Rich Vaughn, IFLG, with Sandy Chuan at Shanghai Pride event

Asia Trip Reminds of Continued Relevance of LGBT Pride Month

As an attorney with a busy practice, a husband and a father of two boys, my days usually fly by juggling responsibilities and deadlines, and there isn’t much time for reflection. But every now and then, the stars align and events coincide, and it almost seems like there’s some rhyme or reason to it all.

That happened recently, as I found myself, during Pride Month 2017, traveling around China and Japan to talk with LGBT people dreaming of becoming parents and hungry for information, not just about assisted reproductive technology, but about my personal experiences as a gay dad. That personal element really brought home to me the realization that celebrations of LGBT pride and equality are still critically important as signals of hope and encouragement to places and cultures where being out and proud is still not possible. That in itself has made this a meaningful and emotional trip.

Then, after some three years of writing, rewriting, editing, proofreading and more of the same, the American Bar Association, as I was across the world talking about surrogacy, released the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” which I co-wrote with colleague and fellow ART attorney Stephanie A. Brinkley. More about the book in a follow-up article, but suffice it to say the timing of the book’s release was personally moving.

Our trip was organized in part by Shanghai Pride and PFLAG China. On one leg of the trip, a cruise, I was asked to make a 90-minute presentation to 300 or 400 passengers. I covered the basics of surrogacy and related legal issues, but the cruise organizers were particularly interested in my sharing my and my family’s personal story… about how my spouse and I, as a same-sex couple, found out about surrogacy, navigated it, had children, and have been navigating personal and family issues since then.

The struggle for LGBT people here in China is still “acceptance,” and it takes a lot of courage for LGBT Chinese to be out. Many are not fully out and hide their true selves, and this is even harder when they want children, so beginning a family becomes part of what they must navigate. They were hungry for personal stories of how my spouse and I overcame similar situations, how I dealt with not being accepted by my in-laws for a while, and how the children helped everyone get past this.

Interestingly there were many families on the cruise, older parents of LGBT individuals and couples interested in starting a family. The future grandparents bring their kids on this PFLAG-sponsored cruise to learn about family building. That there is such an organized function for LGBT intended parents indicates at least a degree of acceptance, so it's not all dark and hidden behind the pink curtain.  In summary, much of the trip has been about providing encouragement and sharing personal stories about LGBT family building—the societal/social aspects as well as the medical and legal processes.

I am honored to have had the opportunity to share resources and hope with LGBT people who still struggle with socially imposed limitations and stigma because of their orientation. The experience served as a great reminder that, despite how far we have advanced the cause of LGBT equality, there is still so much further to go, and more reason than ever before to be out and proud, if you are lucky enough to be able to do so.

Click here to see the photo album from our trip!

Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn
rich@iflg.net

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

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Peiya Wang
PEIYA WANG(王培娅)
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa
LUIS SOSA
Paralegal

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes
TONI HUGES
Paralegal

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
MIESHA COWART
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.

Kim
KIM DEVEREAUX
Paralegal

Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn
RICHARD B. VAUGHN
Founder

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, thoughtful and compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, serving as chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee and speaking to law students, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo
ELIZABETH TAMAYO
Paralegal

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Tania Steele
TANIA STEELE
Legal Assistant

Tania Steele joined IFLG as a legal assistant in early 2016 and has since been immersed in the complexities of assisted reproductive technology law. Tania received her Bachelor of Arts degree at Chapman University in Orange, California, and a graduate degree from University of Leicester in England, where she pursued an interest in art. In 2013, she accepted a volunteer position at Legal Aid Society of Orange County, where she helped with the intake of new clients and was inspired to obtain a paralegal certificate from Fullerton College. As an undergraduate, Tania lived in Italy and studied the Italian language. She is fluent in English, Spanish and Italian and enjoys assisting as a translator for many of IFLG’s international clients. Outside of the office, Tania enjoys concerts, films, reading and travel.