By Alex Temblador
Creating a family is expensive, and for same-sex couples even more so, which is why Men Having Babies was formed. They saw that gay male couples or individuals who wanted to have children struggle significantly in terms of raising the finances to have a child. Men Having Babies found that gay men spent over $110K on their parenting journey, so in response they decided to create an organization to support gay men financially toward becoming parents.
Men Having Babies, a New York based organization, helps gay men to become fathers through surrogacy with their Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP). Their site explains that “Men Having Babies created GPAP as part of our mission to promote the affordability of surrogacy and other parenting related services for gay men through financial assistance and the encouragement of transparency and customer feedback.” Men Having Babies works with agencies with strong ethical commitments and “is developing ethical guidelines for intended parents.” The funds for this program come from “event sponsorship fees paid by supporting providers, and from direct donations by parents and allies.”
According to their site, there are two types of financial assistance in which they’ve separated into “stages.” The first stage involves providing “all prospective parents who qualify based on income and other criteria access to discounts from clinics, agencies and law firms. More than 140 of couples or individuals worldwide have already been approved to such discounts in 2014 and 2015.” Those who wish to apply for the first stage can apply year round.
Applications for the second stage are only accepted from June to July of each year. The second stage provides more in terms of financial assistance and the financial award is awarded at the end of the year. This stage involves the grant committee choosing among applicants. Those applicants that are chosen will “receive direct financial assistance or to be matched with a partner clinic and / or agency and law firm who will provide services free of charge.” Men Having Babies reports that they have awarded $1.5 million worth of cash grants and discounted fertility and legal services over the past two years.
Those interested in the program should note that there are strict terms of eligibility:
- Must be a homosexual male
- Must apply as a couple if married
- Below or equal to the income eligibility level determined by Men Having Babies (there doesn’t seem to be a clear indication of what that is)
- Be between the ages of 25-50
- Have not have a child yet (If one person in the relationship is co-parenting with another individual and the second person is not that child’s legal parent, they can still apply)
- If married, should be living together for at least two years
- Don’t necessarily have to be a U.S. resident
- Undergo a criminal background check and have no committed and felonies
- Must agree to undergo the parenting journey by the end of the next calendar year
Stage two applicants must also undergo the following eligibility requirements:
- Psycho-social evaluation
- A health statement from a physician
- Provide financial information of one’s assets
- Must report the time and finances already paid into the journey to parenthood
- Shall detail parenting aspirations and what they know about surrogacy
- A timeline of surrogacy completion
- Credit score/credit check
- Disclose immigration/residency status (doesn’t necessarily disqualify you)
- Be willing to be a public face or share one’s story in the program
- Provide diversity information (ethnicity, personal information, geographic background)
Men Having Babies not only provides cash grants or financial discounts for surrogacy and legal fees, but they also host conferences and workshops around the world. Additionally, their site provides a lot of information about the parenting journey such as fertility clinic and surrogacy agencies ratings.
Canadian fertility lawyer Cindy R. Wasser, founder of Hope Springs Fertility Law said that, “We are seeing more acceptance for gay couples to create families,” and with “more acceptance and tolerance, which leads to a greater number of donors and surrogates being available to assist.”
Anthony Brown, a Men Having Babies board member, spoke about the program:
“Things have changed dramatically since when we started, part of that is due to understanding and acceptance of gays as a whole.”
“Now, if you talk to a younger gay man, growing up, getting married and having a family is just as much of an option for him as it is for his straight siblings.”
This is why Men Having Babies is needed. It provides help and hope to a large group of gay men that realize that having and creating their own family is an option for them.