A national surrogacy organization will host a conference and expoaimed at gay couples and individuals wishing to learn about surrogacy and gay parents that have already used surrogacy strategiesat Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., from June 2-3.
New York City-based Men Having Babies (MHB) is organizing the event.
Yanir Dekel, MHB's Los Angeles-based Marketing & Social Media Coordinator, explained that MHB originated at New York City's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, where a group of gay men wishing to become biological parents began meeting in the mid-2000's.
"Up until then, it was expected that you would adoptdoing [in-vitro fertilization] was something that lesbians would do," said Dekel.
The group began bringing in speakers who instructed participants on ethical surrogacy strategies. Around the world, surrogacy is tied into national and local rights issuesLGBTQ+ individuals might be prohibited from attempting surrogacy, for example, while women who become surrogates might have few legal rights.
MHB "wanted to be human-rights advocates and make our own families," Dekel said, adding that the group developed "out of the needs of the community. We're a community organization. We're not a surrogacy agency. We're a non-profit organization."
The urge to have biological children is a human trait from which gay men are often not exempt, he explained.
"They want to see their their genes moving forward," Dekel added. "For me and my husband, we wanted two kids, and with the same egg donor. One of them is my biological [child] and the other is my husband's. To me, I saw it as a biological connection between my husband and myself."
Some couples and individuals are motivated to choose surrogacy by the lack of control they would have were they to pursue adoption as their main route for having children.
"You have to wait for other people to want youit's not a proactive thing that you can make happen," said Dekel. "People are waiting two or three years, and eventually become tired of waiting. They say, 'I want to have control over the process. I'm going to do it myself.'"
MHB generally has conferences in seven or eight locations nationwide, as well as in cities such as Brussels, Berlin, Taipei and Tel Aviv.
"We're going where people have need [for information," Dekel said. "In America, we're trying to expand our work. … We're trying to serve the community across the board."
An important part of MHB's advocacy is not only instructing the community about surrogacy, but keeping gay parents in social networks with one another.
"As a gay dad myself, I want my kids to see families that look like ours, and I want to hang out with gay men whom I can talk about gay stuff withtalking about Mariah Carey, for example," Dekel explained. "I cannot talk about that with straight guys."
See menhavingbabies.org/surrogacy-seminars/chicago/ .