Gay parents, considering surrogacy abroad to build their family, face some unique challenges along the way. Here are some tips to help same-sex intended dads navigate the ups and downs of this special pathway to parenthood.
- Support Matters
Agency help, especially one familiar with LGBTQ family-building options, can save time and expense as they have the experience to provide guidance and protection when it comes to choosing your best fit for a surrogacy journey abroad. Support should extend from the initial consultation phase, all the way through until you’re home as a new family.
Expand your support network. Although agency guidance is specific to surrogacy, there are many groups and organizations that also offer support to gay parents, through birth and beyond. Peer-to peer support can be an essential coping tool for intended parents of all statuses; it really does take a village and communicating with parents, in the same situation as you, help you not feel alone during the surrogacy process.
- Know the Laws
Make sure you’re up to speed on legally viable countries for gay intended fathers and understand that legislation in this arena is dynamic and can change. Surrogacy law differs from country to country and even within provinces and states. Research IVF Clinics and surrogacy agencies that support gay couples; they often collaborate and should be able to provide reciprocal referrals.
- Micromanage your budget
Being organized with your finances and, realistic in your expectations, avoids misunderstandings and delays. Typically, surrogacy costs are higher for gay parents due to egg donation, screenings and IVF processes for both partners and extra after-birth legal parentage fees. Ensure to factor in all additional elements in advance of starting out.
Contact the HR department at your workplace and investigate your leave allowances and any coverage provided to you or your partner once your baby arrives.
- Genetic Roles
One unique challenge same-sex couples face is deciding whose sperm will be used, so who the biological father will be. One option can be to have multiple eggs fertilized for transfer and using sperm from both partners. This allows both of you the option to be a biological father, at differing stages of your family building, as most countries will not allow a 3 gamete transfer at once ( egg donor + father 1 + father 2).
- Solo Certification
At this point in time, most countries will include only the name of the biological father and surrogate carrier on a baby’s birth certificate. Extra legal work is usually needed after birth for two-dad inclusive parentage.
- Wait it Out
Matching with a surrogate candidate who is open to helping a same-sex couple might take little more time in certain cases. This can depend largely on the country in which you are considering doing your journey and its laws. An agency experienced in LGBTQ family-building should be able to connect you directly with surrogate partners enthusiastic about family equality.
- The Name Game
In heterosexual couples, the traditional names of Mum and Dad (and all their forms) make it relatively easy for couples to decide how they will refer to one another within their family unit. This is evolving though, with every generation, and becoming more fluid in respect to gender roles. For same-sex fathers, settling on names they both feel passionately about can be immediate or take some consideration. Some include papa, poppa, baba, papi, babbo, first names or any variation of pet names.
- Extra Prep Time
Gay intended dads have a small advantage as they are usually aware, from an earlier stage, that surrogacy will be the solution for creating a family someday. This mental and financial preparation can make a big difference. For heterosexual couples, surrogacy is usually the very last resort and is sought on the heels of multiple disappointments, invasive medical trials, or treatments for underlying disease.
- Understand Pregnancy
Many men don’t explore the ins and outs of pregnancy to the same extent a woman might in a partnership. The effects of gestation, on body and temperament, are often discussed and researched by women as they mature and approach the childbearing phase of life if hoping to have children one day. For this reason, some men can find themselves less ready to relate to what their surrogate partner is experiencing as she prepares to give birth.
Use a baby development app or purchase a prenatal book. Research each week how your baby is growing and developing. This will help you understand what your surrogate carrier is feeling emotionally,hormonally, and how her body is accommodating for your baby’s growth.
Book prenatal classes and learn about what to expect when caring for a new born. Such prenatal activities can boost your confidence and help you understand your baby better and faster. Prenatal classes, designed specifically for intended parents of surrogacy, are built into every Be Parent Program.
Stay connected and updated on your surrogate partner’s wishes for the birth plan and mode of delivery. Find out ahead of time how she sees your involvement at delivery so you can be prepared in advance and both feel comfortable on the big day.
- Have a Ready Response
Heterosexual couples won’t always disclose surrogacy and can decide when and with whom they will share the details of their journey. Same-sex fathers are faced more often with intrusive questions so preparing in advance, how you are comfortable responding, can help if you’re suddenly put on the spot.
- Share your Experience
While we are all waiting for surrogacy laws to change and become more inclusive worldwide, don’t forget the many dads who started off like you, not knowing where to begin. Chronicle your journey and note all the successful elements that made it smoother. Reach out to other same-sex couples so they can benefit from your wisdom and experience.
Create memories, save keepsakes, keep a journal and be mindful that you are parents from conception. Pregnancy and birth are all just small chapters in your lifelong parental story.