Building Families

JD-KDDoctor Douglas J. Austin is the physician and medical director of The Fertility Center of Oregon and sees his role as helping people build the families they want.

The Fertility Center of Oregon was founded nearly 30 years ago. For the past 15 years, comprehensive advanced fertility services including in vitro fertilization, oocyte donation, surrogacy and sperm banking have been offered.
After spending my 20’s working with emotionally disturbed adolescents in residential care, the care of healthy adults became very appealing. I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology at Portland State University and moved to New York City for medical school.

After receiving my degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, I opted for specialization in obstetrics and gynecology. I was particularly attracted to a specialty which allowed both medical and surgical treatment. My residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston exposed me to many subspecialties and I was attracted to Reproductive Endocrinology (RE). RE includes the care of both men and women, has ample opportunity for surgical and medical interventions and requires clinicians to develop deep, supportive and informative relationships with patients. The practice of RE is immensely rewarding as I facilitate family-building.

The Fertility Center of Oregon welcomes all patients. For many lesbians, selecting a known or anonymous sperm donor is a daunting task. Through consultation and education, I and my staff are able to steer individuals and couples to an acceptable sperm source. Often women like to use sperm from a partner’s family and I am available to assist in the sometimes difficult discussions about third-party reproduction. Lastly, some women will not readily conceive with donor insemination so may require additional diagnostic or therapeutic investigations which are offered at The Fertility Center of Oregon.

goetz-familyFor many gay couples, starting a family is difficult and involves multiple steps. Not only is an egg donor (known or anonymous) necessary but finding an appropriate gestational surrogate can be difficult. Oregon in an internationally recognized location for surrogacy. Through the generosity of women in this community and with the very favorable political and legal environment, Oregon is a destination for third party reproduction. After a phone conference to develop a plan is completed, sperm is frozen here. It is quarantined for at least six months prior to initiation of fertility treatment. During the wait period, an egg donor from our fully screened pool or from an agency is selected and a gestational surrogate is chosen in conjunction with a number of private affiliated agencies. Dads select donors and surrogates in conjunction with myself and my staff. Some men elect to have children though the process of traditional surrogacy: insemination of a woman who conceives with her own egg and carries the baby to term. Essentially the dads will adopt their child following birth. Oregon law allows for both options.

At The Fertility Center of Oregon, transgender men and women and those who are non-binary receive medical services. The gender transition is complex and generally progresses from self-recognition to community recognition, hormonal reassignment and surgical treatments. Partnering with children, adolescents and adults is essential to maximize emotional and physical well-being.

The Fertility Center of Oregon is intimate. With a staff of 16, myself, and Sue Armstrong who is a nurse practitioner, every patient is well known to the staff. IVF pregnancy rates are excellent due to an exceptional embryology team. Egg donors, gestational and traditional surrogates are plentiful and exceptionally easy to work with. Eugene is a beautiful, liberal, regional city with much to offer visitors. Because of our location, costs are lower than clinics in larger cities. Lastly, we care about the patient’s experience before, during and after treatment.

While the vast majority of men and women who utilize third-party reproduction are successful, all are not. Adoption is a wonderful way to build families; however, many men and women live in communities which do not allow adoption by gay men, lesbians or single individuals. Oregon does not have restrictions on adoptive parents, but it is quite rare for non-Americans to adopt American children. Many people desire a genetic connection with their children which can be achieved through the use of egg or sperm donors.

While I am delighted every time I get a birth announcement or have a visit with a newborn, I get the greatest satisfaction by developing relationships with men and women which facilitate their family building. Reproduction is complex so not everyone will succeed with their original plan. Partnering with people so that goals and direction can be refined results in a deep sense of purpose.

Written by: Dr. Douglas J. Austin | Published in Pride in London Magazine