WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Parenthood is a life-changing event, and for the LGBT community it requires thoughtful planning.
Whether you are going solo on this journey, or taking the leap of faith after having met Mr. or Ms. Right, you have several family building options to consider when becoming a parent. You may be asking yourself, do I want to adopt? Should I seek a surrogate? Am I financially prepared?
Here are several family building options for you and your plus one (if that is the case) to consider when building a road map to parenthood:
Finding the right adoption agency to meet your needs is half the battle. Weigh out the pros and cons between using public or private agency adoption.
Public agencies are generally lower cost and come with a lengthier adoption process. Using public agency adoption can be a fulfilling process – in 2014 alone, 238,230 children exited foster care1.
Private agencies are usually nonprofits licensed and regulated by the state they operate in. The Human Rights Campaign has developed an “All Children – All Families Participating Agencies List” to help gauge which agencies have demonstrated sensitivity towards LGBT applicants2.
Second-parent adoption may be an alternate route to consider if your partner or spouse has a child from a previous relationship. This will allow the second parent to adopt without the first parent losing any parental rights3.
Biological family building for the LGBT community
There are several medical procedures available to create a biological union between LGBT parents and their children. Some terms you should familiarize yourself with include: artificial insemination, cryopreservation, in-vitro fertilization, surrogacy, and gestational carrier.
Artificial insemination involves a woman becoming artificially inseminated with the sperm of a donor – this treatment is available to women, and is only available to men through the use of a surrogate.
Cryopreservation is a process that transgender individuals should consider prior to beginning their transition. It is an important process that extracts and preserves sperm or egg specimens before individuals undergo hormonal therapy or surgery.
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process where an embryo is created by fertilizing an egg from the intended mother (or anonymous donor) with the sperm of the intended father (or anonymous donor). If a lesbian couple is using IVF, one woman can contribute her egg and the other can carry the child. If gay men are using IVF, after the embryo is created they would select a gestational carrier to carry the baby to term.
It is important to note that a surrogate has a biological relationship with the child since they are involved in the fertilization process, whereas gestational carriers have no biological relationship with the child as they are only carrying an embryo to term.
Once you’ve narrowed down the family building option you’d like to pursue there are an array of financial and legal considerations to begin taking into account.
1The AFCARS Report, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 2015
2All Children – All Families: List of Participating Agencies, accessed February 2016: http://www.hrc.org/resources/all-children-all-families-list-of-participating-agencies
3If second parent adoption is not allowed in your state of residence, you should prepare a written co-parenting or custody agreement with your partner instead.
If you’d like to learn more, Please contact Julia A. Peloso-Barnes, CFP®, CPM®, ADPA®, CPRC®.
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