The wonderful news for gay couples when it comes to navigating the path to parenthood, is that thanks to assisted reproductive technology (ART), more options exist than ever before. The number of couples (including gay men) who choose surrogacy to achieve biological parenthood, has more than doubled in the last ten years, according to a 2010 report by the nonprofit Council for Responsible Genetics. Yet, due to a serious lack of progressive legislation, gay couples (and many heterosexual unmarried couples) have more obstacles when navigating their paths to parenthood using ART. Four major considerations must be investigated when planning to build a family with the use of an egg donor, surrogate, and IVF.
1) Surrogacy Agreements
Once the perfect surrogate match for your family has been secured, you will need a surrogacy agreement. This essential part of the surrogacy journey protects all parties involved; the intended parents, the surrogate, and the unborn child(ren). It’s important to know, however, that not all states recognize surrogacy contracts. It’s not uncommon for surrogacy laws to fluctuate and differ state-by-state. To further complicate matters, within a given state, surrogacy laws can differ at the county level. Additionally, thanks to the patchwork of state and federal laws and discrimination towards gay families, some states follow different surrogacy laws for heterosexual couples than for those of the same-sex. When using a gestational surrogate to carry your child, one of the biggest legal concerns relates to state regulations regarding parentage on the child’s birth certificate. The central question is whether or not a state’s laws allow married, intended parents to obtain a pre-birth order and birth certificate naming both parents on the certificate (so long as one parent is biologically related to the child). Ultimately, the laws for parentage are specific to each state and this is one of many areas where gay couples are best served by engaging the expertise of both fertility and legal professionals.
2) Financial Planning
Infertility treatments can be costly. Planning financially for all possible outcomes during the fertility process will give you peace of mind and help you concentrate on the most important (and joyful!) result, preparing to become a parent. One item to consider with regard to your financial plan is the genuine possibility that the first IVF attempt may not be successful. As each round of treatment incurs its own set of costs, evaluating your financial capacity for several attempts at pregnancy is critical. Additionally, consider the possibility that the surrogate may incur unforeseen expenses during her pregnancy, and that insurance may not cover all of her needs. Again, adequate financial planning brings a sense of calm to what can otherwise be an emotionally tumultuous experience. It’s important to note that there are several companies nation-wide that offer financial assistance to qualifying families.
One way to protect your family’s finances and lessen the out-of-pocket expenses is to make sure you have the right insurance plan in place. Sadly, just like the complex web of surrogacy laws, insuring the surrogacy process can be just as complicated. Hidden surrogacy exclusions and additional exceptions to coverage can be hidden away in policy terms. Arm yourself with an advocate and a knowledgeable insurance agent who can help guide you and make sure that everyone has the necessary protection in place. Unfortunately, our country still has a long way to go towards offering marriage and family equality. Make sure that whomever you choose to work with understands the nuances of both the law and your current or potential health and life insurance policies, especially when it comes to coverage of domestic partnerships or marriages that may not be recognized in all states.
4) Emotional and Relational
While both exciting and anxiety producing, the pathway toward parenthood is rife with surprises no matter how prepared you and your partner feel. The emotional roller coaster of finding an ideal egg donor, searching for a surrogate, enduring the waiting, and hoping for a successful in vitro fertilization can be a very emotionally taxing time. It’s important to surround yourself with emotional support as you embark on this exciting journey. Another important, and sometimes overlooked, relationship that you will form during this process is the one with your surrogate. The intended parent/surrogate relationship is not one many anticipate, however more often than not, fulfillment and joy result from this exceptional bond. Communicating openly with your chosen surrogate can be especially satisfying and rewarding. Through it all, make time for yourself and each other. Discuss your hopes, fears, dreams, and worries as you prepare for parenthood.
There are many factors for gay couples to consider when thinking about becoming parents through artificial reproductive technology. While it can feel overwhelming, there are teams of experts who can help you navigate the medical, legal, emotional and financial aspects of your pathway to parenthood.
Lotus Blossom Consultant’s mission is to provide education and information through an insider’s perspective so that intended gay parents can make educated decisions before they pursue treatment options.