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Gay Celebrities Turn to Surrogacy to Build Families

Elton John and Furnish crop.jpg
Photo by PR Photos

by FertilityAuthority, December 28, 2010

Singer Elton John and his husband, David Furnish, celebrated their Christmas this year by welcoming a child into their family. Their son, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John was delivered via surrogate on December 25.

"We are overwhelmed with happiness and joy at this very special moment," the couple told US Magazine in a statement. "Zachary is healthy and doing really well, and we are very proud and happy parents."

The 62-year-old singer is just one of a growing group of gay celebrities who have chosen to expand their families through surrogacy . Within the last several years, celebrities such as Neil Patrick Harris, Ricky Martin, Clay Aiken and B.D. Wong have turned to surrogacy to help them build their families.

Many Gay Male Celebrities Choose Surrogacy to Build Their Families

Actor Neil Patrick Harris and his partner David Burtka welcomed twins to their family in October. Their son and daughter, named Gideon Scott and Harper Grace, were born via surrogate.

The "How I Met Your Mother" star tweeted , “"Babies!! On 10/12, Gideon Scott and Harper Grace entered the Burtka-Harris fold. All of us are happy, healthy, tired, and a little pukey."

In 2008, singer Ricky Martin became a dad to twin boys Matteo and Valentino, who were born through gestational surrogacy. With gestational surrogacy , a surrogate is implanted with an embryo, which can come from the intended parents or a donor. Because the gestational surrogate does not use her own eggs, she is not related biologically to the child.

Martin recently announced that he may not be completely finished adding to his family. After performing at the CBS special “A Home for the Holidays” in December, Martin remarked that he was thinking about adoption.

"Even though I started with surrogacy, adoption is probably my next step," he told Extra.

Also in 2008, American Idol alum Clay Aiken and his platonic friend Jaymes Foster welcomed a baby boy, Parker Foster Aiken, whom they plan to raise together. Foster was artificially inseminated and conceived the baby through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Actor Eric Roberts, a close friend of Foster, shared his thoughts with People Magazine about their parenthood.

"This is a story of two people, who perhaps not typical as parents — whatever typical is — or at a stage of life typical for parent, want to have a child to love and to experience parenthood," Roberts says. "These people have the best foundation of all to share such an important task, which is a strong, abiding friendship."

Actor B.D. Wong, who is most known for his work on HBO’s Oz and NBC’s Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and his former long-term partner Richie Jackson welcomed twin boys into their family in 2000. The boys, Jackson and Boaz, were born 11 weeks premature, and Boaz died shortly after birth.

The couple became parents through gestational surrogacy. They were matched with a surrogate through a surrogacy agency, and the surrogate was implanted with an embryo that was fertilized with eggs from Jackson’s sister and Wong’s sperm.

In order to cope with the pain of losing one child, and to chronicle the challenges and joys of becoming a parent, Wong has written a memoir of his experiences, called Following Foo (The Electronic Adventures of the Chestnut Man).

Building a Biological Connection through Surrogacy

Many gay couples choose surrogacy as a way to build their families while allowing a biological connection to the child. The gay couple can approach the surrogacy process in a number of ways. If more than one child is desired, each partner can be the biological parent for one pregnancy. That partner’s sperm would be the one that is used to fertilize the egg. For the next pregnancy, the embryo implanted in the surrogate would be fertilized from the other partner’s sperm.

Other couples choose to have eggs fertilized by sperm from both partners. The resulting embryos would then by implanted, and a genetic test would be able to be performed later to determine who is the biological father. Another option, as used by B.D. Wong, is to have one partner provide the sperm and a female relative of the other partner provide the eggs, so each partner has a biological connection to the child.

Surrogacy laws differ by state, and some state laws may be more conducive to gay surrogacy than others. Also, it is helpful to research fertility clinics and surrogacy agencies carefully, since some have particular areas of expertise with helping gay couples, whereas others may only work with married couples.

Gay couples also should also consider the laws for where their surrogate is set to give birth, to make sure the state laws are surrogate-friendly and gay friendly. Because surrogacy is such a complex issue, gay couples should consider retaining the services of a lawyer who specializes in surrogacy law. This can help protect the rights of both the biological and non-biological parent.