If you are heterosexual, partnered and fertile, having children can be a fairly straightforward process. If you are LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or queer),* the process generally can be…well…not so straightforward. (No pun intended). In addition to logistical and parenting path considerations (Do we adopt? Do we find a surrogate? Do we use a known or unknown donor?), LGBTQ parents must be mindful of the legal issues they may face as parents, depending on their parenting path (even in Massachusetts!), and what steps they can take to ensure that their relationship with their children is protected. It can be daunting at first, sorting through all of the available resources and information, and trying to understand the practical and legal considerations to be made.
I know this firsthand – eight years ago my wife and I were at that daunting starting point. We knew only a handful of LGBTQ folks who had children, and the path before us seemed confusing and challenging. Eventually, though, we found wonderful guides – legal, relational, logistical – and with their help were able to navigate the uncertain terrain of LGBTQ parenthood. Fast forward to now: we have two fabulous children who have a close relationship with their wonderful known donor (one of our close friends).
Through my LGBTQ family formation practice, I now get to be a guide for other would-be LGBTQ parents, sharing both what I have learned along my parenting path and through my legal practice. I help clients make mindful and informed decisions about how they will bring children into their lives, advise them of their legal rights and vulnerabilities, and draft the legal documents that help protect my clients’ relationships with their children. I also provide mediation for people who interested in creating non-traditional family structures, and want clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. I am grateful for the opportunity to make the path a bit less daunting for my clients than it was for us, and I celebrate the opportunity to help others create their own rich and dynamic family constellations.
* Of course, heterosexual individuals may face many of the same issues, particularly if are single or wrestling with infertility.