Parenting Options

If you are single, lesbian, gay or infertile, becoming a parent is often more challenging. The options for parenthood include:

Known donor conception
Anonymous donor conception

Adoption is a way of providing a new family for a baby or child when living with their own family is not possible. For many children, adoption may be their only hope of experiencing secure family life.

To adopt a child in the UK you need to be approved to adopt by an adoption agency. Most agencies are part of the local authority children's services (in England and Wales) or social work (in Scotland) department. There are also independent agencies run by charities.

If you are over 21 years old and you can provide a permanent, stable and caring home, you can be considered for adoption. It doesn't matter whether you are married or single, in or out of work, or whatever your race, religion or sexuality. The key question an adoption agency will ask is: can you provide a stable home for a child until adulthood and beyond? All sorts of people can make a success of adoption.

Adoption may be arranged through your local authority or adoption agency.

Fostering is about caring for a child in your own home. For a whole variety of reasons there are around 42,300 children (in England year to March 2008) who are placed with foster carers by social services departments. Many of these children will eventually return to their families. In some cases this may take a matter of days or weeks in others it may take much longer.

If a return is not possible a decision may be made to find them a permanent new family, either through adoption or long-term fostering.

In the vast majority of cases children in foster care will have regular contact with their families, and their parents will continue to have responsibilities towards them throughout the time they are in foster care.

You can choose to become a foster carer through your local authority or via a foster care agency or charity.

Foster carers can be single or a couple, they do not need to be married. They can be gay, lesbian or straight. Most fostering agencies welcome applications from people who are in their mid twenties and it is quite common for people to foster up until their 60's.

There are several types of fostering: emergency care, short term and long term fostering when adoption is not suitable.

Co-parenting is the ability for parents to work together successfully in the bringing up of their child. Traditionally co-parenting was due to parents separating or divorcing, but more recently it is becoming a parenting option for many single, gay and lesbian couples. Co-parenting is the ideal option if you are a single man or woman wanting for your child to have both biological parents involved.

Known donor conception involves receiving donated sperm or eggs from someone you know or have met, this can be a friend, an extended family member or someone you meet through a connection service such as Pride Angel. 

You can learn more online about the process of becoming an egg donor or finding a donor. 
Our worldwide connection service makes finding your ideal match more achievable than ever before.

Using a known donor has many advantages, it allows you to fully assess their physical characteristics, including facial structure, body type and hair texture. You can find out about their personality, are they outgoing, shy, do they have a good sense of humour?

It is also possible to determine the donor's mental ability, are they able to communicate well, and do they show any signs of mental illness or depression. Meeting the donor also allows you to see any obvious health conditions, are they a smoker, do they have poor skin or show any other signs of ill health?

Meeting a known donor also allows you to stay in touch and for your child to have contact if you wish.

Using a known donor has many advantages for all involved. It allows you to choose a donor based on characteristics and personality, not just hair or eye colour. For the child it allows them to understand their identity from an earlier age. You may choose to keep in touch with the donor or to simply have the ability of showing photographs or receive birthday cards. It allows the child to say 'I have a dad' whether they have ongoing contact or not. This honesty about the donor from an early age enables donor conceived children to be more content and well adjusted individuals. A study has shown that one in three children conceived via anonymous sperm donors wish to contact their biological father when they are older. This can cause many dilemmas for all involved when you have no idea what the person will be like.

Anonymous sperm or egg donation is whereby you receive donor sperm or eggs through a fertility clinic. The identity of the donor is not released to the recipient.

Until recently, sperm donation in the UK was totally anonymous. In April 2005, new legislation came into effect which allows people conceived with donor sperm or eggs to find out who the donor was once they reach the age of eighteen. All anonymous donors have to agree for their identity to be made available in the future to their genetic offspring via the HFEA ( Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority).

Only a few countries, for example Spain, still allow totally annoymous sperm and egg donation, whereby the child is unable to trace any imformation about their donor in the future.

Some people choose not to meet the donor and would prefer not to have them involved in their lives at all. Using anonymous sperm or eggs may be the right choice for those who feel strongly about this. It is worth considering though that many children wish to know the identity of their donor and as many as one in three will choose to contact the donor at the age of 18. This can cause a dilemma for all involved, especially as you do not know what kind of person your child will be tracking down and meeting. This is one reason why known or egg donation is becoming more popular, as it allows you to personally choose the donor so that you feel comfortable about your child meeting with them in the future.