“I think if you're strong in your relationship before, it strengthens your relationship even more.”
Growing your Rainbow Family
Having early conversations about what becoming a family might look like can help you make the decisions that were important to you when you began taking steps towards creating your own family.
Whether you are a sole prospective parent, partners or co-parents, or other family members like a known donor or surrogate, everyone involved needs to understand what decisions might need to be made, the information that might support the decision making process and think about how to approach decision making in a respectful way.
This information focuses on steps you can make along the way to value the needs and perspectives of the whole family, identify decisions which may need to be made, and consider what information is needed in order to make those choices.
What decisions need to be made? (Reminding ourselves that these are about a future child we have not yet met and a family we want to create!)
Depending on who is in our family, there are a range of decisions that may be important to consider in planning our transition to parenthood.
Several of these decisions relate to all the steps between thinking about creating your own rainbow family, making decisions about how you intend to become parents or co-parents, and the day you welcome your child into your family.
For some, this may involve one person becoming pregnant and carrying the baby, and for others, it may involve a surrogate or a co-parent/s. You may be using eggs, sperm or both from within our relationship, and/or we may require a donor or a surrogate to help create our families. If this is the case, an important consideration is whether to use a known sperm donor or a ‘clinic recruited “unknown” donor. The roles that donors and surrogates, and their own families, play in your family’s life may range from co-parenting, to having no regular relationship, and anything in between. Whatever the case, it is best for all involved to have clear and consistent expectations.
“Our relationship with our donor is beautiful. That works exactly as we'd hoped it would. One of the benefits of spending several years trying to get pregnant was we had a long period with our donor of working to consolidate what we wanted, his next partner's relationship with us and our child...that's worked out as we wanted.”
In addition to thinking about how to become parents or co-parents, people may also find it helpful to consider how they imagine their parenting arrangements and roles looking. For example:
- Who will carry the baby? Considerations may include fertility, employment, medical health, access to support, and desire for a biological child.
- Will one or more parents be spending some period staying at home with the baby? If so, who, and for how long?
- How can the family ensure that whoever is staying at home will have the opportunity to take time for themselves when they need to?
- Is having at least one person at home with the baby for some period of time important? If so, how can everyone in the family come to a fair arrangement that allows for this?
- Is it important to one person that they return to work outside the home within a certain time frame? If so, how can the other person or co-parents ensure that is possible?
“I fought to balance my time, that I needed to go out and do something for myself, so amongst the parenting I made time for myself to work.”
What information do we need? (Gathering all the data we need to make the best decision for us!)
The decisions we come to may be informed significantly by our own values, beliefs and ideas about what family and parenthood looks like. Some of our everyday decisions can even be informed by the assumptions we make and our unconscious bias
The options available to us as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, trans, gender diverse, non-binary, queer and intersex people, are as diverse as our variations in sex characteristics, our sexualities and our gender identities.
We may need to think about the financial and other logistical implications of our choices. For instance, surrogacy and IVF are more costly than home insemination with fresh sperm from a known sperm donor (who may or may not be a co-parent).
Knowing our legal status and creating legal certainty for our child may inform our decision making. One person may be older than the other, which could make attempting pregnancy more urgent for them than for a younger partner because of fertility concerns, especially egg quality.
- Explore all the financial costs for different procedures. Contact clinics directly as costs may differ from year to year or from person to person – don’t only rely on costs told to you by friends who have completed their family.
- Check out the legal status of everyone involved – go to rainbowfamilies.org,au
There are many places you can go to get the information to assist you to make the range of complex information you may need to create your rainbow family.
The most obvious choice is talking to other people in your friendship groups or extended family about how they made their decision to become a family. If no one has created a family like the way you think you might then it might be time to reach out to groups on online communties or to email Rainbow Families Victoria for advice. (Be aware that shared information with friends and family may not always be accurate in terms of legal or medical information)
Many prospective parents choose to attend information sessions at fertility or assisted reproductive technology clinics. Literature, including books (check out Hares and Hyenas bookshop in Victoria), government documents, and online articles have also been found helpful by members of the community.
REMINDER: Information provided on online forums or via conversations with friends is not a replacement for legal or medical advice.
How do we make the right decision?
If after making a decision, someone finds themselves feeling differently about it, it is okay to come back to that decision and reassess.
Some suggested starting points:
- Draw up a Pros and Cons list: What are the pros and cons of every option you might be considering? Remember you might put something in the Con list because you don’t have enough information yet – the next step could be to divide up your list and do some research.
- Talk to another rainbow family who have already had recently had a baby: Write up a list of questions and make a time to see the family. Offer to bring afternoon tea or a meal, be flexible about meeting in a park or playground, email your key questions beforehand. New parents are busy people but most are very eager to share their personal story too.
Our families come in all different shapes and sizes but every family can experience stress or conflict. Sometimes this can turn into intimate partner violence or family violence.
We all deserve respect.
If you need someone to talk to, please call 1800 LGBTIQ