If you are a gay man, woman or couple who is considering adding children to your life, this is an exciting time! There are more and more examples of gay men and women who are becoming parents through methods other than through previous heterosexual relationships. How to achieve this dream, can be overwhelming without a lot of information and forethought.
There are several decisions to be made as you begin your process to parenthood. Here is a list of some, but not all, of the topics to be discussed:
- How out are you? Do you feel comfortable with everyone knowing that you are GLBTQQI? The truth of the matter is that being a gay parent requires that you find a sense of normalcy within your family/comunity. Children will talk about their family and home. Descretion is a learned skill! When you can normalize your sexual orientation and relationship, you children will take your lead. If you are uncomfortable with people knowing that you are not heterosexual, your children will internalize your concerns.
- How will your social supports change? Do you know lots of people with children or are you the first in your social circle to bring children into your life? Many first time parents are shocked when some social friends are not as welcoming of children as others. Can you imagine yourself making new friends in the tot lot? Who do you think they will be? What will that mean to you?
- What is the role of biology? Are you considering using your own biology (surrogacy, IVF, insemination, etc) or are you planning for adoption? What does it mean when one partner is genetically linked to a child but the other partner isn't? Will you need a sperm or egg donor? How will you choose? If you choose adoption, what is the role your child's birth family? Understanding the difference between biological parent and Mother/Father is an important distinction.
- How will you manage your financial planning. As openly gay parents to be, the cost of bringing a child into your life can range from a few hundred dollars to well over $100,000. What process works best for you, and how you pay for it, needs to be considered as you decide to move forward. Each process has its own benefits and challenges. Make sure you understand the what is required and how much each step costs!
- What legal protections will you need? Based on where you live, your marital status and the biological root of your child will determine what legal processes you will need to preserve the appropriate protections for every member of your family.
There are many more considerations to ponder. Be sure to talk to a specialist who understands the route to building a gay/lesbian/trans family. Regardless of what route is best for you, be sure to think long term (What impact will these early decisions have on my child/family years from now? What does my family look like when it is complete?) and keep as many options on the table for as long as you can -- you never know what the future brings!