If you identify as LGBTQ+ and you want to have a baby with or without a partner, you have several options.
In this video, San Diego Health host Susan Taylor talks with DeAnna Young, MD, an OB-GYN at Scripps Coastal Medical Center Encinitas and Scripps Coastal Medical Center Jefferson in Oceanside, about the possibilities available to the LGBTQ community to start or expand a family.
Artificial insemination gives LGBTQ individuals the opportunity to experience pregnancy and biological parenthood. During this process, a woman’s egg is fertilized with sperm from a donor. She becomes pregnant and carries the baby. The sperm donor may be someone the woman knows or may be found through a sperm bank.
Sperm banks offer access to a variety of anonymous donors and allow individuals to choose the genetic characteristics that may be important to them.
In this process, an egg and sperm are joined outside of the body. The fertilized egg is then implanted into the mother’s uterus. The egg could be collected from the woman who is intending to carry the baby or from her partner. If neither woman wants or is able to provide an egg, a donor egg may be used.
Surrogacy is an option for couples or individuals who wish to have a child but cannot carry the pregnancy themselves. A woman agrees to be a surrogate, also called a gestational carrier. The fertilized egg is then implanted into her uterus and she carries the pregnancy. When the baby is born, it joins the parents.
Surrogacy gives parents the option to have a baby that is biologically theirs. An LGBTQ woman may use her own egg and have it fertilized by donor sperm and implanted into the surrogate’s uterus, or the surrogate may donate her own egg.
“Gay men also have the option of using a surrogate and a donor egg and using their own sperm,” says Dr. Young. “They could each donate sperm, but only one will fertilize the egg. Or if for some reason they couldn't provide sperm, they could use donor sperm.”
The surrogate may be someone the couple or individual knows, such as a friend or family member, or someone arranged through an agency.
“There can be benefits and drawbacks to surrogacy and it can be a little bit complicated,” says Dr. Young. “One benefit of using a stranger and going through an agency is that you do get some assistance around some of the legal issues related to surrogacy, such as parental rights.”
Adoption is a common choice for LGBTQ individuals and couples who want to become parents. Many adoption agencies now welcome applications from same-sex couples, and legal protections are in place to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Adoption offers the opportunity to provide a loving home to a child in need and build a strong family bond.
LGBTQ individuals and couples can become foster parents, which involves providing a temporary home to a child and offering support and stability during a difficult period in their life. Fostering can lead to adoption if the foster parents and child form a strong bond and wish to make the arrangement permanent.
Regardless of sexual identity, bringing a child into your life through any of these options can be costly. Depending on which option you choose, says Dr. Young, the cost could range from tens of thousands of dollars up to $200,000.
Medical insurance or employer benefits may help cover the cost in some cases; for example, some companies offer financial assistance to employees who adopt. Also, be sure to work with a qualified attorney to handle any legal issues.
“If you are interested in something like in-vitro fertilization or artificial insemination, then I would definitely recommend seeing your OB-GYN or your primary care doctor to get the appropriate tests, such as blood tests or ultrasound exams, before you start that process,” says Dr. Young.
“There are a lot of options for growing your family and we’re here to support you in whatever way we can as you navigate this journey.”