Lesbians and Gay Men Considering Parenthood

One of the most striking aspects I’ve seen in working with lesbian and gay prospective parents is the amount of thoughtfulness, creativity and deliberateness that goes into the decision to bring children in their lives. Pregnancy is planned, not accidental, and there is usually not as much social or family expectation or pressure to parent.

On the other hand, without the reminders and expectations of parenthood, it can be easier to postpone pregnancy or adoption until later in life or to not even consider this life-altering choice. I often ask a gay or lesbian couple to think of it like this: If they looked back at the end of their lives, would they regret not having made the decision to bring children into their lives? If the answer is yes, then they have some decisions to make sooner than later.

When I lead Lesbian and Gay Considering Parenthood groups, three emerge repeatedly:

1. Is it selfish of me to want to parent? The answer is yes. But it is selfish for anyone. Parenting is a major time-consuming and expensive process. You have to have selfish motivations in order to deliberately take such a path. You are no more selfish than anyone else.

2. If I decide to bring children into my life, will I lose friends? Don’t expect everyone to approve, especially friends who are invested in not having children of their own, or have not examined their feelings about lesbian and gay parents. However, raising a child is also a great way to make new social beginnings. Finding supportive peers who are also considering parenthood or are already parents can greatly help.

3. Will I ever get my life back if I become a parent? No, but you will get a different one.

Another big consideration is how lesbian and gay men bring children into their lives. This varies greatly. Some adopt. Others choose pregnancy via insemination at a sperm bank. Others use a surrogate. Sometimes, instead of structuring a family around a same-sex domestic partnership or marriage, a gay man and a lesbian with a good relationship may decide to parent together so that the child will be raised by the two biological parents. Some choose to become single parents. Generally, the best way to start a family is the one that works work best for the parents to be vs. what someone might think is the right way to do it.

However, do not start the process of parenting without understanding what your legal boundaries and obligations will be toward the child and its other parent or sperm donor. It is always best to not make such a big decision in isolation. If you already have lots of lesbian and gay friends, who are parents or thinking of parenting, consider yourself lucky. If not, do some fieldwork. I would be happy to speak with you about how you can start to become part of a lesbian and gay family community.

As biologically based creatures, most people inherently have an intense inbuilt need to nurture and create. What is most important about considering parenthood, I believe, is that we pause long enough to give ourselves the sacred space to consider how we will manifest this most basic human potential. By doing so, we allow ourselves access to more of our humanity, gain a broader perspective ourselves, and how our lives will ultimately affect the world in which we live in.

© Copyright 2011 by Cheryl Deaner, MS, LMFT. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • jared

    April 21st, 2011 at 9:35 PM

    while anybody longing to be a parent deserves to be one,there are many difficulties for homosexual people in doing the same thing.there are legal restrictions,there is the issue of actually having the baby and last but not the least the societal aspect comes into play.all this needs to be taken into account by a homosexual couple before they decide on the issue.

  • Marlon

    April 22nd, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Lesbians and gay men wanting parenthood is a good development. They could encourage homosexual couples to adopt kids. So by doing this not only are they fulfilling the desire of the couple, but also gives an opportunity for the many kids who dont have a house or parent to have both.

  • racheal

    April 23rd, 2011 at 6:52 AM

    I am not sure how I feel about this issue. One part of me thinks that theydeserve to have children too, but then I worry about the kids and if they will be confused when they grow up or even picked on for a decision that was not their own.

  • Gayle

    April 24th, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    gay couples have probably always wanted to experience the joy of being parents, but it is only recently that many of them have discovered that opportunity. I think that there is more acceptance of gay parenthood in the past but I also think that we have a long way to go. There is always room for growth and improvement in society, and this is one of those key hot button topics in which that is definitely true.

  • Danielle

    May 3rd, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    Isn’t the most common means of gay couples getting kids by adoption? I would sooner suggest a couple adopt than have their own kids. There’s enough children already in the foster care and adoption system needing permanent loving homes.

  • renee

    May 5th, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    @jared- The societal aspects are the biggest stumbling block which is unfortunate. Even now in these modern times there are people who are still homophobic that have a problem with same-sex couples adopting. I don’t think the positive effect of giving a child a good, stable home crosses their tiny minds.

  • Raye J

    May 13th, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    @Danielle – I know what you mean. I’m a lesbian, and I fully plan on adopting my children. Until I have my partner, I won’t know for sure, but I’m hoping she’ll see that just because the child isn’t biologically ours won’t make him or her any less OUR child.

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