The Prelude Network and Gay with Kids Academy Partner to Help Families Grow


"I'm in my basement," Dr. Allison Bloom says cheerfully, joining a Zoom call with Brian Rosenberg.

"That's where I work every day, is in our basement," Rosenberg, a cheerful, gregarious man responds.

Bloom and Rosenberg pursue different careers, but their objectives overlap in that they are passionate about helping queer families achieve their goals of becoming parents. Bloom is a reproductive endocrinologist with Main Line Fertility, a Pennsylvania-based fertility clinic with six locations around the state; Rosenberg is the founder and head of Gay With Kids Academy, a service that acts as a resource for queer families needing guidance and mentoring – as well as solid, useful information – to initiate and navigate their parenting journeys.

The two have something else in common: They both used in vitro fertilization (IVF) for their own family-building journeys. Bloom with her wife and Rosenberg through adoption for his oldest child, a son, and surrogacy for his younger twin daughters.

"How old are your kids?" Rosenberg asks, one parent to another.

"They'll be seven at the end of July," Dr. Bloom smiles. "Yeah, I just picked up, like, 50 Nerf blaster darts from the floor."

This prompts Rosenberg to share an anecdote about offering friends – a gay couple – babysitting so that they could "do a dad's night out." The story's twist is hardly surprising, but charming all the same.

"Oh, my God," Rosenberg laughs. "I was so exhausted. Three boys, ages six and seven. I forgot these are, like, real boys. They did not stop for a second, jumping on each other, jumping on us... We were all exhausted."

"Our boys are very physical too," Dr. Bloom nods knowingly. "It's nonstop."

For all the physical and mental energy these proud parents put into caring for their children, it's obvious they wouldn't trade it for the world. They know firsthand what it means to have the intentionality that goes into family-building with IVF and surrogacy, and that knowledge lends depth and empathy to their work with people looking to add children to their own families.

Dr. Allison Bloom in consultation
Source: Courtesy Main Line Fertility

More specifically, they work with queer families, offering the innate respect and understanding that the clinics of The Prelude Network and organizations like Gay With Kids Academy – which works with families of all sorts, but centers gay men – bring to an experience that can seem, to the newly-initiated, complex and labyrinthine.

But those who come to Bloom and Rosenberg are in good hands. The two work together in guiding LGBTQ+ families toward their parenting goals, ensuring that their questions are answered, and their anxieties addressed. Soon enough, the conversation turns to how this partnership came about.

"Because we were getting started on Gay With Kids Academy, I had a couple of doctors on board," Rosenberg recounts. "Somehow, I found a video of Dr. Bloom, and she was sharing what the experience was like, going through this IVF journey. Honestly, I fell in love with her! Watching that video, I was like, 'That's who I would go to if I was going to do this again'." Rosenberg was so impressed with what he saw that he contacted Dr. Bloom. "And here we are," Rosenberg grins. "The rest is history."

Their working relationship is not hampered by the fact that they are in different parts of the country. Rosenberg consults with prospective parents from all over, and it's not unusual for Dr. Bloom to work with patients in other states, or even in other nations.

"A lot of these gay dads don't have a clinic or an agency that they're the most comfortable with right where they are," Dr. Bloom explains, "and their egg donor doesn't need to live next to them, and their gestational carrier may live across the country.

"Most of them just find a clinic that they're comfortable with, because we really only need to see them in-office once," Dr. Bloom adds, noting that preliminary steps such as testing for infectious diseases and fertility assessment can be carried out locally. "If they're in France, say, we get that stuff done there, and then they'll come over and do their stuff that needs to be sent to the FDA and they'll do their sperm drop-off." The provided sperm can be frozen in advance of the next steps.

Source: Getty Images

IVF – "in vitro fertilization" – is a medical reproductive technique that involves bringing together sperm and eggs in laboratory conditions, with a round of medication having been used to stimulate the release of multiple eggs from an individual with ovaries. Typically, several embryos are created at once, and, after genetic testing, one embryo will be implanted into the gestational carrier, with the other embryos typically being frozen, giving the prospective parents the option of using those embryos for future pregnancies.

"The guys I actually see less in the office physically, because they don't have to be in the office much," Dr. Bloom notes, "where a lot of our female same-sex patients are in a lot because there's a lot more, sort of, hands-on stuff going on throughout their process," such as the collection of the ova and the eventual implantation of the embryo.

Before any of the technical processes begin, couples or single individuals seeking to build their families through IVF need reliable, fact-based information in order to make informed decisions. That's where Rosenberg comes in.

"I hope that we become known as the very first stop on a gay queer man's journey to parenthood," Rosenberg says. "When we were going through our journey, there were scant resources available, and I don't think my husband and I made a single decision feeling very confident about the decisions that we were making. My goal with Gay With Kids Academy is to not let anyone feel that way, so my goal is that we educate them on the process.

"Once they're ready to start talking to doctors in IVF clinics, I only have a small, exclusive network of doctors who are located around the country that I work with," Rosenberg continues. "And Dr. Bloom, as she knows, is one of my favorites that I like to send people to – they're always so well taken care of. I just need to have wonderful docs like Dr. Bloom that I can send people to and know that they're getting taken care of, working with people who are as passionate around LGBTQ family-building as I am."

"I love this relationship as well," Dr. Boom interjects. "I always speak so highly of Brian. With the guys he sends to us, it's very easy to get them started. They're really so well educated before they walk in the door that our first visit is not as overwhelming for them."

Indeed, for would-be parents who have not have the expert guidance Gay With Kids Academy provides in advance of the medical part of the journey, a YouTube video or second- and third-hand information gleaned from conversations with friends may prove more confounding than enlightening – especially since, contrary to popular notions, IVF isn't as easy as using a turkey baster to unite a sperm and an egg.

Brian Rosenberg of Gay with Kids Academy
Source: Courtesy Brian Rosenberg

"We spend about 45 minutes together," Dr. Bloom says of initial consultations with patients who have not had the benefit of a resource like Gay With Kids, "and I kind of feel bad, in the sense that I want to give them as much information as I can, but it's just so much to absorb in a short period of time that I know that a lot of them feel overwhelmed. You have to talk about not only how to evaluate them, but how to choose an egg donor. What kind of eggs? How many eggs? How many babies? How do you choose an agency? How do you pick a surrogate?

"But they come in from Gays With Kids Academy with so much education that they're asking more detailed questions, and they're ready to start," Dr. Bloom adds. "They're like, 'All right, where do I pick my eggs tomorrow? We're ready to go!' It makes it a much better experience for the patient."

The collaborative process isn't limited to Gay With Kids Academy and the IVF providers that Rosenberg works with. There are other agencies involved as well, for egg donation and for gestational carriers, among other aspects of the IVF process. But the network that Rosenberg has put together operates smoothly.

"Our team has such great relationships with the agencies," Dr. Bloom states. "We end up working a lot with the agencies that Brian recommends." Dr. Bloom describes a sense of shared mission and camaraderie: "They pick up the phone, just like the two of us, and say, 'Hey, I have this couple.' And they're like friends with those people, too, so, it makes for something like an extended family experience."

Rosenberg concurs, adding, "It's not just Dr. Bloom, it's her whole team. I just know that I can rely on them completely. You can't imagine how good it feels to make a referral to someone, to say to them, "You're going to meet with Dr. Bloom, and you're going to love not only her, but her whole team, her whole team is going to support you." There aren't a lot of organizations that I'm able to do that with, and make me feel this confident that every single person is going to walk away saying, 'Wow, you're right, Brian. They were awesome!'"

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

This story is part of our special report: "Inception Fertility". Want to read more? Here's the full list.

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