Gay men increasingly turn to surrogates to have babies – Chicago Tribune

Cliff Hastings and Ron Hoppe-Hastings cruised through their vows in their 2011 civil union ceremony, until they got to the co-parenting part.

“We cried our eyes out,” said Hastings, 41. The subject of parenting was emotional for them, she said — they both wanted children — but there was more to it: “We didn’t know what options. We both thought that having children might be more of a dream than an actual reality.”

Now, Hastings and Hoppe-Hastings are the proud fathers of 11-month-old twin girls who were conceived with the help of an egg donor and are growing in the womb of a surrogate, a woman carrying a baby (or babies) for someone else. , often heterosexuals with fertility issues.

No one tracks how many gay men are having babies through surrogates, but observers say the number is growing.

“I definitely saw an increase,” said Dr. Eve Feinberg, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

“Since gay marriage became legal, I think it became more socially acceptable for men to pursue fertility treatments and have babies.”

Five years ago, surrogacy for gay men was “unheard of” at Fertility Centers of Illinois, Feinberg said. When he left the practice in July, 20 to 30 male couples were pursuing surrogacy in a given year.

An informal survey of fertility clinics in over 10 cities conducted for the Tribune by FertilityIQ (, a website where patients check their fertility doctors, found that 10 to 20 percent of donor eggs go to gay men who have babies through surrogacy, and in many places the numbers have increased by 50 percent from five years ago.

Cost remains a major barrier, according to FertilityIQ co-founder Jake Anderson, with costs for gay men, who typically need a surrogate and an egg donor, coming in at around $100,000 to $200,000. But with employers increasingly paying for fertility treatments for heterosexual couples, and lesbians pushing for insurance benefits that include them, gay men are likely to get also more insurance coverage, according to Anderson.

“We think it’s going to be pretty common,” he said. “Maybe not tomorrow, but five years from now, 10 years from now, everyone will know some people who built their families through gay surrogacy.”

Hastings and Hoppe-Hastings, who are married and live outside Champaign, Ill., considered adopting their children. But then, about three years ago, one of Hastings’ high school classmates posted the photos on Facebook. She is pregnant, and when Hastings greets her, she explains that she is a surrogate, carrying a baby for a heterosexual couple. The friend put Hastings in touch with the agency that arranged her surrogacy, Family Source Consultants in Chicago.

From the first meeting with the agency, she says, surrogacy just felt right.

“It’s a very intimate process where there are many, many steps that will allow us to be part of the creation and birth of that child,” said Hastings, director of sales at a software company.

“Although there are many things along the way that can go wrong, we will find out who the egg donor is, we will find out who the surrogate is, we will go down that path of a nine-month process. We had an agency that we really felt supported to us.”

There were setbacks. The first egg donor chosen by the fathers did not pass a psychological screening. The first surrogate they chose, a married Indiana mother, initially agreed to carry their baby, but then, a few weeks later, she texted Hastings. Her church did not approve of same-sex surrogacy; he backed out.

“That was tough for us,” said Hoppe-Hastings, 32, a stay-at-home dad who, with Hastings, coaches the national champion girls’ volleyball team at Parkland College. “We almost felt that we were miscarried on a certain level because we got so far in the process, and then we came back to nothing.”

The dads took a month off from the process, and when they came back, everything just clicked.

“Our surrogate and egg donor kind of fell into our laps through the agency,” Hoppe-Hastings said. “We interviewed them both the same day and just kind of fell in love with both of them, so it just worked out perfectly.”

The eggs are retrieved from the egg donor and fertilized. Then two of the best embryos are implanted in the surrogate’s uterus; one of them biologically belonging to Hastings, the other to Hoppe-Hastings.

There were more bumps in the road: The girls were born 6 weeks early and had to spend 19 days in a Chicago-area hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. Hoppe-Hastings went to Chicago to be with her daughters, who were living in a Ronald McDonald House. Hastings had to stay in Champaign to work. The fathers’ insurance company initially deemed the babies’ hospital “out of network,” a costly discrepancy that added to the fathers’ stress.

In the end, however, everything turned out well. The insurance company came, and the girls went home.

Now, they crawl and learn to walk.

“They’re very healthy,” Hastings said. “They’re gigantic. The doctor is constantly surprised that they are premature.”

Alexandra, who goes by Alex, is very confident — “just a bit of a bulldozer,” Hastings says. He is also a big hugger. Sydney is more sensitive, more in tune with her feelings and an avid explorer. He loves to crawl around the house, looking for new things.

“They’re easy babies,” Hastings said. “Probably the biggest thing is just waking up at 3 am when one is crying and just praying to God that we can get in there before he wakes the other.”

Twitter @nschoenberg


Adoption, its uncertainties and how to adjust

Couples desperate for children are turning to crowdfunding fertility

Women hail IUDs as Trump’s reproductive health victory

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button