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I Can't Have Children - I'm a Lesbian!
Destroying the myth

Yes it's true, being a lesbian makes having children all the more difficult as neither one of you carries sperm to fertilize eggs; if you did the lesbian world would be a perfect one. We have to admit that there's one thing that men are useful for - and that's impregnating women. That's not to say that we are encouraging you to all go out and sleep with men to get pregnant, though! There are a number of options available to you to have a child so you should never, ever think that you can't have a child because you are a lesbian.

A One Night Stand

Some lesbians may be prepared to have a one night stand with a man to get pregnant, whereas others will feel sick at the thought of it! Although this is a cheap method of having a baby there are huge risks involved. Firstly, you cannot guarantee that you will get pregnant and may have to have sex with a man several times before you do. Secondly, you run the risk of catching STD's from a man you don't know. If you did want to consider this option you should chose a man that both of you feel happy with and get him tested for STD's, in particular HIV, before proceeding. Meeting a man in a bar and having unprotected sex is just not good news.

Turkey Basting!

We've all seen it on If These Walls Could Talk II and yes turkey basting, or home insemination as physicians prefer to call it, is a viable option for having a lesbian baby. Instead of having to put yourself through physical contact with a male, you buy sperm through a sperm bank, make an ad hoc arrangement with a friend of a friend of a friend, or get a male friend to donate sperm for you to inseminate yourself (or your partner as the case may be) with a turkey baster, or any other suitable form of equipment.

Sperm through a sperm bank comes from carefully selected donators who have been screened and checked for STD's. It's also expensive when you begin to add up the fact that you may need a dozen, or so, donations before you hit the jackpot! Fortunately, with the donor's right to anonymity in the USA, they give up all rights to parental responsibility; you just have to find a sperm bank that's willing to help lesbian couples and there are plenty of them out there! In the UK, the right to anonymity has been quashed and whilst the donor cannot trace their child the child has a legal right to trace their birth father when they turn 18. You will have to consider how it would make you feel if your child developed a relationship with their birth father in later years.

Using a friend of a friend to donate sperm runs its risks. There's the danger of STD's for one, which are increased when you use fresh sperm, and your complete unawareness of genetic deficiencies, or the background of the donator. In the USA there has been a recent case in Florida where such a donator filed a lawsuit for visitation rights, but, fortunately, the courts finally agreed that he had no legal right to contact with the child. This will serve as a precedent to other cases.

Using a known friend (many lesbian couples choose to use gay male friends as donators) means that you know the donator well and can feel comfortable asking them to go through AIDS and STD screening. It will also probably be free!

Artificial Insemination

Artificial Insemination is the same as home insemination, apart from the fact that the process takes place in a clinic with screened donated sperm. This is available to lesbians and there are a number of lesbian friendly clinics who will be willing to help!

Adoption

If neither of you wants to have a child in physical terms, or wants to give an underprivileged child a home, then you can consider adoption. There are three main methods of adoption. You can go through the state, or social services, where it's left for the courts to decide. Alternatively, you can go for an independent adoption, which is conducted outside of formal adoption processes and whether, or not, you can adopt the child is normally determined by the families involved. Finally, you could also try international adoption, as long as you can find an agency that wants to work with a lesbian couple and a country that is willing to adopt children to you.

So it all sounds rosy on the lesbian baby front, but, before you rush out to an adoption agency, or head to your local sperm bank, you need to seriously consider the legalities that can complicate matters. For example, if you physically have the baby you will have parental rights to the child  - but what about your partner that hasn't? The laws differ in every State in the USA, and in the UK you have to apply for a shared residence order - unless you have a Civil Partnership where your partner has the right to file for Parental Responsibility. If you do adopt a child bear in mind that some states in the USA will not allow same-sex adoptions, and, although England and Wales do allow same-sex adoption, it is still illegal in Scotland. You should really seek legal advice before rushing into things to make sure you get it right, and that becoming parents together is a happy and joyful event for the two of you.

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