Guest post written by Dr. Kim Bergman
If you are reading this article, chances are good that you are thinking about building a family. You've been dreaming about your baby, first smiles and first steps, family vacations and holidays spent together. As with any dream, you might need some help to fulfill it. Thanks to advancements in medical technology, and a changing legal climate assisted reproductive technologies (ART) for the LGBTQI community can help make your dream a reality.
In my new book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction, I will walk you through the essential aspects of assisted reproduction, review your options, and offer you guidance on what can seem like a daunting, complicated, and mysterious process. In addition to legal and financial considerations, there are psychological issues that must be handled with care. But while the journey is complex, with thoughtful planning, it is entirely doable. In Your Future Family, I'll outline the essential pieces of the puzzle you'll need. We'll cover the basic science of sperm, eggs, embryos, conception, pregnancy, and birth. I'll discuss how egg donors, sperm donors and surrogates are screened, and how to choose one, and I'll share stories of people I have helped through the process. I hope to show you that it is not only possible but also highly probable that you can become a parent.
I travel the world talking about this issue and I'm asked the same basic questions over and over:
- Where do we start?
- How do we find reputable experts to help us?
- What are the unique issues LGBTQI parents face?
- What are the legal issues we might be faced with?
- How do we put the biological pieces together?
- How do we tell our story to family, friends, and our child?
This book is designed to answer these and other commonly asked questions. My primary goal is not just to provide the nuts and bolts of assisted reproduction for the LGBTQI community but also to share the human element of the process. Throughout the book I include real stories about people becoming parents. I hope to bring the scientific, medical, and legal information to life, helping you to be educated and encouraged while keeping your expectations realistic.
I have written this book to help anyone who is contemplating having a baby with the help of others. It's also for family members, friends, employers, neighbors, and anyone else who knows someone who is either contemplating or building a family through third-party assisted reproduction. In particular, grandparents, aunts, and uncles will find this book useful as it both explains the basic process and helps one talk about it with other people.
LGBTQI folks creating families through ART is beautiful and healthy
It is about love, collaboration, and a desire to raise a child. I love being a mom. It's the one thing that I always knew I wanted. I was one of those little girls who played with baby dolls, naming them and planning their futures, and even their children's futures. When I met and fell in love with my wife, Natalie, my wish to be a mother didn't go away, even though I knew there was never going to be a man in the picture. I always knew that I would be able to fulfill my dream of becoming a mommy. Thanks to a sperm donor, my wish came true. When my daughters, Abby and Jenna, were born, it was rare for lesbians to have a baby. My kids are, essentially, the first generation of children born to LGBTQ parents. Natalie and I were in the vanguard. We learned a lot along the way. As a licensed psychologist, I realized what an advantage I had because I understood the importance of open, honest communication, support, trust, and flexibility, and it is this understanding that I bring to my work and that I offer to you in the pages of Your Future Family.
Are you ready?
When Natalie and I had our first conversation about possibly starting the process of donor insemination and becoming parents, a flipped switched in us and we were in. Period. End of discussion. From that moment on, nothing was going to stop us. When our first insemination attempt didn't take, we tried again. And when that didn't work, we tried again. And then we switched donors, thinking maybe different sperm would help. And when that didn't work, we tried again. And again. And then we switched donors again. We kept at it until finally, at last, I got pregnant with Abby. But never did we doubt that I would get pregnant and that we would be parents. We had decided that no matter what, we were going to be parents.
You can build a family, no matter what
There is nothing more rewarding than building a family, and these days almost anyone can do so. The barriers that existed as few as ten or twenty years ago no longer stand in your way. If you are truly committed and you are willing to be patient, your wish can come true.
I must warn you, however, that having a baby through assisted reproduction is a marathon, not a sprint. You've got twenty-six miles to run, and no two miles are the same. And the marathon starts long before you start the race. You've got a whole lot of planning, training, and commitment ahead of time. You have to keep your eyes on the finish line even when things are really tough. Some miles are easy, others are excruciating, some are euphoric, and some are boring. That's exactly how having a baby through assisted reproduction feels. You plan, you put the pieces together, and you learn all you can about the process. There is a lot of waiting, anticipating, excitement, and sometimes disappointment. It proceeds in fits and starts, and sometimes you wonder if you'll ever see the finish line. But then, when you finally get there, it's the greatest thing ever. So, if you think you might be ready to take the first step, check out Your Future Family and read on.
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