The Repercussions of Challenges in
LGBTQ Family Building
By: Traci Medeiros-Bagan, LGBT Coordinator
Fertility SOURCE Companies
It used to be that when we talked “LGBTQ Family Building” and “Families of Choice” we were exclusively singing the praises of NON-biological family. The focus was on the kinship networks we built out in the world as teens/adults post-coming out. These were families built out of necessity, when biological families of origin weren’t supportive, families forged strong in the fires of adversity because other options weren’t available.
It used to be that one of the best reactions we could expect from parents when coming out was the warm hug, statement of all encompassing acceptance, and slow tear that a family would not be in our future. It used to be that affirming care meant helping parents and LGBTQ identified individuals alike grieve the loss of this “future family.” This was where our standards used to be set.
It used to be that a blog post on LGBTQ family building on a website with a name like “Fertility Authority” would be a non sequitur--
Such scripts are now, far from being the only ones available, largely outdated. However, like any change in the tides, it’s important to fully synthesize the information in order to fully benefit from it. We’re coming into a new age of LGBTQ family building and as science speeds ahead en route with culture and law at various paces these new opportunities/services to create families must settle into the hearts and minds of those individuals/couples who could benefit from utilizing them.
In this new era of LGBTQ family building science has offered male same sex couples options to employ the use of a surrogate and/or egg donor, female same sex couples can utilize known/unknown sperm donors with differing options for medical assistance, individuals of varying gender identities can save reproductive materials if they decide to go through physical transitions that would hinder conception/reproduction in the future, and the list goes on and on. There are as many different combinations and possibilities as there are individuals and couples looking to start families.
However, while these new options are exciting, especially for a community that has been long (and continues to be) discriminated against when it comes to having our family structures validated it’s important that we still demand the highest level of care - care that fits the unique journey of being an LGBTQ individual or couple setting forth on a pathway to parenthood in this new era of family building. We as a community shouldn’t just accept that we are being offered options but should make sure that what we’re being offered fits for us! Ask those you are rendering services from what their experience is with LGBTQ individuals/families. Are they aware of differing needs? Do they care? No one will have all the answers but it’s important that they are at the least striving for awareness and affirming care in their services. It’s important that we do our research as well as take time to process what our options mean, how they resonate, and what will come of them. Our standards shouldn’t be lowered because it may take more work to build our families or because the options to build them have been denied to us in the past. We don’t need to take what we can get; rather we should expect to be offered what we need. Not only is it not a bad thing that it may take more effort to start a family, it’s a good thing that struggle often creates consciousness, clarity, and gratitude around what you’re trying to achieve.
I believe that one of the largest repercussions of conception/reproduction challenges for our single intended parents, our heterosexual couples struggling with infertility, and our LGBTQ families alike has to do with what we believe we deserve. Know that the moment you decide to grow your family is the moment you become one. You’re no less legitimate (and deserve no less) because your pathway to parenthood might look different. Those who’s fertility, life circumstance, or gender of mate, may make conception less of a strategic plan may become parents when they discover they will be one, you become parents when you find it in your heart to want to be one - and this is no small difference.