Growing Families webinar to offer advice to Irish gay men hoping to become fathers

With Covid affecting travel, how are hopeful Irish gay dads navigating potential surrogacy as they plan for a family?

A toddler touching her father's face

Ahead of a February 27 webinar on this complex topic, gay dad and family-building expert, Sam Everingham from Growing Families, summarises changes in how hopeful Irish dads are having to navigate surrogacy in this Covid era.

For gay guys, surrogacy is an area requiring often an egg donor, a surrogate, an IVF clinic and a lawyer at a minimum. To complicate things, Ireland does not currently have laws recognising domestic surrogacy or allowing donors or surrogates to be paid. It means Irish IVF clinics cannot assist. So increasing numbers of gay couples and singles building families go offshore – to the UK, or further afield to Canada or the US.

The Covid-19 crisis has added an extra layer of complexity, dissuading some from travelling to provide sperm and complicating paperwork. Amongst these set-backs, Growing Families have pivotted from conferences to webinars. And much of our work now assists in one-on-one advice to intended parents and assisting with the logistics – namely freezing and shipping sperm and assisting parents to travel for births.

Newer family building options are beginning to emerge in countries such as Cyprus, Albania, Colombia and Argentina. However such arrangements can be logistically complicated. Some countries require you to visit the IVF clinic in person rather than shipping sperm. But where it is allowed, gay guys are increasingly choosing to freeze and ship.

In this IVF landscape of uncertain outcomes, it is vital to understand the laws, the potential costs and the meaning of terms such as; a guarantee program, proven donor, PGS tested embryos, and what risks and hurdles you might face. Sometimes guys have an Irish donor and just require a surrogate. Some countries allow known egg donors, and in others they must be anonymous.


Hugh and his family

Hugh and his partner were engaged in altruistic gestational surrogacy with a good friend in Ireland. But because no Irish IVF clinic would assist, they took their surrogate to Canada for the egg donation, embryo creation and IVF transfer process, with the birth occurring back in Ireland. Fast-forward two years and Hugh and his partner travelled to Canada again – November 2020 – smack bang in the middle of Covid-19 restrictions to welcome their second baby with the help of a small agency in Calgary.

On Saturday February 27, Growing Families will host a webinar for Irish citizens focusing on the latest developments in surrogacy and egg donation in the Covid era. Irish legal professionals, IVF specialists and most importantly, Hugh and other gay dads via egg donation or surrogacy will provide insights into their own journeys, what were the hurdles, how they overcame them, costs, and managing expectations.

In particular this event will look at the current situation in the US, Canada, and the pros and cons of emerging programs in both Europe and South America. Full details available 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.

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