No, he does not have 1 biological mom and 1 step-mom. My son has 2 moms because his parents are both females in a same-sex relationship. And no, neither of his moms was previously married nor partnered with his dad.
My son has 2 moms—I’m his biological mother, and my partner is his birth mother.
This was all made possible through the glorious technology of In Vitro Fertilisation, or what is more commonly known as IVF.
Let me tell you how we did it.
I am a 29-year-old butch lesbian with a 36-year old femme lesbian partner, Kim, based in Sydney, Australia. In March 2014 Kim and I came to Australia as a de facto couple with permanent resident visas through Skilled Migration.
After getting stable employment in May 2014, we started talking about building a family. We did our research and discovered that IVF services in Australia offer same-sex couples the opportunity to have a child through a special process called Egg Sharing.
Some lesbian couples opt to do artificial insemination where one of the partners is inseminated with donor sperm, thus making that woman both the biological mother and the birth mother at the same time.
Egg Sharing takes it to another level. Through IVF, they can harvest the eggs of one partner, then fertilise it with donor sperm. Once the embryos are formed and fit for life, a single embryo will be transferred into the other partner, which essentially kicks off the gestation period. The remaining embryos are frozen for future little Lao-Israels.
Now, we have a 15-month old son named Franco Oliver Lao-Israel who we had in Australia. In his Filipino passport, he is named Franco Oliver Israel.This was the optimal solution for us to have our dream family. Both Kim and I share a very special bond with Franco where I have provided half of his genes while Kim has provided him everything else.
We shared our story with quite a few people and have been asked a number of questions about our IVF experience. Let me share some of that with you as this may also apply to heterosexual couples looking to go through IVF as an option toward parenthood.
1. How much does it cost?
Cost depends on the number of cycles it takes to successfully get pregnant through IVF. In our case, it took us 1 cycle, meaning, the first embryo implanted resulted to a successful pregnancy. Also, given that we did this outside of the Philippines, I can only make estimates in Australian Dollars (AUD).
Sperm Donor – $1000 (~39K Php) per cycle.
Egg collection – $2000 (~78K Php). This is the process of collecting the egg for fertilisation. Includes day surgery fees.
IVF (1 cycle) – $10000 (~390K Php).
Embryo Transfer – $2000 (~78K Php).
Miscellaneous – $1500 (~57K Php). For medications and other expenses to prepare your body for IVF.
Roughly, prepare at least $16,500 or Php 627,000 in today’s rates for once cycle.
These costs don’t include continued storage of any successful embryos after the first is implanted. For that, we pay around $250 (9,750 Php) every 6 months indefinitely.
These costs also don’t include any costs associated with pregnancy such as OB fees and hospital delivery fees.
2. How did you choose the donor?
The donor is picked from a de-identified list. They will only provide physical attributes such as ethnicity, hair colour, eye colour, height, weight, and other basic medical history questions that the donors provided. Sometimes, the donors will also provide a photo of themselves as children or babies so that we can get an idea of how they look at least.
Sperm donation in Australia, at least, is purely altruistic. It is illegal to purchase sperm or sell your sperm for profit.
3. What is the baby’s nationality?
Franco is a dual citizen. He is both Filipino and Australian and holds both types of passport.
4. Who is the legal mother?
Kim is the legal mother here in Australia as law here dictates that whoever delivers the baby is automatically the legal mother. I am however, also recognised as the mother of Franco. But in the event that Kim and I separate as de facto partners (no same-sex marriage in Australia yet), Kim automatically gets sole custody of Franco regardless of the fact that I am his biological mom.
I am the legal mother in the Philippines as the law in the Philippines dictate that the biological mother is the legal mother. Kim is not recognized anywhere in Philippine records as there is no law that allows it.
5. What is Franco’s Family name?
His full name is Franco Oliver Lao-Israel. Lao is Kim’s family name, Israel, is mine.In the Philippines, Franco is known as Franco Oliver Israel as the “-” is only reserved for married women.
6. Can you do IVF in the Philippines?
You can do IVF in the Philippines, but I am not certain you can do egg sharing in the Philippines.
7. Can you do IVF in Australia then return to the Philippines?
Theoretically, yes. However, you will need a long-term visa as the IVF process will require at least 10-12 months of treatment.
You may also return to the Philippines, but note that only 1 of you will be recognised as the legal mother. For heterosexual couples, the legal aspect will be less complicated of course.
As a person, people tend to view me as sort of a rebel. Non-conforming, and self-assured, I have always prided myself with not caring about what others think of me. Franco Oliver Lao-Israel, my dear baby son, is my figurative middle-finger to all bigots and homophobes, who think that our homosexuality severely limits our opportunities in life.