While this might be a controversial topic for some, a gay couple considering surrogacy, for Simon and myself it has become a realistic proposition. This weekend we attended the Alternative Families Show 2011 in London. It was quite informative and insightful. It also was great to find out we were not alone and that there is a thriving industry, both in the UK, US and India providing focused family services to the gay and lesbian community.
I will admit, my emotions and thoughts about having a family have swayed over the years, from thinking that it would never be possible to thinking that adoption might be viable to now honestly considering surrogacy as the way to accomplish it. We are lucky to be comfortable financially. A child, via surrogacy, will cost you about $120,000 USD (~£76,000) in the US and about $40,000 (~£25,000) USD in India. While both of those are staggering amounts of money, they are not beyond the realm of possibility for us. The strange thing is that these large amounts follow Britain’s regressive rules against commercial surrogacy.
Both Simon and I have come to the realisation that a family is a desire that is immutable in both of us. Having been a couple for almost 12 years and civil partners for almost 5, we have been unable to shake that desire. The decision became even more difficult as we furthered ourselves from the other options of adoption, fostering and co-parenting. Knowing that there was a special responsibility upon us imposed by society, we worried about making a decision that would proactively bring children into this world. For me, the watershed moment though was the realisation that through being able to leverage our resources, we can specifically give advantages to these new children, even before they are born. We are in a lucky situations of being able to make sure our family has as much advantages to offset and residual societal disadvantages that we may have to endure.
As I have discovered through the years, the people I know, the people who know me, treat me first as “Kit” and don’t ever reduce me down to “gay man” or “American”. I suspect the people that matter to myself and Simon will be supportive, just as they have been supportive of our relationship, even though they may not understand or it may make them feel uncomfortable.
Engineering a family sounds a little impersonal, but it is a great thing to be able to proactively make choices about your family. Society will have to face this Gattaca one day, but for right now, being in such a minority, I feel no moral qualms. I also have gotten far more comfortable with myself and my life over the years to know that the decision we are considering is acceptable too. I am not ignorant enough to know that everyone will be comfortable or even approve.
For now, it was a lot of information. While we have a good understanding of where we are at, we are not totally locked into where or when we will do it, other than we know we will be doing it. Having lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, agents, donors, immigration specialists and the surrogate is a complicated process, it is also lengthy at 18+ months. Even then there is no guarantee, we could easily be out a good portion of the money and not end up with a family. There are certainly situations where I am envious that one drunken night is usually all it takes for most people.