Rich-Vaughn-blog-Who’s -Your-Daddy How-Gay Dads-Decide Whose-Sperm-to- Use

Who’s Your Daddy? How Gay Dads Decide Whose Sperm to Use

The decision to create a family using assisted reproductive technology is a huge and somewhat daunting step for most couples. For same-sex couples, there are even more complicating legal and social factors, potential obstacles and interpersonal relationships to consider. As my husband Tommy put it, “As gay men, when we came out, neither Rich nor I thought becoming a parent was possible.” It was a huge leap from not thinking it possible to create a family to becoming parents of our own two little boys.

Like many gay men, one of the primary reasons we chose to create a family via gestational surrogacy was because we wanted, if possible, to have our own biological children. Our ideal was to have twin boys, with each of us fathering one boy. However, there are many variables in the egg donation, fertilization and embryo implantation processes over which the prospective parents have no control. Sometimes the outcome is different than the one the parents initially envisioned. But what Tommy and I learned, and what I have observed hundreds of times in working with other intended parents, is that, in the end, the birth of a healthy child or children is the most important thing, one that overshadows all other considerations.

Ultimately Tommy and I did have twin boys, Aiden and Austin. As they grew, we began to see qualities in them that make us believe that I am genetically linked to one and Tommy the other. But we have never done any DNA testing to validate our belief. The fact is that we have two beautiful boys, we both love being fathers, and their genetic makeup is not a meaningful distinction to us.

When beginning the process of becoming a parent via surrogacy, one of the first tasks is to select a surrogate. It is very important that the parents and surrogate are comfortable with one another and that there is up-front, forthright discussion and agreement on a number of important issues. One of the most important questions for a potential surrogate: Is she willing to carry multiples? If your ideal is to have twins, your surrogate must be willing to carry twins to term, or potentially to carry more. Sometimes in order to ensure the birth of one child, multiple embryos must be implanted.

Rich-Vaughn-Blog-Who's-Your-DaddyWith in vitro fertilization, it is very common, and in fact it is desirable, to end up with multiple fertilized embryos. One of the most challenging and emotional decisions gay intended parents face is whose sperm to use in the fertilization process. It is important that couples discuss openly and agree on a strategy ahead of time, rather than in the emotion of the moment, while being mindful of the reality that Mother Nature could always throw a wrench into the best-laid  plans.

An egg donor typically produces between five and 35 eggs or more per cycle. In the case of Tommy and me, our first cycle with the egg donor yielded 13 eggs, 11 of which were successfully fertilized. Although 13 eggs was somewhat of a low yield, we were excited to have 11 fertilized eggs. We used a procedure called ICSI in which the sperm of one individual is injected directly into the egg, so that we knew which sperm had fertilized which egg and resulted in which embryos. Other couples handle the fertilization process differently, as reported in a 2007 University of Florida study published in Journal of Marriage and Family:

Billy and Elliot, romantic partners and fathers of 3-week-old twins, decided to mix their sperm before inseminating their chosen egg donor. At present, it is unknown which of them is actually the biological father of the 3-week-old twins. They maintain that because there are two children and two ‘‘fathers,’’ each man is the biological father of a twin.

After discussion with our doctor, Tommy and I decided to split the eggs 50/50, so that my sperm would be used to fertilize half the eggs and Tommy’s the other half. Since there were 11 viable eggs, I agreed and was completely comfortable that seven eggs would be fertilized with Tommy’s sperm and six with mine.

From those, 13, 11 were successfully fertilized, and we ended up with three viable embryos, all day 5 blastocysts—two genetically related to Tommy, one to me. Although that high rate of attrition was disappointing, it is not uncommon with in vitro fertilization.

Our next big decision was how many embryos to have implanted. During the surrogate selection process, we knew that our surrogate was willing to carry multiple babies if need be. Although our ideal scenario was to have no more than twins, we decided to take a chance and have all three embryos implanted, at the recommendation of our IVF doctor.

We did not get pregnant, and we started the process all over again.

When the first cycle doesn’t take, it can take 30 to 45 days, or more, before you can try again. On the second round, we got 17 viable eggs, of which 13 were fertilized. But by the day of the implantation, there were only four viable embryos—two mine, two Tommy’s.

This time, with the agreement of our surrogate, we decided to have all four embryos implanted. Although our doctor informed us the likelihood of all four attaching was low, there was the chance we might have ended up with four babies. But we could not have gone through a third round of egg donation and fertilization, in part due to the expense. As it happened, two of the embryos made it, and in August 2008 our twin sons were born.

Although at the beginning of our journey both of us wanted very much to father a genetically related child, today, content with our family, we don’t give it a second thought. The most important piece of advice I have for would-be fathers is to communicate, openly, honestly and thoroughly, with one another and with your surrogate. Talk through the possible scenarios. Reach agreement ahead of time about whose sperm will be used, whether you will implant multiple embryos, and whether your surrogate will carry multiples. One of the things Tommy and I agreed upon was to rely on our doctor’s advice first and foremost when unforeseen decisions had to be made. All any of us can do is make the best decisions we can with the cards that are dealt us. By thinking ahead and supporting one another in your decisions, you will ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family


Richard Vaughn

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.

Peiya Wang
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 moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern 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, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. 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 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 which he received in 2013, 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. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

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.”


Kim has over 30 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 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

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, 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, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

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.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343



New York

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New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016



Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.