Written by: Cally Worden
It has been proven repeatedly that what children need most is a happy, secure, loving and stable environment to grow up in. The type of family unit in which this is achieved is irrelevant – single parents of either sex, and heterosexual, gay or lesbian couples can all deliver the perfect upbringing for a child. What matters is that a child is loved, cared for and nurtured in a positive and healthy way. Same sex couples have a number of options open to them when considering starting a family.
- Sperm Donation – there are many sperm banks operating in the UK and you can either approach them directly, or enlist the services of a private clinic to help you navigate the delicate and sensitive process of selecting a donor that is right for you
- Partner Donation – often both women express a desire to be directly involved in the process of conceiving and carrying their child. This can be achieved when one partner donates and egg to an embryo that the other partner then carries
- Egg Sharing – for some couples the costs involved in instigating and managing the medical aspects of conceiving and carrying a same sex child can be out of reach. Some clinics offer an option whereby women aged between 18 and 36 can elect to anonymously donate a proportion of their collected eggs to another woman in return for free IVF treatment.
For gay couples it is of course not possible for one partner to carry a child. But this does not mean that one of the couple cannot be directly involved:
- Direct Sperm Donation – one partner can offer his sperm for use to create an embryo
- Direct Surrogacy – choosing a female surrogate to carry your child is a sensitive and important decision. Many gay couples opt to engage a woman who is known to them and who is willing to donate her eggs for the surrogacy. In this way clinical interventions can be minimised, as it may be possible to arrange for conception to occur naturally, with the injection of the donor partner’s sperm directly into the surrogate
- Surrogacy with Third Party Eggs – an alternative for gay couples is to seek an independent egg donor, with a third party surrogate to carry to resulting embryo. While this involves greater risks and a lower success rate, many gay couples feel it is the best option for them as the personal traits of the surrogate are unlikely to be replicated in any way in the child, creating a detachment that some find easier to handle
In all instances where a same sex couple works together to create a child it is important that all concerned are aware of the legal rights and obligations of their specific roles. The law is updated in this respect from time to time and it is vital that all parties understand the potential future consequences of decisions and actions taken today. When all goes well a same sex couple can enjoy the delights of parenthood in exactly the same way as heterosexual couples. And in a happy relationship it is ultimately the child who will benefit. Science and nature, are indeed wonderful things.