LGBTQ fertility options – starting your journey
13th June 2020
At Adia we believe that love is love and family is family, no matter how that family is made. But, regardless of who you want to have a baby with, the start of a fertility journey can be an overwhelming and confusing time. In today’s blog, we’ve broken down the key options available to same-sex couples wanting to become parents, and also shared some great resources that can help you feel supported as you navigate your way to parenthood.
Donor insemination is one of the most common routes to parenthood for lesbian couples. In many cases, the couples will decide who is going to carry the baby and they will then use sperm donated by a friend, or anonymous donor, to conceive. Licensed fertility clinics are the best places to help you through this procedure, and most will use exactly the same IUI or IVF procedures as with heterosexual couples.
Some couples choose to save cost and time by undertaking insemination at home – especially if they are using sperm donated by a friend. However, this could impact your parental rights – so it’s important to think that over first. If you are married or in a civil partnership it doesn’t make a difference whether you conceive at home or in a clinic – both mothers will be treated as the child’s legal parents. However, if you are unmarried, and decide to conceive at home, the non-birth mother will not automatically have parental rights – they will need to legally adopt the child once they’re born. Another benefit of going through a fertility clinic is that they will screen the sperm for STIs and genetic disorders – meaning it’s safer for both you and baby.
Families with two dads can be amazing – but they do need a little help from someone with a womb to get them there! For gay couples with two men, or transwomen who weren’t born with a uterus – surrogacy can be a great way of making their dreams of parenthood a reality. Surrogacy is when someone carries a baby for a couple or single person who cannot have a child themselves. Once you have found a surrogate you can use the sperm from someone within the couple, so the baby will be biologically linked to one of you. Some gay couples chose to have two babies via surrogate using different sperm each time.
Surrogacy is legal in the UK but it is not legal to advertise for a surrogate. Unlike in countries like America – where surrogacy is big business – your surrogate cannot gain any financial benefit from helping you become parents – apart from reasonable expenses including travel and medical bills. For this reason, many couples choose to find a friend who would be willing to help them. Much like donor insemination, there are legalities to consider when deciding whether surrogacy is the right route for you. The baby is not legally yours until a parental order has been issued after the child’s birth. Until this happens the surrogate technically has the right to keep the baby, so it’s important that you partner with someone you can trust.
Co-parenting is when 2 or more people come together to conceive and parent a child together. Co-parenting arrangements can take many different forms – it could be two single people, a single person and a couple or two couples. For same-sex couple, this can be another option to consider alongside ‘straightforward’ surrogacy or sperm donation.
Co-parenting can have many benefits, as it can offer a diverse and loving family unit for a baby. If you have asked a friend to donate sperm or carry a child for you, you may feel like you want to share more than simply conception. Co-parenting means you will share responsibilities such as childcare and other parenting duties – even if you don’t live in the same household. This can be a wonderful experience for friends who want to take this step and become family – but it’s also a huge commitment, and one not to be taken lightly. There are lots of logistics to be arranged and decisions to be made before the baby’s arrival – and it’s important to think long term. It’s also worth noting that as a co-parent you will not have sole custody of the child, so there are legalities that will need to be drawn up to ensure everyone involved feels comfortable and secure going into the process. For more information, read about co-parenting on the Stonewall website.
Adoption and Fostering
If fertility treatment isn’t right for you, adoption and fostering can be great options. Whilst an adoption process can be just as rigorous and stressful as a fertility journey, the rewards can be just as incredible. There are many steps to go through to become adoptive parents, as local authorities and adoption agencies need to ensure that they are placing children in a safe and loving home. However, LGBT couples have exactly the same rights as heterosexual couples, so the process should be no harder for you than anyone else. Adoption agencies are looking for a stable and nurturing home environment and want to make sure prospective adoptive parents are ready to take on the responsibility of having a child. If you feel like that’s you and your partner- get in touch with your local authority or adoption agency to start the process! For more information, visit New Family Social, the charity for LGBT adoptive and foster parents.
Trans and non-binary parents
When it comes to adoption and fostering, trans people have exactly the same rights as anyone else. But that doesn’t mean it’s your only option. Once you start the process of transitioning, your fertility will be impacted. Hormone therapies will reduce your fertility and once you have reconstructive surgery it can be very difficult to have a baby that is biologically linked to you. However, before you start the transitioning process you could freeze your eggs or sperm – and this can be used down the line when you are ready to become a parent.
If you have frozen eggs, they can be fertilised using donor sperm – or the sperm of your partner – through IVF. The baby could then be carried by a surrogate, your partner, or yourself if you are a trans man who decided to keep their uterus. If you decided to freeze sperm before transitioning, this can be used in a similar way – fertilising the egg of your partner or a donor. You can find out about the options for preserving your fertility from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
Along with our rebrand, we’re working on improving our resources to offer more support for our LGBTQ community members, but for now here’s a list of organisations, people and communities that may be able to help you navigate your journey.
Clue – Our friends over at Clue have a very informative blog section with many articles on the birth control and fertility in the gueer community including:
- What trans and non binary people need to know about birth control
- How testosterone therapy affects fertility
- Birth control for queer, bisexual and pansexual people
- Thinking of pregnancy as a non-binary trans person
Create fertility have a free downloadable e-book on IVF for Lesbian couples
Watch and listen
Communities and events
The Other Box Parenthood is a Facebook group for parents or carers who feel like their parenting/carer story is left out of the mainstream narrative.
LGBTIQ FAMILIES (Fertility – Adoption – IUI Support & Advice ) is an Australian founded but international Facebook group for LGBTQI parents looking to grow their families.
The LGBT Mummies Tribe Support Group is for Non-Biological mothers/ mamas/ moms/ mummies to ask for advice and share their experiences whilst making friends with like minded LGBT+ women.
The Modern Family Show is the UK’s only event exclusively for the LGBT+ community. The show will be an opportunity to learn more about UK and international family building options from surrogacy to IVF/IUI and solo parenting to fertility preservation. It’s planned for September 19th 2020 in London (COVID-19 dependent) but subscribe to their newsletter to stay in the loop.