Parenting is obviously not for everybody. All couples, gay and straight have the decision to make. Gay couples have the added issues surrounding what avenue to down in order to have a child. It’s difficult to weigh up the pros and cons of each option.
In the UK gay parenting can still be a controversial subject. It was 12 years ago that gay couple, Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow made headlines when they travelled to the US to use a surrogate mother. This resulted in them becoming parents to twins. The UK’s first gay dads now have 5 children. Commercial surrogacy arrangements remain illegal in the UK, meaning that you are not legally able to pay the surrogate anything more than expenses.
Many gay celebrities have followed suit in using surrogacy as a way to start a family. Singer, Ricky Martin is father to twin boys. Elton John and partner David Furnish became parents on Christmas Day 2010 thanks to a surrogate mother. This followed a bitterly disappointing attempt by the couple to adopt a boy from Ukraine.
Adoption is a very attractive option to gay couples in the UK. Since 2005 it has been legal for same sex partners to be granted full joint adoption orders. Many couples find it more rewarding to give a child that needs help a loving home than to go down the surrogacy route. People are however often put off by the prospect of the assessment process. It remains early days, sources suggest that only around 3.75% of children adopted in 2010 were adopted by same sex couples.
Another rewarding option open to LGBT families is fostering. Again, people are daunted by the selection process but many find this a highly rewarding option. Children that are in need of loving homes can range from babies and disabled children whose parents need a break to teenagers who are on remand. The London Borough of Lambeth has just this week called on prospective gay parents to come forward. Lambeth council is inviting anyone interested in fostering to attend an information meeting in room 101 of the Town Hall on June 28th, between 4.30pm and 5.45pm. For more information, call 020 7926 8710.
For all of these options it’s important to have the support of others who have experience. UK LGBT adoption organisation New Family Social offers support to couples considering adoption or fostering from square one.
It is early days in the story of LGBT families but we have come a long way. We are living in encouraging times. I myself am open to the idea of having a family but I would only do it when in a committed relationship and obviously it would need a lot of discussion with my partner. For some couples it’s an easy choice to make but for others it will need careful consideration.