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Families First: GLBT Family Issues and Resources (February 2015): Adoption and Surrogacy

By Ellen Bosman

Adoption and Surrogacy

Adoption and surrogacy are two ways for GLBT individuals to build a family. The conscious decision to be a parent is the same for GLBT couples as for heterosexual couples; however a GLBT couple must rely on alternative methods to becoming a parent: adoption, surrogacy, insemination, or foster parenting. This section provides suggested materials on alternative methods for creating a family. Additional materials on this subject may be found in the parenting section. Edited by David Brodzinsky and Adam Pertman, Adoption by Lesbians and Gay Men was selected as an “Outstanding Academic Title” by Choice (CH, Apr’12, 49-4765). The book’s eleven essays bring together experts from the fields of law, psychology, sociology, social work, and history to create an interdisciplinary approach to the trends and issues surrounding GLBT adoptions. A particularly useful aspect of this approach is the collation of several national studies: a survey of adoption practices and policies, the Lesbian Family Study, and a study of the adolescent health of children with GLBT parents.

Lesbian couples have the added option of having one partner give birth. The perspective of the nonbiological mother is acutely underrepresented in the literature. One measure of this limited literature is the absence of a Library of Congress (LC) subject heading until 2005; works prior to this time, such as Nancy Abrams’s The Other Mother, were simply assigned the subject heading “Lesbian Mothers.” If the use of the new subject heading “Nonbiological Mothers” is any indication of the availability of materials on this subject, the theme continues to lag, with only three nonfiction titles—all memoirs—represented in LC’s catalog. The Lambda Literary Award finalist Confessions of the Other Mother, edited by Harlyn Aizley, is an anthology of eighteen essays covering such topics as a fertile partner giving birth on behalf of the infertile partner. These personal, humorous, and touching stories attest to a lack of recognition, society’s and family members’ confusion, and the legal difficulties of the nonbiological parent.

Amie Miller recounts her experiences in She Looks Just Like You: A Memoir of (Nonbiological Lesbian) Motherhood. After Amie’s several attempts to get pregnant, her partner agreed to try, and was immediately successful. Amie’s search for her parental role reflects a deep love for her child and partner. Nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, this volume, with its parenthetical use of nonbiological in the subtitle, reflects the author’s attitude: it does not matter who gave birth, both women are mothers. Just as nonbiological mothers were classed by the Library of Congress only under “Lesbian Mothers,” gay fathers were similarly classed as “Gay Fathers” prior to the 2007 addition of the heading “Nonbiological Fathers.” Again the subject receives little attention, with only one title available—a work of fiction. Clearly this is an area where future growth would be welcome. Readers also will appreciate a lengthy web-based report from 2007, Adoption and Foster Care by Gay and Lesbian Parents in the United States, by Gary Gates et al. It provides demographic information estimating the number of children in GLBT-headed households, twelve key findings, state-by-state charts and statistics, and a discussion of how prohibitive state laws adversely affect families. This document is complemented by a podcast. 

Works Cited