There are many options for becoming a parent with your same-sex partner. Whilst adoption and fostering may be the answer for some couples, others may wish to have a child that is biologically related to one of them.
Options open for same-sex couples who wish for their child to be biologically related to one of them include donor insemination (for lesbian couples), surrogacy (for gay couples), and co-parenting.
DONOR INSEMINATION FOR LESBIAN COUPLES
You can choose an unknown donor through a fertility clinic or you can receive donated sperm directly from a known friend or someone you have met through a connection service such as Pride Angel (prideangel.com).
Donor insemination or intra-uterine insemination (IUI) can either be performed within a fertility clinic or in your home environment using a home insemination kit.
Advantages of using a known donor include the ability to understand more about the donor’s personality traits and the donor having involvement in the child’s life as an “Uncle” figure, for example, without them having full parental responsibility, or through a co-parenting arrangement. If you are using a known donor it’s advisable to get some legal advice and a donor agreement drawn up.
IUI OR IVF TREATMENT?
If you are a lesbian with no known fertility issues, then it may be worth trying the less medically invasive fertility treatment known as IUI or intra-uterine insemination, whereby washed sperm is inserted directly into the uterus. IUI is cheaper and can often be effective when the woman is healthy and under 35 years of age.
If you suspect fertility issues, or are over the age of 35 years, then the fertility clinic may recommend IVF (in vitro fertilisation). Although more expensive, the procedure has a higher success rate and is therefore more suitable when trying to get pregnant faster.
Surrogacy is an option for gay couples who wish to have a child who is biologically related to one of the fathers.
The surrogate’s own eggs can be used, and this is known as “Traditional Surrogacy” and the child will be genetically related to the surrogate. Alternatively, the eggs of an egg donor can be used. This is known as “Gestational Surrogacy” and the child will not be genetically related to the surrogate. In this process, the embryo is created by using sperm from the intended biological father and an egg from the egg donor (biological mother) through the process of in vitro fertilisation. The egg donor could be a known donor found through a connection service such as Pride Angel.
Some couples prefer to use a gestational surrogate as the surrogate will not be biologically related to the child and therefore this helps with any attachment issues a biologically related surrogate could have.
Arranging surrogacy in the UK can be difficult. One difficulty faced with surrogacy in the UK is that in the eyes of the law, until the Parental Order has been issued after the baby’s birth, the baby is not “yours” and therefore the surrogate could choose to keep the baby. For this reason some gay couples may choose surrogacy abroad in countries such as the United States, where a legal contract ensures that the baby is handed over.
It is important to seek advice and gain knowledge of the surrogacy law before considering surrogacy as an option.
Co-parenting is an arrangement where two people of the opposite sex agree to conceive and raise a child together when they are not in a relationship. For instance, a single gay man and a single lesbian team up together to bring up a child together. Sometimes friends choose to co-parent or often a suitable co-parent is found through a connection service such as Pride Angel.
Co-parents can choose to conceive either through a fertility clinic or using home insemination as long as the health screening checks and legal co-parenting agreement have been completed.
With co-parenting, parental responsibility is shared and a number of details need to be considered, such as the role each parent will have in their child’s life, how much contact the child will get with each parent and how the financial costs of bringing up their child will be split.
It is advised that you seek legal advice before considering co-parenting as this option can be complicated.
Whichever option gay and lesbian couples decide is best for them in order to have children, the most important values are that children are raised in a safe, secure and loving environment.