Sunday, June 15, 2008

Gay couples discover surrogate option - who is the parent?

The issue of homosexuality is not a theoretical issue in Jewish identity - or even a rare incident. It is no longer limited to the question of individuals but now also includes marriage and families with two father or two mothers. The following concerns babies from two women - an egg donor and a birth mother. The sperm donor is one or perhaps both of the homosexual couple. In lesbian couples it could be one is a donor and a the partner is the birth mother - or that their is a 3 woman who is either the egg donor or the birth mother.

These are families who might want to live in our neighborhoods, attend out synagogues and have their children attend our schools. These are families who also might be interested in becoming more observant - how should communities, synagogues, schools and kiruv organizations respond? How does this impact people who want to convert?

The following appeared on YNET

New alternative for homosexual couples in Israel who desire children – surrogacy in US or India brokered by agencies specializing in single-sex planned parenthood
Liat Rotem-Melamed

Four years ago, after they had been together for six happy years, Dror and Gil Zitat-Mandelbaum decided it was time to expand their family. As a homosexual couple they knew their options in Israel were limited. They could either try their luck with adoption agencies abroad or, if they found it important to have a biological child, contact a woman who would agree to be artificially inseminated by one of them, also abroad.

Each option came with its own specific problems, but they had no alternative. Unlike lesbian couples, who can start a family with a simple sperm donation, male couples are not blessed with the luxury of a womb.

"We tried to adopt for many years and through many agencies," Dror recounted. "We paid a lot of money but it didn't work out. We didn't know we had the option of a surrogate mother." Today Dror and Gil are fathers to a pair of 10-month old twins, given birth to by a surrogate mom.

The surrogate law in Israel, dubbed "the law of accords for the carriage of fetuses", states that in order to be eligible for a surrogate agreement, the parents must be "a man and woman defined as a couple" which, of course, does not include gay couples. The idea of contacting a surrogate abroad is relatively new and applies only to the US, where prices range from 100 to 150 thousand dollars, and India, where the standard price is about $30,000.

Matter of choice

Ran Paul-Dayan, an Israeli living in the US with his partner, Greg, told Gil and Dror about this option. "They were the first couple who came to me with this problem," he said. "I told them about Circle Surrogacy, an American agency that provides surrogacy for gay couples and single people."

"A year ago 85% of the couples seeking the agency's help were local, but today over 40% are Israeli," said Paul-Dayan, who is currently the agency's Israeli contact and advisor. According to him, nine Israeli couples are currently "pregnant", nine others have recently signed on, and 20 more couples are currently being approved.

"The process undergone by a couple interested in surrogacy is very complex," Zitat-Mandelbaum explained. "There are a lot of legal documents, hundreds of checks, a lot of medical issues and a ton of bureaucracy. The process also includes two women – the egg donor and the surrogate. We contacted the agency and they took care of everything.[...]


  1. WADR the homosexual angle really is a side issue (worth noting perhaps in the context of my earlier response on macro vs. micro halachik issues)

    Poskim are already wrestling with the birth mother vs. egg donor issue. Given current trends in reproductive medicine they will soon be dealing with cloning (no father? on father's day??) and out of the womb growth.

    Basing all this on gemara's such as the bathhouse conception is getting harder and harder. This is why imho R' Asher Weiss says we need a Rashba type individual who can be mchadesh in these areas.

    Joel Rich

  2. It’s a perfectly serious question. If we accept that every decision a person is fundamentally selfish and egotistical, which I believe to be the case, and then we need to measure the level of selfishness. So how much more selfish and egotistical is being a surrogate parent than any other form of becoming a parent? Add to that the fact that, typically, when people speak of selfishness, morality, or other ideas of that nature they aren't making quantifiable statements about the object they are trying to describe (even if they believe that to be the case) they are pronouncing their opinion of the object based on their perspective. It has nothing to do with the object in question. Generally speaking, when people make statements about selfishness, morality, etc. they tend to only speak of it in terms of other people's actions, and rarely apply the same standard to themselves. I’m glad that such clinic as Biotexcom exists. People deserve to make choices. And to receive high level service for an acceptable sum of money. And being judged doesn't do anybody any good. Try to understand where people are coming from, how they got where they are, and never forget that you yourself are culpable too.


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