No matter your sexual or gendered identity, when thinking of becoming a parent, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. However, you have so many options available to you should you be interested in parenthood! Let’s acknowledge the fact that having babies in a same sex couple, same gendered couple or as a transgendered couple can be complicated. There are situations to be prepared for that cisgendered, hetereosexual couples rarely have to deal with. We empathize with that, and want to empower you with knowledge and information to support your journey to parenthood. There are many unique paths available for you and your partner, and throughout this article we will be covering some of the options available to explore.
Baby Options for Gay Couples to Conceive
Depending on your LGBTQ status, whether you’re same sexed males/females there are different options available to you. The advances in reproductive technology has enabled both gay and lesbian or trans couples to have a child that is in some way genetically related. Let’s explore some of the options for gay couples to conceive out there.
Surrogacy is a wonderful option for gay male couples who want to retain a form of genetic relationship with the baby. There are two types of surrogacy to consider. The first being traditional, whereby your surrogate uses her own eggs for the conception through IVF using one of the partners sperm. Alternatively, you could choose gestational surrogacy, where you choose your egg donor who’s eggs will be fertilized with one of your sperm, and the embryo is implanted into the surrogate’s uterus. When deciding which partner will donate the sperm, remember that the sperm donor will undergo semen analysis to test various aspects of the semen including motility, volume and concentration.
If genetic relations aren’t a high priority for you, adoption is a wonderful option for becoming parents. Through foster care adoption, there are thousands of children looking for a family to call their own. Through this type of adoption, you are able to adopt a child that’s older, may identify well with a LGBT family. Through private adoption, you would work with an agency who have women who accidently fall pregnant and are looking for a family for their child. With either option, speaking to a reputable adoption agency would be the first point of call to understand all aspects involved.
A question often asked is “how can lesbian couples have a baby?”. Donor insemination is a process for either single cisgendered females, or lesbian couples looking for fertility options that still offer a genetic link from one of the parents to the baby. In a lesbian couple, one partner may donate the egg, and the other carry the baby through pregnancy. In vitro fertilization is a necessary process in order to move forward with donor insemination if you choose to do the donation from one partner and carrying through the other..
The alternative to donor insemination is when one partner is using her eggs, and carrying the pregnancy too. In this case, you would choose a sperm donor, and then opt for artificial insemination either at home, or at a registered clinic.
For individuals who aren’t necessarily a romantic couple, but both have the physiological abilities to have a child together, co-parenting is certainly an option. For example, a gay man and a gay female could opt for parenthood through this method. The man would donate his sperm and the female would fall pregnant via IVF and carry the child to term.
Parental rights as a LGBT couple
LGBT partners should keep the legal aspects of parental rights in mind when starting the decision to have a family through fertility treatments. Be sure to chat with your agency for more information on parental rights. For now, let’s go through some of the terms.
Legal parenthood means that a child can only ever have two legal parents. But more than two people can have parental responsibility over one child. According to Stonewall, for donor insemination these legal parental rules apply:
The birth mother will automatically be the child's legal parent upon being born
The second legal parent is dependant on the relationship at the time of this baby's birth
If you are together at the time of conception, the birth mothers’ partner can be on the birth certificate.
If a child is conceived through a fertility clinic, the birth mother can sign a contract to state her partner and or the biological father (sperm donor) as the legal parent.
As mentioned, more than two people can share parental responsibility for a child. Family Law Partners says you can acquire these through these various options:
A Parental Responsibility Agreement
A Parental Responsibility Order
A “live with” Child Arrangements Order
An Adoption Order
A Paternal Order
When it comes to paternal or maternal rights for LGBTQ parents in the workplace, there are very similar rights available to all when it comes to leave and having a baby through various fertility treatments, regardless of your orientation or contraceptive method.
Parenthood for Trans and non-binary parents
For members of the trans community, if you are FTM (Female to Male) you have the option to freeze your eggs before fully transitioning. This will enable you to have your eggs fertilized by a sperm donor (or your future partner) to be the biological parents of your baby. Eggs, sperm or embryos can be stored and frozen for up to 10 years, or longer.
For the trans community, when choosing to go through with a gender reassignment surgery, this will be discussed with your medical providers beforehand. For non-binary or transitioned trans couples looking for fertility treatments, you are still entitled to the options listed above. Speaking to a professional agency will shed further light on your options, both in conceiving and the attached legalities that accompany it.
We understand that all of these options, terms, contracts and legal issues can be overwhelming. At Nappyendings, we are supportive of the LGBT community in parenthood, and are well equipped to be able to answer all your questions and guide you on your journey to parenthood.