For many couples, the thought of having a child can be both filled with joy and reservation. It is no secret that raising a child can come with a fair amount of challenges. And unfortunately, in our society, these challenges are oftentimes more pronounced for same-sex couples than they are for others. But just because there are obstacles doesn’t mean that making the decision to be parents can’t be extremely rewarding as well.
But, before we get into some of the amazing joys that can come with raising a child, let’s go through the main challenges that many LGBTQ+ couples face with same-sex parenting.
Same-sex couples will oftentimes face more challenges when they decide to become parents than heterosexual couples do. The two main challenges that same-sex couples face can be categorized into 1) the actual process of becoming parents and 2) discrimination.
The Process of Becoming Parents
For many heterosexual couples, having children can be achieved through the “traditional” method of having vaginal sex. However, with same-sex couples, this method of having children isn’t an option. Instead, same-sex couples have to pursue a different set of options to raise a child together.
Adoption is a popular choice for many same-sex couples who want a child. In 2019, the United States Census found that just over 20% of same-sex couples’ children were adopted.
There are many different options and components in an adoption process and because of this the cost and overall process can vary greatly. But, many LGBTQ+ couples can build the family they have dreamed of using adoption services.
There are several different options available today for same-sex couples to have a child of their own.
Some of the most common options for biologically female same-sex couples are insemination with a sperm donor and reciprocal in vitro fertilization. The latter is when one partner’s eggs are used and the other carries out the pregnancy.
For biologically male same-sex couples, one of the most common of these options is an egg or embryo donor with a gestational carrier or a surrogate.
Surrogacy or a Gestational Carrier
A surrogate is a woman who both provides the egg and carries out the pregnancy. A gestational carrier, on the other hand, does not contribute an egg — she carries the pregnancy for the couple but is not biologically linked to the child. For both of these options, the intended parents will oftentimes provide the sperm.
This option is more often used by same-sex couples that are biologically male since one or both members of a biologically female same-sex couple are often able to carry a child.
The most significant challenge that many same-sex couples face when becoming parents and raising their kids is discrimination. Societal prejudice can not only make the process of having a child more difficult for same-sex couples but also cause a lack of resources, services, and support for them once they have a child to care for.
While discrimination against same-sex couples has lessened over the years — especially with increased legislation — it is far from gone. The level of discrimination that LGBTQ+ couples face largely depends on where they live, but it is very common for these couples to be more aggressively judged and for their children to be bullied by others.
There have been many claims over the years that children raised by same-sex parents are worse off than those raised by a mother and father. These claims are, however, not supported by the research.
But, as with anything, where there are challenges, there are rewards as well.
A child can bring so many joys to new parents — no matter their sexual attraction or gender identity.
Experiencing the World Differently
Children experience the world in a very different way than many of us do as adults. This different perspective can help parents to see the world around them in a new way as well.
It can help them to use their imagination again, live in the moment, and just experience the world the way their child sees it. This can be an incredible experience and bring back some of the joy for life’s little moments and daily tasks.
Sharing Family History and Culture
Raising a child gives you an amazing opportunity to share your family history and culture so that it can continue for future generations. Teaching a child of your history and culture can also help you to more fully understand things that you maybe did not before and to connect deeper with yourself and your family.
The Children Themselves
Dr. Jacky Hewitt — a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher in child health — notes that “young people from same-sex parented families have without fail been among the most wanted, loved, and well raised and cared for children.”
One reason for this may be because it is so much harder for same-sex couples to become parents — whether because of the financial requirement or the discrimination they face. Because of this, same-sex couples who become parents really want to.
Alongside the joys, there are actually studies showing some benefits of same sex-parenting. A recent study shows evidence that the children of same-sex parents performed better on standardized tests than their counterparts. This is a dramatic change from the popularization of claims suggesting the inverse.
Whether you are looking to become a parent with your partner and you’re worried about the challenges before you or you simply want some additional support as a couple, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow. No one has to go through life alone, and we are here to help in any way we can — whether that is as an individual or a couple.