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

 

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.

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. He is immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, which develops model legislation governing assisted reproductive services, and is a popular presenter 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.

Linda Garrett
LINDA GARRETT
Legal Assistant

Linda Garrett graduated in 2010 from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, with a major in Sociology. Shortly after, she enrolled in a paralegal course at West Los Angeles College, where she fell in love with the field. In 2017, she earned her paralegal degree and joined International Fertility Law Group as a Legal Assistant. In her free time, Linda enjoys outdoor adventures and spending time with her nieces and nephews.

Sunny Chien
SUNNY CHIEN
Paralegal

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.