The Western Fertility Institute and the WFI Research at Men Having Babies Conference in San Francisco

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The Western Fertility Institute and the WFI Research had an amazing experience at the Men Having Babies’ Conference in San Francisco. The Conference was organized over two days: on January 13th and 14th.

 

JANUARY 13TH
On Saturday, before the beginning of the conference, the staff met an Australian couple. The Western Fertility Institute helped them to complete their family. The couple has two little daughters, and one of them was very little, she was just born 6 days before.

An interesting panel opened the Conference on Saturday: Is surrogacy right for you? Overview and personal stories”. It was divided in two sections: during the first section, two fathers and two surrogates discussed their journey; during the second one, a surrogate’s daughter and a gay couples’ daughter, discussed their story as well the beauty of their lives. It was fascinating for the WFI team to listen to their point of view, as well as all the other families, fathers, surrogates and children. This moment was also a huge opportunity for all the intended fathers who were attending the conference: it is quite different to listen to a story of surrogacy directly from people who have lived these kinds of experiences. Indeed, at the end of the panel, some IFs had asked questions regarding how to manage the relationship between parties.

Likewise, the second panel was quite amazing too: “A mindful look at surrogacy – Attitudes and Ethics”. Ron Poole-Dayan, surrogacy father and Executive Director of MHB, was the panelist of this section. The panelists discussed about the concerns about exploitation and commodification in surrogacy and on the experiences of surrogates. They highlighted that surrogacy cannot be considered as a simply transaction, because it involves emotions and feelings from all the people involved in the journey.
The common thread of the panel was the ethics: Ron suggested to have a look on the document entitled, “A Framework for Ethical Surrogacy for Intended Parents” visible on MHB website.

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Which are the “best practices” to assume during the surrogacy’s journey?
And indeed, at the end of this section, our Researcher Dr. Corinna S. Guerzoni presented her research “The Surrogacy Pathways: An Anthropological Analysis”.

All too often, we wait for others to forward our cause. We forget that it is our responsibility to advance our own culture and ideas that are important to us. It is our responsibility to be able to tell the world about what kind of experience it is for the intended parents, for the surrogates. This is why the Western Fertility Institute created the WFI Research, because it is keenly interested in surrogacy from all view points, medical, clinical, relational and socio-cultural. 

After dinner, the organizers projected a surrogacy movie “Baby Steps”. The Director and star of the movie presented and commented on it. It has showed the potential risks on Surrogacy as transactions, how it is performed in other countries.

JANUARY 14TH
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On Sunday the 14th, the conference started with a medical section: “Medical Aspects of Surrogacy”. Dr. Ashim Kumar had a speech, “From Sperm to Life

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He presented how the sperm is treated after the collection, which analysis are performed on the semen, and the difference between fresh and frozen cycle.

After lunch, it occurred the EXPO Parenting itself; our staff was there to answer all the questions of the Intended Fathers.

As Dr. Kumar said, the Western Fertility Institute loves to be part of this great connection with Men Having Babies. The Conference was an opportunity for several reasons. It was an occasion to meet other colleagues who work in the same field; having the possibility to share the clinical knowledge on Surrogacy with them. It was also an opportunity to listen to different IVF and patients’ experiences. This experience has been exciting and it was amazing to see all that energy only in one place.
Every information we collected is important for the Western Fertility Institute. The stories heard from intended fathers, surrogates and egg donors allow us to reflect on the path we observe daily; especially, on the difficulties of the route, on the importance of intertwining relationships between all the parties involved in the path, on the need to create a fertile environment in which to welcome the life experiences of men and women who undertake these paths. We will work hard to improve our practices and offer our patients the best care ever.

Thank You to Men Having Babies for having constructed such an amazing conference!

A Tale on Surrogacies: “I am a Repeat Surrogate, and my aunt was a Surrogate too”.

Today I would like to write the story of Debra (invented name), a young mother of 3 at her second experience as a surrogate. I met Debra after her last ultrasound here, at Western Fertility Institute. She is 10 weeks pregnant with a baby boy for a gay couple from the US. After the visit, we talked about her journey and thanks to that, I discovered her interesting story. As Debra told me, she wanted to be a surrogate since she was 19 years old. She heard about surrogacy thanks to her aunt Emily (invented name).

My aunt was a surrogate too while I was carrying my first child. We were pregnant together, I was carrying my older son, while she was carrying a baby for a gay couple in Northern California. It was an amazing experience, for both of us. My aunt was a traditional surrogate, it means that she used her eggs. Her egg was fertilized with the sperm of one of the intended fathers”.

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She told me that she couldn’t have done the traditional surrogacy, like her aunt did because, in that case, she would have considered the baby as hers. As Debra highlighted during the interview:

My eggs are my genetic. It is like give up a part of me. With the gestational surrogacy nothing of me is shared with the baby. The embryo I am carrying has nothing of me. I am just cooking him, but he belongs to his parents”.

Debra wanted her family to be completed before being a surrogate; she took this decision especially for her children, because she wanted to protect them and she wanted to be sure they were old enough to understand what surrogacy was. She knew her kids already had experiences of surrogacy, due to her aunt; but she wanted to explain to them and listen to their ideas about it.

Just after my last pregnancy, when I was 25, I closed my tubes, because I felt my family was complete. I had my kids, I was happy. After a while I started to talk about surrogacy to my children, I introduced the concept of surrogacy to them and I asked their thoughts about it. They were old enough to understand that and to tell me if they were okay with it. My older son asked me if I wanted to do this thing (pregnancy) again to my body. I found it a very cute, as I enjoyed all my previous pregnancies”.

Debra had a previous experience with a local straight couple. The intended mother wasn’t able to carry a pregnancy, so Debra carried a baby girl for her. In according with Debra, she felt sorry for the intended mother, unable to experience the pregnancy and have a child herself. After meeting the couple, she wanted to carry for them, because she wanted to give the joy of being a mother to another woman.
She told me how much that experience was intense for her.

I had a very wonderful experience with them. They were not living far from me, so sometimes we were having meetings during the whole pregnancy. At the delivery we both cried. I cried because I saw the emotions that the parents were feeling holding their little one”.

As Debra told me, she decided to carry again for a gay couple, because she wanted to have a complete experience of surrogacy.

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“I had a previous wonderful journey, I really loved it. I wanted to do it again. I have a lot of gay people in my family and I know they need help to have children. This is how I have chosen my second couple. At this time, I wanted to carry twins. But just one embryo attached. And this is it: I am 10 weeks pregnant with a little baby boy.”