Agency helps same-sex couples create families

Posted on 13 May 2010 at 7:22pm
By DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Surrogacy offers some obstacles, especially for gay couples from Texas, but rewards can be huge


AND BABIES MAKE FOUR | Cliff Weltman, back left, and his partner John, back right, were the first gay couple to have a child with an egg-donor surrogate. Now their family has grown to four with sons, Zachary and Kyle, front left to right. (Photo courtesy Ron Poule-Dayan)

John Weltman founded Circle Surrogacy after he and his partner became one of the first gay couples to have a child with an egg-donor surrogate.

After 14 years and almost 400 babies, Circle Surrogacy is now the oldest gay-owned and gay-focused surrogate-parenting agency.

Gay couples are the target market of Weltman’s agency, but they have helped single men, straight couples and even lesbian couples have babies.

He explained that sometimes an older lesbian couple decides to have a child or neither of the partners can conceive.

On Saturday, May 15, the agency will present a seminar at the Four Seasons in Irving on the legal, emotional and economic obstacles of having a child through surrogacy.

"For people to have a child with a non-intimate partner is a challenging event," Weltman said.

Ron Poule-Dayan is a consultant who works with Circle Surrogacy. The agency helped him and his partner have 9-year-old twins.

He said a number of advances over the past few years have helped control the costs.

"The egg bank will cut about $20,000 from the cost," Poule-Dayan said. That was technologically not possible until recently. Before you could only freeze the sperm or embryo."

Weltman said that although there are plenty of surrogates available in Texas and the arrangement works fine in this state for heterosexual couples, he looks for someone in another state to match with gay Texans.

"We would find a surrogate in a state where we can get a second-parent adoption," he said.

While many of Circle’s surrogates actually come from Texas, they end up carrying babies for single men or for gay couples from abroad.


FAMILY PRIDE | Ron and Greg Poule-Dayan, below, had their two children through a surrogate with the help of Circle Surrogacy. The family participated in the New York City Gay Pride Parade, with Ron, left, holding their son Tomer on his shoulders and Greg holding their daughter Elinor. Surrogate Lura Stiller of Texas, right, will speak at the seminar this weekend. (Photos courtesy Ron Poule-Dayan)

Weltman mentions Massachusetts and California as good states for residency of surrogates to match with Texas couples. Those states will put both same-sex parents on a birth certificate and, unlike same-sex marriages, circuit courts around the country have ruled that other states must recognize it, he said.

If the birth mother is from another state and the child is born in that state, Texas cannot interfere in the issuance of the same-sex parent birth certificate. That state’s laws and regulations govern the issuance of the document, rather than those of Texas.

Circle Surrogacy specializes in egg donor rather than traditional surrogacy.

The traditional method involves impregnating a woman who will carry the baby. That process can take months of tries and has a high failure rate.

Egg donor surrogacy involves harvesting eggs from one donor, impregnating them in a Petri dish and implanting the embryo into a surrogate.

The egg donor and surrogate are normally two different women.

Using this method, Weltman said 70 percent of his clients get pregnant the first try

and 98 percent get pregnant by the third attempt.

He called his the only guaranteed baby program.

"We’ll give you everything back if you don’t have a baby by the third try," he said.

That excludes expenses such as medications, travel and donor fees for a total of 60 to 70 percent of overall costs refunded.

Also, if the couple would like to continue trying after a third failed attempt, there would be no additional charges.

The cost can run as high as $135,000. Using the frozen embryo program, the process will be $100,000 to 120,000.

While traditional surrogacy is cheaper, he said costs mount rapidly if numerous trips to try to impregnate the surrogate are necessary.

Weltman said his agency also guides parents through the emotional ups and downs of having a baby. He has social workers who help deal with both the carrier and the parents.

Problems range from the anxiety of waiting to find a surrogate, then hoping for impregnation, to a variety of control issues.

One case he mentioned included the concern of having triplets who had to remain in the hospital for five weeks after their birth. The couple’s anxiety was compounded by their out-of-state location.

"The relationship with the carrier is critical," Weltman said.

A social worker can negotiate that relationship.

"Being kind without overstepping boundaries," he said, is sometimes a difficult balance to achieve.

"There isn’t a ‘most normal’ or ‘most healthy’ after the birth," Weltman said. He and his partner are in touch with their surrogate a few times a year.

"I call mine on Mother’s Day each year to thank her," he said.

Lura Stiller is a Dallas-area surrogate who will speak at the seminar. In addition to three children she has with her husband, she acted as a surrogate twice.

The first time was for a heterosexual couple. That experience, she said, left her feeling unappreciated.

The next was for a gay couple in Massachusetts. She called that experience rewarding and she maintains a relationship with them.

When she went into the hospital to give birth, they were in Dallas to take care of her other children at her home.

Weltman and his partner have two children, Kyle, 13, and Zachary, 15. Each parent is the genetic father of one of their sons.

Weltman said he sometimes thinks he and his partner each have a closer bond with the child that is not his own genetically. He said each son seemed a little disappointed when he learned which dad was his genetic dad.

Weltman’s younger son Kyle described growing up with two dads.

"It’s pretty much like growing up in any other family," he said.

He seemed to have observed the parents of his friends carefully and compared their parenting to his own dads. He said his parents take on different roles just as his friends’ parents do.

"One tries to relieve your stress and the other teaches you to manage it," Kyle said.

He said they adapt to being parents like anyone else. But how others treat your children is a concern of all parents.

Kyle was clear about how his friends regard his family: "They’re not my friends if they have any prejudices," he said.

The Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas, 4150 North MacArthur Blvd., Irving. May 15 from 3 to 5 p.m. The seminar is free and open to all.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 14, 2010.

John Weltman founded Circle Surrogacy after he and his partner became one of the first gay couples to have a child with an egg-donor surrogate.

After 14 years and almost 400 babies, Circle Surrogacy is now the oldest gay-owned and gay-focused surrogate-parenting agency.

Gay couples are the target market of Weltman’s agency, but they have helped single men, straight couples and even lesbian couples have babies.

He explained that sometimes an older lesbian couple decides to have a child or neither of the partners can conceive.

On Saturday, May 15, the agency will present a seminar at the Four Seasons in Irving on the legal, emotional and economic obstacles of having a child through surrogacy.

"For people to have a child with a non-intimate partner is a challenging event," Weltman said.

Ron Poule-Dayan is a consultant who works with Circle Surrogacy. The agency helped him and his partner have 9-year-old twins.

He said a number of advances over the past few years have helped control the costs.

"The egg bank will cut about $20,000 from the cost," Poule-Dayan said. That was technologically not possible until recently. Before you could only freeze the sperm or embryo."

Weltman said that although there are plenty of surrogates available in Texas and the arrangement works fine in this state for heterosexual couples, he looks for someone in another state to match with gay Texans.

"We would find a surrogate in a state where we can get a second-parent adoption," he said.

While many of Circle’s surrogates actually come from Texas, they end up carrying babies for single men or for gay couples from abroad.

Weltman mentions Massachusetts and California as good states for residency of surrogates to match with Texas couples. Those states will put both same-sex parents on a birth certificate and, unlike same-sex marriages, circuit courts around the country have ruled that other states must recognize it, he said.

If the birth mother is from another state and the child is born in that state, Texas cannot interfere in the issuance of the same-sex parent birth certificate. That state’s laws and regulations govern the issuance of the document, rather than those of Texas.

Circle Surrogacy specializes in egg donor rather than traditional surrogacy.

The traditional method involves impregnating a woman who will carry the baby. That process can take months of tries and has a high failure rate.

Egg donor surrogacy involves harvesting eggs from one donor, impregnating them in a Petri dish and implanting the embryo into a surrogate.

The egg donor and surrogate are normally two different women.

Using this method, Weltman said 70 percent of his clients get pregnant the first try and 98 percent get pregnant by the third attempt.

He called his the only guaranteed baby program.

"We’ll give you everything back if you don’t have a baby by the third try," he said.

That excludes expenses such as medications, travel and donor fees for a total of 60 to 70 percent of overall costs refunded.

Also, if the couple would like to continue trying after a third failed attempt, there would be no additional charges.

The cost can run as high as $135,000. Using the frozen embryo program, the process will be $100,000 to 120,000.

While traditional surrogacy is cheaper, he said costs mount rapidly if numerous trips to try to impregnate the surrogate are necessary.

Weltman said his agency also guides parents through the emotional ups and downs of having a baby. He has social workers who help deal with both the carrier and the parents.

Problems range from the anxiety of waiting to find a surrogate, then hoping for impregnation, to a variety of control issues.

One case he mentioned included the concern of having triplets who had to remain in the hospital for five weeks after their birth. The couple’s anxiety was compounded by their out-of-state location.

"The relationship with the carrier is critical," Weltman said.

A social worker can negotiate that relationship.

"Being kind without overstepping boundaries," he said, is sometimes a difficult balance to achieve.

"There isn’t a ‘most normal’ or ‘most healthy’ after the birth," Weltman said. He and his partner are in touch with their surrogate a few times a year.

"I call mine on Mother’s Day each year to thank her," he said.

Lura Stiller is a Dallas-area surrogate who will speak at the seminar. In addition to three children she has with her husband, she acted as a surrogate twice.

The first time was for a heterosexual couple. That experience, she said, left her feeling unappreciated.

The next was for a gay couple in Massachusetts. She called that experience rewarding and she maintains a relationship with them.

When she went into the hospital to give birth, they were in Dallas to take care of her other children at her home.

Weltman and his partner have two children, Kyle, 13, and Zachary, 15. Each parent is the genetic father of one of their sons.

Weltman said he sometimes thinks he and his partner each have a closer bond with the child that is not his own genetically. He said each son seemed a little disappointed when he learned which dad was his genetic dad.

Weltman’s younger son Kyle described growing up with two dads.

"It’s pretty much like growing up in any other family," he said.

He seemed to have observed the parents of his friends carefully and compared their parenting to his own dads. He said his parents take on different roles just as his friends’ parents do.

"One tries to relieve your stress and the other teaches you to manage it," Kyle said.

He said they adapt to being parents like anyone else. But how others treat your children is a concern of all parents.

Kyle was clear about how his friends regard his family: "They’re not my friends if they have any prejudices," he said.

The Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas, 4150 North MacArthur Blvd., Irving. May 15 from 3 to 5 p.m. The seminar is free and open to all.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 14, 2010.

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