At RESOLVE New England we understand that gay family building comes with its own set of challenges and concerns. Once you have decided to start your family, you may find there are more questions than answers. We are committed to helping you make educated choices when deciding how to become parents and to offer inclusive, compassionate support as you navigate the experience of LGBT family building.
Options for LGBT Family Building
One of the first major decisions prospective gay and lesbian parents face is deciding how to build their families. Some common genetic connection options involve Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) and Third Party Reproduction such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) with donor eggs or sperm. Options can include:
- Gay men may use their sperm to inseminate a donor’s eggs using IVF and use the donor or a surrogate to carry the pregnancy. Both traditional and gestational surrogacy can provide lesbian and gay parents with a fulfilling path to parenthood.
- Lesbians may use an anonymous or known sperm donor to inseminate one or both partners’ eggs and become pregnant through IUI or IVF.
- Lesbian partners who both want a biological connection to their child may use one partner’s egg (inseminated with a donor’s sperm) inserted into the other partner’s uterus using in vitro fertilization, which can then carry the child to term in her womb.
Due to preference, cost, fertility issues and advanced age, adoption is often considered as well. Whether you decide to adopt domestically, internationally or from foster care, adoption can provide lesbian and gay parents with loving, blended families. Some common adoption options are:
- International Adoption: International adoption options are becoming increasingly frustrating for gays as each country has their own set of regulations for the LGBT community. If you are considering international adoption you will need to learn more about each countries specific regulations.
- Domestic Adoption: Adoption in the U.S. is a viable option in most states and can include state or public agency adoption, open independent adoption and agency open adoption.
- Foster Parenting: Adopting a foster child or a child in the state welfare system (There are many children in the U.S. who do not have a home, especially those who are older or have disabilities).
Common LGBT Family Building Concerns
With a variety of possible family building options from third-party assisted reproductive technology to foster, domestic or international adoption, family building costs for gay and lesbian parents can vary considerably. Learn more about third-party reproduction costs and the costs associated with adoption.
According to a June 2011 report issued by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), all of the New England states have established laws that explicitly allow same-sex couples to adopt, either through a second parent adoption, domestic partner adoption or civil union adoption. As case laws and rights for gay and lesbian parents vary among states, it is wise to speak with an attorney well-versed in reproductive law; you can find several reproductive law attorneys listed in our Directory of Professional Services. You may also want to familiarize yourself with legal issues surrounding LGBT family structures in your state as they apply to LGBT family building options.
Now that you’ve made the momentous decision to parent, you may find yourself with lots of questions about your emotional readiness for the family building process and beyond. Building a support network and educating yourself during this process is a great way to navigate the road ahead.
It is possible that once you’ve begun a family building journey with the assistance of third-party reproductive technologies, you may discover that having a baby might be more difficult than you thought, particularly if you or your partner discovers a medical issue regarding fertility.
Starting an LGBT Family Building Peer Group in Your Area
RESOLVE New England‘s Peer Led Support Groups provide an opportunity for open discussion forums where people on the many paths to parenthood can come together and meet others who are facing similar challenges in a relaxed setting. These groups are a great way to share feelings, stories, and strategies in a safe place and are open to women and men, individuals and couples. Discussions may include decision-making, treatment, dealing with friends and family, coping strategies and much more.
As part of our 2013 LGBT Family Building Outreach program, RNE is looking for volunteers to start Peer Support Groups for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community members. RNE provides all necessary materials and training at no cost to you. Some of the responsibilities of a Peer Leader include:
- Providing a suitable public meeting place for a group, and making at least a 6 month commitment to host the meeting on the same day and time each month, knowing that this can change due to unforeseen circumstances (pregnancy, job changes, moves, etc.)
- Selecting appropriate topics for discussion at meetings and making sure that all attendees have an equal opportunity for input
- Updating group members regularly with information about RNE and collecting and submitting sign-in sheets each month (mailing them to our Waltham, MA office)
If you are not ready to lead a group, there are many other ways to help RNE to support members of the LGBT community who are on the path to parenthood. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, please contact us at 781-890-2250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional LGBT Family Building Resources
- The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM):
A nationally and internationally recognized leader for multidisciplinary information, education, advocacy and standards in the field of reproductive medicine. ASRM is a non-profit organization whose members must demonstrate the high ethical principles of the medical profession, evince an interest in infertility, reproductive medicine and biology.
- The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA):
Through the expertise of their members and in collaboration with other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights and health organizations as well as with health associations and policy-makers at all levels, GLMA is a major force in the effort to ensure the health and well-being of LGBT individuals and families.
- Fenway Health:
Since 1983, Fenway Health has been an international pioneer in helping LGBT people claim their rights to parenthood. Fenway provides resources, information, and educational services to LGBT-headed families.
- Gay Parent Magazine:
A leader in gay parenting resources since 1998, this North American bi-monthly lifestyle and news publication targets the gay and lesbian parenting community. The magazine publishes articles on international and domestic adoption, foster care, donor insemination and surrogacy.
- It’s Conceivable:
This online magazine provides clear, no frills, pregnancy and parenting information to the GLBTQ community. Their motto: less rainbows, more advice.
Note: Resources listed on this page may link to content created by organizations, companies and websites other than RESOLVE New England. The inclusion of these resources should not in any way be considered the endorsements, recommendations or opinions, either express or implied, by and of RESOLVE New England.