5 Considerations for Would-Be GLBT Parents
First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage
After the wedding is over and the glitter has settled, GLBT couples often find themselves faced with a new question: What next? The desire to have children has a strong pull for many gays and lesbians, particularly when you have just celebrated your love with the perfect gay wedding. Just like the old children’s rhyme dictates, many newlyweds’ thoughts soon turn to the possibility of starting a family.
Having children is a big decision, however, and should not be undertaken lightly. Here are five important factors that should go into your decision-making process.
- Your relationship. Having children will change the dynamics of your relationship, not to mention severely restrict the amount of time you and your partner have together. This is a difficult enough change for gay and lesbian couples who have been together for a while, but for newlyweds who aren’t yet ready to that level of responsibility to their relationship, it can be downright catastrophic. Before you and your partner decide to start a family, discuss how it will affect your relationship, and be sure both of you are comfortable with the inevitable changes parenthood will produce.
- Your philosophies on parenting. Hopefully by the time you and your partner start planning your gay wedding, you will have had this discussion at least once. Regardless, you should discuss in detail your philosophies for raising a child – before you make the decision to have one. This includes not only your larger ideals, but also the day-to-day logistics, such as how you and your partner will handle childcare, midnight feedings, and sick days.
- The financial demands of raising a child. No one these days expects raising a child to be cheap, but do you really have a handle on how much it will cost? By many estimates, parents can easily spend a quarter of a million dollars just to get each child to age 18. The first year alone can cost as much as $12,000. There are a number of calculators online to help you and your partner determine whether you can afford to care for a child at this point in your lives.
- Legal issues such as parental rights. Having a child together can create an entire realm of sticky situations for GLBT families. Each state differs on how many parental rights they allow gay and lesbian couples to share. A couple of states allow both parents equal rights from the get-go, while others allow options such as second-parent adoption. Unfortunately, many states are less than supportive of gay and lesbian parents, making legal documents such as co-parenting agreements the only way to ensure both parents have equal rights to their children. Before you and your partner decide to start a family, you should look into what options are available to you in your state of residence.
- Preferred methods of having children. There are many options available to gay and lesbian parents. You and your partner may prefer to adopt, in which case you can choose between a state agency or a private agency, and a baby or an older child who already is in need of a home. Or you may want to try for a bio kid, in which case you will have to consider tough questions such as who will be the biological parent and whether you will use a friend as your surrogate and/or donor, or go through an agency.
Gay and lesbian newlyweds have a lot to consider before deciding to become parents. What may have seemed like a simple decision initially begins to take on epic proportions. However, with patience and good communication you and your partner will be able to make a decision you can both feel good about.
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