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Thursday, August 25, 2011


See my post of August 13th. I have feelings about babies, children, adults, donors, surrogates, parents, families, medical ethics. My feelings did not end with the end of my fertility journey. I care how people are treated and I always have. Can I say this any more strongly?

There must be some way to balance the portrayal of the fertility industry other than blogging and one page statements by the organizations and individual insiders.

The mental health of the families already created by Third Party Reproduction is at stake. I'd like to see just one of them make a proactive statement about the less-than-positive outcome of full disclosure and stop talking about privacy vs secrecy and instead examine why its still not safe to do so.

Teresa Erickson, with the MidIsland Racing Pigeon Racing Society

Life after the fertility business...

Racing pigeon recovering after losing way during race.

"The theory is a pigeon's homing instinct depends on the Earth's magnetic field," said Teresa Erickson, with the MidIsland Racing Pigeon Society. .

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Surrogacy vs. Adoption: A Distinction With A Difference

In my mind, (that being public perception rather than speaking as an attorney or expert in either topic) whether or not there are screening processes for ART vs Adoption, here and around the world, has more to do with liability and lack of govt involvement than any particular interest in society as a whole. Here, we have a free country where no one is denied the right, among other things, to procreate (and yes for some it is because they can afford it). When using this argument against ART and citing that screening ip's is done in other countries, the agenda is still the agenda and we must recognize that for what it is. Sure, it would be nice to become more qualified to become parents if we could, but hopefully that will never be the way it works, and reproductive freedom will remain part of what it means to be an American.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Guest Blogger Melissa Brisman ~ WHO IS THE MOTHER?

Welcome and thank you to Melissa Brisman, Esq, who has written in about the newest developments in surrogacy laws in NY State, which she has been instrumental in changing as she has in NJ and elsewhere in the Northeast. Here she explains the change and how it differs from egg donor contracts as well.

Why should a genetic mother have to adopt her child because the child was born to a gestational surrogate?

Why should a genetic mother’s rights differ from that of a genetic father?

In a recent case, we argued these issues and won. See T.V. v. New York State Department of Health, 6557/09 (


A gestational surrogate offered to carry a child without compensation for her close friends, a married couple, because the wife had undergone a hysterectomy, and was unable to carry a child. The wife’s eggs were fertilized with her husband’s sperm. Therefore, the resulting embryo contained the genetic make up of both the husband and wife, i.e. the intended parents. There was no genetic connection between the gestational surrogate and the embryo. If had an egg donor been used and fertilized with the husband’s sperm, there would have been no genetic link between the wife/intended mother and the embryo.

When the child was born, the New York Department of Health issued a birth certificate which placed the gestational surrogate’s name as mother, and did not include any name as father. After the birth, the genetic father’s name was added to the birth certificate, but the name of the gestational surrogate remained on the birth certificate. In order to correct the inaccuracy, the genetic mother’s only option would have been to request and file an adoption of her own genetic child. We argued that this violated the genetic mother’s constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.


In a unanimous decision published on August 9, 2011, the Appellate Decision sided with the genetic parents by finding that an adoption is the “legal process by which a parent/child relationship is created where none previously existed,” in this case however, “there is already a preexisting relationship, a genetic link, between the Genetic Mother and her child which cannot be ignored.” As a result, a genetic mother, who uses a gestational surrogate, can now have her name placed on the birth certificate through a post birth proceeding. Such proceeding does not need to meet the stringent requirements of an adoption (i.e. criminal background check, fingerprinting and a home study investigation).

Constitutionally and psychologically, this is a significant victory not only for mothers, but women as well.

Melissa B. Brisman is an attorney who practices exclusively in the field of reproductive law and is considered by her peers to be a leader in her profession. Ms. Brisman’s experience and qualifications are unparalleled. She employs an experienced and qualified staff of legal and administrative professionals and is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Ms. Brisman has a practice, Melissa B. Brisman, Esq., LLC, located in Montvale, New Jersey, offering a full range of legal services in connection with gestational carrier arrangements, ovum, sperm, and embryo donation, and adoption. In addition, Ms. Brisman is sole owner of Reproductive Possibilities, LLC. Reproductive Possibilities, LLC is an agency offering a donor record-keeping service which maintains contact information for intended parents and their anonymous ovum donors for a period of years following a donor arrangement. Reproductive Possibilities, LLC also facilitates gestational carrier arrangements. Ms. Brisman is also sole owner of Surrogate Fund Management, LLC, a company that manages escrow in connection with reproductive arrangements.

Melissa B. Brisman, Esq. LLC
One Paragon Drive, Suite 158
Montvale, NJ 07645
P: 201-505-0099
F: 201-505-0097

Owner of:
Reproductive Possibilities, LLC and
Surrogate Fund Management, LLC
P: 201-505-0078
F: 201-505-0994

Thanks to Donor Diva -- on

The Donor Diva blogged:
"There is enough gray area in egg donation, sperm donation and surrogacy. Now when these children get older, they could hear that they were conceived with the intent of being sold? I hope they don't have to deal with that. I know there are enough hurdles for donor-conceived children."

But I think the children conceived through this situation WILL hear they were conceived with the intent of being sold AND what everyone on the internet thinks of the Surrogacy Scandal (The Baby-Selling Ring) and has thought of all of Third Party Reproduction long before today.

Donor Diva also asks how will donors feel. And I know its supposed to be "my kids story to tell" as per many, many parents and experts before me have said (and given me lears and warnings about). I, too, have put myself out there emotionally publicly, to say that this is OUR story to tell. If I waited until my kids were old enough to decide for themselves how public they wanted to be then I would be wrestling with "the increasingly blurring lines between secrecy and privacy" (see women's dinner group Donor Mom Dinner Recap - Discussion on DE Parenting and Disclosure post from May 6, 2010, click over there on the right) and perpetuating "don't ask, don't tell" that keeps most of Third Party Reproduction more in the closet than out. Unfortunately, Donor Diva, I think this effects all of us.

I've lost friends on facebook and elsewhere over TPR. They can't be friends with me for fear of being outted just by association, even though I have tons of ways to know someone that easily covers up the donor-conception connection they think others will make of it. Of the hundreds of people I've met this way,on line,on the phone, in person, just a few stay in touch because the association is too risky or simply too much to bear.

Donor Diva,keep up the great work, help us get the message out and when you meet anyone who might be up for the challenge of getting out there with us, please let them know that life as a parent and family through TPR may in fact be harder, but that we are working to make it BETTER. And that we WILL succeed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


IAC Center Workshop Highlights

*How to Talk to Kids about Adoption from Infancy to Age 6 - Sunday September 18, 2011 - 10 to 12noon at the IAC Center Pennington Office.
*W.I.S.E. Up Saturday September 24, 2011 from 3 to 7p.m. in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
*W.I.S.E. Up Saturday October 15, 2011 from 1 to 4 p.m. in Colt's Neck, NJ
*Adoption Event for Teens - Sunday, October 2, 2011 at IAC Center in Pennington, NJ
*Crossing the Bridge from Infertility to Adoption or Third Party Reproductive Options Saturday March 31, 2012 at the Princeton Hyatt, Princeton NJ.

IAC Center Workshops are accepted by some adoption agencies for home study credits. Click on the links for full workshop descriptions and registration; or contact or 609-737-8750.
IAC Center Groups:

Pre-Adoptive Parents Support Groups - meet once a month

Pennington - Second Saturday of the month 10 to 11:30 a.m. Sept 10, Oct 8, Nov 12, Dec 10, 2011
Summit - Third Sunday of the month from 1:00 to 2:30p.m. July 17, Aug 21, Sept 18, Oct 16, Nov 20, Dec 18, 2011
New York - Third Tuesday of month Time 6:15 to 7:45, July 19, Aug 16, Sept 20, Oct 18, Nov 15, Dec 20, 2011

Adoptive Parents Support Groups - meet once a month

Pennington Parents through Domestic Adoption Group - Third Sunday of the month from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. September 18, October 16, November 20, December 18, 2011.
Pennington Parents through International Adoption Group - Fourth Sunday of the month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. September 25, October 23, Nov 13 (holiday adjustment); December 11 (holiday adjustment), 2011
Montclair Parents Evening Group - Third Wednesday of the month from 7-8:30 p.m. September 21, October 19, November 16, 2011
Montclair Parents Daytime Group - Third Tuesday of the month from 12:30 - 2 p.m. September 20, October 18, November 15, 2011
Montclair Parents of Teens Group - Will meet on the fourth Wednesday of the month from 7 to 8:30 - September 28, October 26, November and December dates to be determined due to holidays.

Kids and Teens Adoption Groups -meet once a month

In Pennington

Pennington Girls Teen Group - Second Friday of the month from 6 to 7:15 p.m. - October 14, November 11, December 9, 2011. Contact IAC Center Counselor Jessica Cichalski, or (609)737-8750 for a screening interview for this Group.
Pennington Girl's Group - For girls ages 8 to 10. Second Friday of the month from 4:30 to 5:45. October 14, November 11, December 9, 2011. Contact IAC Center Counselor Jessica Cichalski, MSW at (609)737-8750 or for a screening interview for this Group.
Pennington Teen Boy's Group - Group will start in Fall 2012 on either a Sunday afternoon or a week night based on what works best for everyone. Contact IAC Center Counselor Sasha Martone, MSW at (609)737-8750 or for a screening interview for this group.

In Montclair

Montclair Teen Group - Usually meets on the First Monday of the month from 6-7:30pm but due to summer schedules will meet on Tues. July 5, Mon August 1, September 12; and then on October 3, November 7, December 5, 2011 . Contact IAC Center Counselor Bridget Devine or 973-534-6680 for a screening interview for this group.
Montclair Kid's Group (Ages 8 to 10) - First Monday of the month from 4 to 5:30 but due to holiday will meet Tuesday July 5; August 1, September 12, October 3, November 7, December 5, 2011. Contact IAC Center Counselor Bridget Devine at or 973-534-6680 for a screening interview for this group.

Contact or 609-737-8750 for more information or to sign up for a group. All IAC Center Groups are professionally led. Fee per session is either $75 or $60. Couples are billed as one member as our way of encouraging both partners to attend.
Infertility Support Groups - We have found that regular attendance is difficult for infertility patients to commit to. We continue to take names and try to build groups.

We offer Infertility and Family Building Options Counseling in our Pennington, Montclair, Monmouth County NJ and NYC offices. Contact: or call 609-737-8750.

**Counseling offers a non-biased overview of family building options to facilitate individuals and couples in making timely decisions that are mindful of long term implications. Using a life-long short-term counseling model, counseling is available throughout the adoption life cycle for all adoption triad members.

Jean Benward, LCSW, Blogs at

See Jeans article as well as the statement released today by the co-chairs of The AFA.

Rachel Gurevich,

A few good points on regarding Surrogacy case.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Third Party Parenting Network led by Nancy Kaufman, 2011-2012 Schedule

The Third Party Parenting Network, Professionally Led Support Group (WHICH IS NOT THE NYC GATHERING) resumes in September. All meetings are held at: 7:30 – 9:00 pm.
September 13  ,October 11  ,November 8  ,December 13  ,January 10
February 7, March 13 ,April 10, May 8, June 5
Fee: $20 per person/$30 per family. RSVP to: or Nancy Kaufman 212-772-1200

From Sharon LaMothe @ The Third Party August 14,2011

Of course this is a must-read! How could I possibly forget?
Thanks Sharon.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

S/Elective Reduction, ART, Surrogacy, and the News According to My Kids

I have not read the 341 comments written to the NYTimes in the 30 hrs since this article posted. It does tell you that people are very opinionated when it comes to pregnancy and fertility treatment, highlighting the distinction between having an abortion, making a heart breaking choice, and choosing reduction over having twins..

No doubt, people are opinionated about how children are conceived as well as how they are raised, defining who they are raised by and what makes a family. I first thought the Theresa Erickson story this week was just inflammatory language that I am used to seeing in headlines about third party reproduction. Then I saw that it was a real news story but got quickly sidetracked before I really got to read the details. I figured she pled guilty to whatever she did wrong and that says something positive for whatever it's worth. Then I got a call in the middle of the night about what went on all week that I was in the dark about. I was not on vacation or living in a cave for the week, I just was not paying attention to the fertility world.

I'm not being cavalier about the situation, but I will leave it to the legal and ART experts to blog and comment on regulation, and what Theresa actually did wrong in all of the details. But someday I'm going to have to explain the juicy headlines on this topic and more to my kids.

Fear not, I have not discussed this one yet with my kids. But they did attend the workshop of The NYC Gathering that Theresa attended in June 2010. She and I were both written about by "Shark Tank Girl" the next day. I was a 2-time guest on Theresa's radio show, once about talking to my kids about their donor conception and the other about the film Eggsploitation (yes, I get the irony). I have been written about and written to by some pretty mean and angry people who have no regard for who I am or the well-being of my kids, and that's what I would like to talk about today.

One of my biggest worries about donor parenting, and I have yet to see the mental health professionals that I have come across so far be able to address this, is what will all this news do to my kids? For example, I was told when the Shark Tank Girl had written her piece about the workshop, to ignore it, it will go away. I don't believe bad press goes away. I have only seen one item posted to the internet that I couldnt find again, knowing that it was purposely taken down I could probably make a phone call to get it. Thats a different topic, just making the point that the internet is forever, there's no way around it.

I worry about how my kids will feel when they see that I was associated with this person-and I'm not even saying she's a bad person because I certainly dont know the whole story and will reserve judgement on the big picture of what went wrong for Theresa for a while, thats not what I'm writing about here, and I'm not even just talking about Theresa. I'm talking about the headlines in general, the spin, the opinions of people who never agreed with egg donation and surrogacy or even IVF in the first place. I'm talking about the people who will never again look at me or us as regular people just like them. What do you expect will be the effects among the kids who are the product of what other people perceive as unethical, taudry, commercial, commodified, exploitative, etc, what do you think will be the outcome of using those labels?

Criticism Of The Surrogates Caught Up In The Baby Selling Ring Is Unwarranted & Misplaced

Monday, August 8, 2011

BioNews - What the kids really want

Reporting on the largest study to date of donor-conceived people that has just been published in Human Reproduction.

Bio News 08 August 2011

By Naomi Cahn and Wendy Kramer
Naomi Cahn is the John Theodore Fey Research Professor of Law at George Washington University. Wendy Kramer is the Co-Founder and Director of the Donor Sibling Registry (, which was founded in 2000 to assist individuals conceived as a result of sperm, egg or embryo donation that are seeking to make mutually desired contact with others with whom they share genetic ties.

Sara Axel

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The NYC Gathering's First Fund-raiser

If anyone has any ability to help me raise enough $ to get me to this conference please feel free to begin on my behalf or contact me at to make the necessary connections. Any and all help is greatly appreciated.
Thank you,

More Information About The 14th World Congress on Human Reproduction in Melbourne, Australia

Presented in association with the 14th World Congress on Human Reproduction
* the Australian & New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association
* Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority
* Donor Conception Support Group of Australia

Dec 4/11. Melbourne, Australia
Open to the general public & health professionals.


Donor Linking Symposium at the Conference on Human Reproduction December 4th,2011 in Australia» ANZICA

Thursday, August 4, 2011









Leonard Link: NY Court Reasons Through Parenting Issues in Dissolution of Vermont Civil Union