|Dr. Mark S. Denker advertises a
rather unique form of medical service at his clinic in South
Florida. The Palm Beach Fertility Center offers fertility
treatment for the ticking biological clock of unmarried men.
Married couples seeking fertility
treatment are quite common. The number of single mothers
by choice keeps growing. There is greater public
acceptance for same-sex couples becoming parents. But
single men choosing to have children?
That's right. Single men
are in the spotlight of the most recent procreational trend.
Jack Potenza was one of the first
single men to take advantage of Dr. Denker's fertility services.
In his late forties, and recently divorced, Potenza told a WPLG
TV news reporter about how he fulfilled his dream of becoming a
Dr. Denker handled that concern
by joining Potenza's sperm with the eggs of a female donor.
A resulting embryo was placed in a surrogate mother.
A few months later, even before
his first child was born, Potenza asked Dr. Denker to use another
embryo from the same batch to initiate a second surrogacy with
another woman. Potenza now is the proud father of two
boys, Sagan and Andrew, both of whom turned 5 this year.
There are scores of other single
men who, like Potenza, are utilizing the marvels of medical
technology to have children.
Many are finding their way to the
door of Growing Generations, a large surrogacy agency in
California. Stuart Miller, CEO of Growing Generations,
says that about 12 percent of his client base is single.
One such client is David, a 51
year-old attorney who told his story to ABC News last year on
condition that his last name not be used.
Generations helped David select an egg donor and chose a
"gestational carrier." A "gestational carrier" is a
woman who carries an embryo formed by the sperm and egg of the
Financial costs for gestational
surrogacy are significant. The average single man in the
Midwest spends between $60,000 and $80,000 in donor, gestational
carrier, legal, and medical fees. Costs on the East Coast
and West Coast where medical expenses are higher, come
closer to $100,000.
According to statistics kept by
the clinic, about 80 percent of the single male clients at the
Palm Beach Fertility Clinic are heterosexual. But single
gay men are looking to fertility clinics to become parents too.
Take Chuck Strobel, 40, for
example. This Minneapolis resident told the Pioneer Press
that he had considered adoption, but ultimately decided he
wanted a child who shared his genes.
Strobel, who is gay and single,
went to the International Assisted Reproduction Center.
Baby boy Jacob was born in September 2005.
These three single dads are not
unique in America's diverse parenting scene.
president of Growing Generations, says the number of single men using
surrogacy services has increased 20 percent in the past two
years. Most are well educated and financially successful.
About half are gay men.
The International Assisted
Reproduction Center says that its client base of single men has
increased more than 50 percent in the past two years.
These single men are joining the
ranks of unmarried women over 30 who are becoming
parents by choice. The number of such women has increased
50 percent since 1970.
But despite the growing demand,
many fertility clinics refuse to provide services to single
The Center for Disease Control
found that 16 percent of such clinics in the United States would
not treat single women. I could not find data to document
the extent of discrimination against single men.
A report by the American Society
for Reproductive Medicine finds that denying such services to
single people is unethical. Before reaching this
conclusion, the society considered the reproductive interests of
unmarried people, the interests of the children, and the
interest of service providers in deciding who to treat and who
not to treat.
Ultimately, the society found no
sound ethical basis for licensed professionals to deny
reproductive services to would-be parents because of their
marital status or sexual orientation.
and ethical debates will likely continue as more single people
choose parenthood and seek medical help to accomplish this
result. But in the meantime, more single men are choosing
to become parents through unconventional means.
Unmarried America 2007
Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an
attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family
diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.
Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried
firstname.lastname@example.org. Unmarried America is a nonprofit
information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and