Legal professionals and LGBT parents gathered at Greenhouse Loft, 2545 W. Diversey Pkwy., on Nov. 18 to discuss family planning concerns for gay and lesbian couples.
MB Financial Bank sponsored the event, which featured members from four couples discussing their experiences becoming parents, through means such as surrogacy and foster-parenting.
Meg Ledebuhr, director of legal services and client advocacy with the surrogacy organization ConceiveAbilities, and family-law attorney Rachael Toft first discussed the legal implications and costs associated with surrogacy and adoption. Both cautioned that prospective parents need to think through numerous legal precautions and responsibilities, no matter the method by which they decide to have children.
"Consent forms at the clinic are not enough for the parents," said Ledebuhr.
Costs can be significant for some couples, while not quite as steep for others. Ray Koenig said that total costs for him and his husband, Johnny Song, to have their twin daughters through a surrogate amounted to nearly $130,000, none of which was covered by insurance. Theresa Volpe said that she and her wife, Mercedes Santos, found a loophole in their insurance, however.
"You had to have been having unprotected sex for a year, and not getting pregnant," said Volpe. "We were doing that."
Gordon Hannon and Chip Payos discussed their decision to become foster parents and their relationship with their foster child. They acknowledged that some emotional sacrifice is involvedthe child might have to go away suddenly should its parents get back on their feet, but it needs unconditional love in the meantime.
"As hard as it can be, it's all part of the package," Hannon said. "The risk is, you fall in love."
"That happens on day one," added Payos.
Tina Abramovitich also spoke on the panel, which MB Financial Bank's Bernard Bartilad moderated.