Today being Sunday, I had a wee bit more time to blog & thought I should write on a subject close to my heart. The gay pride or simply pride campaign has three main premises: that people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity, that sexual diversity is a gift, and that sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent and cannot be intentionally altered. Marches celebrating Pride (pride parades) are celebrated worldwide. Symbols of gay pride include the Rainbow colored flag, Greek lambda symbol, and also the pink and black triangles (You can see these logos on our homepage http://www.iwannagetpregnant.com).
The average family exists only on paper.
— Sylvia Porter, U.S. economist
Contrary to popular belief, gay men and women often want children. The only difference is, like a straight couple with fertility problems, they are somewhat limited by biology. Gay parents aren’t something new – they are already out there and have been for some time. In the United States, 1 in 10 gay men identify themselves as fathers , and according to the 2000 US Census Report, one in five gay male couples have children under 18 years of age living in their households. Some gay men and women had children when they were in previous heterosexual relationships but a growing number of gay couples are now choosing to start a family together. The growing trend among gay male couples toward planning families together follows in the wake of the so-called lesbian baby boom and comes at a time when all same-sex couples are increasingly struggling for equal rights, including the right to marry and have children. Moreover, gay men are seeking to become fathers at a time of increased interest in fatherhood itself.
There are a four main ways that gay men and women can have children:
Co-parenting arrangements (Between Lesbians & Male gay couples)
Why do gay men want to become fathers? They are motivated by the same needs as those of heterosexual men: the desire to nurture and raise children, wanting the constancy of children in their lives, wanting to achieve the sense of family that children provide, and wanting a sense of generativity and immortality through having children. Gay men who are planning to become fathers appear to give the idea much more thought than do heterosexual men. Yet because of entrenched stereotypes, social acceptance of gay men as fathers is far from universal. Common concerns are that children of gay men will be stigmatized, that children of homosexual fathers are more likely to become homosexual themselves, and that gay males are likely to be sexual predators who may molest their own children. Although research has largely discredited those prejudices, these preconceived notions nevertheless remain and may be one reason that some fertility programs appear reluctant to respond to appeals from gay men to achieve fatherhood through assisted reproduction. It is notable that a recent survey of ART programs in the United States found that fertility centers routinely accept lesbians but are less likely to accept gay males as patients , despite the support for nondiscrimination in gay and lesbian parenting by such prominent mainstream organizations as the Child Welfare League of America, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the
National Association of Social Workers, and the American Bar Association. Indeed, the Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recently published a statement in support of fertility treatment for gays, lesbians, and unmarried persons.
Let us go through some heart-warming stories that got a lot of media attention recently. Attractive thirty some-things, Heather and David are the happily married parents of Rissa, an engaging and precocious six-year-old . He’s a high-school teacher, she’s a stay-at-home mom. They have a Chevy minivan, an aged Toyota Tercel, two cats with clever names, a dog and a mortgage. A Canadian flag flutters on the front porch of their two-storey red-brick home. As contemporary family portraits go, this one is a classic.Which proves the rule about appearances and deceptiveness. Mr. and Mrs. Average Canadian — that is, David Hoare and Heather Jopling — boast what is an emphatically non-average familial distinction in this age of shifting social landscapes. “We’re another chapter of alternative families,” says Jopling, 38, a writer, actor and former Ottawan. “We’re straights, we’ve got our one child, we’ve got pets, we own a house, we’ve got cars — and we just also happen to have been a surrogate and a sperm donor for gay and lesbian families.”
In 2003, Hoare was a sperm donor for Toronto lesbian friends Virginia West and Cheryl Reid, who are today the doting parents of Rowan, their two-year-old son. A few months after that, Jopling offered to become surrogate mother for the child their gay friends in Ottawa, Michael Mancini and Ernst Hupel, were hoping for. That couple’s daughter Milena is now 19 months old, little sister to Klara, Hupel’s daughter with another surrogate mother. The three families maintain contact and get together from time to time, despite the geography that separates them, openly acknowledging all their connections. Rissa knows, for instance, that she has a half-brother in Rowan (whose birthday she shares) and a half-sister in Milena, both of whom will be told the same thing when they get older. The diversity runs even deeper. Hoare’s parents split up when his mother, an Anglican priest, came out as a lesbian. She and her partner, along with Hoare’s father and his new partner — who have introduced Jamaican and Filipino influences into the family portrait — have provided Jopling with three wonderful mothers-in-law, she says, and extended Rissa’s grandparental range. On Jopling’s side, there are only two grandparents, though her father, a retired Air Force lieutenant-colonel, adds the variety of a military touch to the cultural mixed bag.
On a recent spring morning, Lura Stiller sat in her stocking feet in a sunny cottage in Cambridge, Massachusetts, helping Cary Friedman and his partner, Rick Wellisch, calm their daughter, a 3-month-old in a pink T-shirt. Stiller, 34, a homemaker from the Dallas, Texas, suburbs, likes to say that the number of gay people in her acquaintance before she met Friedman, a psychiatrist, and Wellisch, an internist, amounted to zero. “Everything I knew about gay people I knew from TV, which meant that everything I knew about gay people I learned from ‘Will & Grace’ and ‘The L Word,”‘ she said. In December, Stiller gave birth to the baby, named Samantha, for Friedman and Wellisch, conceived with a donor egg and the sperm from one of the partners. (They chose not to know which.) In her decision to work with them, Stiller is part of a small but growing movement of surrogate mothers choosing gay couples over traditional families.
As legislatures debate giving gay couples the right to marry – hundreds of couples are finding ways to create families with or without marriage through surrogates like Stiller, who are willing to help them have children genetically linked to them and to bypass the often difficult legal challenges gay men face in adoption. John Weltman, a Boston lawyer, had a challenging time finding women to carry children for gay men when he founded Circle Surrogacy a decade ago. Today, he said, 80 percent of the surrogate mothers who come to him say they would be willing to work with gay couples, and half prefer to work with gay couples. In Los Angeles, Growing Generations, a company formed to help gay couples become parents through egg donation and surrogacy, is responsible for more than 300 births, increasing from four births in 1998 to 108 within the last 17 months Dawn Buras, a Baltimore mother of four, has been to a fertility clinic in Los Angeles three times to receive embryonic transplants for a male couple in Boston. Each time the men, one of whom works in television, accompanied her. They took adjacent hotel rooms, dined out and provided a visit to the set of “Desperate Housewives.” The pregnancy attempts failed, but still the men try, refusing to work with anyone else. Some surrogates also say they find the sense of defiance in providing gay couples with children to be meaningful. “In all honesty, there’s a bit of a rebellious nature in me,” acknowledged Shannon Klein, a mother of three in Cypress, California, who home-schools her children. “I know that there are people who wouldn’t approve of being a surrogate for gay parents, and that has made it more intriguing.” Klein has borne two children for two gay couples, and she is pregnant with twins for a third.
From the current literature, we know a great deal about the psychological well-being of lesbian mothers and their children— offspring planned and conceived through assisted reproduction (20–24)—but there are as yet no studies of gay fathers utilizing ART to create a family. We, at Rotunda should have the lead to publish in scientific journals by the year 2008. The existing literature on gay fatherhood is derived from studies of children who were born within a heterosexual marriage and whose fathers later identified themselves as gay. Although the investigators found no differences between groups in terms of intimacy and involvement with their children, there were significant differences between gay and non-gay fathers in terms of limit setting, responsiveness, and reasoning guidance. Gay fathers were more consistent about setting and enforcing limits on their children’s behavior, and gay fathers tended to be more responsive to their children’s needs.
Researchers have looked at whether children had social stigma as a result of having a gay father. Most studies noted that gay fathers reported that their children appeared to have normal social relationships with their peers and found little cause for concern about stigmatization resulting from fathers’ homosexuality. Several studies examined the sexual orientation of young adult offspring of gay fathers. In terms of gender identity and sexual preference, children of gay fathers appear to fall within normal limits and are not more likely to be homosexual then children reared by heterosexual fathers.
Future research I’m sure, will address the experience of gay male couples, and of their children who are planned and conceived through assisted reproduction. For the present, although anecdotal and media reports reveal that some programs including ours, have welcomed gay men into their fertility practices. Gay male couples increasingly are coming to the conclusion that their homosexuality need not prevent them from becoming fathers and planning a family together. Many are turning to reproductive medical centers for help in their quest for fatherhood. These gay-father families deserve the same attention (and lack of discrimination) in their care that other couples, lesbian and heterosexual, receive in fertility centers around the globe.