New York Post


5 things this gay NYC rabbi wants you to know about starting a family


FOR Rabbi Igael Gurin-Malous — who goes by the moniker Rabbi Iggy — there’s nothing more important than imparting spiritual guidance, especially to those in the LGBTQ community who have begun the process of starting a family of their own.

“When I came out, the very first thing my very Jewish mother said was ‘but I want grandchild­ren,’ ” said Gurin-Malous, the founding rabbi and CEO of T’Shuvah Center, a spiritual Jewish recovery community in Bed-Stuy.

“I remember thinking, ‘What does that have to do with anything?’ I always knew I wanted a family.”

Gurin-Malous is married to Dr. Mitch Katz, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, and they are parents to two kids, Max, 20, and Roxie, 18. Katz had adopted the couple’s two children before Gurin-Malous met him in San Francisco in the early 2000s. At the time, Max was 3 and Roxie was a little over a year old.

“I stepped into a ready-made family,” he said. “We constantly joke that he had the kids but not the partner — until he met me.”

Here’s Gurin-Malous seasoned advice that LGBTQ couples should consider when they’re in familybuil­ding mode.

Be intentiona­l about your plans

For LGBTQ individual­s, having children requires “more awareness and a little more action” than for straight couples.

“You actually have more options, whether you want to build your family via surrogacy, adoption or sperm/egg donation,” said Gurin-Malous.

“From the beginning, you’ll want to keep an open dialogue about how you want to build your family always rememberin­g that families come in all shapes and sizes and that the decision is yours alone to make.”

Revel in all the choices you can make

“The ability to choose how you want to build a family is such an important spiritual tool because, for LGBTQ individual­s, our ability to choose was taken away from us for so many years,” said GurinMalou­s. “Now we’re able to show the world that we can do this in a way that is loving and caring and respectful and that we can grow children who become productive members of society — even though some people still believe we shouldn’t.”

Seek out the most solid support possible

Starting a family won’t always follow an easy trajectory, GurinMalou­s said. All the more reason to surround yourself with a group of supportive individual­s you can lean on during the process. “The more support you have, the better the outcome will be for you and your child,” he said.

At the same time, you want to pick your people carefully. “You have to decide who the people are in your life that will go along with you for the journey. We have our families of origin, we have our forever families with our children and then there are our families of understand­ing. These are the people around you that you’ve chosen because you understand them and they understand you.”

Make a backup plan in case there are setbacks

Since the path to parenthood is often fraught with challenges that are way out of your control, GurinMalou­s encouraged couples to honor their feelings. “Communicat­e how you feel,” he said. “It’s OK to be disappoint­ed, sad and angry and it will help to share these feelings since there’s no spiritual point to holding them in.”

In addition, he advised anyone who has hit a stumbling block in family-building mode to allow a certain amount of time to elapse before jumping back in.

“Decide what the next actionable things are that you can do,” he said. “And be sure to factor in what you can do for self-care in those moments.”

This includes regrouping with your partner, speaking with a spiritual counselor and asking the big questions about things like pain and loss. “It can also help to share this with your own community,” he said. “There are others who have likely gone through the same things you have.”

Remember: Your story is just one example of the human condition

If we look back to stories from the Bible and throughout time, pregnancy, fertility and familybuil­ding isn’t always a straight linear line, Gurin-Malous said.

“Our matriarch Sarah wasn’t fertile for a while,” he said. “The stories are as old as time and they tell us that starting a family is challengin­g. It’s not some Hollywood story of ‘you get married and have a child nine months later.’ ”

No matter what, Gurin-Malous urged couples to remember that their journey is valid.

“If you value that, you will be well on your way to making a family, whether it’s fostering, big brothering or surrogacy,” he said. “Your family may not be what you thought it would be at the beginning, but you will create your own unique family, no matter what.”

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Rabbi Igael Gurin-Malous always knew he wanted to be a dad. Now he counsels other LGBTQ couples on how to go through the process.

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