Fertility seminar targeted at gay couples explains the process
BY TRICIA DESPRES For Sun-Times Media February 26, 2014 3:40PM
MAKING PARENTING CONCEIVABLE:
A GAY MAN’S GUIDE TO FAMILY BUILDING
When: 9:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: Catalyst Ranch,
656 W. Randolph
Info: (877) 474-1822, fcionline.com/about/same-sex-fertility
Updated: February 27, 2014 12:06AM
Steve Schneider is worn out. He’s been up since 4:30 a.m. when his 5-month-old son, Henry, decided their day would begin. Since then the 41-year-old Schneider has spent his day changing diapers, washing bottles and keeping his 2-year-old son Theo occupied. And while the day is more than half over, dirty dishes in the sink and loads of laundry are waiting to be washed.
And if that wasn’t enough, his man won’t be home until late tonight.
“I mean, I do Ironman. I know what it’s like to push through pain but this … I mean …this is exhausting,” explains Schneider, a former Chicago advertising executive turned stay-at-home dad. “Seriously, I would take a nap if I could. But the chance to be parents to two amazing children? I wouldn’t trade that for nothing.”
Calling themselves a conservative family with an alternative lifestyle, Schneider and longtime-partner James Schroeder are part of the growing numbers of gay men who have turned to surrogacy and egg donation to make their dreams of having children a reality.
“Twelve years ago, it was just insane to think I was about to tell my parents I was gay,” says Schroeder, who met Schneider in November, 2002. “But one of the most difficult things about coming out as a gay man back then was just assuming you might never have children. Sure, we were gay, but who said that had to mean you couldn’t have a family?”
Working with Dr. Brian Kaplan of Fertility Centers of Illinois and his team at aParent IVF Laboratory along with a number of other agencies, the couple was matched with a surrogate in 2011. “It wasn’t as easy as just making a baby,” says Schroeder, who began contemplating their parental options with Schneider back in 2010. “For us, it required years of discussion and planning and psychological evaluations, just to name a few. Plus, there was the commitment to each other paired with the financial commitment. I mean, we went through a ton of things a traditional couple wouldn’t ever need to consider.”
“Our basic philosophy from day one has been to treat all patients all requests for assisted reproductive technology the same way,” says Kaplan, who will speak Saturday alongside a number of medical, legal and psychological experts at Making Parenting Conceivable: A Gay Man’s Guide to Family Building. “At the end of the day, sexual orientation is irrelevant. The main thing is that each couple is informed of all of their options.”
They also can now know they are not alone.
“From the first sperm sample to wondering if our surrogate was actually pregnant to waiting for the heartbeat, it was a nerve-racking process,” recalls Schneider. “And now to have children and constantly be in charge of their care — it’s a big change. But at the end of the day, we are not going through anything different than any other relationship and I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.”