LGBT paths to parenthood
The number of LGBT people becoming parents, or thinking about becoming parents, is increasing.
If you're thinking about having children, here's an overview of the various routes to parenthood available to you.
This is where a man donates sperm so a woman can inseminate herself. She can be single or in a relationship.
Donor insemination can be performed at home using sperm from a friend or an anonymous donor, or at a fertility clinic using an anonymous donor.
If you decide to look for donor insemination, it's generally better to go to a licensed clinic where the sperm is screened to ensure it's free from sexually transmitted infections and certain genetic disorders. Fertility clinics also have support and legal advice on hand.
Thanks to recent changes in the law, lesbian couples who are civil partners at the time of conception and conceive a child through donor insemination – either at a licensed clinic or by private arrangement at home – will now both automatically be treated as their child's legal parents.
So too will couples who aren't civil partners at the time of conception but who conceive through donor insemination at a licensed clinic.
But when non-civil partners conceive through donor insemination by private arrangement at home, the non-birth mother has no legal parenthood and will have to adopt the child to obtain parental rights.
For more information:
This is when 2 or more people team up to conceive and parent children together. Co-parenting arrangements can be made between 2 single people, a single person and a couple, or 2 couples.
As a co-parent, you won't have sole custody of the child. It's advisable to get legal advice at an early stage of your planning.
There are many details to be worked out, such as what role each parent will take, how financial costs will be split, and the degree of involvement each will have with the child.
For more information, read about co-parenting on the LGBT Foundation website.
Adoption or fostering for LGBT couples
LGBT couples in the UK can adopt or foster a child together. You can apply to adopt or foster through a local authority or an adoption or foster agency. You don't have to live in the local authority you apply to.
You will have to complete an assessment to become an adoptive or foster parent, with the help of a social worker and preparation training.
For more information, visit New Family Social, the charity for LGBT adoptive and foster parents.
Find out more about adopting or fostering a child from the care system in England and Wales.
If you feel ready to adopt, find an adoption agency near you using the first4adoption agency finder.
Surrogacy is when a woman has a baby for a couple who can't have a child themselves. For men, surrogacy can be a route to having a child biologically related to them.
Surrogacy is legal in the UK, but it's illegal to advertise for surrogates and no financial benefit other than "reasonable expenses" can be paid to the surrogate.
It's worth noting that the baby isn't legally yours until a parental order has been issued after the child's birth. This means the surrogate could keep the baby if she chose to.
For more information:
Trans and non-binary parents
When it comes to adoption and fostering, trans people have the same rights as any other prospective parent.
If you're considering starting treatment to physically alter your body or you've already started treatment, find out about the options for preserving your fertility from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
Page last reviewed: 30 June 2017
Next review due: 30 June 2020