Learning About LGBTQ+ Options for Becoming Parents

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What are your options?

Some LGBTQ+ people become parents by having a baby. And some foster or adopt a child.

Having a baby

If you decide you want to have a baby, you'll need an egg, sperm, and a uterus to grow the baby. Any of these things can come from you, a partner, a donor, or a surrogate.

Here are some ways to conceive.

Conception through sex.
If one partner has working ovaries and a uterus and one partner makes sperm, you can try to conceive through sex.
Home insemination.
You use a syringe to place semen from a donor in the vagina.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI).
This is a medical procedure. Sperm are placed in the uterus using a syringe.
In vitro fertilization (IVF).
During IVF, an egg is fertilized outside the body in a lab. It's then placed in the uterus. Sometimes an embryo made using IVF is placed in the uterus of a person who will carry it for someone else. (This is called gestational surrogacy.)

Fostering or adopting a child

When you foster or adopt a child, you provide a home and family for a child who needs one.

Foster care.
You become a certified caregiver (a "foster parent") for a child. Fostering may be for a short period of time. Or it could be for a long period of time. In certain cases, it may lead to an option to adopt.
You become a full legal guardian of a child. This also includes second-parent adoption. That happens when one parent already has legal rights. Then the second parent also gains legal rights through an adoption process.

How can you plan ahead?

There's a lot to think about when you're planning to become a parent. When is the time right? How do you find child care? Will you ever sleep well again? For LGBTQ+ people, there can also be other things to plan for. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Be prepared for delays.

    For most people, there will be some delay between when they decide to become parents and when they become parents. For example, donor agreements, medical procedures, background checks, and wait times for agency approvals or matching with birth parents can all lengthen the process. Think about how these types of delays might affect your timeline.

  • Plan ahead.

    If you're transgender or gender-diverse and hormones or surgery are part of your gender affirmation plan, talk with your doctor. You can store eggs or sperm for future use. But it's best to do it before you start gender-affirming medical or surgical treatment.

  • Think about cost.

    There will probably be some costs involved. They could be things like medical costs for procedures. Or they could be fees paid to donors, lawyers, or agencies. Expenses can vary widely based on the path you choose. So know ahead of time what costs may be involved for you. Then you can plan for them.

  • Know the laws in your area.

    Different areas may have different levels of protections for LGBTQ+ parents. For example, you may live somewhere where same-sex couples who are married can both be named on a child's birth certificate. But this may not mean that both people have legal rights to the child.

    Or you may live somewhere that doesn't prohibit LGBTQ+ people from adopting or fostering a child. But it might still allow agencies to discriminate based on religious beliefs.

  • Find out if your job offers time off for new parents.

    If it does, ask how it applies to you. For example, if you plan to adopt, ask if that's covered. Or if your company's policies are titled "maternity" or "paternity" leave and you're the parent who isn't giving birth, ask if your leave time is still included.

  • Learn about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

    Find out if this law covers you in your role.

  • Look for services that are LGBTQ+ friendly.

    Find doctors, clinics, adoption agencies, lawyers, and social workers in your area who support LGBTQ+ family-building. Some clinic or adoption agency websites may clearly state that they're LGBTQ+ friendly. Or if you know others in your community who've used family-building services, ask them for tips.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.