Gay and Lesbian Parenting – Info from a Denver Fertility Clinic

Advancements in Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) have made it possible for gay men and lesbian couples to have biologically related children. In particular, third party assisted reproduction, such as surrogacy, has enabled gay couples to fulfill their dreams of starting a family.

It is estimated that 1 – 9 million children in the US have at least one gay or lesbian parent. The 2000 Census reported approximately 594,000 same-sex partner households, of which 27% include children living in the household. Recent research suggests that children of lesbian mothers or gay fathers are identical to those raised in conventional households in terms of behavior and learning.

Different Parenting Options

Gay and lesbian couples may decide to have a child who is biologically related to one parent, or may chose donor insemination and surrogacy. Surrogacy is a type of third party assisted reproduction, wherein a woman carries the pregnancy for another woman or couple.

Lesbian couples generally need a sperm donor to artificially inseminate one of the partners’ oocyte. However, surrogacy may be considered by lesbian couples who have fertility issues or carry transmittable genetic diseases.

Gay parenting depends on both an egg donor and a surrogate to complete the pregnancy. Egg donors and surrogates may be female relatives or friends of the gay couple, or they may be anonymous individuals whose services are provided through a fertility clinic. Some States require that the egg donor and surrogate are two different individuals.

Traditional Surrogacy involves the surrogate being artificially inseminated with the sperm from the intended father. Gestational carriers, on the other hand, carry a pregnancy that ensues from donor eggs and donor sperm. Therefore, the child is genetically related to the surrogate, but not the gestational carrier.

Biological Connection

It may be desirable for same-sex couples to have a child with biological ties to both parents. Today, this is possible through the following venues:

  • By combining the sperm from both gay partners with separate donor eggs, twins may be conceived—each child genetically related to one of the fathers. A DNA test can be performed later to determine the genetic father of each child.
  • If a gay partner has a sister who can serve as the egg donor, the other partner’s sperm is used for artificial insemination. Through this process, the child is biologically related to both gay fathers.
  • Another approach is to have a child through a surrogate using the sperm of one gay partner. Afterwards, another child may be conceived with the help of the same surrogate, but by using the other gay partner’s sperm. This way, both children have the same biological mother and are each genetically related to one of the gay fathers.

Legal Guidance

Finally, it is important for same-sex couples opting for surrogacy to consult with a reproductive law attorney to help protect all concerned parties during the process. The attorney will provide helpful guidance on drafting the surrogate and egg donor agreements and establish mutual understanding. Setting clear agreement terms in advance will help prevent difficult decisions in the future.

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