LGBTQ+ Family Planning & What to Expect for LGBTQ Parents
If you are a same-sex couple looking to grow your family, there are a number of LGBTQ family planning paths you can take! We live in an age where many options are available depending on your desired experience. And while there is still work to be done to make it easier and more accepting for same-sex families, it is great to see people finally understanding that love is love – especially when you’re raising a baby! From adoption to sperm donors to surrogacy, read on to learn about some of the options that might be right for your family.
Family Planning Options for Same-Sex Families
For straight couples and lesbians, surrogacy is typically considered if a woman has experienced miscarriages or unsuccessful IVF attempts. For gay men, surrogacy is a way to conceive a child that is biologically connected to one or both partners through the process of artificial insemination or IVF. If you live in a state that still does not allow same-sex adoption, using a surrogate has the added benefit of ensuring one partner is recognized as the child’s biological parent. Each state has its own laws concerning surrogacy, and some do not allow it at all or even recognize surrogacy contracts.
In Vitro Fertilization
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process by which an egg is fertilized outside of the body and transferred to the uterus where the child is carried to term. For gay men interested in being biologically connected to their child, IVF is typically a necessary step in the surrogacy process. Lesbian couples, on the other hand, may arrive at IVF only after other methods of insemination have failed, or if either partner encounters other fertility issues.
Artificial insemination is the process by which a donor’s sperm is inserted directly into a woman’s uterus, and is typically the most cost-effective option for lesbian couples interested in being biologically connected to their child. Intracervical insemination (ICI) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) are the main methods of artificial insemination. ICI uses a device to insert unwashed sperm – that is, sperm that is still mixed with seminal fluid – directly into a woman’s cervix. IUI uses a device to insert pre-washed sperm directly into the uterus, giving it a better chance of reaching the fallopian tubes.
Sperm & Egg Freezing
While anyone can engage in fertility preservation, it can be especially valuable for transgender individuals who elect to begin hormone replacement therapy or seek surgical means of transition. These methods of transition almost invariably result in infertility, so many trans people preemptively freeze their eggs or sperm before medical or hormonal transition so that they may be accessed later on when they are ready to start their biological LGBT family.
Not everyone wants to (or can) biologically conceive a child, and many individuals and couples turn instead to the legal process of adoption. For LGBTQ couples especially, adoption is fraught with paperwork and often prohibitive costs. And while domestic adoption agencies have warmed to LGBT adoptions in recent years, state laws still vary regarding who can adopt and through what means. It’s essential to research the different types of adoptions available: agency, independent, international, state or public agency, and second-parent adoption.
Foster parenting is a way of caring for a child of any age for a range of time, usually because the child has been removed from a prior familial situation deemed unfit. Fostering can, but doesn’t always, lead to permanent adoption. Most states do not take a position on whether or not LGBTQ couples are able to foster, that decision is instead left to welfare agencies and family court judges. And while a handful of states deny the right of same-sex couples to act as foster parents, six states explicitly protect that right: CA, OR, WI, MA, RI, and NJ.
Resources and Support for LGBTQ+ Parents
Regardless of how you approach family planning, there are many valuable resources and organizations whose goal is to assist LGBTQ couples and individuals on their journey to parenthood. LGBTQ-friendly fertility clinics can offer valuable guidance for potential parents of any sexuality and gender identity as they work to identify their options and pursue the best fit for their growing LGBTQ family. At Red Rock Fertility Center, we pride ourselves in creating a warm and welcoming environment to further discuss LGBTQ family planning.
Starting and raising a family is not cheap. LGBTQ family planning methods can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and according to the Huffington Post, only 15 states require fertility services to be covered on insurance plans. Before making any decisions, make sure you’ve thoroughly investigated every option and resource available to you. Organizations like HelpUsAdopt.org and Gay Parents to Be offer financial assistance and legal resources for couples who might otherwise be unable to afford the often costly process of adoption, surrogacy, and artificial insemination.
The road to becoming an LGBTQ+ parent can be a long one, but the result is more than worth it. Whichever route you choose, it’s important to establish honest and open communication with loved ones as you make decisions that will change the course of the future – for you, your partner, and your child. Reach out and schedule an appointment with Red Rock Fertility Center to learn more about LGBTQ+ family planning and which options are best for you!