If you are a gay man in a committed relationship, you do not have to go through the rest of your life without having a family. There are many options for parenting available for gay men. The four may ways to have a child are egg donor, co-parenting, adoption, and surrogacy.
Egg Donation and Gestational Carriers
With donor insemination, one of the gay men donates sperm so a woman can become pregnant. Donor insemination is usually performed at a fertility clinic using a known donor. Because egg donation involves carrying the baby to term, it is best to use a licensed clinic. Many couples choose a close friend to serve as the gestational carrier. The carrier cannot have any problems with her uterus and be in good health. Eggs from donors must meet strict requirements, and donors are screened for psychological and medical conditions. In addition, the resulting embryos can be screened for genetic problems before placed into the carrier’s uterus.
Whether the arrangement is made through a fertility center or you negotiate it privately, using a gestational carrier is a complex, emotionally intense process. When you choose this option, be prepared to commit much money, time, and patience. At present, on a few states allow gestational carrier contracts, and they are not always enforceable. It is important to work out the details with a licensed attorney who has training and expertise in third party reproduction.
Some gay couples choose to co-parent with a woman. One of the men donates the sperm, and both parties share responsibility for and custody of the resulting child. As a co-parent, the gay couple will not have sole custody of the baby. It is crucial to receive legal advice beforehand, as there are several details to be worked out. Concerns include what role each parent will assume, the degree of involvement each person will have with the baby, and how the costs will be divided.
Many same-sex couples choose to adopt a child together. The men can apply to adopt through an adoption agency. Researchers estimate that 0.5-1% of children are living with at least one gay parent. The United States has a critical shortage of adoptive and foster parents, so many children are currently without permanent homes. At least 21 states have granted adoptions to gay and lesbian couples. State agencies and courts now apply what is known as “best interest of the child,” which is a standard used to decide custody. With this approach, a person’s sexual orientation is not used for ending or limiting parenting options.
With surrogacy, one woman has a baby for the gay couple. The woman’s egg is fertilized by intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). With IVF, the eggs are removed from the surrogate, fertilized in the laboratory, and resulting embryos are placed back into the woman’s uterus. The gay couple must decide who will provide the sperm. Some fertility centers offer a choice of dividing the eggs, allowing half to be fertilized by each partner. Resulting embryos are placed back into the surrogate’s uterus, so two babies are born, one with each of the father’s biological contribution.
When using IVF, the surrogate must take medications to stimulate the ovaries to develop multiple eggs. When her eggs are mature, they can be fertilized. The doctor retrieves the eggs in a simple outpatient procedure. The male must produce a sperm sample, and the eggs are fertilized in the laboratory. Embryos result after 3-5 days, and they are transferred back into the woman’s uterus. The gay couple can be present for prenatal visits, Lamaze classes, and the delivery.