For male same-sex couples, gestational surrogacy is a natural choice to have children apart from adoption. The definition of family is evolving and it is natural that gay men also want to bring up children of their own. Same-sex families are quite a common sight today and gestational surrogacy has helped make this happen.
For the LGBTQ community, gestational surrogacy offers many distinct advantages. There is usually a biological relationship between the intended parents and the child. The surrogate however is not biologically related. This brings the families together and at the same time removes a lot of the complications involved in traditional surrogacy (when the surrogate is also the genetic mother of the child).
We get asked quite a lot about how surrogacy for gay couples works and if it is a good option to consider. This blog will take you through the process of surrogacy involving gay partners in detail and what factors to consider before you make a decision. Let’s go!
What Should You Know Before You Decide on Surrogacy?
Deciding to go through the surrogacy process is not to be taken lightly. You have to consider all the aspects involved carefully before jumping into the process. The first and the most important one is your readiness to welcome a child into your family. You have to be properly prepared emotionally and financially. You also have to consider the legal aspects as well as the social side of your life before you make the decision.
Getting prepared also should include discussions such as which partner would be genetically related to the child by being a sperm donor. You could also discuss if you want to go with anonymous egg donors. There are also options where one partner donates the sperm and a close relative of the other partner donates the eggs (known egg donor). This makes both partners genetically related to the child.
Legal considerations are also important to consider before you decide on surrogacy. Understand the surrogacy laws of the state you live in. You should also take a look at what the same-sex marriage regulations are in your state as this can impact the future of the child. Some states are not surrogacy friendly so this makes it legally complicated if you live in one of these states. Some states would need additional steps in the process for both dads to have their names on the child’s birth certificate. Some states require just a pre-birth order. Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and custody orders are requirements in some states. In some cases, you would also have to do a full second-parent adoption to ensure that you both are legally identified as parents. Adoption has the additional advantage that it is legally recognized all over the country.
It is preferred that you identify and work with a surrogacy agency to make sure that you are doing everything right. The surrogacy agency will help you with your surrogacy journey from beginning to end including identifying the gestational surrogate and navigating the legal landscape for gay parents.
What Does the Process Look Like?
The process isn’t too dissimilar from what it is for heterosexual couples. Here are some of the common steps involved in the process.
Identify the Right Fertility Clinic and Practitioner
Before you jump into the surrogacy process, identifying a fertility clinic to work with is critical. Do your research to find clinics in your area that can provide surrogacy services. The clinic’s experience working with parents of various sexual orientations is a critical consideration. check if they have worked with LGBT parents in the past.
It is also important to find the right fertility practitioner to work with. They should be experienced in the field of course and should also have experience working with gay surrogacy before. This will help immensely.
Finding a Gestational Carrier
The process begins with finding a surrogate for the process. You can work with a surrogacy agency that will help you with this. Usually, this involves a thorough screening process that will account for some of the common parameters required to be a surrogate and also take into consideration special conditions.
The gestational carrier also has to undergo a medical screening to ensure that she is healthy to carry the pregnancy to term without many complications. It is also important to choose a surrogate who is LGBT friendly and can work with you in the long run.
Identifying Egg and Sperm Donors
The next important step is to identify the egg and sperm donors for the rest of the process. If one of the prospective parents is the sperm donor, they will have to undergo a medical screening process to ensure that they are fit for sperm donation. The egg donor can be someone you know or you could choose an anonymous donor for this. Usually, the agency or the fertility clinic you work with will be able to help you with identifying the right egg donor for you. It could also be your close relative if you want to ensure that both dads are genetically linked to the child.
Legalities involved are quite an important aspect of same-sex surrogacy. Surrogacy advocates who are involved in the process will help you understand what are the legal requirements for the surrogacy process. Since the surrogate is not a biological parent of the child, it is a much less complicated process but it can still be complex. A surrogacy contract is critical. It protects your rights and lays out the roles and responsibilities of all parties.
Beyond the legal contract, other legal matters to establish parental rights of same-sex parents also need to be taken care of. This can be complex again because of the differences in state laws from place to place. It is also complicated by the fact that same-sex marriage isn’t recognized in all states so issues like inheritance become a more difficult arrangement.
The Fertilization Process
The next step is the process of fertilization and embryo transfer. This is usually done via In-vitro fertilization (IVF). The IVF clinic will help you with this process. The eggs and sperm are collected from the respective donors. This is then fertilized in-vitro in the lab with intent of transferring an embryo into the surrogate mother.
After the embryo transfer, the surrogate will have initial pregnancy care in the fertility clinic before transferring to an OB/GYN.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Once the IVF is successful, managing the pregnancy and childbirth comes next. If the surrogate is healthy and has regular care, this can be quite a smooth process. The relationship you build with your surrogate will come in handy during this time. It is a great idea for the intended parents to have regular contact with the surrogate to ensure that they are a part of the pregnancy. Depending on what is comfortable for you as well as the surrogate, find a way to stay in touch and communicate regularly.
Gestational surrogacy is a lifeline for gay couples, who cannot naturally conceive and give birth. Family building through surrogacy is a widely accepted practice today and there are many clinics and agencies around who will be able to help you with the process.
Your preparation to be a parent is the most important aspect of the process. If you are mentally prepared and you have the financial means to not just cover the cost of surrogacy but also the subsequent life of a child, it is a good starting point. Take special care of the legal aspects as this can complicate the process. Establishing your parentage is important both for your security as well as the well-being of the child.
Reproductive Health & Wellness Center are expert in fertility treatment and IVF with years of experience in enabling couples of all sexual orientations. Talk to our expert doctors today to begin your surrogacy journey!