LGBTQ family building is gaining in popularity
Since the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide with the Marriage Equality Act of 2015, expectations around family building in the LGBTQ community have changed rapidly. Recent research by Family Equality found that 63% of LGBTQ millennials (those between the ages of 18-35) are considering expanding their families in the coming years. And, the research reveals, these young LGBTQ people, numbering roughly 3.6 million, mostly intend to do so using either assisted reproductive technology or foster care and adoption to form their families.
Historically, the LGBTQ community had limited access to family building
But it wasn’t always so easy when it came to LGBTQ family building access. Back 20 or 30 years ago, LGBTQ adults with children were few and far between because there were significantly fewer options, both legally and medically, to becoming a parent. At that time, there was little public support or access for LGBTQ people pursuing foster care and adoption, fewer safeguards for securing legal parentage of biologically-conceived children, and a lack of parenting resources for the community as a whole. Additionally, medically-assisted reproduction techniques and practices were focused almost exclusively on heterosexual couples.
Even just a decade ago, a majority of Americans still opposed same-sex marriage, let alone equality that extended into the realms of parental rights for all members of the LGBTQ community. As such, family building was an uphill battle for many, and was often challenging to achieve within the context of an LGBTQ relationship. Even today, some states have laws that discriminate against foster and adoptive parents and foster youth based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. And, for those who live in Louisiana, law prescribes that gestational surrogacy is only allowed for heterosexual, married couples using their own gametes (eggs and sperm). This law discriminates against not just straight couples who need both a donor and gestational carrier, but gay men as well.
The Marriage Equality Act ushers in change
However, after the right to marry in the LGBTQ community was secured in 2015 with the passage of the Marriage Equality Act, things began to change and family building suddenly seemed more within reach for many members of the LGBTQ community. Advocates for LGBTQ rights speculated the United States might see new growth in the number of LGBTQ-headed families in the following years.
Data gathered during 2018 by the LGBTQ Family Building Survey indicates that this shift is occurring. A comparison of the family building experience of older LGBTQ survey respondents to younger generations reveals that barriers and aspirations about parenthood are changing. Of LGBTQ survey respondents aged 55 years and older, 33% either already have children or are considering having children. In the younger generation, 77% of LGBTQ millennials (aged 18-35) are either already parents or are considering having children. This is a 44% increase over their elders.
And this trend is becoming more and more in the mainstream of the American experience. The LGBTQ Family Building Survey found that 48% of LGBTQ millennials are actively planning to grow their families, compared to 55% of non-LGBTQ millennials, a gap that has narrowed significantly in recent years in comparison to older generations.
Assisted reproduction helps LGBTQ families grow
For LGBTQ people, the process of becoming a parent is far more complex and challenging than for non-LGBTQ people. When considering medically-assisted reproduction with LGBTQ individuals, the process almost always involves third-party reproduction, such as donor egg or sperm, or surrogacy and gestational carriers. Lesbian couples, for example, need sperm donation while gay men require not only an egg donation but also a gestational carrier to carry the pregnancy. For medically-assisted reproduction for transgender individuals, fertility preservation may be desired before transitioning and hormonal therapy when de-transitioning for reproduction.
The good news is that those in the LGBTQ community who are considering growing their families now have an abundance of options and resources available to them. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) services available include intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, reciprocal in vitro fertilization, gestational and traditional surrogacy, and fertility preservation. Additionally, there are now many attorneys specializing in reproductive law to help LGBTQ couples navigate their decision to build a family.
Fertility Answers is proud to help build families for the LGBTQ community. The compassionate and knowledgeable staff at our Louisiana fertility clinics can help hopeful parents develop a thorough understanding of all of their options, and select the LGBTQ fertility family building route that best suits their needs. We are fully dedicated to helping LGBT couples experience the joys of parenthood. If you are interested in learning more about your options, contact us today.