In many ways, the experience of deciding to become a parent is a universal one. It involves a serious reflection upon your lifestyle and your hopes and goals as a parent. You have to prepare for your new arrival and get ready for the way that your life will soon change — for the better!
However, there are extra steps that must be taken when nontraditional family-building methods are used — and when would-be parents may not meet heteronormative “ideals” for raising a child. If you are an LGBT intended parent considering surrogacy, you probably have a long list of things to consider before moving forward with this family-building process.
We always encourage anyone considering surrogacy — whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity — to talk with our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY). They can answer whatever questions you have and help you decide whether surrogacy is right for your family.
Every family’s situation is different, and what’s important to you in your family-building process will likely be different from that of another family. Still, there are a few important things we suggest LGBT intended parents think about before starting their gestational surrogacy journey:
1. Gamete Donation
By design, any LGBT intended parent who wishes to pursue gestational surrogacy will need a gamete donation — either a donated egg or sperm cell, usually combined with their own genetic material. This is a big decision to make; finding a biological parent for your child can be stressful and involve some big choices. It’s a good idea to start your search for a gamete donor before you even start your surrogacy journey.
Consider contacting a gamete bank early on in your family-building process. If you have a partner, make it a mutual experience of researching banks and donors to find the one that works for you. Our specialists highly recommend using an identified donor only; an anonymous donor can cause identity issues for your child as they grow up.
If you can secure a gamete donation before your surrogacy process begins, it will likely cut down on the time spent preparing for your gestational surrogacy. You’ll be one step closer to having the child you’ve always dreamed about!
2. Response from Others
While it’s no one’s business but yours and your partner’s, your family-building process will likely become a topic of discussion among friends, family and even strangers. Everyone has an opinion on which family-building path is the “best” one. When you announce you are pursuing gestational surrogacy, be prepared for insensitive and ignorant questions and potential pushback.
People may ask, “Why don’t you just adopt?” as if adoption is as simple as going to an agency and “picking out” a child. They may ask intrusive questions about whose gamete is being used to create the embryo, or what kind of role your gestational carrier will play in the process. Remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation when it comes to this personal journey, but you should be prepared for how to respond. If you feel comfortable doing so, treat these comments as learning opportunities for your loved ones.
3. Raising Your Child
Being a parent in and of itself is challenging. Being an LGBT parent adds extra complexities. While society’s acceptance of LGBT individuals is constantly progressing, there will always be the potential for prejudice and intolerance for those who don’t fit into the heteronormative image of a family. Unfortunately, it’s possible that your child will be the subject of some negative and insensitive comments as they grow up.
It’s important that you normalize your family makeup to your child from the moment you bring them home, as well as give them the tools to respond to questions and comments from peers during their childhood. Remind them that families can look many different ways, and there is nothing bad about the way that their family is built.
At the same time, you will also need to prepare for raising a child born via surrogacy. You’ll need to normalize and explain their birth story from a young age. In age appropriate ways, you’ll also need to explain the concept of a gamete donor and support them in whatever path they want to take regarding their biological parent (whether that’s meeting them, contacting them, etc.). Your surrogacy specialist can always provide guidance for these conversations, should you need it.
4. Local Surrogacy Laws
While adoption is now a protected family-building method for all LGBT individuals, this is not the case with surrogacy. Because surrogacy is a process regulated by individual state laws, certain states may make it incredibly difficult for LGBT intended parents to safely pursue gestational surrogacy. LGBT intended parents should specifically search out an LGBT-surrogacy-friendly state for their family-building process.
American Surrogacy can help. We can match you with a gestational carrier in a state where you will have the necessary legal protections to establish your parental rights, whatever your personal situation.
5. What’s Right for You
Finally, the biggest thing to consider before pursuing surrogacy as an LGBT intended parent is whether this family-building method is truly right for you. There are no clear answers to this question; it will involve you and your spouse thoroughly examining your personal desires and evaluating your ability to cope with the financial and emotional challenges of surrogacy. You have a few ways you can add a child to your family, and we encourage you to consider all of them before deciding what is right for your family.
Our surrogacy specialists are always available to help. They can answer whatever questions you may have and even discuss the pros and cons of adoption and surrogacy for LGBT intended parents such as you. We know this decision-making process can take some time, so please feel free to reach out early in your journey for the support and information you need. Good luck!