A Dream REALISED
HOW DIVERSITY FERTILITY HELPED AN INTENDED PARENT WITH HIV FULFILL HIS DREAM OF PARENTHOOD
Winston is a 51-year-old gay man. For years he’s held on to a secret that only his partner and a select few were privy to. Not even his family knew that he lived with being HIV-positive. He always wanted children of his own, but feared that he could pass on the disease to his offspring. Then he met the good folks at Diversity Fertility Services. This is Winston’s journey to a dream realised.
According to Public Health England (PHE), 13% of gay men in London have HIV and a shocking 108,000 throughout the UK contracted the disease in 2013 and that number, unfortunately, is increasing every year. Winston, who was diagnosed several years ago, knew that if he stayed diligent with his medication, he could survive and be OK.
However, as he began to get more serious with his partner Sebastian, who he calls “the love of his life”, Winston started to take into consideration his future and, even more importantly, his legacy. “I began to feel major anxiety about whether children would be a reality for me. Of course, adoption was always an option, but doesn’t every man want to pass on his genes?
“I was introduced to Helen and Diversity Fertility by a work colleague. He and his wife used Diversity Fertility a couple of years prior to having their daughter. I held on to the business card for several months, looking at it almost daily. I was afraid of sharing my story and leaving myself open to judgement. I was even more afraid that help wouldn’t be available to us because of my disease.”
“When Winston contacted us, it was evident that he was very reluctant to disclose much information,” says Helen Stephens, CEO at Diversity Fertility. “Our intention is to gather as much information from our clients directly pertaining to their journey to parenthood. It’s the only way to accurately meet their needs head on. The more Winston and I spoke, the more rapport we built with each other, and the more Winston shared. He informed me that he had HIV, and that he wished to have a child that was not infected by the disease.
“Upon learning this, I was able to refer Winston to a Fertility Centre in the US that had the medical acumen to deal with patients infected with HIV and Hep B. We also made available counselling services and a social worker who worked with Winston’s GP and Fertility Specialist and updated the couple on resources that were available to them.”
“This process can be daunting, if you don’t have the right agency,” explains Winston. “In my case, Helen was able to explain each step of the process in a way that anyone can understand. Helen and her staff made life so easy for us. Sebastian and I both have stressful, demanding jobs, and I travel a lot. So being able to trust her and minimise our involvement in the minor details of the process, really helped a great deal.
“It took us several weeks to find the right Egg Donor and then we were able to find a Surrogate which for us seemed easy compared to finding the Donor. We wanted the perfect baby, so we needed the perfect Donor. Diversity helped us find our right Donor. They facilitated Skype calls with our Donor and arranged our visits with our Surrogate. They were even able to arrange for our newborn to receive the Surrogate Mother’s breast milk for several months, which was very important to Sebastian and I. There was no detail left out.”
“We encourage bonding with your Surrogate Mother whenever possible,” exclaims Helen. “It humanises the experience and allows an intended parent to understand and share in the experience of each milestone of their Surrogate Mother’s pregnancy. At Diversity, we also offer LGBT and International Concierge Services, so that the process is well-planned, as stress-free and enjoyable as it should be.”
“Our experience with Diversity Fertility was one that we hoped for,” says Winston. “Helen and her staff had great empathy and took excellent care of us. It’s apparent that they know exactly what they’re doing over there. Coincidently, my sister and her husband suffer from infertility and have tried to get pregnant for years. I referred them to Helen.
“As for us, our little Emily is 28 months, healthy and HIV-free. We just started the process with Helen for a sibling. I never thought it possible. It’s a dream come true!”
When I decided to start my surrogacy journey, my priority was to first find the right Egg Donor. This process has not been easy as I started my journey in December 2014 and only managed to find my right match in December 2015 and this is all thanks to finding the right agency, Diversity Fertility Services.
Before I contacted Helen Stephens, director of Diversity Fertility Services (DFS), I had gone through 14 agencies with each of them promising the “perfect match”. Being an Asian, my first priority was that the Egg Donor must be of Asian ethnicity; unfortunately this does not make it any easier. I should have known, as there are over 30 ethnicities within the “Asian” culture.
A fertility doctor recommended Helen from Diversity Fertility Services as having many successful experiences with medical clinics. All it took was just one phone call with Helen and I knew we were in good hands.
Choosing an Egg Donor from DFS’s large pool could have been difficult as DFS has a lot of high quality and extremely well educated Egg Donors. But Helen provided me profiles specifically based on my preferences and my partner and I were able to shortlist four profiles that I immediately liked. Helen went above and beyond in telling me as much as possible about her Donors. She didn’t just recite their profiles, but, having met with each one personally, she could tell me exactly what their characteristics were based on her first impressions, feedback from the agency’s psychologist (every Donor must be psychologically assessed prior to beginning an egg donation in the US) and of all of them and also very minute but important details.
What was also very important for me was that Helen has so many experiences in this field that she was also able to quickly offer me answers on the Surrogate Mothers, the clinic and even refer me to proper legal counsel to negotiate my contracts and protect my needs. Helen would be able to tell you her experience with most, if not all, the IVF doctors in the country, her success rates with them and, just as importantly, she would be able to provide a pretty accurate estimate (immediately on the phone) on the overall cost which includes legal services, hotels, insurance and even how much flight tickets would roughly cost from one state to another.
But out of everything, what impressed me most about working with Helen is that she can be very decisive. As my partner and I were wavering between Donor profiles, Helen was able to help us make our decision by gently but effectively keeping us focused on the qualities we found to be most important in our Donor. I am so fortunate to have met Helen and have worked with Diversity Fertility, and I cannot thank you enough to be blessed with Helen’s incredible expertise and patience in consulting and counselling us throughout this whole process whether it’s 4am in the morning or 9pm at night.
“Helen was able to explain each step of the process in a way that anyone can understand.
HELEN AND HER STAff made life so easy for us”