Making Family Building Inclusive
Starting or growing a family is a wonderful experience. Everyone should be afforded this privilege, if desired, and the LGBTQ+ community is no exception. At one point, family-building options were only limited to adoption. Now with medical advancements, same-sex couples can have families with genetic links. Today, over 2 million LGBTQ+ individuals or couples have at least one child. One powerful option for LGBTQ+ people, especially gay men and transgender women, is gestational carriers. Despite the practicality of surrogacy, couples must consider some challenges and considerations.
The power of ART
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has been a mainstay for couples struggling with infertility. However, ART techniques are now used to help same-sex couples and LGBTQ+ individuals start and grow families. For instance, using donor sperm, some couples can benefit from intrauterine insemination (IUI). Others who have preserved fertility can also use IUI or in vitro fertilization (IVF). With IVF, a clinic takes sperm and egg samples to create mature embryos. One or more embryos are then transferred to the chosen partner and monitored for pregnancy. More and more states welcome ART as a means for same-sex couples to pursue family planning.
Traditional vs gestational surrogacy
In many cases, ART is not the best option. The couple often requires a third party through surrogacy. A surrogate is a woman willing and able to carry the child to term on behalf of the future parents. Traditional carriers only require a sperm sample for IUI. Since the carrier’s eggs are used, the child will have a genetic link. A gestational carrier requires implantation via IVF. The carrier’s eggs aren’t used. The couple may use an anonymous donor, but there are cases where a family member or known individual contributes the eggs.
Navigating gestational surrogacy challenges
Gestational surrogacy is one of the best options for gay or transgender couples who want a biological link to the child. With surrogacy, however, comes some challenges and considerations. The couple must have healthy sperm and should have a semen analysis done beforehand. Infertility impacts 1 in 5 Americans, including same-sex couples. Furthermore, the couple must also be willing to navigate the obstacles of surrogacy. For instance, each state has different laws that affect the surrogacy. Some contain even more challenges for same-sex couples. Finding a suitable gestational carrier who understands and empathizes with couples can also prove challenging. Once couples can navigate these additional issues, gestational carriers usually have high success rates.
Is it the best option?
While adoption is possible, some future parents want a genetic connection to the child. For gay men or transgender couples, surrogacy may be the best option. First, both persons must decide who will be genetically linked to the child. Once the partner has healthy sperm, the couple can choose the suitable donor. Working with a fertility team and surrogacy agency that caters to the LGBTQ+ community is essential. This team can choose donor eggs, gestational carriers, and even navigate the legal hurdles to come.