You’re a gay couple.
You want to enter the world of fatherhood.
What are your options?
In South Africa, these are our options.
Before we became parents it didn’t seem like there were many gay dads in South Africa. It was only once we began our journey into fatherhood that we realized that actually there are quite a few other gay dads in our city … country.
For most gay couples or single gay men, the journey to fatherhood begins with the decision to have a child or children. This is followed by recognizing what your support structure is like, and if you have the finances to raise a child while maintaining your accustomed lifestyle.
What options do you have as a Gay man?
Assuming that you as a gay man or gay couple have never been married or were in a relationship with a woman that resulted in a child or children being born, you first need to ask yourself if you want a biological child or OK to bring up someone else’s child? The answer to this question is a step towards establishing what options you have.
Fatherhood via Adoption
Adoption in South Africa may be via a private or state adoption agency. Whichever you decide will have financial implications for you. Fortunately, in South Africa, there are no restrictions for a gay man or couple to adopt. This said, note that private adoption agencies may have added requirements, challenges with homosexuality and in addition may charge more in comparison to the state agency.
If you opt to adopt a baby, newborn, there is “cooling off period” where you as the adopting parent have to wait 60 days post birth, before the child can be placed. During these 60 days, the birth parents may withdraw their consent to have their child adopted. There are agencies now do not let you know that you’ve been placed until these 60 days have passed. Which I believe is a good thing because of the emotional rollercoaster you could find yourself in during this period. Simultaneously, over this period or longer, you as the prospective parent are assessed by a Social Worker to decide if you are suitable to become a parent and can provide for the child. The social worker then submits to the Children’s Court your application to adopt along with their report. The court will review the application and approve your application.
Fatherhood via Foster Care
Perhaps you don’t want to go down the adoption route, but still want to make a difference in a child’s life.
Why not consider Foster Care?
This is when a child is put in your care for a short period. The child is removed from their parent’s care for various reason such as abuse or neglect for example and placed under the supervision of a suitable adult who will play the role of a parent. Like with adoption, it is the Children’s Court that approves your application to foster care the child. Unlike in adoption, with foster care, the state is the legal guardian of the child until such time the child is adopted or returned to the biological parents, whilst in adoption, the adopting parent becomes the legal guardian of the child once the adoption is approved.
He adopted a role called being a father, so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: A PROTECTOR.
The process of becoming a foster carer entails the prospective dad being screened by a social worker, a visit to your home, an interview and like in adoption a report covering your ability to care, educate and are financially able to care for the child is shared with the Children’s Court for approval.
In South Africa, the gender or sexual orientation of the applicant does not disqualify you from being considered for foster parenting.
Fatherhood via surrogacy
If you decide that you want to become a parent or parents as a couple, but want the child or children to have a biological link to you as a dad(s), then perhaps consider surrogacy.
The first step is to negotiate contracts between the surrogate ( the woman to carry the child to full term – birth) and yourself, probably the surrogate agency.
The surrogate process is when a fertilized embryo(s) is inserted into the woman’s uterus resulting in the birth of a child(ren) that is/are not genetically related to her. This is also known as gestational surrogacy.
Surrogacy in South Africa is extremely regulated by the Children’s Act and allows any person regardless of gender or sexual orientation or relationship status to have a child via surrogacy as long as the High Court grants permission. This process can take time and may incur significant medical and legal costs for the prospective dad(s).
Children raised by gay parents will become grow gay themselves
I am sure you have heard these words before “..won’t the child with gay parents grow up gay too …” There is no scientific evidence that being raised by gay parents will turn children gay! Appreciate that those gay men were raised by heterosexual parents.
When we went through our adoption it was disappointing to realize very quickly that South African law or the Basic Conditions of Employment Act does not specifically cater for fathers adopting or going the surrogate route alone or as a gay couple. Hubby was fortunate as the company he worked for at the time already catered for both eventualities.
New fathers are currently granted a mere 3 days family responsibility paid leave in comparison to the 4 months granted to mothers as maternity leave by law. As a gay man becoming a parent you will have to negotiate with your company for more leave that will allow you to bond with your child.
FOSTER CARE – because a child can never have too many people to love them …
There has been plenty of lobbying for parental leave to be extended. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before the law is amended to extend parental leave to accommodate men on the birth or adoption of their child here in South Africa.
As a gay man or gay couple, you have a few pathways to fatherhood to choose from. You need to ask yourself which of these routes best works for you. Speak to a social worker at one or two adoption agencies if you’re adopting or looking at foster care. If you’re considering surrogacy, please speak to one or two surrogacy agencies to understand what the process entails and the potential long-term financial demand for you.
Whichever route you opt on, just know that it will be worth it!
sources: Gay Men As Parents & Caregivers and Business Tech