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Shoot, Test, Freeze, Ship – Making Babies From A Distance

PAUL AND HIS DAUGHTER (SUPPLIED)

Ahead of Growing Families’ November seminars, surrogacy expert, Sam Everingham discusses his most recent specialisation – sperm shipping.

Amid the international pandemic, Australian travel restrictions and lockdowns have put holidays and family re-unions on hold. 

Yet, at the same time, gay Aussies have been traveling interstate and internationally for surrogacy births, like single dad Paul and his baby daughter, Samantha who returned from Boise, Idaho on 5 September 2021.

Single dad, Paul and daughter Samantha.

 It’s been difficult, but thankfully barriers to travel are set to ease as Australia passes a 70% vaccination rate.

But what about gay couples and singles considering having children? Along with catastrophic global warming, you might assume that no-one had the heart to have kids anymore. You’d be wrong.

Making The Jump Into Parenthood

Forced to slow down and contemplate life’s trajectory, and as discretionary savings have built up in bank accounts, a growing number of gay singles and couples seem to have decided that lockdown might be more fun with kids. 

Enquiries about reputable providers of IVF, donor and surrogacy services have skyrocketed. 

Unable to meet face-to-face with egg donors, surrogates and the professionals needed to help, many chose to commence the process remotely, meeting providers, surrogates, and doctors over Zoom calls, then making, freezing and shipping sperm to an IVF clinic close to their donor. 

Assisting gay guys with sperm testing, freezing and shipping was something I never imagined I’d be doing a decade ago. Back then I was keener on spilling the stuff! 

Now, it’s all about advising guys to hold back. Don’t jerk off for one to five days prior. Although, masturbating two to three times the week before can help with sperm quality. 

How To Provide Quality Sperm

Did I mention your clinic will need two samples, a few weeks apart? The first one is for testing. 

And then there is this rule: no lubricant or saliva for your final load as it can damage the sperm. You can do the business at home as long as you get it into the clinic within three hours. 

For the minority whose test results show a low sperm count, loading up on blackberries and blueberries is good. Quitting smoking and giving up those bottle-of-wine nights in front of Netflix can also help. If this is all too hard, your IVF clinic can just cheat and use a technique called ICSI, which injects average sperm right into the egg.

I rarely need to ask clients for extra samples. It’s more common for our shippers to say, “Actually, we can’t take the 20 vials you produced. We really only need five.”

Then it’s all about flying that sperm at minus-190 to the receiving lab, where your egg donor awaits. It might be just an hour to Brisbane, but more commonly it’s a 24-hour journey to Canada, the US, or further still. Luckily, those cryo-shippers have long freeze times. In the last 15 months I can count over 100 Australian singles and couples that Growing Families has assisted in this way.

Building a family requires building trust

I’ve learned from first-hand experience, that creating a family with the help of professionals demands plenty of trust, patience and flexibility. Yet the financial and emotional outlay is too significant and fraught with potential traps to rely on what the guy you met online recommended. Also, hopeful parents are craving face-to-face connections with others who have walked in their shoes. 

After two years of webinars, Growing Families is returning to its face-to-face seminar format in Sydney and Melbourne this November for those who are fully vaccinated. Gay dads will provide insights into their own journeys, the hurdles, how they overcame them, costs and managing expectations. 

Expert speakers will provide updates on options in Australia, Canada, the USA, and other destinations. 

Growing Families is an information and referral hub for singles and couples hoping to build their family with the help of donor IVF and/or surrogacy. Sam Everingham, BSc MA MPH is Global Director of Growing Families. 

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