What makes a family? Well, thanks to a rapidly evolving definition of the modern family, it can look many different ways. Ultimately, it includes parents and children who care about one another. Due to new laws, better technology and open minds, more and more same-sex partners are able to become fathers. We’ll explore the triumphs and challenges, as well as what makes two-dad families so special.
Quite simply, a father is an individual who identifies as male and has at least one child. Whether or not he is the biological parent makes no difference; rather it is his commitment and involvement in the wellbeing of the child that truly makes someone a father.
The role of a father cannot be overstated; his influence is one that helps a child grow and learn in unique ways. And because modern families can now be built around the role of a father, we celebrate these gifts that make the relationship between father and child so special.
Thanks to modern technology, it is not only possible but also becoming more and more realistic for gay men to become fathers. Through processes like adoption and assisted reproductive technology, men have a variety of routes to try when building their families.
Third party reproduction is the most direct way for at least one dad-to-be to have a genetic role. With the help of an egg donor, one man’s sperm can be combined with the donor egg and the subsequent embryo can be transferred to a surrogate mother, also known as a gestational carrier. Some couples opt to create multiple embryos with each male contributing genetic material; they may or may not know which embryo is ultimately transferred to create their child. Guidance from an informed fertility doctor, as well as the option of a genetic panel, can help gay couples make the best decision for their family creation process.
Coupled with the right legal approach, parenthood is even more attainable. While laws vary from state to state and must be carefully reviewed for the protection of both the intended parents and surrogate, the hope is that all parties fully understand the process and what is expected of them from start to finish. That, along with a solid relationship, is the ultimate goal in this unique process.
In an exciting new development for both same-sex and heterosexual couples, New York recently joined 47 other states in permitting compensated surrogacy. After decades of surrogacy being outlawed in New York, this state-of-the art law provides clear guidance about the surrogacy process, benefiting both intended parents and surrogates. While the law certainly breaks barriers for gay dads, the legal landscape adds unique complexities in what can already be a challenging process.
Despite the promising combination of legal, medical and social advancements, gay dads and their families continue to experience stigma. A study published in the February 2019 issue of Pediatrics, the Official Journal of the American Society of Pediatrics, found that more than 60% of gay fathers experienced stigma in at least one context within the past year. According to the study, “the reported stigma occurred most often in the context of religious institutions, but some fathers also reported experiencing exclusion and discrimination at the hands of their families, neighbors and friends.”
Natalia, who delivered twins as a gestational surrogate for a same-sex couple, saw this firsthand and and it opened her eyes to the stigma gay dads face. “I have more knowledge about the discrimination they suffer, about how they need to fight for all their rights,” she explained. “It is sad how everything is more complicated for them and it is not fair.”
Fortunately, modern laws protecting the LGBTQ community are slowly but surely having an impact. According to the research, the legal protections “have a meaningful link to the experience of gay fathers and their children.” In states with fewer legal protections, “both active and avoidant stigma were reported more frequently by fathers.”
When it comes down to it, families with two dads aren’t so different from any other. Though special in their own ways, many common themes of family and parenthood ring true.
Paul, who became a father to twins with the help of an egg donor and gestational carrier, said in a Buzzfeed article, “Waking up to our kids smiling faces makes all the struggles and heartaches that came before their arrival all worth it.” He went on to add, “the world is filled with different kinds of families. Ours is part of that diverse tapestry.”
At ConceiveAbilities, we are proud advocates of the modern family. “To us, helping loving people become parents is why we do what we do,” explains Founder Nazca Fontes. Our team provides extensive support to all those who want to fulfill their destiny of parenthood and our in-house legal advisors understand the laws regarding surrogacy for gay couples. Thanks to our strategy and explicit expertise, your path to parenthood is as seamless as possible.
If you’re a gay man or part of a same sex couple and ready to build your modern family, we are your people. To learn more about finding your ideal egg donor and gestational carrier to make your dream a reality, contact our team today.
By Kate Summers
Kate Summers is a part-time writer, full-time mom, grad student and lifelong learner. After wearing a variety of hats in the fertility field, she is now working to become a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) to support everything from infertility to pregnancy loss to postpartum needs.