communication with all the parties involved in a surrogacy journey.
What do you love most about what you do?
This is easy – it’s so rewarding and gratifying to be a part of something bigger than yourself. The work we do here at MHB has ramifications worldwide and for generations to come – we are helping loving couples and individuals who may have lived most of their life thinking that biological parenthood was out of their reach due to their sexual orientation and/or financial resources. We help these people grow their families, and consequently, know that we are adding love to our world!
What do you hope to accomplish in 2021 with Men Having Babies?
As with all businesses and nonprofits, the global pandemic has caused us to shift our priorities and goals to accommodate our “new normal”. When the pandemic shut down in-person conferences, we had to think creatively, and develop new ways of providing this education to our constituents, while remaining financially solvent and supporting our GPAP recipients. We are so proud of the hybrid conference we hosted this past October; and our fully virtual conferences in several venues, as well.
Looking into 2021 we will be using our experience and knowledge from these newly designed conference experiences for the first portion of the year, while planning for in-person conferences for the later part of the year. All of our conferences moving forward will forever utilize some aspects of the virtual/hybrid conference experience to bring an enhanced experience to both our intended parents and our providers. Importantly – as continual goals, we look to continue to contribute to the world of family building for gay men, increase our work on the advocacy front lines related to fertility equality, and continue to be a trusted resource for all people walking through their third party reproduction journey.