The phrase “traditional family” no longer relates to a heterosexual couple with two-point-five kids. Today’s families are diverse, with many LGBTQ couples forming family units through adoption, foster care, artificial insemination and other means. The official government estimate is that in the UK in 2013 there were around 20,000 dependent children living in same-sex couple families.
Though it is, in some ways, simpler for LGBTQ adults to become parents in today’s more-inclusive climate, it does not make it an easy proposition. Parenting is hard enough, but raising a child in an LGBTQ partnership or as an LGBTQ individual can be particularly challenging, being especially true for those parents who live outside of bigger cities with larger LGBTQ populations, where there is little to no chance of interacting with other LGBTQ parents.
Here are some of the most common concerns I hear from my LGBTQ clients when they begin to think about starting a family:
What About Role Models?
A big concern in the community is that a child will suffer from not having a male or female role model present on a daily basis. However, research has shown that children of same-sex parents grow up perfectly healthy and happy, in some cases more so than children who grew up in heterosexual households where Mum and Dad were both present.
What About Cost and Legal Issues?
LGBTQ parents can’t simply try to conceive; there is much more thought, planning and cost that goes into starting a family. Statistically, women make less money than men. When you factor in that getting pregnant can be incredibly expensive, you begin to understand why so many lesbian couples decided to hold off becoming parents until they are financially stable. For many, this means waiting until their late 30′ or even early 40’s.
Same-sex parents must also tackle legal issues. For men who will be the sperm donor, if trying to conceive through insemination? Women must determine who will carry the child. Much thought is necessary when considering custody and adoption arrangements.
Navigating these complexities can be overwhelming and stressful, to say the very least. My clients have found it to be tremendously helpful to have someone who will listen and try to help them both explore their options. I am also able to help couples work through any tension they may be experiencing because of this stress.
If you are an LGBTQ individual or couple who would like some help navigating the often-emotional journey of becoming a parent, please get in touch with me. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.