Two fathers helping their little girl pick out the perfect Halloween costume, two mothers cheering on their child at the soccer field. For gay couples, adding children to their family is becoming more and more commonplace.
At the Southern California Reproductive Center, Dr. Shahin Ghadir and his fellow fertility specialist partners are a part of that process -- about 20 percent of the couples who see them for help expanding their family are LGBT.
“It’s probably one of the most rewarding jobs any human being could ever have -- to complete someone’s family,” Ghadir said.
In 2010, 19 percent of same-sex couples surveyed had children in the home, according to the American Community Survey. Of those families, 73 percent were their own biological children.
Ghadir is a Beverly Hills local and studied psychology at UCLA before getting his medical degree at the Central University School of Medicine. He did his OB-GYN residency at the Keiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles and completed a fellowship in infertility at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center.
Ghadir was drawn to studying infertility because he considers it to be the “most technologically advancing field of medicine.”
The Southern California Reproductive Center was named one of the top 10 fertility clinics in the United States by Parents magazine. The practice has a high referral rate from, and with an entire division devoted to couples using donor sperm and eggs and surrogacy, LGBT couples are in a good place.
While gay men are limited in their options for having children -- using egg donors and a surrogate -- lesbian couples have more choices for how they want to have their children. For Ghadir, some couples simply choose for one to be artificially inseminated by a donor sperm. However, a popular choice has been to take an egg from one partner, a sperm donor, and then putting it into the other partner who will carry the baby, “allowing everyone to be involved in the entire process.”
The center is also renowned as having the largest IVF laboratory in the west coast of the United States and for its use of an embryoscope, which ensures the healthiest embryos by using a camera that watches its growth for five days before going into a uterus. Also, genetic testing allows the doctors to check all chromosomes for health.
Besides using his technical medical training, Ghadir has made good use of his ability to communicate and comfort patients though what can be a stressful time. Emotions can be topsy turvy when dealing with a third party donor or surrogate, and many couples don’t realize the legal aspects involved as well.
“The legal aspects and having to have an attorney involved in some of this process really is sometimes shocking to patients but it’s only for their own protection,” Ghadir said.
Thousands of couples have had children through the Southern California Reproductive Center, and Ghadir has looked over about 100 LGBT couples wanting to add children to their lives. With such success, some are coming back for a second, third, or even fourth time.
“It makes my satisfaction from what I do -- [I can’t] verbalize sometimes how it makes me feel,” he said.