Having and raising kids is both a special and challenging moment in a couple’s life. Whether you are in a heterosexual relationship or a same-sex relationship, it is something that you have to really think about and prepare for as it comes with a lot of ups and downs and requires much time, money, and effort.
For LGBTQ families, there are also other hurdles and obstacles to deal with. From the legal issues and the logistical processes to the number of options available and the costs, starting a family for same-sex, transgender, or non-heterosexual couples is just more complicated than cisgender heterosexual ones.
So, what options are there for the LGBTQ community when it comes to having and raising kids ?
According to a 2010 report from the United States Census, 19% of same-sex households have and raise biological, adopted, or foster children. Below are the current options available for same-sex couples looking to grow their families:
Adoption – This is the process in which kids who cannot and will not be taken care of by their birth parents legally become full and permanent members of another family. As of 2017, same-sex adoption is legal in all 50 states.
Fostering- This is the process in which kids who cannot currently be cared for by either their birth parents or permanent adoptive parents are temporarily cared for by a foster family.
Although same-sex adoption and fostering are legal in all 50 states, there are still some states that allow child welfare agencies to refuse applications by members of the LGBTQ community based on their own religious beliefs.
Options for couples wherein one member will carry the baby:
In vitro fertilization – This is a fertilization process wherein an egg taken from the ovary of an intended parent is injected or mixed with a sperm to fertilize and grow in a laboratory. The fertilized egg or embryo is then transferred into the uterus to complete its growth and development. Reciprocal IVF may be used in couples where one member donates an egg to the IVF and the other member carries the fertilized embryo to term.
Sperm donor insemination – This is the process of placing sperm in the female reproductive tract with the purpose of causing pregnancy. It can be intravaginal (sperm is placed into the vagina), intracervical (sperm is placed inside the cervix), or intratubal (sperm is placed in the fallopian tube).
Options for couples wherein neither member will carry the baby:
Gestational carrier (surrogate) –Surrogate services can be used by couples of any sex, gender, or identity. Surrogacy involves the implantation of a fertilized embryo into the womb of a gestational carrier or surrogate. The fertilized embryo may be made up the of the sperm and egg of the intended parents, a donor egg may be fertilized with the sperm of an intended parent, the egg of an intended parent may be fertilized with the sperm of a donor, or both a donor egg and sperm could be used. Once the child is born it is adopted by either one or both of the intended parents, depending on the biological connection to the child.
How should you and your partner prepare yourselves to be parents and ensure that your newborn baby is safe as soon as they are brought home?
Whichever option from the ones discussed above you and your partner end up choosing to grow your family, you should get ready for the birth of your baby as early as possible. It is normal to feel excitement, anticipation, nervousness, and fear all at the same time, but it is important that you do not let these emotions take over and prevent you from doing the necessary preparations for your coming bundle of joy.
For those expecting a newborn baby, below are examples of things that you need to do to get your home ready to welcome your new addition to the family:
Shopping for baby gear
There are several things that you need to buy, assemble, and test before the birth of your baby for safety, comfort, and convenience.
Some essentials that you should have at the top of your list are a crib, car seat, changing table, stroller, baby carrier, play mat, and baby monitor. You also need to shop for baby clothes and blankets. You will also need diapers, baby wipes, diaper cream, a diaper bag, baby soap and shampoo, towels, and a baby bathtub too.
In instances where neither of the intended parents is the birth parent, you will need a feeding plan that works for you. This may include getting breastmilk from your surrogate or from a donor or using formula. Some things you will need include bottles and nipples, a bottle brush, a bottle sterilizer, and a bottle warmer.
Babyproofing your home
Your newborn will not be roaming around the house on their own right away. In fact, it will take about eight to nine months before they can start crawling. But this does not mean that you should just sit and wait until they can do so before you babyproof your house. For their safety, you should take care of things that can pose a risk to them at the earliest opportunity.
Below is a list of things to do to boost safety and security in your home:
- Pad the edges and corners of furniture.
- Cover all electrical outlets.
- Close and lock cupboards, cabinets, drawers, etc.
- Remove curtains or blinds with long cords.
- Get thorny or poisonous indoor plants out of the house.
In your baby’s bedroom, make sure to also do the following:
- Keep all baby supplies in an accessible and convenient place where the baby cannot reach them.
- Place the crib away from things they could pull, push, known down, or climb over.
- Finish any renovation work or painting in the nursery at least two months before the baby arrives to protect against any harmful fumes and toxic materials.
- Double check that the crib is properly and securely assembled.
- Create an emergency contact list that includes the numbers of your doctor, the nearest hospital, ambulance, poison control, police and fire department, neighbor, close family/friends, and others.
Loading up on household essentials
Having a newborn drastically changes your routine. If you usually spend your weekends grocery shopping, cleaning your home, or going out on dates, you have to be ready to adjust your schedule once your baby comes.
Before the baby’s birth, stock up on toilet paper, personal care and hygiene products, household cleaning products, and other necessities. Having a baby can make it difficult to do spontaneous errands.
If you enjoy cooking homemade meals, you might want to consider preparing bulk recipes before the baby arrives and freezing things for later use. You can also get some easier recipes that can be prepared quickly until you can better manage your time.
Practicing how to take care of a baby
If you have very little or zero experience in changing diapers, handling, swaddling, soothing, feeding, burping, and bathing a baby, you should do some research prior to the arrival of your baby.
You can talk to family members and friends who have kids. You can ask them to teach you how to safely handle your baby to avoid causing discomfort or injuries. You can also attend baby care classes and watch videos and read blogs on infant care too.