Men Speak Up About the Male's Side of Surrogacy

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The male role in surrogacy is often overlooked. Alternative Reproductive Resources (ARR), reports on the opposite side of gestational surrogacy: the male perspective.

My wife did something wonderful and helped two people create a family when they couldn't do so on their own.

Joe Shacter and Felix Ramos have an unusual bond. On April 2, 2004, both men were in the waiting room when Ramos' wife gave birth to Shacter's twin sons.

Both have been involved on opposite sides of gestational surrogacy, giving them perspectives not frequently discussed publicly. "The male role in surrogacy is often ignored," says Robin von Halle, president of Alternative Reproductive Resources (ARR), a gestational surrogacy and egg donation agency in Chicago. "They play the supportive role, which from our perspective, is one of the most important."

Like many men, Joe longed for a son. Yet he and his wife suffered seven miscarriages in seven years, each more devastating then the last. "As a man, you feel powerless. No matter how many hugs and kisses you give her, you still cannot help her," he says.

This feeling is not unusual for husbands in this situation. "Most of the men we meet have the 'how can I fix this?' mentality," says von Halle. "Our best advice for them is to understand they cannot fix it. The best they can do is be there for their wives during this time."

Joe did not want to give up hope of having a biological child, and that was the driving force in the surrogacy process, despite his wife's initial skepticism. "My wife had gone through a lot more anguish than I did because she couldn't stay pregnant," notes Joe. "She was the one taking all the fertility shots and suffering through the miscarriages. By taking this course, I hoped we would have another chance."

During the surrogacy process, Joe never felt left out. "ARR and our surrogate included me in every aspect, from the interviews, mailings, phone calls and doctor appointments. I was treated as an equal," he says.

On the other side of the equation, the gestational surrogate's husband or significant other also plays a supporting role.

Felix Ramos, of Plano, Ill., says he is very proud of his wife Angie's role as a surrogate. "My wife did something wonderful and helped two people create a family when they couldn't do so on their own."

He recalls that many of his friends thought he was crazy for "letting" his wife make such a decision. But Ramos says, "We made the decision together. Once I explained to people why we were doing it, everyone became understanding and supportive."

As a father of four, Ramos knew what to expect when there's an expectant mother in the house. "The fertility treatments were the most intimidating part. Otherwise, life went on as usual. We even took a family vacation."

Two of the most common questions ARR hears from the surrogate's husband or significant other are "How long will the process take?" and "How long must we abstain from intercourse?"

According to von Halle, the whole surrogacy process takes a little over a year. In most cases, the surrogate starts medical treatments one month prior to the embryo transfer and stays on medication until at least six weeks into the pregnancy. As for the other concern, couples must abstain for the first six weeks after the transfer and for six weeks after giving birth.

"My advice for other men whose wives are considering becoming surrogates is to have an open mind," says Ramos. "Helping the Shacters was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had - all because my wife wanted to help someone have a family."

As for Joe, he is already looking forward to the boys' fifth birthday in 2009.

"When the twins were born I was overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility, but I was also overwhelmed with what these two lives mean to me. It makes each birthday very special for all of us," he says.

Media Contact: Robyn Velasquez
Hodge Schindler Integrated Communications
rvelasquez(at)hodgeschindler.com
312.666.6662

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Robyn Velasquez
Hodge Schindler Integrated Communications
312.666.6662
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