LGBT Health
NHS Choices

Having Children

LGBT people have as much right to be parents as everyone else. The evidence is that children growing up in families where one or both parents are LGBT do as well other children. There are more ways than ever for LGBT people to become parents.

The main options are assisted reproduction (fertility treatment), adoption/fostering, surrogacy, and coparenting arrangements. LGBT people may also become parents through informal arrangements or becoming a stepfamily, or have children from previous relationships. These are all types of LGBT family.

Ways to have children

If you are in a same-gender relationship, and you are considering having children, there are now several different options.

For trans people the situation can be more complex and you may want to consider specialist advice. However you basically have the same rights as everyone else and much of the advice below applies to you.

Assisted reproduction, e.g. fertility treatment

Lesbian and bisexual women have the same right to access NHS fertility clinics as different gender couples. You may need to fund some fertility treatment yourself before you can get fertility treatment on the NHS.

Stonewall guide for lesbians on how to get pregnant.

Adoption or fostering

LGBT people have the same right to adopt as everyone else. You can adopt as a single person or as part of a couple.

For more information see Stonewall

New Family Social are a group for LGBT adoptive and foster families throughout the UK

Fostering agencies and councils now actively recruit LGBT families.

http://www.thefca.co.uk/about-fostering/can-i-foster/lgbt-and-gender-in-fostering/

http://www.bridgendfostercare.wales/en/events-news/news/call-for-more-lgbt-adopters-and-foster-carers-in-bridgend/

http://corambaaf.org.uk/info/lgbt

Surrogacy

Surrogacy is when someone else carries a pregnancy for a couple with the agreement that the couple will become the legal parents once the child is born. LGBT people have set up surrogacy arrangements successfully. In the UK, surrogacy is a very complex situation. If you are thinking of surrogacy you should get legal advice at an early stage. See links below.

http://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice/parenting-rights/surrogacy-1

http://gaysurrogacy.co.uk/

https://www.surrogacyuk.org/about_surrogacy

Co-parenting agreements

Co-parenting is an arrangement where two or more people who are not in a relationship decide to raise a child together. For example, sometimes two same gender couples choose to co-parent together. Co-parenting arrangements often work well, but it is important to think through legal issues such as who will be the child’s legal parents, who will have parental responsibility and who will have day to day responsibility for the child. It is worth seeing a solicitor for legal advice.

LGBT Foundation have advice on co-parenting.

‘We Are Family’ LGBT parenting magazine have a comprehensive 2 part article on co-parenting.

Stepfamilies/informal arrangements

You may become a parent through starting a relationship with someone who has parental responsibility for a child. LGBT step-parents often have very close relationships with their stepchildren. Even if you don’t have parental responsibility or legal recognition as a step-parent, you may still have a relationship that is as close and important to both you and your child as that of a biological or legal parent. This isn’t always recognised by everyone and this can be difficult.

All step-families and blended families are different, just as all families are different. A blended family is a family consisting of a couple, the children they have had together, and their children from previous relationships. Sometimes difficulties faced are the same as those experienced by non-LGBT step-families, such as learning how to get along with new family members. If you are having problems as a family it can be worth looking at resources for step/blended families for ideas.

LGBT people also sometimes have other children in their life who are important to them. LGBT people often form “families of choice”, close groups of friends who provide a lot of support to each other. Sometimes this can include children. LGBT people sometimes have other children in their lives who they are very close to, for instance nieces and nephews, younger siblings or grandchildren. 

Pink Parents article on step parenting

For more information see Stonewall on Legal Parenthood

Other ways to have children

Sometimes, LGBT people have had children as part of a different gender relationship, or one night stand. Rights and responsibilities of the parents can be complex and it is worth seeking legal advice. If you are trying to get pregnant by having unprotected sex, it is really important to know the sexual history of your partner(s) and whether they have any sexually transmitted infections. This could affect the health of your baby as well as you.

Children who have started life in a family with a mother and father usually adjust to being part of a family with two parents of the same gender very well. The same is true of children whose parents come out as trans.

There is no evidence that growing up in a family with two parents of the same gender harms children.

Trans rights

The rights of trans people to conceive and be identified as parents is established in principle, but unclear. Trans parents may also need to consider specific issues, such as assisted reproduction and gamete storage if you choose to medically transition.

Some information about assisted reproduction for trans people may be found here.

Information on trans parents rights in the event of a custody dispute is here

Gires also has some resources for children whose parents are transitioning.

Stonewall provide a good overview of these different ways to form a family.

 

What rights do children in LGBT families have?

Children in LGBT families have the same rights as children in non-LGBT families families.

Legal rights for LGBT parents.

 

Will my child be bullied?

No child should be bullied because of the sexuality or gender identity of their parents or what type of family they are from.

While LGBT families do experience discrimination, this is illegal. You have the same right to a family as everyone else and your children have the right not to be discriminated against.

If your child is being bullied in school because they have two mothers, two fathers, or one or more trans parents, this is discrimination and the school must take action. If you need help to get the school to deal with this, Bullying UK has a confidential helpline 0808 800222.

Bullying UK article on homophobic bullying.

Stonewall information on homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools.

Some LGBT parents find it helpful to join support groups. An online resource with listings for local groups for LGBT parents.

 

How do I come out to my children?

See the section ‘Coming out to your children’ on the ‘LGBT Coming Out’ topic for tips on coming out to your children.

Even if your child has been brought up in an LGBT family from a young age, you may still need to discuss these issues with them. They may realise that some people treat you differently as a family. They may need help to work out how and when to tell other people about their family. The resources above may be helpful.

Remember: trans people and people in same gender relationships have always had children. Single people who identify as LGBT have always had children. Millions of children worldwide have grown up LGBT families. Nowadays there is more legal protection and visibility today than there has been in the past.

Resources and groups

Stonewall’s guide to gay dads.

Stonewall’s information on parenting rights.

An online resource with listings for local groups for LGBT parents.

Stonewall Cymru has a list of local LGBT parenting groups, phone 08000 50 20 20.