Deciding that the time is right to build a family is a defining moment in your life. However, unfortunately this is all too often just the start of a long and difficult journey to parenthood, fraught with many potential problems and pitfalls along the way. Whether you are a single gay man or woman or in a relationship, there is a definite art to building a family and making babies.
For prospective same-sex parents the obvious biological difficulties create major hurdles to overcome in the baby making process. Decisions inevitably have to be made about sourcing anonymous or known donor sperm, donor eggs, surrogacy or the merits of co-parenting. The wrong decision at the outset can lead to all manner of problems further down the line.
Many people are often short of time, lack peace of mind about their choice or feel overwhelmed by the different options for creating a family. Issues of, timing, cost, treatment and general logistics can lead to knee jerk decisions, wasted time and money, legal complications and a lot of heartache.
Take for example John, a successful marketing consultant, who’s always wanted a family of his own and feels the time is right to get started. What are his options as a single gay man? He could adopt, co-parent with a female friend, consider surrogacy in the UK or abroad or get himself a partner with children. However, there is so much to get to grips with in terms of understanding the fertility sector as a whole, knowing the fertility treatment options and tackling the often complex underlying legal issues. John simply doesn’t know where to start and he doesn’t want to mess things up. His concerns often keep him awake at night and are stopping him from taking the plunge.
John should be encouraged to know that he isn’t alone in his wish to build a family and there is good quality of advice and information out there if he knows where to look. Once he appreciates the bigger picture and takes more control, family building and baby making becomes easier. So, what are some of the basics John should think about?
Navigating the fertility and parenting sector
John would benefit enormously from a greater understanding of how the law works. John needs to get clear in his own mind whether he wants parental autonomy or whether he would be happy to share parenting and if so the degree of his involvement on a day to day basis.
John then needs to think about the practicalities of achieving his goal. He will need to understand better the wide range of services available in the fertility and parenting sector. These include UK licensed fertility clinics, the issues surrounding informal conception, the role of the not-for-profit organisations in the UK including Infertility Network UK, Donor Conception Network, COTS, Surrogacy UK, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), the framework surrounding fertility treatment in the UK and options if he were to build a family abroad.
If John decides that conception is the way to go, understanding the basic different fertility treatment options is key. It may be stating the obvious, but no one is born knowing the difference between IVF, IUI, ICSI, straight or host surrogacy, and it makes sense to take a little time to explore these at the outset. This can help John to gather more information and medical help and support with better efficiency.
Underlying legal issues
John shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that everything will be straightforward legally. Building a family through assisted conception often creates a legal minefield. The law isn’t always logical and he really does need to understand the legal basics, including legal parenthood, parental responsibility, issues of citizenship and the importance of family-proofing his Will.
Having a family is no longer the preserve of straight couples. Time have changed and with recent improvements to the law there are now more options than ever to build a family and become a parent. You just need to know how to go about it in the right way.
For more information on our family building service see our website.