News
2 min

Gay Canadians look south for surrogacy options

Learn about cross-border baby makin' at Montreal and Toronto info sessions

Credit: © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation

In the face of Canada’s prohibitive stance on the commercialization of human reproduction, gay and straight Canadian couples alike are going where Canadians often go when they can’t get what they want at home — the United States. In exchange for a measly sixty grand or so, those unable to bear their own children without some assistance can bring home their own little biological bundles of joy.

Here at home, the Canadian Assisted Human Reproduction Act forbids those desperate for biological children of their own from renting any uteruses for any sum of money, and it also forbids the sale or purchasing of sperm or ova for the purpose of makin’ babies. Donations are permitted in Canada, but no money can change hands, which means that Canadian sperm banks aren’t exactly overflowing with little buddies.

According to the Canadian government, “these prohibitions are based on the principle that human reproductive capacity should not be commercialized” — a nice, altruistic thought, but not a very practical one. What this means is that unless you’ve got a very generous friend or relative with nine months or so to spare, would-be parents in Canada have got to look elsewhere for all their surrogacy needs.

As luck would have it, Canadians needn’t look too far. People like Mindy Berkson make it easy for Canadians to head south for better fertility options. The self-proclaimed infertility expert is the founder of Lotus Blossom Consulting, a Chicago-based company that helps people explore their family-building options.

“Navigating the system is difficult [and overwhelming] because you don’t know what questions to ask,” says Berkson, who has suffered from secondary infertility herself. Unlike in Canada, where legislation on human fertility is made on the federal level, each American state can make up their own rules around surrogacy and other fertility options and treatments. Some states like New York, Michigan and District of Columbia ban surrogacy outright, whereas some states allow it for heterosexual people only, like Florida. California and Vermont appear to have queer-friendly surrogacy laws, but most states have either ambiguous rules or no court-decided policies at all on surrogacy and gays.

When Berkson was mucking her way through the system on her own, she asked herself, “I’m smart. Why can’t I figure this out?” It’s doubly confusing for same-sex couples because of the prevailing homophobic legislation and attitudes in many states. “Same-sex couples can’t just pick a state,” she says. But for upwards of $60,000 US, her company matches same-sex couples with surrogates or donors in queer-friendly states and assists those struggling with fertility issues — gay or straight — in the entire process, from A to Z (lawyers, doctors, surrogates, donors, etc). Of course, it could cost more depending on how many children are borne of the agreement, and the price mildly fluctuates between consulting firms. But despite the prohibitive cost, Canadian laws are much more prohibitive, so some gays are looking to the United States to tend to their biological clocks.

Berkson and infertility pioneer Dr Vito Cardone, who has worked both sides of the border in Montreal and in Massachusetts, will be hosting a free seminar in Montreal on the morning of Sat, Oct 31 (8:30am until noon) at the Marriot Château Champlain (1 Place du Canada). The seminar will largely focus on the legal and medical aspects of surrogacy and fertility procedures. Attendees will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with Berkson and Dr Cardone after the seminar. If you’d like to attend, you’ve got until Oct 30 to RSVP with Gail at gailh@cardonerepromed.com or by phone at 781-438-9600.

The same seminar will be held in Toronto on Sat, Nov 14 (8:30am until non) at the Marriott Toronto Downtown Eaton Cetnre (525 Bay St). RSVP with Gail at gailh@cardonerepromed.com or by phone at 781-438-9600.

For more information about the seminar, visit:
www.cardonerepromed.com/site/MontrealSeminar.html

For more information on Lotus Blossom Consulting, visit:
www.lotusblossomconsulting.com