Getting to Know our Gay Parents To Be Program
One of my favorite parts about my job is explaining why there needs to be a designated resource for LGTBQ parents in the family building space. Just the other day, I told someone that I worked with the Gay Parents To Be program, and they asked “wait, so there’s a separate program just for LGBTQ people? Doesn’t that seem discriminatory?” And I responded, “well, it’s actually quite the opposite.”
For parents-to-be who identify as members of the LGBTQ community, there is a lot of information out there on the internet. Not all of it is incredibly helpful, and a good amount of it is either misleading or intimidating. In fact, many LGBTQ individuals and couples who hope that a family is in their future are discouraged from starting the process by just how daunting it can seem. “I need a donor? What are gametes? Why do I need legal representation?” These are just a few of the questions that LGBTQ singles and couples have shared with me after starting to do their research.
Not too long ago, our medical director, Dr. Mark Leondires was in a similar position - one of wanting to start a family with his partner, and not exactly sure how to begin. Now, they are dads to two adorable kids, but when he and his husband began the process many years ago, he realized that it was fairly complicated for a gay couple to have a baby. He looked around and thought, “I work with IVF clinics every day, and I still don’t really know where to start as a gay man trying to build my family.” So he created Gay Parents To Be as a program offered through RMA of Connecticut. It is an informational resource, a springboard, and a starting point for anyone in the LGBTQ community who wants to build their family.
Since so much of what we do is online nowadays, we strive to make this information accessible to everyone. From our blog to our newsletter, The Voice, we offer news and insight about all paths to LGBTQ parenthood, including adoption and foster to adopt journeys. Closer to home, we are also able to help members of the LGBTQ community with biological parenting pathways using the staff, laboratory, and resources of our medical practice, RMA of Connecticut.
For LGBTQ+ moms-to-be (also known as cisgender single women and same-sex female couples), those parenting pathways usually take the shape of IUI or IVF journeys, with one or both women carrying a pregnancy at some point.
For LGBTQ+ dads-to-be, a biological family building journey involves completing an IVF cycle with a chosen donor’s eggs, cryopreservation of embryos, and then an embryo transfer into the uterus of a gestational carrier. The process for both moms- and dads-to-be also involves mental health professionals and a reproductive attorney, to make sure parental rights, donor rights, and the rights of your future child are all protected.
At the end of the day, we know that LGBTQ+ parenting journeys can be complicated, and we want to offer as much dedicated support as possible for all gay parents to be. Our practice also truly values LGBTQ inclusivity, which is evidenced by the Human Rights Campaign designation of “Healthcare Equality Leader” that we’ve earned for 3 consecutive years.
The Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) is the national LGBTQ benchmarking tool that evaluates healthcare facilities' policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees.
By choosing to participate in this movement towards LGBTQ healthcare equality, as a practice we get the opportunity to affirm that we comply with the requirements of the HRC, and stay 100% committed to LGBTQ patient-centric care and staff treatment. We also provide training for staff in LGBTQ inclusivity and healthcare needs.
Some of the areas evaluated by the HEI include benefits offered for LGBTQ persons, and involvement in LGBTQ community activities and events. We do our best to make members of the LGBTQ community feel welcome all year round, and a bit extra special right now during the month of Pride. Whether its rainbow buttons offered to all visitors at the front desk, or the Human Rights Campaign equality pillows that our CEO, Robin, purchased for us last year, we know that even little details can make a big difference.
While this year we are trying to minimize the amount of people in our offices and practice safe social distancing, we’re still honoring pride all month long. You can bookmark our Virtual Pride Guide on Gay Parents To Be, or follow us on social to stay in the loop about events, news, and more. We’ve compiled a calendar of virtual Pride events that we’ll be updating each week, and we’ll be offering some new events for parents-to-be as well as existing LGBTQ families. On a personal note, I’m using my time #stayingathome to join webinars and learn more about how to be a strong ally. I’m also training for a Pride 5K - the proceeds from registration go to the Trevor Project, if you want to join me!
Did you know that Gay Parents To Be has its own, dedicated website?
About Emma Lott
Emma is the brand specialist for Gay Parents To Be, helping to build awareness of the brand not only as a direct path to parenthood, but also as a general resource for fertility information in the LGBTQ community. She loves the chance to attend conferences on LGBTQ health and family building, and meet prospective patients.