Last week Wes and I were interviewed via Zoom, sharing our story to Conceptual Options, who are an established US Surrogacy agency. The video interview will be released over the coming days, but we only felt it fair that we featured Conceptual Options as our first ever Guest Blog on our website, and here it is. We hope you enjoy it.
'If parenting weren’t difficult enough, for many in the gay community, the journey towards parenthood is fraught with challenge and uncertainty – sometimes years before the birth of the child.
Today’s news is seemingly full of headlines from progressive states passing legislation moving the gay and lesbian agenda towards their controversial goal of achieving the same basic human rights as everyone else. However, the language and posturing of pro-LGTBQ+ politicians doesn’t always reflect in the daily lives of those they mean to help. Waving a piece of paper that declares you are now legal doesn’t mean a free pass to navigate a system fundamentally designed without you in mind. Surrogacy for the LGBTQ+ community is no different.
The laws governing gay surrogacy vary greatly from state to state. With perhaps California leading the pack with pro-LGTBQ+ surrogacy laws in its books, to other states that refuse to enforce surrogacy arrangements but sort of look the other way if you want to do it, and others outright banning gay surrogacy with stipulations around sexual orientation. Those with the bad luck of living in a state with seemingly arbitrarily bad, and certainly antiquated, surrogacy laws mean either taking the risk of moving forward with a surrogacy arrangement in their own state, or finding a surrogacy agency in California and a long-distance relationship with the surrogate.
The United States healthcare and health insurance system, which unlike much of the world, is mostly a patchwork of independent for-profit corporations that loosely follow guidelines put forth by the government. This arrangement is a bit of a double-edged sword; one on hand, being profit-driven means they (mostly) welcome patients of any kind, gay or straight, however, there is little consistency from one system to the next. Some insurance providers do not recognize the surrogate child as belonging to the intended parents resulting in paying out-of-pocket for the baby’s hospital expenses. The outlook is somewhat better for a lesbian couple if one of the women is giving birth as it fits the ‘two parents, one baby’ mold and is seen as no different than a baby born to heterosexual parents.
So congratulations, your baby has been born! You’ve been subject to unequal and sometimes downright discriminatory policies such as fingerprinting, tax records handed over, and a maze of hurdles of which the straight community would never be subject. Ready to begin your new life? Think again if one of the parents was born in a different country. Regardless of both parents, or surrogate, being American citizens – there is no guarantee their baby will be. The US State Department considers some children born using assisted reproductive technology as “out of wedlock,” even if the parents are legally married. The good news, perhaps, is the government uses language such as “strained,” “terrible,” and “outrageous” to describe its own policy – but without significant political pressure, it could take years or decades to see movement.
The state of gay surrogacy is not all gloom and doom however. Most gay couples can have children by turning to a surrogacy agency for help. Although on average 42% of surrogacy agencies do not appear to be welcoming to gay men, some specialize in it, such as Conceptual Options. Many of California’s agencies have hundreds of successful surrogacies under their belt and know how to navigate the system. There is no requirement that the intended parents live in California in order to use a surrogacy agency in the state and take advantage of its progressive laws. Although California’s laws are favorable to gay surrogacy, the path remains too complex for most same-sex couples to navigate on their own.
Although we still have a long way to go, public opinion on gay rights continues to shift in a positive direction. Most Americans support gay rights and would be appalled by the hoops same-sex couples jump through to have a child. The gay community is now seen as an important voting block resulting in rapid advancements in LGBTQ+ rights, however, most of the country’s systems and infrastructure struggle to keep up. Even when willing to make changes quickly, companies and organizations run into gray areas not specifically covered in the legislation which can delay forward movement by years. But the good news is equal rights for the gay community continues to move forward thanks to the hard work of people across the United States and the world'.
Writen by Conceptual Options for TwoDads.U.K