Many same-sex couples are eager to expand their families. One option for members of the LGBT community is surrogacy, and as perceptions of family have become more inclusive, lesbian and gay surrogacy has become increasingly common.
While the surrogacy process is generally no different for same-sex couples and individuals than for any other intended parent, there are some unique considerations to take into account. Read on to learn more about the process, regulations, advantages and disadvantages of surrogacy for LGBT parents.
LGBT Surrogacy Process
Surrogacy is a popular option for gay men who want to be biologically connected to their children, as well as for lesbian couples who are unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy on their own. In LGBT surrogacy, pregnancy is most commonly achieved using an egg donor, gestational carrier and in vitro fertilization (IVF), and the surrogacy process is essentially the same as it would be for any other intended parent. However, there are some important decisions same-sex couples need to make before beginning the process:
- Decide who will be genetically related to the child. Unlike straight surrogacy, in which both parents’ genetic material is often used to create an embryo, same-sex intended parents must decide whose sperm or egg will be used. Some intended fathers choose to fertilize multiple eggs for implantation using both partners’ sperm, allowing either or both of them to be the biological father of a child.
- Choose a known or anonymous donor. While it is sometimes more convenient to work with an agency to use an anonymous sperm or egg donor, many LGBT couples and individuals choose to work with an identified donor to complete the surrogacy process. Intended fathers may choose to use one partner’s sperm with eggs from a close relative of the other partner, giving both fathers a biological link to the child.
Once intended parents have made these important decisions, they should be able to continue the surrogacy process as any other intended parents would.
Same-Sex Surrogacy Laws
Each state has laws regulating surrogacy, and some states do not allow or recognize surrogacy contracts at all. This can make the legal surrogacy process complicated for intended parents and especially for same-sex intended parents.
In some states, LGBT couples may have to go through an additional process to be legally recognized as the parents of their child and to obtain a birth certificate naming both parents. Depending on your state and your circumstances, this may be done through a pre-birth order, a full adoption, stepparent adoption or second-parent adoption to ensure both partners are legal parents of the child.
All prospective intended parents should work closely with an experienced surrogacy professional and attorney familiar with state surrogacy laws to navigate the legal process. Contact a surrogacy agency to discuss the laws in your state and discover your options for completing the surrogacy process, regardless of where you live.
Pros and Cons of Surrogacy for Gay Couples
Surrogacy is certainly an option for LGBT couples and individuals who are interested in adding to their families, but it is not for everyone. Prospective intended parents should consider all of the advantages and challenges of surrogacy to determine whether surrogacy is right for them.
Here are some of the most common benefits and challenges of surrogacy for gay couples:
- Surrogacy can fulfill prospective parents’ lifelong dreams of completing their families.
- Surrogacy allows same-sex couples to have children with a biological connection to one or both parents.
- Intended parents have the opportunity to create meaningful long-term relationships with their surrogates.
- Many surrogates are specifically interested in helping same-sex couples become parents.
- Surrogacy is a legally complicated process that can be even more difficult for same-sex parents, depending on state laws.
- The cost of surrogacy can be high, and there are fewer financing options available to intended parents than to adoptive parents.
- Some LGBT couples and individuals may face discrimination or bias from some surrogacy professionals, prospective surrogates or donors throughout the process.
Many of the above challenges and benefits apply to heterosexual couples and individuals as well as members of the LGBT community. Regardless of sexual orientation, it is important for every family to consider these surrogacy pros and cons, as well as their individual circumstances, when creating a surrogacy plan.
Additional Considerations for Same-Sex Couples
In many ways, intended parents’ marital status and sexual orientation does not have any impact on their surrogacy experience. However, there are some additional thoughts intended parents should keep in mind as they embark on their surrogacy journey.
- Choosing an LGBT-friendly professional – For many intended parents, it is important to work with a professional that is open to and experienced in completing surrogacies for same-sex couples. As you consider potential surrogacy agencies, ask about their history of working with LGBT clients and find out whether they provide counseling and support specifically tailored to the same-sex surrogacy experience.
- Parenting Challenges – When you bring your new baby home at the end of your surrogacy journey, you will begin a new chapter in your lives — parenting. Parenting is full of infinite joys and challenges, but one challenge that especially impacts same-sex parents is the possibility of discrimination. While society is increasingly accepting of diverse family types, some people still are unaccepting of same-sex families. Families created through surrogacy may face the additional challenge of talking about their child’s birth story. Children often grow curious about where they came from as they get older, and explaining surrogacy to a young child can be challenging.
- HIV and surrogacy – It is entirely possible for HIV-positive people to have healthy children through surrogacy, without any risk of transmission to the baby or the gestational carrier. The Special Program of Assisted Reproduction (SPAR) has helped both heterosexual and same-sex couples achieve their dreams of parenthood despite HIV. If you or your partner are HIV-positive, talk to your surrogacy professional for more information about your surrogacy options.
Surrogacy is a wonderful option for same-sex parents who are ready to expand their families. This path to parenthood allows members of the LGBT community to fulfill their parenting dreams while maintaining a genetic link to their children.
The following resources provide additional information about gay surrogacy and same-sex parenting:
- The American Society for Reproductive Medicine
- American Surrogacy
- It’s Conceivable
- Gay Parents to Be
- Men Having Babies
- Gays with Kids
Are you interested in learning more about surrogacy or starting the process? Complete our form to request free surrogacy information now.