For many single men, the idea of starting a family through egg donation and surrogacy is becoming more and more common. It’s estimated that over 2 million men in the U.S. are single dads which is approximately 17% of the single parent population. Just because a man is single, doesn’t mean that he can’t become a father. Like many women who delay motherhood in lieu of education and a career, many men fall into that same category. Thanks to assisted reproductive technologies, single men and women can become parents through the use of an egg donor and/or gestational surrogate.
Bill Guest was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune to share his story about becoming a single father through surrogacy. He cites that while he “wasn’t particularly interested in getting married,” he “wanted a baby” and “wanted to experience all of the stages of life.” Thankfully he found Men Having Babies, a not for profit organization that helps gay men become dads. They helped him understand how surrogacy and egg donation works as well as giving him information on financial assistance programs that were available to him and in the Fall of 2016, he finally became a dad.
Patience Is A Virtue
Anyone considering egg donation and surrogacy knows that it can be costly, hovering at around $100,000. The U.S. Census shows that 39% of single dads have an income of $50,000 or more annually, and thus they have the financial means to undergo this sometimes arduous process to fulfill their dreams of fatherhood.
Aside from the financial aspects involved, these future fathers must be patient when choosing the best agency to work with and also the right egg donor and surrogate for their journey. To make things a bit more complicated, not every state in the U.S. has LBGTQ+ friendly surrogacy laws, so finding a good reproductive attorney who knows the best states for surrogates and pre-birth orders is a key factor.
Finding “The One”
As we mentioned, it takes patience to select the right egg donor. In addition to meeting the basic ASRM guidelines for egg donation, parents typically want a donor who resembles themselves physically, but who also may share certain hobbies or personality traits as well. If a dad is looking for very specific donor qualifications such as a rare blood type or ethnicity, the process can take even longer to find “the one.” However, a reputable egg donor agency will help alleviate some of that stress by knowing what donors they have that already meet those requests. Once the donor has been chosen, she then must get medical and psychological clearance before proceeding.
Finding the best surrogate for your family can also be time consuming, but in some respects, is a bit easier than finding the right donor. For most single and gay men, the biggest hurdle is ensuring that the surrogate lives in a surrogacy friendly state. Some states have outdated laws that prevent single and/or gay men from becoming parents. They also may have stipulations on whether or not the surrogate herself is married or single. Most importantly, it’s crucial that single dads find surrogate who lives in a state that will recognize their parentage before the baby is born so that they don’t have to legally adopt their own child. Since there is no genetic relation to the gestational surrogate, future dads can take their time deciding which surrogate candidate they connect with, rather than worrying about her physical features. Just like the egg donor, the surrogate must pass her health and psychological assessments before she can be cleared for a surrogacy cycle.
After the donor and surrogate have been selected and “cleared”, the attorneys representing each party can work on the contracts which outline the cycle and terms of the agreement. This can take a few weeks to complete, but as soon as the contracts are completed and signed, then the donor cycle and surrogacy can begin, respectively.
At the end of the day, there are so many different ways to build a family. Assisted reproductive technologies like egg donation and surrogacy are just two of the ways people can become parents. Thankfully, surrogacy is not just a passing trend, but instead is growing as more and more single dads are using it to have their own kids. It’s truly incredible how advancing technologies are allowing not only women, but men to become parents and defy the typically family model of a two parent household.