The non-profit educator, Growing Families, is hosting an Egg Donor and Surrogacy Event on Sunday, March 26, 2023, in Ireland.
Growing Families has been running family-building education for Irish nationals since its first sold-out conference in 2016.
The seminar in Dublin will bring together LGBTQ+ and heterosexual parents, intended dads, and professionals from around the globe. Focused on information, support, acceptance, and advocacy, the event’s popularity lies in its honesty – putting parents front and centre sharing real-life journeys.
For queer singles and couples, this year’s conference has a focus on regulated surrogacy in LGBTQ+-friendly Canada, the US, and Argentina. Amongst US agencies alone, there can be huge differences in program costs. Being well informed about the range of options can save up to €40,000. The seminar will look at the impact of the covid pandemic, along with the Ukraine war, on match times globally.
Sessions will also address some of the tough questions about trust, logistics, sourcing donors, the evidence for covid vaccination, the pitfalls of engaging with online providers and improvements in parental recognition given upcoming changes in Irish surrogacy law.
One recent dad speaking at the surrogacy event is Stephen Roberts. He and his husband Graham have been together since 2010, marrying in March 2019. Stephen is a customer experience manager, while Graham works in operations in the financial sector. Fairly early in their relationship, the pair decided that parenthood was their ultimate goal. When Stephen was 36 years old, they began investigating adoption.
Ultimately the pair turned to surrogacy, settling on Canada given its altruistic system closely aligned with their personal values. By now it was early 2020. A lack of travel options during the Covid-19 pandemic meant they shipped their sperm to Canada rather than travelling in person.
Locating a Canadian egg donor with the help of a Canadian agency was, “…a long and hard process,” Stephen recalls. “We started looking at genetic medical histories, then we wanted to pick a donor who shared the physical traits of both of us”.
It took 18 months to lock in a donor, make embryos, and reach the top of the waitlist for a Canadian surrogate. It was November 2021 before their Canadian surrogate, Ginelle, undertook her first embryo transfer. As is common, Ginelle’s first two transfers failed. Then in February last year, her third transfer was positive.
From here, the process was quite smooth. “We were relatively lucky,” Stephen admits. In October 2022, the Irish couple flew to Canada in anticipation of the birth – it was the first time they had met Ginelle face-to-face. Ginelle birthed their daughter Juliet later that month.
“We have a really unique friendship, that transcends our other typical family and friend relationships,” Stephen admits. “We have shared a unique experience that has bonded us. We are still in regular contact, and there will be trips for us to Canada, and our surrogate and her family will be visiting Ireland.”
Stephen and other recent parents will share their own journeys and advice for others at the Growing Families seminar on March 26, 2023, in Dublin. Maybe you’ll even meet Mark Feehily, his partner Cailean, and their daughter Layla.
Tickets to the Growing Families Egg Donor and Surrogacy event are available from €15 and include lunch, afternoon tea, and networking drinks. You can read full details about the event here.
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