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Shelly’s story – An insight into family building within the LGBTQIA community

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Spring Fertility is a world class fertility centre who puts patient needs first. Spring Fertility is committed to helping everyone create the family of their dreams and is proud to support all couples and individuals in achieving parenthood on their terms. This pride month Spring Fertility is proud to partner with My Surrogacy Journey and spread awareness surrounding all that surrogacy entails.

We interviewed Shelly, a mother of two children who wanted to share her story of how she became a surrogate. Shelly has been a surrogate four times and has so much wisdom and honesty to share related to the journey. Both Spring Fertility Centre and My Surrogacy Journey are committed to telling people’s stories which help to create transparency and clarity surrounding the pathway to parenthood via surrogacy.

We understand building a family can be complex when it comes to assisted reproduction, fertility and surrogacy so we got Shelly’s take on all things surrogacy related…

Shelly’s story

I am Shelly. First and foremost I am a momma of two amazing, sassy teenage girls and I have also been a surrogate mother four times. I knew I wanted to be a surrogate when I met a woman at a moms’ group who had had a hysterectomy in her mid-twenties. The woman and her husband had been trying to adopt a child, but that process was simply taking too long with waiting times. When the woman mentioned surrogacy, I was intrigued and quickly realized I had a way to help people who were really in need, in a profound, personal way.

Since then, I have been able to help three gay couples – one in Norway and two from the United States – grow their families through surrogacy. After carrying five babies over four IVF pregnancies with the help of three clinics, in addition to giving birth to two children of my own, I have learned so much about the entire process.

The first couple I helped is now a part of my family. We were both new to surrogacy and I came in wanting to help, to take care of them and to do magical things. I was able to carry twins to full term – and even now we still talk on a regular basis. The twins will be ten years old this year. That journey changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. I was able to complete three more surrogacies, for two separate gay male couples – each one taught me so much about the process, myself, and the world. Surrogacy is a cumbersome process, with some many intricate steps but with the right people it can be a miraculous journey.

I am so grateful to be able to utilize all my prior surrogacy experience, as well as more than thirteen years working for fertility clinics and for Men Having Babies – a non-profit helping gay men have children – to help intended parents around the world navigate the process of family building through egg donation and surrogacy.

While my initial impetus to become a surrogate was a woman at a mums’ group, helping gay men start a family was my top priority as a surrogate.

My husband has two best friends, a lesbian and a gay man. We’ve witnessed firsthand the struggles and challenges they face, whether it’s in healthcare or just being with their partners as a couple in public – the social and systemic prejudices that they face is not easy. LGBTQ+ people want babies too, but there are people out there who don’t want them to have that and place further barriers for them. So why not help people who have all the odds stacked against them?

For me, helping gay cis-men in the LGBTQ community is my priority because,unlike most lesbians, they do not have a uterus to carry a child. They need all the help they can receive. In more than a decade of working in the fertility space, I am always excited to help both surrogates and intended parents of allwalks of life navigate the surrogacy path.

Each time I’ve had a pregnancy through surrogacy it’s gotten easier, as I learned the process. Now having been a surrogate four times for five babies and having worked across the IVF and surrogacy field for thirteen years, I have one tip above all others for cis-women about to become surrogates themselves.That advice is simple: advocate for yourself. If you don’t understand why something is happening or why the doctor is asking you to do something, it’s OK to slow down and get all your questions answered and understand what you’re doing and what injections you’re putting in your body.

My advice for other prospective intended parents is to do your research, talk to as many professionals as you need to before you commit to a clinic, agency, or attorney – it takes a village to grow a family through assisted reproduction and you should empower yourself with research, options, education, and tailored support.

I truly believe everyone has good intentions, every party with a role in the process — from the intended parents to the agency to the doctor — has their own focus. If you don’t speak up, it will be hard for them to know when to slow down. My husband really opened my eyes to this – At first, I just went with what they told me to do, and then I’d get home and my husband would ask why they did something, and I didn’t know. He really pushed me to ask questions and advocate for myself. It was the best thing to happen for me. Now I use that to advocate for my patients and clients who are in those early days of just trusting the process. Asking questions is key.

Witnessing someone else become a parent will always be the most rewarding thing I have ever done – and if I can help anyone else achieve that level of happiness and pride, I will do whatever I can to ensure they are supported, empowered, educated and advocated for at every turn.

Click here to find out more about Spring Fertility Centre and how they support patients on their journey to parenthood.

Hi everyone, So I’m Mike, guess I’m the crazy one who had the idea to sell our souls to Social Media and open up our world for everyone to comment on and observe our lives. I spend most nights (when not with Talulah and Duke obviously) with my phone glued to my hand, posting, sharing, liking and filming - all in readiness for Facebook, Insta and now YouTube. It’s getting to be a full time job, which is tricky - as I have one of those! For the last 18 years I have worked within Medical Recruitment and have worked in a variety of high pressured Operational and Business Development roles in London and the Midlands. More recently I am working for myself as it gives me greater flexibility with our new family via my Consultancy firm MJE Consultancy Ltd, where I attract and recruit Fertility Nurses, Embryologists and IVF Consultants and other specialist Doctors, as the Fertility Industry is my passion. I’m obviously one half of TwoDads.U.K and very proud of that fact too, and without doubt being a father is and has been the best job I’ve ever had. Nothing prepares you for the impact these little humans have on us, I know if you’re anything like me, the joy of being a parent just keeps on giving (whilst equally testing me too!). Don’t get me wrong, there’s days where I want to sit on the garage floor and drown myself in Gin but on the whole, life is better than it ever has been...

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