Same-sex and LGBTQ+ couples and surrogacy
Same-sex and LGBTQ couples face unique challenges when it comes to having kids and creating families. Advances in assisted reproduction have made surrogacy a viable option for many. There are some important things to consider, however, when deciding to use surrogacy to create or grow your family. This includes legal, medical, as well as practical considerations. Advocacy as well as high-profile LGBTQ+ parents have done a lot to normalize surrogacy for all persons, including same-sex couples.
Surrogacy for Same-Sex Couples: Legal Considerations
An important starting place for LGBTQ+ couples is understanding the legal landscape surrounding surrogacy. In the United States, same-sex couples are generally treated the same under the law, including for the purposes of surrogacy, however, there may be restrictions that uniquely affect same-sex partners (who are not fully biologically related to their children) or unmarried partners.
In the United States, there are no federal laws governing surrogacy. Surrogacy is left up to each state to regulate. Some states have no regulations (thereby permitting surrogacy in the absence of laws prohibiting it), while others have very specific requirements. In all states where surrogacy is permitted, surrogates must go through rigorous medical and lifestyle screenings. Not every woman that has had successful pregnancies in the past is qualified to be a surrogate. For a full list of requirements, review these surrogate eligibility guidelines.
Some states are considered “surrogacy-friendly” because of the favorable laws in place decided to protect all parties, including the enforceability of surrogacy contracts. Other states are surrogacy-neutral with little to no regulations or protections. Other states severely limit or prohibit surrogacy and are not ideal places to consider a journey. Intended Parents, including international couples, can choose which state they’d like to explore surrogacy in by finding a surrogate in that state. Surrogates are generally limited to the state they are a resident of, but there are some exceptions. Experienced attorneys are great resources for discussions on state-by-state considerations, including jurisdiction. It’s important to work with an experienced assisted reproduction attorney who is knowledgeable about surrogacy. Your attorney can help guide you through the legal process. Feel free to use SurrogacyPlace.com’s own surrogacy attorney directory
Surrogacy for Same-Sex Couples: Financial Considerations
Surrogacy is a costly endeavor for all Intended Parents, including members of the LGBTQ+ community. Expenses start with embryo creation. Egg retrievals (whether done on yourself or from a donor) and IVF medications are extremely expensive and not typically covered by insurance. Using a donor embryo or undergoing traditional surrogacy can be less costly, as is forgoing a surrogacy agency and doing an independent surrogacy journey.
In addition to fertility treatments and medications, including injectable hormones for the surrogate, Intended Parents must pay surrogate compensation, legal fees (including legal fees incurred by their surrogate), health insurance/medical bills, travel expenses, maternity clothes, lost wages, life insurance for the surrogate and her family, and child care costs for the surrogate’s own children if applicable. For a full rundown, here are some of the typical costs Intended Parents pay. The only optional costs are funds given to a surrogacy agency; agency fees can run tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars! Those that do self-managed independent surrogacy save a significant amount of money and oftentimes shorten their wait times in the process.
Surrogacy is an emotional experience for Intended Parents. Everyone entering into a surrogacy arrangement should have a strong support system in place during the process. There are no guarantees in surrogacy, there are sometimes devastating set backs including chemical pregnancies, medical delays, fetal abnormalities, and broken matches. Those that turn to surrogacy for family building must have a strong support network, including a supportive partner if applicable, to help navigate any unpredictable pitfalls. Some turn to support groups. It’s important to realize that surrogacy can be stressful even when everything goes well. Intended Parents need to be mentally prepared to weather any storms that may arise.
Surrogacy for Same-Sex Couples: Choosing an Egg or Sperm Donor
For same-sex male or lesbian couples choosing an egg, sperm, or embryo donor is a critical decision. There are many factors at play including medical history and physical traits. Many Intended Parents will choose egg or sperm donors based on physical traits that closely mirror their own. Donors are categorized by education-level, drug/alcohol history, medical history, ethnicity, profession, talents, religion, and lifestyle. Egg or sperm donors can be anonymous or known donors, though in either case egg and sperm donors waive all parental rights when they sign a contract for gamete donation.
Surrogacy for Same-Sex Couples: Social Stigma
Same-sex couples who utilize surrogacy may face negative reaction from family members or strangers. Similar to the scrutiny same-sex couples experience when they decide to adopt a child, attitudes towards same-sex relationships especially when it comes to children are still evolving. In certain areas, LGBTQ+ families may face little stigma, in more conservative areas they may field negative comments and their child(ren) may be subject to negative reactions.
Fortunately, there are resources and advocacy groups that can help. Men Having Babies is one such organization. Having a community of other LGBTQ+ parents is also important.
Surrogacy for Same-Sex Couples: Establishing Parentage
In certain states and counties, same-sex couples may have more limited options with respect to establishing their parentage for children born via surrogacy. This is especially true if a same-sex couple is not married or in instances where neither parent is biologically related to their child(ren). In states that limit pre-birth parentage orders, same-sex parents generally must undergo a second-parent or stepparent adoption process to confirm their parental rights.
Surrogacy for Same-Sex Couples: Finding the Right Surrogate
Matching with the right surrogate is a key aspect of surrogacy. In addition to screening for shared views on termination and pregnancy protocols, same-sex couples and LGBTQ+ individuals should ascertain the LGBTQ+ comfort level of any prospective surrogates. Surrogacy Place understands this concern and have included LGBTQ+ status as a searchable field to help LGBTQ+ parents find surrogates who are enthusiastic about working with them.
Review some of the questions Intended Parents should be asking surrogates during the matching process.
Surrogacy for Same-Sex Couples: Preparing for the Challenges of Parenting
Couples from the LGBTQ+ community who opt to have children, including children born from surrogacy, must be ready to take up the responsibilities of raising a child. To best prepare yourself, consider taking parenting classes, build a network of fellow LGBTQ+ parents, and fully share in the responsibilities of day-to-day parenting with your partner if you have one.