This worldwide health crisis is frightening, partly because we don’t know how long it will last. It threatens to take away our health and our plans for the future.
But for many of us it has also strengthened our bonds with our closest friends, partners, and family. Beyond being a world in crisis, we are staying home and spending time with people who mean the most to us – both in our homes and virtually. I know I haven’t spent this much time with my parents in a long time. The importance of family – whether it’s our given or chosen family – has never been more important for so many of us, and we are getting to know them often in new ways.
Over the past few weeks, in the middle of the coronavirus upheaval, I’ve had several patients tell me that their personal experience with the pandemic has strengthened their desire to increase the size of their family by having children. Their hopes of building a family of their own have never been greater.
Yet for LGBTQ people who are thinking of starting a family, the seeming tidal wave of fear brought on by the pandemic can rattle one’s dreams. It can call into question how we were planning to allocate both our personal and financial energies for the years ahead. Should we be stockpiling our assets to better protect our health and that of our parents, siblings, and friends? Or should we continue to pursue our dreams of building a family to love, protect, and support, whatever comes our way?
When everything in life gets turned upside down, and our fear level rises to new heights, we are forced to re-evaluate what is most important and vital to us. Setting and resetting priorities is frankly a necessity for many in times like this.
If you have been dreaming of building a family, you may want to utilize this “stay at home” time to begin working on your plans to make this dream reality. For gay men and women, it takes time and planning to bring all the pieces together to get things started. This may be an optimal time to plan this next chapter of your life.
Start by setting a goal. During this stressful time when the daily news is often dark and bleak, it’s important to make plans for the future, to envision your life when this is in the rear-view mirror. Filling part of our day with possibility is important. Just the act of forming a goal can serve to uplift your spirits and motivate you.
How do you get started when you can’t leave your home? Recently, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommended fertility specialists not initiate new treatments until the coronavirus pandemic is more controlled. Most fertility centers are following these professional guidelines. We certainly are.
Yet you can still begin the process. I always recommend starting with a consultation with a fertility specialist. The initial consultation, which is often complementary, provides an overview of the treatment process, which for gay men uses donor eggs and surrogacy. Many specialists will do these consultations via Skype or WhatsApp, so you can have these initial conversations while self-isolating in your home from anywhere in the world.
Something to think about on that consultation is the other parts of the surrogacy puzzle. Ask your fertility specialist which surrogacy and egg-donation agencies they recommend. It is important to talk with several agencies about which services they provide and how they differ from the other agencies. Ultimately you want to select a group of professionals who will guide you through this process with care.
Having these important conversations with fertility and surrogacy specialists now can offer you much-needed hope and get you started on this lengthy journey toward parenthood.
Although the pandemic is changing our lives, it cannot take away our hopes and dreams for the future. Use this time to define your goals and develop a blueprint that will help you achieve everything that’s important to you. The decision to start a family takes a commitment to love and care for your future child. If a family is part of your future life story, this may be an ideal time to start that chapter.
GUY RINGLER is a board-certified physician in both obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. He is a partner with California Fertility Partners.