It’s no secret that choosing a fertility clinic can be an emotionally and intellectually exhausting task. It can feel as though you are placing your family into someone else’s hands. Allowing a person—let alone an entire clinic—into your family and allowing them to walk the often difficult and life-changing journey into parenthood alongside you is an extremely vulnerable choice.

Making that decision as a person who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender only adds another layer of complexity as you work to navigate potential unawareness or even blatant discrimination due to your sexual orientation or gender identity.

While some factors, such as a clinic’s success rate and how many procedures they perform each year, should be a top priority for all potential parents who are seeking a fertility clinic, there are some unique key factors which LGBTQIA+ couples and families should consider

Is the fertility center you are considering active and involved with LGBTQIA+ community?

Besides the typical things all potential parents should consider when choosing a fertility clinic, this is one of the top questions to ask as a person who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

Choosing a clinic that is educated and experienced in working with the LGBTQIA+ community may make the process more pleasant.  While this may not affect a clinic’s efficacy, it may affect your comfort level and allow for an easier time developing trust between you and your medical team.  

Ask how much of their patient population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. If relevant to you and your family, ask if they have ever worked with someone transitioning and understand the correct use of pronouns. It’s ok to ask important questions and advocate for yourself, especially if it makes a difference in your experience at the clinic you will likely have several visits at. 

If you are a lesbian couple or a single woman, does the clinic have sperm banks they recommend if you decide to use an unknown donor?

Choosing a donor can be a daunting task. There are so many factors to consider, including whether to use a known or unknown donor. Even once you decide on that, if you want to use an unknown donor, you still must choose which sperm bank to use.

Ask if the fertility clinic you are considering has a specific bank they recommend or work with often. Having the approval of your doctor can help you feel better about using a specific bank when there are so many to choose from. Plus, using a facility your clinic uses often may help reduce issues throughout the process since there is already an existing working relationship.

If you are a gay male couple or a single man, does the clinic provide resources for finding an egg donor and/or a surrogate to carry your child if you decide to use an unknown donor and/or surrogate?

Similar to choosing a sperm bank, deciding which egg donor and/or gestational surrogate is an emotional and difficult task to undertake and it is important that you have solid advice and recommendations from experts in the field.

If the fertility clinic you are thinking of using has a list of potential surrogacy agencies they work with to match potential parents with surrogates and egg donors, you can rest assured, with your doctor’s recommendation behind them, that it is a reputable agency and your family is in good hands. Using an agency that already works with your fertility clinic may reduce communication or processing issues.

Does the fertility clinic you are considering have attorneys they can recommend to help you navigate the potential legal concerns?

A common concern when using a donor (either sperm or egg) are the legal implications involved and as a result, often times a legal contract is required. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of attorneys who can help you avoid any legal issues now or down the road. Using a lawyer  recommended by your medical team, whom they know and trust to be well versed in this very specific area of the law can help give you peace of mind.

This lawyer may also be able to assist you in deciding if you or your partner will need to complete a second-parent adoption. Even with the national legalization of same-sex marriage, it is still sometimes a good idea, especially in certain states, to have a second-parent adoption completed, regardless of marital status or what it says on your child’s birth certificate. These legal issues are complex and extremely important, so it is imperative that you involve a legal professional to assist you in protecting your rights and your family.

How can I tell whether a clinic is LGBTQIA+ friendly?

Some of these questions can be answered by simply researching a fertility clinic online, but some may require a phone call. Clinic websites that do not mention the LGBTQIA+ community at all may not be well versed in treating patients of the community however  you may want to consider calling to specifically ask about their experience working with this patient population. .

Once you have narrowed it down to a few top clinics, schedule a consultation to ask any additional questions you may have and see how you feel with their medical team. This is a life-altering process this clinic will be walking with you – make sure you trust and like their staff.

At OC Fertility, we are proud to serve the unique needs of individuals within Orange County’s LGBTQIA+ community in their journey to start and/or grow their families. To learn more information about whether OC Fertility might be the right fit for you, contact us for an initial consultation at (949) 706-2229.