Understanding the options for family planning available to same-sex couples and LGBTQ persons
In the past, anti-LGBTQ laws and regulations made starting a family as a same-sex couple or LGBTQ individual challenging. Today, there are many options for family planning available to same-sex couples and LGTBQ persons. Now, between 2 million and 3.7 million children under age 18 have an LGBTQ parent. With the growing acceptance of the LGBTQ community, the pathways to parenthood for LGBTQ persons and couples are open.
What are the pathways to parenthood for LGBTQ families?
There are numerous pathways for same-sex couples and LGBTQ persons to consider when starting a family, like assisted reproductive technology, surrogacy, foster care, or adoption. And over 60 percent of LGBTQ planning families expect to use one of the before-listed pathways to become parents.
Pathway to Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy
Same-sex couples and LGBTQ persons have different needs for assisted reproductive technologies (ART) when building their families. As defined by the CDC, ART includes any fertility treatments in which either eggs or embryos are handled.
For lesbian couples and single lesbians, a sperm donation is needed to achieve pregnancy, and some also consider using donated embryos or creating embryos through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Gay men will need egg donors to create embryos and a surrogate to carry the embryos. Transgender persons may seek to preserve their fertility by moderating hormone therapy or retrieve and store sperm or eggs while they await their decision to parent.
If considering ART to begin your family, it is essential to note the process can be both extensive and expensive. Laws vary by state on how a “donor” is defined and how people can secure their parental rights. Some states still do not permit LGBT couples or single people to enter enforceable surrogacy contracts. Seek counsel, so you understand the laws and restrictions.
Pathway to Foster Care
Foster care adoption is a beautiful way to bring a child into your life and provide a home and support system to a child who needs it. A government agency runs the foster care system, so your sexual orientation or religious beliefs cannot prevent you from becoming a foster parent. To become a foster parent, you need to meet specific requirements and training.
Laws and policies regarding the ability of LGBT individuals and same-sex couples to adopt or foster are different for each state. Ensure to seek counsel to understand the circumstances surrounding your case.
LGBTQ persons and same-sex couples are more likely to adopt and foster than different-sex couples. For foster care alone, same-sex couples are six times more likely to raise foster children than heterosexual couples.
Pathway to Adoption
Adoption is a beautiful journey for any couple. Choosing the right agency and type of agency will make your experience more seamless. Public agencies are owned and/or funded by the government for adoption. Private agencies are regulated by the state and are often non-profit organizations.
Privately owned adoption agencies have stated or unstated preferences for LGBTQ adoptive parents. Private agencies also charge fees, which often include the provision of support services for adoptive parents. Adoptions From The Heart is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community. As an organization, we believe sexual orientation does not hinder a parent when it comes to loving and providing for a child. Erin and Sandra, adoptive parents through AFTH, described their advice and positive experience as a same-sex couple adopting through AFTH on AFTHtv.
Another aspect of adoption to consider is the possibility of open and closed adoption. In an open adoption, the birth parent(s) are known to the adoptee and agree on a degree of contact between the adoptive child and the birth parent(s). In closed adoptions, the birth parent(s) identity is withheld from the adoptive parents and child.
As an LGBTQ couple, it is crucial to understand the laws and regulations that may inhibit adoption in your state. Research and seek counsel surrounding the laws in your state. Laws and policies regarding the ability of LGBTQ individuals and couples to adopt are yet to be the same nationwide.
In some instances, only one partner in a same-sex couple can officially adopt a child even though both partners co-parent. HRC explains that “a second-parent adoption allows a second parent to adopt a child without the ‘first parent’ losing any parental rights. In this way, the child comes to have two legal parents.”
Support for LGBTQ parents
During and after the journey of creating your family, there may be times when you will need support and guidance. Lean on your social worker, coworkers, friends, and family for support.
Another excellent resource for support is support groups. Joining an LGBTQ community support group is a great way to connect with other families. Members of the group come together and share coping strategies that help you feel empowered and gain a sense of community. Support groups are beneficial for members to realize they are not alone, express their feelings, learn information, and have the power to help other members. These support groups even organize fun activities and events throughout the year!
For more information about family planning for same-sex couples and LGBTQ persons: