“Men Having Babies”: Surrogacy Agency Helps Gay Men Buy Children, Leading To Backlash And Concern Online

Ashley Gillett

The commercial surrogacy industry has grown substantially in recent years and is expected to reach a market value of $129 billion by 2032. The increase in interest in the controversial practice has also created a rise in organizations that aim to connect expectant parents with these surrogacy services. 

Men Having Babies (MHB) is one such service. Created in 2012, it began as a peer support network for gay fathers. Now, the nonprofit connects gay men with fertility clinics, egg donors, surrogates, and law firms. They also provide financial assistance programs and advocate for legislation to make surrogacy more accessible to gay men.

In 2021, MHB worked with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) to amend the Illinois insurance code requiring insurance companies to cover fertility-related services for single individuals and gay couples by redefining infertility to include, “a person’s inability to reproduce either as a single individual or with a partner without medical intervention.” The bill took effect in January of 2022.

“The anguish and yearning same-sex couples and singles feel when they cannot afford the expensive treatments required to counteract their ‘social infertility’ is comparable to that of heterosexual couples who suffer from medical infertility,” the nonprofit said in a letter of support sent to Illinois legislators.

On their Instagram, Men Having Babies regularly posts photos of the men who have utilized their services, typically posing with the children created through their surrogate arrangements. The overwhelming majority of the children appear to be boys.

One recent post features a couple named Carlos and Pat who received $100,000 in “Family Building Benefits” from Pat’s employer Meta to help finance their surrogate arrangement.

Carlos and Pat are the founders of BUM: Bottoms Up Movement, a start-up company that sells intimate and anal hygiene products aimed at gay men with a portion of sales going towards “…making LGBTQ family building more affordable,” according to their website, which includes making contributions to Men Having Babies.

Carlos and Pat have posted photos of their newborn surrogate child on the same page they advertise anal sex items.

“We couldn’t think of a better product that most Gay Men have experience purchasing,” BUM’s website says referring to intimate lubrication products, “The more we thought about it though, the more sense it made: Children & families are conceived through intimacy, could there be a more appropriate business model that helps LGBTQ+ couples build their own families than a brand specializing in beauty, hygiene, & intimacy?”

Under the pinned photo of Carlos and Pat posing with their infant daughter, BUM’s Instagram account also features sexually suggestive ads promoting their products, including gay influencers sharing their anal sex preparation routines.

Another post the nonprofit organization shared featured a gay polyamorous “throuple” who used a surrogate to carry at least one of their two children. Their Instagram bio describes them as “3 gay guys, in a committed relationship raising a beautiful daughter and son in our ultra modern family!” They also have images posing in fetish gear to promote their lifestyle on the same account.

Yet another post that was highlighted by the organization featured a couple named Steve and Jamie who have four children born via surrogacy, including twins. During one of their children’s gestation, Steve shared a shirtless image of himself with a sonogram taped to his stomach and the caption, “25 weeks into the pregnancy and I’m starting to show.” 

He shared a similar photo right before the birth of their twins last December in which he posed shirtless, his pants pulled down exposing his underwear with the beginning caption once again reading, “36 weeks +5 days pregnant with twins and I’m finally starting to show!”

Steve also shares images of provocative photos of himself on the same account he posts photos of his children doing things like blowing bubbles and celebrating birthdays. 

Some recent images that include children posted on the Men Having Babies Instagram account also include the hashtags “scruffygay” and “#gaycute.” Both hashtags lead to images of men in sexually suggestive poses and various states of undress. 

Still more posts from MHB feature men who turn to surrogacy after failed efforts at adopting children and skirting around national surrogacy laws by seeking services abroad, introducing further legal and logistical complications to the process. 

A post featuring a baby born 2.5 months preterm also showcases the potential risks of surrogacy including increased risks of preterm birth and low birth weights in infants. Surrogates also face a number of potential health risks including gestational diabetes, hypertension, and placenta plevia, amongst other health concerns.

While documenting the various “success stories” shared by MHB, The Publica noted that a number of the posts included mentions of the surrogate miscarrying one or more times. In some of the posts, the men describe the miscarriages as though they experienced it themselves, barely touching on the surrogate who would have suffered through the ordeal.

In a similar post, two men described “overcoming an ectopic pregnancy.”

The often-bizarre verbiage has not gone unnoticed on other parts of the internet, where commentators have mocked or criticized such posts.

In December of 2023, Reduxx co-founder Anna Slatz posted a screenshot of a “success story” highlighted by MHB in which the couple is described as “having gone through a miscarriage.”

The post also suggests the couple terminated their contract with their first surrogate after she miscarried.

Speaking to The Publica, Helen Gibson, the founder of Surrogacy Concern, expressed her opposition to the rapid growth of interest in surrogacy arrangements, comparing it to human trafficking.

“As campaigners for the rights of women and children, we are extremely concerned about the growth of surrogacy around the world. Not only does surrogacy remove a baby from their mother at birth, going against all guidance on infant-mother bonding and attachment, but the practice exploits a woman’s poverty and treats her as simply a vessel for hire,” Gibson said.

Gibson’s UK-based group was launched in 2023, and has since amassed over 17,000 followers on X by calling out the surrogacy industry and its lack of safeguarding.

“Many people are unaware, but surrogacy has few safeguards, and there is nothing like the level of vetting of commissioning parents that you see in adoption,” Gibson explains. “We know of sexual predators who have had children with surrogate mothers; we are very worried that predatory men are using surrogacy, and exploiting the lack of checks in most jurisdictions, to gain access to children.”

To emphasize Gibson’s point, multiple disturbing cases of the sexual abuse of surrogate children have emerged in recent years.

As previously reported by The Publica, a well-known Chicago-area veterinarian was arrested in March after possessing and exchanging child sexual abuse materials with other pedophiles. Adam King, 36, had been nabbed by authorities just days before he was set to fly to California to collect a baby boy he and his husband had commissioned via surrogate.

In another infamous case, a man from Australia was arrested in 2016 after purchasing twin baby girls via surrogate with the intention of sexually abusing them. He was arrested after sharing videos of the abuse to pedophile friends, and was ultimately jailed for 22 years.

Similarly, gay couple Mark J. Newton and Peter Truong were arrested in Los Angeles in 2011 after police discovered videos of their surrogate son being sexually abused that had been circulating amongst other pedophiles. Police believed Newton and Truong had purchased the boy, who was born in Russia, “for the sole purpose of exploitation.”

Gibson emphasizes that most children purchased by commissioning parents are not tracked by authorities, and that some simply “vanish without a trace” after being handed over to the buyers.

“This cannot continue. Surrogacy is human trafficking. It must be banned, globally, without delay,” Gibson concluded.

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