Family Equality CEO discusses overcoming the challenges of LGBTQ+ family building

Family Equality CEO discusses overcoming the challenges of LGBTQ+ family
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In honor of International Family Equality Day on May 2, Family Equality, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ families, has partnered with bubly sparkling water  to raise awareness of the obstacles LGBTQ+ parents and parents-to-be face on the path to parenthood. 

Equally Wed spoke with Family Equality CEO Stacey Stevenson to learn more about these obstacles and how to overcome them.

Related: 8 adorable LGBTQ families to follow on Instagram

What does Family Equality do?

Family Equality is the leading national organization for LGBTQ+ families and LGBTQ+ people who want to expand their family. Our goal is to advance lived and legal equality for our families by building community, changing hearts and minds, and driving policy change.

What are some of the most common obstacles LGBTQ+ couples face on the path to parenthood?

Nearly 4 million LGBTQ+ millennials are thinking of growing their families in the years ahead—many through adoption and foster care or assisted reproductive technology (ART).

But the corporate, legal, and healthcare systems still have work to do to ensure that these community members have equal rights and opportunities to form, grow, and sustain a loving family no matter where they live or who they are.

In fact, even though there are more than 400,000 youth in foster care and LGBTQ+ adults are seven times more likely to foster and adopt than non-LGBTQ+ adults, in some places adoption and foster care agencies can turn away LGBTQ+ parents.

And for LGBTQ+ families looking to expand via assisted reproductive technology, many face overt and implicit discrimination from the doctor’s office to insurance coverage and must overcome extreme financial hurdles on the path to parenthood.

Megan Rei Photography

Are there still challenges once the children have already been born or brought into the family?

The first major obstacle for LGBTQ+ couples who have expanded their family through ART is establishing legal parentage for the non-biological/non-gestational parent.

Legally, the process of confirming parental rights is called “stepparent” or “second parent” adoptions and require a family to go through home studies, FBI and criminal background checks, an adoption hearing, and more—even though the nonbiological/non-gestational parent is listed on the birth certificate and was involved in the pregnancy and birth.

For LGBTQ+ parents and parents-to-be who are facing some of these challenges, what can they do to mitigate/tackle them?

Know your rights: Get educated on the laws in your state and protect your family legally to the extent that you can.

Find community and advocate. From peer support groups to social media affinity spaces, there are countless ways you can find other LGBTQ+ people who have been where you’re at and can offer you advice and perspective. It’s also essential to find providers who understand the unique legal and societal hurdles the LGBTQ+ community faces on this path to parenthood. On your search for community spaces, ask what agencies and professionals other LGBTQ+ people nearby are using.

To help you on your path to parenthood, Family Equality has a hub of resources, peer support groups, networks of LGBTQ+ families, a directory of affirming providers, and so much more.

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River West

What advice do you have for LGBTQ+ couples who want to start a family but have no idea where to begin?

Take a breath and consider your resources. What paths to parenthood are most accessible to you—socially, fiscally, geographically?

To help as you ask these critical questions, head to the internet. Learn more about the paths available to you and your family, and find other LGBTQ+ families who might be able to offer perspective & advice.

What do you wish LGBTQ+ couples knew about building families?

The process of growing an LGBTQ+ family is intensive and unique. We often say that there is no one way to build an LGBTQ+ family.

But one thing is clear no matter what your family looks like or how it was formed: love makes a family.

The US is denying citizenship to kids of same-sex couples born abroad
Photos of Life by Ashli Shapiro via Immigration Equality

Tell us about the campaign between Family Equality and Bubly.

In celebration of International Family Equality Day on May 2nd, we are proud to be teaming up with bubly sparkling water to raise awareness for the obstacles LGBTQ+ individuals face on the path to parenthood.

To accomplish this, our partner bubly is not only providing financial support by making a donation to our organization to help our continued efforts, but has also created the bubly Baby Registry, a twist on a digital baby registry, that brings to life the real costs that LGBTQ+ parents face via faux registry items, and the path to parenthood, a book outlining the realities faced by LGBTQ+ parents.

Consumers can visit FamilyEquality.org/Bubly to check out the registry and make a donation.

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