Starting a family as a heterosexual couple is usually a simple affair of having sex and waiting patiently until conception occurs. Although there are some heterosexual couples that struggle to fall pregnant and sometimes have infertility problems, this is usually the exception and not the default.
For LGBTQ+ (lesbian,gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) couples starting a family comes with some unique challenges and it will take a little more foresight and planning.
Being a cis-gender woman I used to think that gender was a binary concept but the more I learn, the more I discover it isn’t as simple as men being male and women being female due to their anatomy. If you would like to read more about gender I suggest you read the Genderbread Person.
For the purpose of this article, to keep it nice and simple I am just going to address having a baby as a lesbian couple (two cis-gender women) or gay couple (two cis-gender men).
Adoption for Gay and Lesbian Couples
One solution for gay and lesbian couples to start a family is to adopt a baby or child. The fact of the matter is that while some people are more than happy to adopt a baby lots of people want to have their own baby. This urge stays the same no matter what gender you are and what sexual preferences you may have.
Options For Lesbians To Have Children
One of the most beautiful parts of starting a family is experiencing pregnancy and childbirth. Being two women in a relationship you will have a chance to experience pregnancy and birth in your family which is amazing.
A decision also needs to be taken about the sperm, will you use ask someone you know to be a sperm donor or will you go to a sperm bank?
If you are going to ask someone that you know will it be a family member or a friend? Asking a family member, such as a brother, to be a sperm donor would mean that the baby has family genes from both sides which can be really appealing. However it could also feel a little strange having an uncle that is also a father.
Artificial Insemination or IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)
Artificial insemination can be done at home or in a doctor’s office and it simply involves inserting the sperm into the uterus or cervix.
IVF is a much more complicated procedure whereby the eggs are removed from the ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg or eggs are then implanted in the woman’s uterus.
Who Carries The Baby?
Pregnancy is an amazing experience and deciding who gets to carry the baby can be a big decision. If you plan to have more than one child you can each have a turn to carry a child.
You may think that you need to use the egg from the woman that carries the baby but this isn’t so. If you choose IVF the egg of your partner could be fertilized and implanted in your womb.
Options for Gay Men to Have Children
If gay men want to become fathers without adopting a child they will need to find a woman to be a surrogate.
Choosing A Surrogate
You will need to decide whether you want a female relative or friend to be the surrogate or whether you want to go through an agency.
Will You Use The Surrogates Egg Or A Donor Egg?
The surrogate’s egg can be used and fertilized using artificial insemination or you can use a donor egg and fertilize it using IVF.
Who Will Be The Biological Father?
You will need to make a decision of who will be the biological father of your baby. If you plan on having more than one child you could each have one or more biological children.
You can also choose to use a sperm donor.
Challenges You May Face Starting A family
Those are all the basic choices that you have if you want to start a family, but there may be some challenges that you face starting your family and here some of the things that you may encounter.
Falling pregnant as a heterosexual couple usually costs nothing, however falling pregnant as a gay or lesbian couple can cost a lot depending on the options you take and how long (or how many tries) it takes to fall pregnant.
IVF is costly and you may need to try a few rounds before you find success.
The cost of sperm from a sperm bank can vary greatly and cost anything from about $300 to thousands of dollars.
The cost of a donor egg can be from about $2 300 and up.
You may need to get yourself a legal team to help you through this process. There are things to consider such as if you choose to go the traditional surrogacy route your baby is then connected biologically and genetically to your chosen surrogate and you will need legal guidance for this process.
Depending on where you live there may be legislation that makes things hard for you, such as this lesbian couple that are struggling to get their medial aid to cover their infertility treatments due to the fact that the law states that couples to have unprotected, heterosexual intercourse with a man first before being allowed medical treatment for infertility issues that have been diagnosed.
The example given above is an example of a legal difficulty that couples may face, but it is also clearly a problem of discrimination. There are still many places that won’t allow LGBT adoption to take place.
While many people are accepting of others no matter what their race, gender identity, sexual preference and culture may be, there are still some people that discriminate against others.
In South Africa and in many other countries, it is illegal to discriminate against LGBT people. Know your rights. Visit the Triangle Project for more information.
The Alternative Family Form
While many people consider the traditional family to be the so called norm, there is a distinct movement away from the nuclear family where there are two parents that are married (a man and a woman) with children.
The alternative family is now more common, with the rise of LGBT parents, single parent families and single parent adoptions.
While some people may believe that a child growing up in a LGBT parent home may not be best for a child, research has shown that children growing up with same-sex parents are happier than their peers.
What is really important in bringing up children is that there is lots of love, respect and care in the home.
Something to be considered is that when a same sex couple want to have a child it is never an accident, or an unwanted child. Those parents very clearly wanted a family and went through a lot more red tape and challenges than most heterosexual couples have.
A wanted child is a loved child.