by Ken Mosesian
So you want to have children? Great! LGBT persons have more options than ever before, such as third-party reproduction, including surrogacy and egg donation, Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI), In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) coupled with sperm donation, and various forms of adoption, including domestic, international and foster care adoption.
We also have more roadblocks, especially inconsistent laws governing all of the above, and the lack of marriage equality, which impacts virtually every aspect of family life that our straight counterparts don’t have to be as concerned about.
Bottom line: before you begin building your family, you need to do some soul-searching about key issues, and you need to build a support team that includes not only family and friends but also seasoned professionals to help you navigate the process.
Here’s the Top 10 List:
- What’s important to you? For some, it’s genetics. You want your child to have your DNA, or a biological link to either yourself or your partner. For others, it’s giving a child a stable and loving home. How does your current family figure into this decision? How will you discuss your decision to have children? How will you deal with your child’s origins as he or she grows, and begins asking questions?
- If you’re going to be using a sperm donor or an egg donor, do you want to know them or not? How would you feel about your child seeking out his or her egg or sperm donor at some point? What if the donor wanted to establish a relationship with your child?
- If surrogacy is your choice, which kind of surrogacy? Traditional surrogacy or a gestational carrier?
- Are you considering a family member as a surrogate? This is not uncommon among gay men, where one partner’s close relative, such as a sister, offers to carry the child. Note that in order to protect both your surrogate and your baby, if the woman you are considering has never successfully carried a child to term before, you are advised to not consider this option.
- What are the laws governing all forms of third-party reproduction, adoption, and foster care adoption in your state – and in your country and the country from which you are considering adopting? Is marriage or domestic partnership an option? If so, what rights are conferred as they pertain to family? Remember, you need to know the laws as they pertain to LGBT persons specifically. A word of caution if you are considering adoption: legally, all people pursuing adoption are required to have a home study. If you lie about anything at all during this process, including your sexual orientation, any adoption you attempt can be legally invalidated. In order to protect yourself and your future family, you must answer all questions asked of you truthfully during your home study. You do not, however, need to volunteer information that is not asked of you. Your best bet is to work with a gay friendly adoption agency, and accept their recommendation for the social worker that will clear you during this process.
- Find the professionals who can best serve you and who are skilled in dealing with issues specific to LGBT persons. These will most likely include a physician – probably a reproductive endocrinologist, attorney, donor and/or surrogacy agency or adoption agency, and a mental health professional.
- If you are using a surrogate and multiples result from the transferred embryo(s), what are your feelings about “selective reduction”, which is in essence aborting one or more embryo? Has this been discussed with your surrogate?
- If you are a person of faith, what does your faith teach about these issues? Is it important that your faith community and your clergy support you in this process? Will they?
- What will happen to your child(ren) if you divorce or separate? What will happen if you and/or your partner or spouse dies or faces catastrophic long-term illness?
- What benefits, if any, does your employer provide for new parents, and for children of same sex couples?
It’s a lot of information to consider, but well worth the time.
Ken Mosesian is the Executive Director of The American Fertility Association (The AFA). The AFA www.theafa.org/library has a library filled with articles, fact sheets, and HD videos on LGBT Family Building, Third Party Reproduction, and Adoption. You can also click “Find a Professional” on the homepage www.theafa.org to search for LGBT-friendly providers in your area.