Starting a family is an intimate affair and doing so through a fertility clinic requires vulnerability. For parents who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, there are often additional roadblocks to consider.
Whether intended parents need a gestational carrier or a sperm or egg donor, additional assistance is required. Although certain factors, such as a clinic’s success rate, should be evaluated when choosing a fertility clinic, LGBTQIA+ parents should also understand other aspects, such as the protocols and steps necessary to ensure a smooth and seamless IVF journey.
A gay family is founded by a same-sex couple that wants to have a family. Each journey is different and knowing exactly where to start can be overwhelming for some. In this article, we cover the IVF journey for a gay family, where to start, what to expect, and unique considerations.
Family Building for Gay Men:
Gay male couples have unique needs when embarking on the path to parenthood. The following information will help outline some of the requirements for a male-male couple to build a family of their own.
When undergoing IVF, they will need the following:
- An egg donor
- A surrogate (Gestational Carrier)
Embryos are created at a fertility clinic via IVG using the Intended Parents’ sperm (one or both) as well as an egg donor’s egg. At the fertility clinic, an embryo is implanted into a gestational carrier, who carries the baby to term.
Finding an egg donor is a big step in the family-building journey, it takes time and careful consideration. All of the egg donors at Hatch Egg Donation & Surrogacy are medically pre-tested to give the intended parents peace of mind.
With Hatch, intended parents can access egg donors within the top 5% of candidates nationwide to make the search process as smooth as possible. When looking for an egg donor, some important criteria to consider are listed below:
- Medical History and Mental Health
- Physical Appearance
- Intelligence and Personality
Our advice for finding an egg donor is to be flexible; create an ideal list of criteria to help start looking through egg donor profiles. The more open-minded intended parents can be, the easier it will be to find the perfect match. It’s important to remember that each donor is unique and finding the perfect match can sometimes be a challenge.
Hatch is the most experienced egg donation agency. Established in 1991, the first egg donor agency of its kind. They have set the standard for best and ethical practices. Egg donors who work with Hatch need to meet a variety of medical, psychological, and demographic screening requirements to make sure they are a healthy reproductive match for families. Their experienced staff has full confidence that they can help intended parents choose the perfect egg donor.
General Timeline When Using an Egg Donor:
On average, it can take about 3-6 months from choosing an egg donor to the creation of embryos. Once matched with an egg donor, she will complete her in-person medical screening appointment with the intended parent’s IVF specialist.
If working with Hatch Egg Donation & Surrogacy, their team will then connect the intended parents with an attorney that specializes in reproductive law to initiate the legal contract. This process could take as quickly as a couple of weeks to a few months, depending on the legal requirements of both parties. This may vary depending on the chosen egg donation agency.
When the selected donor starts treatment, it usually takes around two weeks counting from the start of medication used for ovarian stimulation to the egg retrieval procedure. Embryos will be fertilized on the egg retrieval date with the sperm samples provided by the intended parents.
PGS testing is a great medical advancement that will ensure the fertility clinic is using the healthiest embryos. PGS testing helps the fertility clinic evaluate the embryos and if they are genetically normal or not. During this time, the clinic can also see what sex the embryos are, which is helpful if the intended parents are hoping for a certain sex in a child. PGS testing is highly recommended and can help avoid substantial disappointment.
Finding a Surrogate:
Gestational surrogacy is a growing family option for LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples to have biological children. It is a process that requires both medical and legal expertise, as well as strong emotional support throughout the journey. Bringing a baby into a family through surrogacy is one of the greatest joys intended parents can experience. Finding the right Surrogate can be a lengthy process. We recommend looking for a Surrogate as soon as possible, or at least while also looking for an Egg Donor if needed.
In the United States, each state has its own laws regarding surrogacy. In addition, each country we assist with has different requirements and laws regarding surrogacy.
There are certain criteria on which intended parents should be matched with a gestational carrier:
- Age and Health history
- Pregnancy and delivery history
- Location of the gestational carrier
- Level of communication with your surrogate during the journey
The relationship between the intended parents and the surrogate can be one of the best parts of a journey. We believe that strong relationships between the surrogate and intended parents lead to smoother, more successful journeys. When working with Hatch, their specialists will support all parties throughout the whole journey and act as a mediator between the intended parent and the surrogate.
After being matched with a surrogate, the surrogate will complete an in-person medical screening process at the intended parent’s IVF clinic. The screening process includes a physical/pelvic examination, an ultrasound examination of her uterus, a panel of blood tests including an infectious panel, and a urine drug screen.
A legal contract needs to be signed between the intended parents and the surrogate prior to planning the embryo transfer procedure. Surrogacy law is complex. Hatch can connect intended parents with a lawyer who specializes in surrogacy for gay couples. It is important to understand one’s rights as a parent, what the surrogacy laws are in a given state or country, and in the state in which the matched surrogate mother resides.
Family Building for Lesbian Women:
Reciprocal IVF is a fertility treatment option for same-sex female couples that allows both partners to be intimately involved in the child creation process. Reciprocal IVF allows both individuals to play an intimate role in the biological development of the baby. The partner who provides the eggs is genetically related to the child, and the partner who carries the baby is biologically bonded to the child through pregnancy.
Leave the Rest to The Best
Finding a doctor who has your best interest, great success rates, and great reviews will help eliminate the major challenges of an IVF journey. Finding an IVF doctor who is at the forefront of IVF advancements and technology will greatly assist in any journey.