Marriage and divorce in Israel is regulated by religious laws. Same-sex marriage, therefore, has no formal place in Israel. The legal system, however, has shown flexibility mainly through Supreme Court decisions recognizing obligations and benefits to same-sex couples. The lack of a religion in Israel that would accept same-sex marriage, and the lack of a secular marriage to fill the void of religious marriage systems has not meant a total invisibility of same-sex couples. On the contrary, in addition to Supreme Court decisions expressly granting rights to same-sex couples, foreign same-sex marriage can be registered as valid marriages performed abroad. More importantly, same-sex parenting has become a possibility through progressive decisions of Israeli courts.
This study aims to analyze the emotional experience of pregnancy for gay couples who turn to overseas surrogacy and face a geographical distance from the pregnancy. In-depth interviews were conducted with 16 gay intended fathers, mean age 35.5 years, most of whom expected a child through surrogacy in India. The unborn children’s gestational age ranged from 10 weeks to 32 weeks. A qualitative thematic analysis of the interviews shows that the interviewees felt frustration and anxiety due to their distance from the physical pregnancy and, specifically, their inability to experience the physical presence of the fetus. The resulting emotional disconnect from the developing fetus impacted the development of their parental sense during the pregnancy. The results highlight the importance for the intended parents of establishing a close relationship with the surrogate mother, as is customary in the United States but generally not in countries such as India. The findings support the value of establishing international guidelines for cross-border reproductive services.