Gay Dads and Surrogacy: Parenting Well in a Digital World
Parenthood is a lifelong dream for many people. From the first day of school to their child’s wedding date, parents cannot wait to experience all of the highs and lows of parenting. Some people are able to achieve these dreams through traditional channels; and that is wonderful! But, Simple Surrogacy understands that this does not work for all prospective parents. Many intended parents need to consider alternative approaches, such as surrogacy and egg donation.
These alternatives may be particularly important for members of the LGBTQ community, and especially gay intended dads.
What the Numbers Say
More and more gay men who want to become parents are turning to surrogacy as a potential path to parenthood. At the moment, no reliable statistics exist for the number of gay men who become parents via surrogacy each year, but there’s no doubt that the numbers are growing. Even the total number of surrogate births (for all parents) per year is open to debate, with most experts estimating that more than 5,000 surrogate births happen per year.
A Lack of Transparency
Some of the lack of detailed statistics can be attributed to the fact that not all intended parents are transparent about going through the process, because some state laws frown on surrogacy. And, these laws may be even more complicated or surrogacy unfriendly for same-sex couples.
Although many of the issues associated with surrogacy will remain the same no matter who the intended parents are, there are certain surrogacy-related issues that are unique to same-sex couples. Unlike with heterosexual couples where both intended parents can potentially be biologically related to a child, in a same-sex relationship only one parent can be biologically related to the child. Therefore, gay intended parents must often have detailed conversations ahead of time.
Parenting in the Digital Age
Parenting has always been challenging. The process of guiding a person from birth to adulthood has always been filled with potential pitfalls. And, as parents tackle these pitfalls and challenges, they are often forced to make difficult decisions. These can range from where they live and what schools they will send their children to, to religion and other values that they will teach their children.
But, parenting has become even more complicated in the digital age. Many experts believe that children’s constant exposure to technology and social media has forced children to grow up more quickly, and often with significant negative costs. Parents can try to minimize these concerns by using a wide range of strategies, such as: limiting the screen time that their children get each day (which many pediatricians strongly recommend) or putting parental controls on technology, so that their children will not be able to access certain websites.
Become Aware Early On
There is not always a perfect answer to these challenges and concerns. The best answer may simply be that parents need to be aware. And, awareness can never start too soon. Many parents think that this is an issue that they will only have to consider when their children reach the dreaded teen years. But, this is simply not true. Children are being exposed to technology at younger and younger ages, and we would suggest that any intended parent begin to think about how they will deal with technology issues.
Gay Dads Have Even More Issues to Think About in the Digital Age
Every parent and intended parent needs to carefully think about technology and some of the additional challenges that technology may pose to them as parents. However, gay men who are considering surrogacy as a pathway to parenthood have even more questions to think about.
In the digital age, almost everyone has computers, iPads, and smart phones around their home. And, kids learn how to use these devices at a young age. Kids today are incredibly technologically savvy; and children are also very curious! If kids perceive that they or their family are different in some way, they will often investigate and look for answers. For example, if other kids at school have a mom and a dad, a child with two gay dads who was born via surrogacy may have questions. This child may start looking for potential answers and, if their dads are not forthcoming, then they will turn to the Internet.
Sadly, the information that they find on the Internet may not be accurate and, often it is not age appropriate. And, if they uncover information before you tell them, then you may risk damaging the trust that they have in you, which can have lifelong negative consequences.
Have Open and Honest Communication
It is extremely important that gay dads are transparent and clearly communicate with their children. From a young age, dads should clearly explain to their children that they were born via surrogacy, while always ensuring that these explanations are given in an age appropriate way. The goal of these conversations should be normalizing the child’s birth and also helping them develop a solid sense of identity. Psychologists believe that children who understand their birth story often have better self-esteem, and strong self-esteem will have positive spillovers in other areas of their life.
However, this communication is not always easy. In fact, it can be quite challenging. Therefore, we recommend that our intended parents give extensive thought to how they will communicate these issues before they ever embark on the surrogacy process.
And Be Mindful Of Social Media Trolls
Parents love sharing their kids first time doing anything: walking, riding a bike, going to school, etc., and especially on social media. Unfortunately, something so innocent can bring on anonymous trolls when there are two gay dads raising a child. In fact, the hostility online tends to be more explicit. As an adult, you may be able to handle the nastiness online, but this could be more challenging to deal with for a child. The scientific consensus shows that kids raised by same sex parents do just fine and it’s important to explain that to your children.
More and more people are considering the option of becoming parents via alternative channels, such as egg donation and surrogacy. One of the fastest growing demographics that is embracing surrogacy as a route to achieving their dream of children is gay men. Intended parents have to think about a variety of topics. Some of these issues are universal to all parents, but other topics may be more specific to parents who conceive and deliver via surrogacy.
One such issue is how gay dads will tell their children their surrogacy story in the digital age. Children are naturally curious. They want to hear stories about their births. And, if parents are not forthcoming, then children will use other avenues, such as digital technology, to find this information.
This is why it is essential that intended parents need to carefully consider how they will communicate their children’s birth stories to them. And, once the child is born, they need to follow through on these plans in a sensitive and age appropriate manner.
Ultimately, the goal at Simple Surrogacy is to ensure that all intended parents achieve their dreams of being parents, while children navigate the challenges of the modern digital world in a safe and healthy way.