Same sex surrogacy has exploded in popularity recently. Not only are more members of the LGBT community interested in parenthood, but more egg donors and surrogate mothers are looking to assist them. It’s difficult to identify any single reason that explains this popularity, but the increasing normalization of homosexuality among the general public seems to be a factor – perhaps same-sex couples feel ‘safe enough’ in today’s world to raise a child. Discrimination still exists, but maybe a turning point has been reached where the amount of people in the world who accept homosexuality, or are at least indifferent, far outpace those against it. Although gaining popularity, much of the LGBT community has questions on how it all works, both legally and mechanically.
You probably know at least a little about surrogacy if you’ve come this far, but let’s make sure we’re on the same page. In the simplest terms, surrogacy is when a woman agrees to bear a child for another person. ‘Traditional’ surrogacy means the participants carry out the required mechanics naturally without the aid of science or medicine. Because in the case of traditional surrogacy the surrogate mother is also necessarily the biological mother of the child, the arrangement is much more legally complex and not as popular as gestational surrogacy. Gestational surrogacy is when an embryo is created outside the womb and transferred into the surrogate mother. In most cases, this type of surrogacy means the surrogate mother is not biologically related to the child – in fact, the sperm donor, egg donor and surrogate mother can all be separate people, none of whom are the intended parents. Gestational surrogacy is far more popular, and the focus of this article.
Who Uses Surrogacy?
In the straight community, surrogacy is used for a variety of reasons. Either they are unable to become pregnant, or able to become pregnant but not able to carry a child through to birth. In some cases the intended parents are able to create a fertilized embryo, but need a surrogate mother to carry the child, other times a sperm or egg donor is needed, or other variations.
For the LGBT community, the reason for surrogacy is much more obvious – by definition, a same sex couple is missing either an egg or sperm. There is never a situation where both same-sex parents are the biological parents. There might be issues with fertility and pregnancy as well, but regardless, surrogacy is required when a same-sex couple wants the ability to select the biological parents of the child vs adoption.
Who Will Be the Biological Parent?
You and your partner have decided it’s time to have a baby. You’ve done the research, put your budget into a spreadsheet, figured out daycare, heard the stories of sleepless nights and years of diapers and ready to move forward. If you are a same-sex couple and both capable of either producing a healthy egg or sperm, now you must decide who will be the biological parent.
In some cases this is an easy decision, perhaps it only matters to one of you that the child is biologically theirs. Or maybe one of you already have a child from a previous relationship. Otherwise, you may be on equal footing when it comes to being the biological parent of your child and need to make a decision.
How to Choose an Egg Donor
First of all, it’s critical that you use a surrogacy agency to find an egg donor. Except in the rare case you already have a friend or family member willing to do this, you will want a surrogacy agency with a large, quality, database of pre-screened egg donors to choose from. Exactly what criteria to use for your selection is based totally on your own beliefs and opinions and you want a database big enough, and quality enough, to find the right one. In some cases, the intended parents are looking for physical characteristics that match their own – eye color, hair, height… Other times the intended parents look for an egg donor with an impressive college degree or athleticism. There is no right or wrong answer, and there is no guarantee the child will have the desired traits anyway.
Choosing a Sperm Donor
Finding a sperm donor is no different, it’s up to you to decide what characteristics your future child will be more predisposed towards. And again, make sure you start with a large, quality, database of screened donors.
Choosing a Surrogacy Mother
Seemingly to the surprise of many same-sex couples, it is not difficult to find a surrogate mother willing to work with them. In fact, many are actively seeking to carry a child for a gay couple or individual. Because, in most cases, the surrogate mother is not biologically related to the child, the criteria for selecting the right surrogate is much different than that of finding the right sperm or egg donor. You will have a personal relationship with the surrogate mother for 9 months. Do you want to be in regular contact with the surrogate mother, with her every step of the pregnancy and perhaps beyond? Or do you only want to be in communication during regular, scheduled milestones? And it goes both ways, surrogate mothers want to work with people who share their same communication preference.
There has never been a better time in human history for gay couples and LGBT people in general to have children. Science, medicine and society have come together to give same-sex couples what they have always wanted – the same rights as everyone else. No more, no less. Having a child can be the strongest bonding experience two people can have, regardless of sexual orientation. If you have ever considered having a child, the first step is knowledge – do your research, and especially, reach out to the caring and helpful staff at whichever surrogacy agency feels like the right choice for you. We hope you select Conceptual Options to help in your journey.