[The Sexuality Blog] Things are increasingly complicated for LGBT people looking to become parents

Science and changing societal expectations means that more LGBT people are coming out of the closet and pursuing what would ordinarily constitute as a ‘normal’ heterosexual life. They are especially aggressively pursuing heteronormative domestic lives, entering into longterm monogamous relationships with single partners with the express purpose of companionship and eventually, raising children. But because of the biological limitations of homosexual unions, couples are getting inventive in their quest to conceive and raise children.

As early as 15 years ago, adoption was the preferred route for LGBT couples eager for a child but has long since proven to be quite problematic for a number. There are stringent laws in many first and third world countries that outrightly forbid same-sex couples from adopting, and the countries that allow LGBT parents to adopt often give the birth parent preference if paternity and maternity issues ever arise, to the long waits that characterise adoptions for non-heterosexual couples and the stigma that follows them afterwards. Couples are choosing instead to have biological children, even though that is exponentially harder.

Traditionally homosexual persons looking to biologically have children used to opt for the distasteful practice of ‘bearding’; marrying a heterosexual partner for the sole purpose of conceiving a child while pursuing secret long-term homosexual relationships. Bearding almost always had negative effects on the child and both parents, often resulting in bitter divorces, so while it is still prevalent in restrictive third world countries, LGBT persons are thankfully moving away from this destructive practice and opting instead for surrogacies.

Unlike bearding where one partner is oblivious to the other partner’s sexual orientation, surrogacies often have a woman who is well aware that the procedure she is about to undergo is for an LGBT couple, voluntarily get implanted with an embryo, often with biological material from one or both parents and carrying the child to term with the singular purpose of handing over the child after birth. Countries like India, The Philippines, Mexico, Cambodia, Thailand and Cape Verde are becoming world surrogacy centres, with the process becoming increasingly illegal as more and more LGBT people seek out surrogacy as a conception option. Surrogacy isn’t foolproof, however, even if the child has biological material from one, or both parents, the surrogate mother still has parental rights to the child has to legally sign off their parental rights to the couple the surrogate is working with AFTER the child is born. If at any point the surrogate mother decides to not go through with the surrogacy and adoption post-birth, the child she is carrying automatically becomes hers.

Then there is the weird world of common law parenting. As more and more single LGBT parents enter into relationships and marry other LGBT people, their tenuous hold over their children, especially adopted children is beginning to be challenged. Take for instance this fascinating story in the New Yorker about a former lesbian couple’s legal for parental rights over a child they decided to adopt together but only one party ended up adopting. The case is still ongoing but the legal ramifications of how the case eventually ends either expand or limit the definition of a parent in America. Such is the fascinating and often frustrating nature of parenting for an LGBT person.

There is so much to consider.

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