Planning Your Family
There is a lot to consider before starting your family.
For women in a same sex relationship you might be thinking about using a known donor or contemplating whether to use sperm from an Australian donor or from an overseas donor. For men, you might be entering a co-parenting arrangement with a known/unknown woman or considering surrogacy. Regardless of who you are and your circumstances, the following might provide you with some worthwhile considerations.
Parenting Arrangements – There are many different types of families – single parent, families with 2 mums, families with 2 dads, families with 2 mums and 2 dads, trans families where 1 or more parents identify as transgender, – the list is endless! It is worthwhile to consider your parenting arrangements before pregnancy and it may be useful to formalise these arrangements with a legal contract. Some things to consider include:
- whose name will be on the birth certificate (this may depend on the legalities of the parenting arrangement you choose),
- who will have primary custody,
- if custody of the child is to be shared then how will this occur,
- what will happen if you and your partner break up,
- what will happen if those involved in the co-parenting have a falling out,
- how do you want your child(ren) to be raised,
- who will have financial responsibility, etc
- guardianship / custody if parent(s) pass away
Cost – The process of getting pregnant can be timely and costly depending on the method of pregnancy. Find out the costs up front and whether you need to amend your health insurance details or whether you need to save some money before attempting pregnancy.
Health and Fitness – If you are involved in the physical act of the pregnancy (this is getting pregnant, providing sperm, providing eggs) it may be worthwhile to speak to your GP or other healthcare providers (such as nutritionist/naturopaths) about how to increase your fertility. For women, having knowledge of your menstrual cycle is important and once you start trying to conceive, staff at fertility clinics often start conversations by asking what day of your cycle you are on.
Telling Others – The decision to tell others can be simple or very hard depending on your circumstances. It can be like coming out all over again! You might want to tell people as soon as you decide that you want a family or you might want to wait until the pregnancy has occurred. This is a very personal decision. Consider the likely reaction of those you intend to tell and be prepared for their response. While heterosexual people are not usually subjected to interrogation about the processes involved in the pregnancy, you might be. You do not have to answer intrusive questions about the ins and outs of your planned family but you might also want to have some answers prepared just in case. Feel free to ask others on the forum about how they handled this situation.
Support – Starting a family can be stressful. It may take longer than planned or there may be unexpected hiccups along the way. Consider who your support people are and don’t be afraid to utilise support services (such as friends/family, IVF support groups, online forums, private counselling etc).