The Men Having Babies 2021 Midwest Surrogacy Conference & Expo will take place Saturday, Oct. 9, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St.
According to a press statement, more than 100 (vaccinated!) gay men will once again be able to gather in-person to learn how they can have children through IVF (in vitro fertilization) and surrogacy with the help of a format that includes on-site rapid testing and safe catering protocols.
The nonprofit Men Having Babies (MHB) returns to Chicago in cooperation with The Center on Halsted, along with over 20 gay-friendly surrogacy providers, just as a first-in-the nation Illinois law is likely to make this process considerably more affordable for same-sex couples and singles.
The full-day event will kick off with workshops and panels that compare the destinations where gay men can find surrogates to help them become parents, and provide guidance on how to plan a surrogacy journey. Special attention will be given to the new opportunities brought about by the new Illinois bill HB3709, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2022. The bill is the first in the nation to update the state's existing infertility insurance law to be fully inclusive of same-sex couples and single parents.
Each year, MHB travels to a number of cities across the country and internationally to share knowledge with gay men aspiring to have children. However, other than one conference in Taiwan in October 2020 when COVID-19 was kept at bay, MHB was unable to hold such events since the beginning of the pandemic.
Regarding COVID-19, "Our goal is to ensure the health and safety of all participants, while allowing optimal engagement and the immersive experience our conferences are known for," said MHB Executive Director Ron Poole-Dayan. "In the first 18 months of the pandemic we used specialized virtual conference technology to offer guidance to the best of our abilities. At this stage, we feel it is time to find a model that will allow us to go back to full operation while meeting the challenges of the new public health reality we face for many months to come. We devised our COVID-19 policy in consultation with experts, providers, and community partners, and the venues we've contracted for our 2021-22 conferences are all following rigorous COVID-19 cleaning and capacity protocols."