The 3rd annual Chicago Men Having Babies conference took place on April 13-14, 2019, at the Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront Hotel. Over 100 prospective parents from across the United States and beyond enjoyed a weekend of workshops, and special in-depth panels about insurance, budgeting, medical and psychological aspects of surrogacy. Proceeds from the conference benefited the organization’s Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP).

  • See below for the 2019 original event program

Men Having Babies Midwest - 2019
Surrogacy Seminar & Gay Parenting Expo

Chicago, April 13-14, 2019

Event Home

Full conference program

Saturday, April 13, 2019

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Registration: 8:00-9:00 AM
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Planning your journey: 9:00-10:30 AM (Grand Ballroom C+D, 6th Floor)
We will open our session with introductions and a comparison of surrogacy with other parenting options. We will then provide the first part of our comprehensive surrogacy workshop that was developed based on the accumulated knowledge of hundreds of gay men who have already gone through the process.
Topics covered will include:
  • Basic terminology, types and components of typical surrogacy arrangements.
  • Typical sequence and timeline for gestational surrogacy journeys.
  • Legal considerations in the USA and Canada.
  • Major decisions regarding IVF, egg donation and surrogacy options.
  • Considering your family vision, financial constraints, risk tolerance and ethical preferences.
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Coffee Break: 10:30 AM -11:00 AM

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Picking providers, budgeting and financial assistance: 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM (Grand Ballroom C+D, 6th Floor)
On the second part of our workshop we will provide peer advice on selecting service providers, cost saving tips, and resources for financial support. Topics covered will include:
  • Where to start (agency, clinic, surrogate or donor).
  • Selecting an agency and clinic.
  • Estimated costs, and factors that affect costs.
  • Cost saving best practices.
  • Financial help through the Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP).
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Lunch / Gay Parenting Expo: 12:15 - 1:50 PM (Grand Ballroom A+B, 6th Floor)
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Enjoy a buffet lunch, explore our Book Fair and the Gay Parenting Services Exhibit: more than twenty five tables where you can meet and receive information from leading clinics, surrogacy agencies, lawyers and supporting community organizations. The expo will remain open until 5:00pm. Lunch is sponsored by Family Source Consultants.
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Breakout sessions - come meet the sponsors: 1:50 - 4:00 PM (Various rooms - see table)
Attendees will have the opportunity to take part in up to 7 introductory group consultations with the various providers. Take advantage of this opportunity to get to know these agencies and clinics more closely. Most sessions will be 18 minutes long (plus 2-3 minutes switch time), and the last one is only 8 minutes. They take place simultaneously in 3 meeting rooms on the 5th and 6th floors. The Gay Parenting Expo will also continue to be available during this period.

6th Floor: Grand Ballroom C+D

5th Floor: River

6th Floor: Newberry

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1:50 - 2:08 PM
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Staci Swiderski
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Marjorie Dixon, M.D.
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Nir Keren
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2:10 - 2:28 PM
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Staci Swiderski
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Marjorie Dixon, MD
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Nir Keren
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2:30 - 2:48 PM
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Juan Alvarez, MD
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Daniel Skora, MD
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Diane Hinson, Esq.
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2:50 - 3:08 PM
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Juan Alvarez, MD
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Jennifer McArthur
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Ilan Tur-Kaspa, MD
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3:10 - 3:28 PM
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Susanna Park, MD
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Colleen Wagner-Coughlin
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Gary Jones, MD and Mohamed Irani, MD
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3:30 - 3:48 PM
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Angie Beltsos, MD
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Robin von Halle
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Sigal Klipstein, MD
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3:50 - 4:00 PM
Hope Surrogacy
Mary Murphey
Family Choice Surrogacy
Leah Potter
Family Creations
Jered Mercer
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Private consultations with service providers: 3:00 -7:00 PM (various rooms, please check with participating providers for more details)
Several clinics and agencies will be available in offices for private consultations with prospective parents that wish to explore the options they offer in more depth. Prospective parents may request to coordinate consultations in advance using this form. Consultation slots may also be available last minute for those who want to first hear the providers during the breakout sessions.
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“Legal Clinic”: 3:00 - 7:00 PM (O’Leary, 7th Floor)
Two legal experts will be available for several hours for 20 minute private sessions. This is an opportunity to ask questions and receive general guidance on specific legal issues relevant to various circumstances. However note these sessions are not meant to provide formal legal services or serve as substitute for such. Sign up during registration, or throughout the day, as long as sessions are still available.

- Rachel Loftspring, Esq.
/ Essig & Evans
- Nora Zuckerman, Esq.
/ Ross & Zuckerman
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Coffee Break & Gay Parenting Expo: 4:00-5:00 PM (Grand Ballroom A+B, 6th Floor)
Prospective parents, parents (&children!), psychologists, social workers, students, researchers and other professionals are invited to network and exchange perspectives over refreshments. Our Gay Parenting Expo will run in parallel.
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Personal Stories Panel: 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM (Grand Ballroom C+D, 6th Floor)
To help you further understand what surrogacy entails from the personal standpoint, you will have an opportunity to hear personal testimonies from a diverse group of of gay surrogacy dads, the surrogates who helped them, and an egg donor. The panel is sponsored by Elevate Egg Donor Agency LLC.

Moderator: Shelly Marsh, former surrogate and MHB’s marketing manager.

Panelists include:

Roxanne Christiansen
Roxi is am a mother of 4 (18yr Cole, 15yr Gavin, 13yr Reilly and 6yr old Cheyann). She had an amazing surrogacy journey with an international same sex couple. Surrogacy changed her life in ways she never expected, and it was an amazing blessing to be a part of.

Cory Sexson
John Plant and Cory Sexson have been together for seven years and were married in June 2015. Shortly after getting married, they turned to surrogacy to build a family and were blessed with the birth of their daughter (Evelyn) in September 2016 and their son (Elliot) in October 2018. John and Cory are extremely grateful for both surrogates and continue to remain close to them today.

Katie Rich
Katie is a library director, wife, mother to two children (18 & 14) and adoptive mother to a 16-year-old. She has fostered more than a dozen children and is currently fostering to adopt a 14-year-old. Katie has given birth to 3 babies as a surrogate! Her passion is helping families and she feels truly blessed to have experienced building families through many different forms.

J.D. Louk
J.D. and Steven have been together for four years. They met in Chicago and then moved to San Francisco where they were married in 2017. They actually had their interview with their future surrogate the day before their wedding. Their twins Regina and Gabriel were born in May 2018 in Denver, Colorado. They spent five days in Denver and then drove back to their home in Chicago. They continue to have a great relationship with their surrogate and her family.

Andy Taylor
Andy was born in Vancouver and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He and his husband Sherman have been together for over 10 years. After a 7-year long process, Andy and his husband are the proud fathers of 2 boys: Trey (5 years old) and Nate (18 months old). Over the years they have been fortunate to create many wonderful memories as a family and made many amazing friendships in the surrogacy world
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Cory and John with their children, Evelyn and Elliot.

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Roxi with the baby she carried for an international gay couple.

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Andy (left) with his husband Sherman and their sons.

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A mindful look at surrogacy - Psychological and Ethical Aspects: 6:00-7:00 PM (Grand Ballroom C+D, 6th Floor)
In this session we will examine the psychological, social and ethical concerns that some prospective parents and surrogates may feel in advance of this joint journey, and might stand in the way of having an open and connected process. We will then offer possible coping mechanisms, support resources and best practices to address these concerns.

We will look at questions such as:
  • How can the parties best prepare for the journey, find the right match and adjust expectations?
  • What are the typical dynamics in the relationship between the intended parents and the surrogates?
  • How to best navigate difficult decision points and deal with the inherent uncertainty in the process?
  • How do parents and surrogates deal with critical social views of surrogacy?
  • What are the roots for concerns about exploitation and commodification in surrogacy?
  • What are the experiences of children born via surrogacy?
We will present recent academic research on surrogacy, and evidence from studies about the way surrogacy affects the the welfare of the child, the surrogate, and her family. We will also look at programs meant to encourage a more mindful surrogacy experience, such as MHB's Framework for Ethical Surrogacy.

Moderator: Ron Poole-Dayan, MHB Executive Director, board member
Speakers / Panelists:
  • Elliott Kronenfeld, LICSW. CST, surrogacy father
  • Dr. Silvia Schneider Fox, psychologist
  • Lisa Schuster, surrogate mother and MHB program manager, GPAP

Optional Social Activities Post-Conference:

Post Conference Happy Hour: 7:00 PM

Join us at the Penthouse Ballroom (39th floor) to close the evening with a social gathering. This casual time will be a great opportunity to discuss the information from the day’s sessions as well as network with other parents, intended parents and professionals.
  • Refreshments will be served.
  • Registered attendees receive a coupon for one free drink.


Sunday, April 14, 2019

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Registration: 8:15-9:00 AM
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Expert Panel: Medical Aspects of Surrogacy 9:00 - 10:30 AM (Grand Ballroom C+D, 6th Floor)
The medical screening of future fathers, egg donors and surrogates, the creation of optimal embryos, and the IVF process. The panel is sponsored by InVia Fertility Specialists.

Moderator: Michael Doyle, M.D. / MHB Board member

- Marjorie Dixon, M.D.
/ Anova Fertility & Reproductive Health
- Juan Alvarez, M.D.
/ Fertility Centers of Illinois
- Daniel Skora, M.D.
/ Fertility Specialists of Texas
- Susanna Park, M.D.
/ San Diego Fertility Center
- Angie Beltsos, M.D.
/ Vios Fertility Institute
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Private consultations with service providers: 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM (various rooms, please check with participating providers for more details)
Several clinics and agencies will be available in offices for private consultations with prospective parents that wish to explore the options they offer in more depth. Prospective parents may request to coordinate consultations in advance using this form. Consultation slots may also be available last minute for those who want to first hear the providers during the breakout sessions.
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Coffee break: 10:30 - 10:45 AM
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Expert Panel: Budgeting and Insurance 10:45 - 11:45 AM (Grand Ballroom C+D, 6th Floor)
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A closer look at medical insurance and surrogate compensation packages. The panel is sponsored by ART Risk.

Moderator: Ron Poole-Dayan / MHB Executive Director, board member

- Jennifer White
/ Colorado Surrogacy
- Denise Steele
/ SeedTrust
- Nir Keren
/ CReATe Fertility Centre, Canada
- Sarah Paige
/ ART Risk Financial & Insurance Solutions

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Q&A Sessions- 11:45 AM -12:45 PM (Grand Ballroom C+D, 6th Floor)
Legal Experts: Legal status of surrogacy across the USA and Canada, contracts, securing parentage rights

Moderator: Sherman Taylor / MHB board

- Rachel Loftspring, Esq.
/ Essig & Evans
- Heather Ross, Esq.
/ Ross & Zuckerman

Budgeting & Financial Assistance: cost saving best practices, the Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP)

- Lisa Schuster
/ MHB - GPAP Program Manager
- Ron Poole-Dayan
/ MHB - Executive Director

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Advice for prospective single fathers: 11:45 AM -12:45 PM (Newberry, 6th Floor)
Hear from gay fathers who’ve gone through the surrogacy journey without a partner, and meet like-minded prospective fathers.

Facilitator: Elliott Kronenfeld, LICSW. CST, surrogacy father