LGBT+ couples parenting - what is possible in the UK?
There have always been lesbian, gay, bi and trans parents. However, in the last twenty years, positive changes in laws, social attitudes and access to assisted conception have meant that more and more LGBT people are starting families.
We are a lesbian couple with two children, who co-parent with a gay male couple. When we started thinking about parenting more than a decade ago, we knew no other openly LGBT families. Even now, despite more LGBT parents in the public eye – from diver Tom Daley to politician Ruth Davidson – many LGBT people believe that parenting is not for them and there are few role models.
Same-sex couples can now adopt or foster jointly, and single LGBT people can also become adoptive or foster parents. Gay male couples can choose surrogacy, in which one partner is the biological father and a surrogate carries the child for the couple. There are options for lesbians, involving anonymous sperm donation at a clinic, or finding a friend or someone they know to donate sperm or to enter a co-parenting arrangement. And, of course, there are LGBT people who have children in straight relationships before they come out, and ‘invisible’ LGBT families with parents who are bi or trans in opposite-sex relationships.
However, being an LGBT family is about much more than how you start your parenting journey. It’s about what happens next. While our families are similar in many ways to any other family, every LGBT family must navigate their way through a heterosexual world at school, with wider family and friends, in places of worship, and throughout daily life. But, while challenges still exist, it’s much easier now than it was for closeted LGBT families just a few generations ago. There’s plenty to be proud of about our families, and plenty to celebrate too.
Sarah and Rachel Hagger-Holt are the authors of ‘Pride and Joy: A guide for LGBT parents’ and ‘Living It Out: A survival guide for LGB Christians, their friends, families and churches’.
If you would like to hear more from Sarah and Rachel, why not check out their BLOG