THE BLOG

At the Center of the Rainbow Family Explosion

09/09/2013 07:57 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
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We have the best job in the world, bar none. We are privileged every single day to walk alongside people pursuing what is, and will most likely always be, the biggest dream of their lifetime: creating a family.

We find ourselves in the midst of a gigantic social change, if not a global movement, and we are humbled to do our part in helping the LGBTQ community start or grow their families. Helping same-sex couples, men and women who probably wouldn't have dared to dream a dream this big just a few years ago, is life-changing work as physicians.

The number of same-sex couples having children is exploding. But this isn't just an American phenomenon. It is global. No matter where you look, from big-city boulevards like the Champs-Élysées to the narrow streets of Tel Aviv's White City, there are more and more nontraditional families. As fertility specialists, we work as the medical facilitators for many of these families. The world's prospective parents have turned their attention to the United States, and in record numbers they're taking a leap of faith by jumping on an airplane with their hearts on their sleeves and a willingness to be pioneers in this global change.

Building a family as a gay man or lesbian is obviously different than it is for straight people. Not only do gays and lesbians have to combat the traditional stereotypes of what constitutes a family, but they need logistical help in the form of donor eggs, sperm and/or a gestational surrogate. Because of these circumstantial needs, the same-sex couples and LGBTQ singles whom we treat are frequently very thoughtful and prepared about entering into parenting. As the process can also be quite expensive, many couples and individuals have been planning for years, saving money, doing their research, talking with friends, considering carefully the changes that this will have on their lives. We think this preparedness contributes to the couples we treat becoming such well-adjusted, responsible, and wonderfully doting parents.

About 85 percent of the time, we see these couples achieve success soon after starting their journey to parenthood. We're proud of this success and work hard to always improve so that we can maximize the chance of success for our patients while controlling costs. But the process isn't without its challenges.

Some states are more welcoming to these new families than others. Outside this country the challenges are only increased.

Internationally, gay parents need to be very informed and discerning consumers, as there are disreputable groups that persuasively vie for their business. Future parents are unaware that a clinic's success rates are easily known in the United States, that the physician's training is important, and that the quality of laboratories is a critical part of success.

But the legal landscape from country to country may be the biggest hurdle to overcome. In many places in the world where our patients reside, the laws are restrictive and the social norms present continuing obstacles for these families. Knowing how to legally maneuver in one's home country to bring a U.S.-born baby home is paramount before starting the process.

Fortunately there are places in the United States for LGBTQ people from far and wide where pursuing parenthood via in vitro fertilization, donor eggs, and gestational carriers is illegal. Oregon is one state that welcomes these future parents with open arms, has many healthy donors and surrogates willing to help, and is helpful in establishing legal parenthood for the two dads or moms, signifying the recognition of the new family unit by the courts.

We are proud of our involvement in this rainbow family explosion, or the Gaybyboom, as it's been called. And we feel fortunate to practice medicine during a time in which medical technology provides an excellent chance of a healthy pregnancy and delivery, and an increasing global culture of acceptance and tolerance that acknowledges the familial rights of all couples, no matter whom they love.

Family is family. Love is love. We see this up close in the offices and hallways of our facilities. It's a constant reminder that the work we do goes beyond good science and medicine.

At the side of our brave and hopeful patients, we get to have a small role in making the world a better place for all our children -- from Berlin to Beijing, Prague to Perth -- a dream of a lifetime for most all of us.

For more information on Oregon Reproductive Medicine, click here.