Make sure you dot the i’s and cross the t’s by having a sit-down with your partner before starting your journey to parenthood…
Starting a family is an exciting and life-changing time. For any gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender couple thinking about having children, there are more options than ever for starting a family. But at the risk of stating the obvious, having a baby with someone is a pretty big deal. Granted, having babies as a same- or similar-gender couple or as a transgender individual in a couple can be complicated. There are logistical issues, legal hurdles and financial obstacles that cisgender heterosexual couples rarely consider or ever need to deal with. So, before you and your partner dip into the sometimes complicated process of starting a family, you will need to have a number of serious — sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes fun — discussions.
“Being on the same page as your partner is so important because a fertility journey can be easy but it can also be challenging,” says Dr. Marjorie Dixon, Founder, CEO and Medical Director of Anova Fertility and Reproductive Health, which operates four clinics in southern Ontario. “You have to prepare for scenario A, where it’s easy; scenario B, where it’s intermediate; and, scenario C where it costs you a lot of money and is really a true challenge to your sense of self as a couple. Open communication from the beginning will help you manage the journey no matter what the outcome is.”
While all potential parents must consider the ifs and whens of starting a family, most same-sex couples must also grapple with the how. That includes deciding whether to pursue in-vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), egg donation, gestational surrogacy or even adoption — each of which comes with its own variations. Parenthood certainly isn’t easy at the best of times, and assisted reproduction adds another level of complexity. Being prepared beforehand can make it all a little less daunting…and will help you survive the process.
Thinking of starting up a family with your partner? With a little help from Dr. Dixon, we’ve put together a list of 25 of the most important questions that you can discuss with your partner before starting your journey to parenthood. The answers will help you make sure you are both on the same page — or at least give you a starting point for discussion.
- When do we want to grow the family, and when do we have to start working towards making that happen?
- How much time are we prepared to wait?
- In the case of donated sperm, where will we get the sperm from?
- For couples who identify as male: do we want our child to know the identity of the egg donor? Or, for couples who identify as female: do we want to know the identity of the sperm donor? In both cases, what will the donor’s relationship be to our family?
- In the case of surrogacy: what kind of relationship do we want with the surrogate before, during and after the pregnancy/labour? Also, what kind of relationship (if any) do we want between the child and the surrogate?
- For couples that identify as female: do we both want to experience pregnancy and birth? Which one of us will carry the child?
- For transgender individuals there may be more complicated questions. Generally sperm or egg freezing is done before hormonal or surgical intervention. For those assigned male at birth, have you thought about cryopreservation of sperm? For those who were assigned female at birth, have you thought about egg freezing?
- How will we find a clinic with practitioners who can speak the language of queer couples in a judgment-free way?
- Would we like to work with a certified fertility lawyer, who can explain the legal framework that will direct our decision-making? If yes, can we afford that?
- How are we going to financially prepare to start the process of growing our family?
- Have we thought of co-parenting with another individual or couple?
- Do we have any provisions in our employee benefit plans that are likely to cover fertility treatment for queer couples?
- What would we do if we learned the fetus had genetic disorders or physical abnormalities?
- Do we want to find out the assigned sex of the baby?
- Who will be the primary parent for the baby?
- Whose last name will the child have?
- For each partner: what are some things you liked about the way you were raised, and what would you like to do differently as a parent?
- How will we explain sexuality to our child?
- What will we do if our child is bullied in school because they have two moms/dads?
- What will the division of labour be?
- For each partner: could you defer from your own preferences for the sake of your child’s best interests?
- For each partner: are you prepared that your child might be very different from you in personality or values, share few interests, or even reject you? How would you handle this?
- How well do we handle stress and conflict resolution as a couple?
- How will we make time for our relationship?
- What if this doesn’t work out?
Parenthood certainly isn’t easy at the best of times, and assisted reproduction adds another level of complexity. Being prepared beforehand can make it all a little less daunting…and will help you survive the process. For more information about beginning your pathway to parenthood, please visit www.anovafertility.com.