It turns out you don’t need to be Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ricky Martin, or Neil Patrick Harris to have kids via surrogacy. Not all gay dads are in Hollywood, and actually, an increasing number are regular Irish dudes. Family building via surrogacy and egg donation is too expensive and fraught with potential traps to rely on social media recommendations alone, and hopeful parents are craving real connections with others who have walked in their shoes. In response, Growing Families is returning to its face-to-face seminar format in Dublin this October, after 15 months of webinars.
Amidst an international landscape battling a pandemic and catastrophic global warming, it might seem an inopportune time for singles and couples to be building families. Yet, like the recent Extra Gum commercial showing hundreds emerging euphoric from months of lockdowns, many of us look to a future very different from the reality of today.
And so, the demand for family-building options continues. As furloughed workers were forced to slow down and contemplate their lives, the volume of inquiries about reputable providers of legal, IVF, donor, and surrogacy services has only increased.
At the Growing Families seminars, gay dads will provide insights into their own journeys – the hurdles, how they overcame them, costs, and managing expectations.
One of these couples is Jason Kenny and his husband Niall, who have been together 14 years. After attending Growing Families Dublin events in 2017 and 2018, they were ready to take the leap into surrogacy in Canada.
Their plan was to eventually have one child biologically related to Jason, and the other to Niall. The former admits that given Canada is an altruistic model, you need to be prepared to make compromises, and you have to be prepared to put trust in others. Their first choice of egg donor in April 2018 was unavailable for instance, but when they did find a suitable one – an anonymous donor – they each made a good number of embryos.
After traveling back to Dublin, they waited for their Canadian agency to match them with potential surrogates. While their first match was unsuitable, the second surrogate they were introduced to, Catherine, had one child of her own and had already carried for another couple. They hit it off immediately and agreed to work together. Weekly Skype calls between both families ensued, building a strong relationship.
Their first embryo transfer worked and Catherine’s was an uncomplicated pregnancy. They met Catherine for the first time face-to-face in her hometown of Niagara Falls for the 20-week pregnancy scan, and returned in January 2020 for the birth of Conor. Jason admits they were a little apprehensive about caring for a newborn on their own in a foreign landscape. The solution? Their mothers made the journey to Canada with them.
Fast-forward 18 months to late July 2021, and they have just welcomed their second child Oisín, which Catherine also carried, this time using one of Niall’s embryos. Canada was in a serious pandemic-related lockdown when they arrived. At Oisín’s birth, Covid regulations meant Catherine was allowed just two support people and a doula. Catherine’s mum was her doula and her two support people were her teenage daughter, and Niall.
Jason, Niall, and the boys will be back in Ireland by early September with their family complete and will share what they learned at the Dublin seminar on 3 October along with other dads via surrogacy.
The parent panel is supplemented by expert speakers from around the globe. The events will also provide updates on success rates in newer unregulated destinations such as Cyprus, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and Albania. Find out more here:
Growing Families is an information and referral hub for singles and couples hoping to build their family with the help of donor IVF and/or surrogacy.
© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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