Jane-Ashley McMillan, Attorney at Law

Starting a family: Factors that LGBT families should consider

Let’s say that you and your partner are ready to start a family. After several years together, you are eager to bring children into your lives and raise them into strong, loving adults. You and your partner are on the same page about wanting children, but are still considering the options that are available to you.

Starting a family is quite different for heterosexual couples and same-sex couples. There are several factors that LGBTQ couples will have to consider that do not arise for straight couples. As you and your partner prepare to bring children into your lives, these are a few of the factors that you should consider.

  • Method

There are several methods available for bring a child into your family. Some LGBTQ couples wish to have a biological child through a surrogate or sperm donor. Others choose to adopt a child through the U.S. foster care system or from a foreign country. One of the most important steps is to decide which method of having a child is right for you.

  • Cost

Many non-traditional forms of family planning are very expensive. Adoption can cost up to $30,000; surrogacy, up to $100,000. Hospital stays can also be costly, even with insurance. You and your partner will want to carefully consider the financial aspects of adopting a child, hiring a surrogate or giving birth.

  • Adoption laws

If you and your partner are interested in adopting a child from a foreign country, you should be aware of the country’s adoption laws. Sadly, there are some countries that do not allow same-sex couples to adopt. Same-sex adoption is legal in the U.S., but some states still have legal roadblocks in place to prevent LGBTQ couples from adopting children. Adoption attorneys frequently help couples navigate state, federal and international adoption laws.

  • Health insurance

You should also take a second look at your health insurance plan. Many insurance policies’ coverage for family planning is limited. Before starting your family, consider whether your current policy and provider will be sufficient for your future needs.

  • Maternity and paternity leave

Bringing a child into the world frequently requires new parents to take maternity or paternity leave. Review your company’s policy when it comes to this leave. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees are guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid family leave. Some companies attempt to deny leave based on an employee’s gender or sexual orientation, but this is not legal.

Starting a family as a same-sex couple

Over the course of your family-planning journey, you will likely face many challenges. After all, in addition to the routine challenges of starting a family, LGBT couples may also face discrimination, harassment and persecution. But after considering all the important factors necessary to having children and taking their legal options into consideration, many LGBT couples soon become happy, loving parents.

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