While an increasing number of LGBTQ couples are starting families, there are significant barriers on the path to parenthood for the majority of LGBTQ individuals. A national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013 found that 51% of adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender either have children or would like to in the future.
There are several options to pursue parenthood for LGBTQ couples.
Adoption is the process of becoming the legal guardian of a child whose birth parents have relinquished their parental rights and chosen an adoption plan instead of raising their biological child themselves.
When choosing to pursue parenthood through adoption, couples have the option to adopt through either a private or public agency. Families also must decide if they would like to have a closed adoption, in which the birth parent(s) has no interaction with the child, or an open adoption, where the birth parent(s) have a relationship with the child and their adoptive family.
As the number of same-sex couples adopting in the United States increased over 10% from 2000 to 2009, U.S. Census data suggests that LGBTQ parents are over four times more likely to adopt than heterosexual couples.
Foster parenting is the temporary care of a child who needs to be taken out of their birth home due to specific and immediate safety concerns, while their birth family receives the help they need in order to be able to create a safe and loving home for the child. A child may be placed in the foster home for as short a time as a few hours, while another member of the child’s family is found to be an appropriate placement, or for as long as several years, while the child’s birth parent(s) complete a treatment plan.
According to U.S. Census data, LGBTQ parents are six times more likely to become foster parents than heterosexual couples. Fostering parenting may lead to adoption, but it often does not.
Assisted Reproduction: Donor Insemination
Donor insemination is the process of placing sperm directly into a woman’s vagina to assist in conception. This can be especially helpful for female same-sex couples by using donor sperm.
When considering if donor insemination is the right path to parenthood, the couple should consider whether they would like to use sperm from a known donor, such as a friend or family member, or an unknown donor. If choosing to use an unknown donor, the sperm can be obtained from a sperm bank, which pairs couples with anonymous sperm donors based on a series of questions regarding preference in such areas as race, education level, and familial medical history. Lesbian couples will also need to decide which partner will conceive and whether they will have the procedure done by a doctor or if they will use an at-home insemination kit.
The associated costs with donor insemination can be anywhere between $300-$4,000, depending on a variety of factors such as the cost of the donor sperm, if using an unknown donor. There are also additional legal costs ranging from $750-$1,500, if using a known donor.
Assisted Reproduction: In Vitro Fertilization
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process of harvesting a woman’s egg to manually inseminate it with a sperm sample in a laboratory dish. Once the embryo is believed to be viable, it is then transferred back into the woman’s uterus.
Many of the same considerations with donor insemination are applicable to this path to parenthood as well, including deciding which partner will conceive and whether to use a known or unknown donor. The associated costs with IVF are between $10,000-$15,000 on average per cycle, including the legal costs outlined above, if using a known donor.
Assisted Reproduction: Surrogacy
Surrogacy is when someone who is not a part of the couple intended to be the child’s parents carries the pregnancy. This is especially helpful for male same-sex couples who would like to become parents by way other than adoption or fostering.
When considering growing their family through surrogacy, the couple must make several decisions, including whether the surrogate will also be the egg donor and whether the surrogate and egg donor will be known or unknown.
The typical costs associated with surrogacy average between $80,000-$140,000. There may also be additional legal costs associated with both the surrogate and the egg donor.
Each couple should make sure to discuss these options thoroughly before deciding which pathway to parenthood is right for them. If you would like more information about beginning your journey to parenthood, OC Fertility’s team of board-certified physicians are ready to speak with you today at 949-706-BABY (2229).