Dr. Daniel Skora
Today, I flew back from my fourth Men Having Babies conference. This time it was a little different as my boyfriend thought it would be fun to come along for the trip, and it made me reflect on my experiences at each of these conferences.
I still remember the cold, dreary, November day last year when we arrived in New York. That was my first conference of this sort.
My senior partner had been doing these conferences for years, but this was a new adventure for me. We all learn in medical school, residency and fellowship the hypotheticals of how two men would go about having a baby. It would include an egg donor, a gestational carrier and a whole lot of time and money. The reality of the conference was startling.
The thing that immediately struck me was that this was a room of gay men with a dream: having a family. Something that in my heart, I knew one day I could have if I wanted but it is something most gay men must accept may not happen when they come out.
One of the scary things when I came out was accepting this fact. I may not be able to have kids and pass on my family name and legacy.
The second thing that struck me was that this was a room of men supporting each other, and the providers there were all 100 percent behind the cause of helping them to achieve their dreams. So many people from surrogacy agencies, egg donor agencies, fertility clinics, legal and more were there to help provide support and options to the intended fathers. Knowing that some fertility clinics do not provide services to male couples, it was encouraging to see a room full of people who believed that anybody deserved to have a family if they wanted one.
I was involved in some of the presentations and small group sessions at that first conference, but the majority of what I did was sit back and listen to the different sessions. I was new to the details of most of this too. Of course, I knew how it would all functionally work from a medical perspective, but I had no idea how it practically proceeded. The amount of information presented was overwhelming. I now tell prospective fathers that the conference is like drinking out of a fire hose pointed at your face. That is precisely how it feels. I left that first conference happy with the experience, more knowledgeable on the subject and excited to help my fellow LGBT patients to start their individual family journeys.
Skip forward 12 months, and these conferences have become almost old hat to me. I have helped several men become dads. I still get choked up talking about my personal experience and my love for serving my community. While I love all aspects of infertility, there is something so special about treating others in your community. LGBT patients inevitably will need some sort of reproductive assistance in creating their families. It is one of my greatest honors to be able to help make that process as straightforward and easy as possible.
Back to my boyfriend. Now, we have only been dating about 6 months. He’s an elementary school principal, so I knew when I started dating him that he would likely want to have kids. I love kids, but being ready for them right now is a different story. I love my nephews who also live in Dallas, and I love my dog, Kugel. It was a bit scary to bring my boyfriend to a conference where he would learn how the process of family building for gay men would work. In the end, though, my fears were unfounded.
He was there as my biggest supporter, smiling at me from the front row.
It was that look of pride on his face that I saw reflected in the exchanged glances shared between each couple at this conference.
The look of love, support and belief that anything is possible.
Daniel A. Skora, M.D., is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and is board eligible in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. He is a physician with Fertility Specialists of Texas.