We are all very fortunate to be living in a society where there are so many options for becoming a parent. For those for whom it will not happen naturally, either through infertility or being single or in a same-sex partnership there are numerous options to fulfil an ambition to become a parent.
That its not to say that any of those options are easy. Artificial insemination is not guaranteed to work, even for women with a healthy fertility. Fostering and adoption come with long anxious waits and a mountain of paperwork and visits from the authorities. However, many people do become happy parents through a non-traditional means.
Some of the options available for those wishing to become parents who can not conceive naturally with their partner (or through not finding the right partner) include adoption, fostering, sperm donorship, IVF with donor eggs and surrogacy.
Before embarking on a method it is well worth researching all the methods that are available to you and sitting down with a family lawyer who can explain how the legalities of each method will work. You do not want to find that you can not be legally recognised as the parent, or that an unknown donor can be legally recognised as the parent once you have your baby in your arms.
You may find that an option is open to you that you did not previously know, for example single people stand as much chance of becoming a foster parent as couples. Therefore if you are single and have a lot of love to give a child you may want to foster instead of having a biological child.
Adoption and fostering come with a very strict set of procedures and the law is very clear about both yours and your child’s rights and status. However, donorship and surrogacy can be confusing, which is why it is essential that you go through the correct channels and talk to your lawyer.
Official sperm banks come at a cost, but that cost guarantees yours and your child’s safety from STDs, including HIV and has the legal framework in place to exclude the sperm donor from any parental rights. It can be tempting for some people to waive the security and the cost of an official sperm bank in favour of a cheaper DIY method. This may involve either using the sperm of a friend or acquaintance or finding an unknown donor over the internet.
This comes with obvious health risks for both the woman and the child, but it also ventures into complicated family law territory in regards to the parental rights of the donor.
If you are looking at surrogacy it is also essential that you fully understand the law as the current laws in England and Wales are complicated and give very little rights to the prospective parent(s). No matter how well you know the surrogate it is vital that you know your rights, as pregnancy and birth produce a very complex set of emotions for the surrogate.
There are risks involved in all types of parenting, but non-traditional means come with a set of complex risks that can be hard to understand without the help of a family lawyer.