LGBTQ+ family building is rarely linear. The LGBTQ+ community is a scrappy one, often coming up with outside-of-the-box solutions to systems that weren’t created with us in mind. When it comes to growing our families, we get to make the playbook. With options ranging from assisted reproductive technology to intercourse to fostering, adopting, and intentionally co-parenting platonically, we have a menu of options to choose from based on what works for where we’re at in our lives.
For me, assisted reproductive technology made the most sense. I conceived my son at home with donor sperm on the first try. My daughter, carried by my partner at the time, took much more time (and money) before she was in our arms. But in both cases, it was clear to me that we needed the kindness (and sperm) of a stranger to have our children. From the time I became pregnant with my son, it felt important to me that I one day repay the favor and help someone else who might not have all of the ingredients necessary to create a family.
Fast forward a few years. With a 1- and 4-year-old at home, I decided to pursue surrogacy. I was connected to friends of friends who were looking to have a second baby. Due to the nature of the first pregnancy, carrying a second pregnancy to term was not possible for the mother. We connected through West Coast Surrogacy, developed a surrogacy contract, and before I knew it, things started moving forward. With the script flipped—here I was, a queer woman carrying a pregnancy for a cishet couple—, we suddenly found our families intimately intertwined. The baby’s mom, Susan, and I talked daily. She attended every appointment with me, and we saw each other often outside of appointments.
We were doing this amazing thing together. I hardly knew this woman before her embryo was transferred to my uterus. Now, we were creating a big, queer family together. I would forever be part of their narrative and they would forever be part of mine. I pursued surrogacy with the intention of helping grow another family. I had no idea my own would grow in the process. And, just to make it extra queer, we got matching tattoos to commemorate the experience.
In hindsight, the financial support I received during the process absolutely helped build our savings account back up after the major hit it had taken during the year it took us to conceive our daughter. Since my experience, I’ve spoken with other LGBTQ+ surrogates who entered into the process for just that purpose. For them, surrogacy was not only a way to give back and offer a similar kind of assistance they needed to create their family, but also a means to an end. The added income allowed them the opportunity to have an additional child of their own after the surrogacy journey ended. To grow their own family, they helped another grow.
As I mentioned, the process isn’t always linear and we often have to create our own map. For many gay men, surrogacy is the only option for a biological child. And for some queer folks with a uterus, being a surrogate is also a viable option to help them afford to have additional children of their own. The true beauty of LGBTQ+ family building is that, even with the roadblocks and hurdles, it is most often an intentional process—a personalized map made with the key players in mind. Nothing is taken for granted or pursued because “that’s just what we do.” We get to decide how our family grows, and the options are far more varied than we may first realize.
If you’re interested in surrogacy as a path toward parenthood and live in or around New York City, please join us for a free, informational panel covering everything you need to know about surrogacy (and more). Click here to register.