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OK, I admit it… I’m biased. I think gay people should have children. I believe it should be as required for your “gay card” as much as having the DVD to Funny Girl. I think gay people make the most fantastic parents on the planet and deep down, I think many gay people want to have children. I just think it gets tripped up by the gazillions of mixed messages and questions that we have floating around in our brains from years of ignorance bestowed on us from outside forces. Some of these demons that I had to slay before Alek was conceived were “you could never do this as a single man”, “you’re too old to have a kid”, “there are thousands of abandon orphans in Indonesia that have nothing to eat and no parents to love them.” They go on, and on, and on.
So once these dragons were slayed, there was the next concern before Alek came about… “how do you do it?” Of course I knew how to do it, but my doing it thus far in life didn’t produce offspring, so with that thought in mind, I want to start a series on the different ways that gay people do it. I thought there be no better way to start than the one I’m most familiar with… the way I brought Alek into this world, via In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). I always joke that the saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child, but in my life the reality is that it took a village to conceive a child; a fertility Doctor, a surrogate, an egg-donor, and an agency to put it all together. Well, every village has a mayor and my mayor in this was my attorney, the rather brilliant Theresa M. Erickson.
Theresa M. Erickson is one of the few attorneys in the United States who practices exclusively in the area of Family Formation Law. Ms. Erickson is the Managing Partner of Erickson Law, APLC, and the Founder and Chair of Conceptual Options, LLC, A Center for Surrogacy and Egg Donation Program, where they have been helping people creates families for over ten years. She is also the legal commentator on Reproductive Law & Family Formation Law on the Legal Broadcast Network. To me, she is a huge reason I have Alek today so it was my pleasure when Alek and I went to her office so that the mayor of my family village could meet Alek for the first time. After the three of us played with Transformers, I asked her some questions on behalf of my readers that I want to take this time to share with you:
Sam: What originally attracted you to becoming an advocate for IVF and Third Party Family Building?
Theresa: Well what really caused it was an article in Glamour Magazine about a young girl who had been an egg donor. This was 1991 and at the time you couldn’t search on the internet for this information so I opened the phone book, proceeded to call an IVF Doctor. The first time I did this, the couple was pregnant with triplets and I was hooked. I had known that I had done something that you couldn’t compare with anything else.
Sam: A common fear that I know people have out there is that if they were to have a child via surrogacy, someday the birth mom might change her mind and take your child away. Can that really happen today?
Theresa: No, absolutely not. Not in California. The egg donor gives up any rights and the surrogate gives up any rights before there’s even any embryo transfer. She can change her mind in her head but legally she’s not able to have any access to the child.
Sam: You said not in California, what makes California different?
Theresa: California is in my opinion is the best place in the country and possibly the world to do this. Our case law, as well as a statute we have now that refers to the case law basically says that if you intend to become a parent, genetic or not, those who are the agreed upon parents prior to the actual embryo transfer are the legal parents and are protected by this through a written legal agreement. We can put on that agreement a married couple, a non-married couple, a married homosexual couple, a non-married homosexual couple, a single dad, a single mom… basically you can put anybody on the birth certificate regardless of their marital status, sexual orientation… none of that matters.
Sam: After our community has been hurt by Proposition 8, I think that’s great to hear that there really are good laws out there that protect us in a huge way.
Theresa: Absolutely, you know I’ve been doing this over a decade now and there’s never been a question of when I go before the judges, any of them showing prejudice against two gay dads, or one single man or any of that. When the judges are faced with this, regardless of their personal views or attitudes towards it, they don’t say no.
Sam: Do you see any prejudices in the legal or medical side of what you do towards gay people?
Theresa: I’m sure it’s probably out there… you don’t see it often. I know there was a case not too long ago for a Lesbian couple here in San Diego where the couple sued the Doctor because he did not want to inseminate her when he found out that she’s not a single woman but in fact part of a Lesbian couple. I know that they won that case. That particular physician doesn’t practice IVF anymore.
Sam: Do you have any idea what percentage of your cases are for the LGBT community?
Theresa: For me, I’d say probably about 40% because so many couples come to me from overseas because they can’t do it over there. For instance in Spain, you can get married there, you can adopt there, but you can’t have surrogacy there.
Sam: Any final thoughts on the LGBT Community and the concept of family building?
Theresa: Absolutely! You need to be careful, patient, do your research, educate yourself and don’t let the desire to have a child make you skip steps along the way and not plan what’s going to happen. You don’t want to just go on the internet and find your surrogate. You don’t want to just find a contract on the internet and hope that it works. I’m working with a couple right now who are in a very bad situation because of that. My best advice is to use your head, not your heart. The time for using your heart is going to come later.
Thank you Theresa for your time today and for what you do professionally. You’ve used your head and your heart in my life and as I result my heart has grown 100x because I’ve got Alek. I would definitely recommend that if anyone has questions about surrogacy and IVF to contact Theresa’s office at http://www.ericksonlaw.net/
We will continue next week with more information on how gay people are creating modern families so until then, and as always, be fruitful and multiply!