Most people aspire to someday be a parent, regardless of where they live, the religion they practice, or the lifestyle they choose, as long as they can provide a safe, loving environment for their children. However, many childless same-sex couples find themselves in a predicament when it comes to their options for parenthood.

Same-sex or "gay" surrogacy is on the rise in locations around the world. The purpose of this article is neither to approve nor disapprove of the concept, but to provide information regarding surrogacy options to same-sex couples striving for parenthood.

Surrogacy Basics

Regardless of lifestyle, surrogacy is a method that millions of couples around the world choose when it comes to parenthood. Surrogates are women who carry babies to term for those that are unable to procreate, carry a baby, or who have medical conditions or issues that prevent pregnancy or development of a fetus in their own womb. Today, surrogacy is an option for individuals in two categories:

Artificial insemination - offers traditional surrogacy options. The surrogate is inseminated with sperm of the biological father. In the case of a female same- sex couple, a sperm bank, or a chosen individual may donate sperm for artificial insemination into the womb of one of the same-sex couple.

IVF and egg donation programs - IVF and egg donations utilize donor assistance. For same sex couples, several options are available:

  • eggs of an egg donor are fertilized by one male
  • eggs from a donor are fertilized with the sperm of one partner, while the other half of the eggs are fertilized with a second partner's sperm. Through this method, the surrogate mother is implanted with two embryos, one of which is related to each father.
  • Siblings or other family members of one partner can be the egg donor

When it comes to surrogacy, most facilities prefer to utilize sperm or eggs from at least one or both members of the couple, encouraging a biological relationship between parent and child.

Same-Sex Female Options for Sperm and Egg Donors

For same-sex female couples, the process is much the same as a "traditional" insemination/surrogacy procedure. In most cases, one woman from the same-sex couple opts to be inseminated and carry the baby to term, while for various reasons, other female same-sex couples may opt for the egg donation and gestational surrogacy from another individual.

Surrogacy programs are available for both female and male same-sex couples. Facilitating an egg donor surrogacy cycle requires a number of steps. First, individuals must select a fertility center. Then comes choice and selection with egg or sperm donors, followed by choice and selection of a surrogate in cases where neither female in the same-sex couple can carry a baby to term. Today, same-sex surrogacy centers are cropping up around the world in locations such as India.

Same-Sex Male Options for Surrogates and Egg Donors

In the case of male couples, surrogacy selection requires careful thought throughout each step of the process. Many same-sex surrogacy facilities provide a database of surrogates from which couples can choose a "match", with approximately 40% to 60% of surrogates in such facilities willing to carry a pregnancy for a single male or gay male couple.

Once the choice of a surrogate is selected, the male couple is given a full description and details of the surrogate’s medical and social history. Arrangements may be made in some locations for the male couple to meet the surrogate, if desired.

Male couples face a similar process when it comes to selecting egg donors. This process is extremely private, and donors as well as recipient couples remain anonymous. Legal papers and contracts will need to be read, reviewed, and signed by all parties involved.

Same-sex couples today have the same opportunities for parenthood as traditional couples. Building a family through egg donors, sperm donation and surrogates is only one of the options available to same-sex couples around the world.