Leap of Faith – Irish Dads Continue to Create Families Across Borders

Growing Families has been running family building education for Irish nationals since its first sold-out conference in 2016. Our Sunday seminar on 26 March 2023 in Dublin will bring together GLBTI and heterosexual parents, intended dads and professionals from around the globe. Focused on information, support, acceptance and advocacy. The events’ popularity lies in its honesty – putting parents front and centre sharing real-life journeys, that help create Families Across Borders.

For gay singles and couples, this year’s conference has a focus on regulated surrogacy in gay-friendly Canada, USA and Argentina. Amongst US agencies alone, there can be huge differences in program costs. Being well informed about the range of options can save up to EU40,000. The seminar will look at the impact of the covid pandemic, along with the Ukraine war, on match times globally.

Sessions will also address some of the tough questions about trust, logistics, sourcing donors, the evidence for covid vaccination, the pitfalls of engaging with online providers and improvements in parental recognition given upcoming changes in Irish surrogacy law, help create Families Across Borders.

Stephen Roberts Story

One recent dad speaking is Stephen Roberts. He and his husband Graham have been together since 2010, marrying in March 2019. Stephen is a customer experience manager. Graham works in operations in the financial sector. Fairly early in their relationship, the pair decided that parenthood was their ultimate goal.  When Stephen was 36 years old they began investigating adoption.

Ultimately the pair turned to surrogacy. Settling on Canada given its altruistic system closely aligned with their personal values. By now it was early 2020. A lack of travel options during the covid-19 pandemic meant they shipped their sperm to Canada rather than travelling in person.

Locating a Canadian egg donor with the help of a Canadian agency ‘was a long and hard process’ Stephen recalls. ‘We started looking at genetic medical histories, then we wanted to pick a donor who shared the physical traits of both of us’. 

It took 18 months to lock in a donor, make embryos and reach the top of the wait-list for a Canadian surrogate. It was November 2021 before their Canadian surrogate Ginelle undertook her first embryo transfer. As is common, Ginelle’s first two transfers failed. Then in February last year, her third transfer was positive.

From here the process was quite smooth. ‘We were relatively lucky’ Stephen admits.  In October 2022, the Irish couple flew to Canada in anticipation of the birth. It was the first time they had met Ginelle face-to-face. Ginelle birthed their daughter Juliet later that month.

‘We have a really unique friendship, that transcends our other typical family and friend relationships’ Stephen admits. ‘Having shared a unique experience that has bonded us, we are still in regular contact, and there will be trips for us to Canada, and our surrogate and her family will be visiting Ireland’.

Stephen and other recent parents will share their own journeys and advice for others at Growing Families 26 March seminar in Dublin. Tickets  from €15 including lunch, afternoon tea and networking drinks. Full details here