Surrogacy and Adoption are Not Gay Rights Issues

But How Else Can Gay Men Become Parents?


Wanting to be a parent is natural, but while there is a constitutionally protected right to parent one’s child, there is no right to have or obtain a child. Opposition to surrogacy is for the same reason it is illegal in most of the world: exploitation of women and commodification of children. Likewise, there are valid similar concerns about unethical aspects of adoption practice. These concerns are neutral as to race, ethnicity, gender roles and sexual preferences of participants. It is thus ingenuous, and antithetic to intersectionality, for any in the LGBTQ+ community to disparage critics of any unethical practice on the basis of homophobia.


The desire to be a parent is natural.  The inability to fill that longing is painful. But a “want” – a desire, a yearning – is not a need and does not make anything one does to satisfy that craving right. The end does not justify the means and no amount of “wanting” makes what one seeks a “right” where none exists.

For those who cannot have a child naturally or with assisted reproductive technologies, two options remain: adoption or surrogacy, the later a creation of the multi-billion-dollar infertility industry in order to provide a child that is genetically related to one or both contracting parents knowing that many find that genetic connection far more appealing than adopting a non-related child.

I was recently confronted with the argument: “How else can gay men become parents?”  ironically by a gay father commenting on the arrival of Pete Buttigieg and his husband’s twins. This argument is red herring because anyone – gay or not – who wants to parent a child can do so in a number of ethical ways without exploiting or commodifying anyone, by:

  • Fostering, adopting or becoming guardian to one of the half million children in state care who have no family they can be safely reunified with.
  • There are ample numbers of sibling groups, older children, children of color, children with physical or emotional limitations, and children with learning disorders who could be adopted.
  • Gay men can and do also act as sperm donors for women friends, often lesbians, and many do so with a contractual agreement for co-parenting, joint custody, or visitation.

Surrogacy is an Offshoot of Adoption

Surrogacy transactions require adoption to complete the legal process and many LGBTQ+ parents adopt their partner’s child. This essay is not about those situations. Many who want a child but cannot, choose between adoption and surrogacy with the latter costing two to three times as much as the average $40,000 adoption. For $100-$120,000 customers get to choose the physical traits and education of the egg seller. College newspaper ads are a common source for quality eggs creating comparisons to eugenics.

The public view of adoption and surrogacy is portrayed through the lens of the joyful recipient. Yet the joy of those on the recipients is predicated on loss for the children who suffer a traumatic separation from the sounds, rhythm and smells of the womb in which they grew for nine months. The long-lasting neurological damage of this primal separation is well documented.

A growing community of adult adoptees and children of third-party anonymous conception are fighting to learn their truth and also to “Flip-the-Script” on the dominant “win-win” narrative and have these processes seen from all perspectives.

Surrogacy is illegal in most of the world: Because it is a form of baby selling aka human trafficking and because it exploits women who risk their lives for money, and commodifies, I am likewise opposed to adoption practices which do the same.

  • Every adoption and every surrogate birth begin with a primal trauma: the separation of the neonate from the voices, smells and rhythm of its womb-mother that results in documented neurological changes in the brain that last a lifetime.
  • Children born of a surrogacy and other forms of anonymous reproductive technologies lose half or all of their genetic and medical heritage.
  • Children who are adopted at any age lose their genetic history and ancestry, their original family, their heritage and culture.
  • Every adoption begins with a tragedy of a mother not being able to care properly for her child or being coerced to relinquish that child to meet the demands of some 36 couples and individuals vying for each baby.

Advocates oppose all forms of baby buying, child trafficking, corruption, exploitation and coercion and commodification of women and children in both surrogacy and adoption practices regardless by whom it is practiced. Of particular concern is exploitation of young women, poor women, and victims of wars and natural disasters whose children are often grabbed up in the name of “rescuing” alleged “orphans.”

When the recipients of a baby via such means are gay, those who raise valid concerns are met with virulent accusations of being homophobic when the objections are about the process and not with who is engaging in the process.  The entanglement of gay rights into the surrogacy and adoption debates has become a challenge for adoption reform activists and those, like myself, who fight for family preservation and the right of humans to know their genetic truth, and the end of lifelong trauma due to unnecessary mother/child separations.

“‘Gottagetta Baby’ Syndrome spans all genders, races, marital/relationship statuses and sexual orientations. ‘Intersectional’ status does not increase someone’s entitlement to parenthood or another person’s child, egg or sperm,” said on social media by Rich Uhrlaub, M.Ed., adoptee and president of Adoption Search Resource Connection, and who has written about the many paradoxes of adoption.  Neither adoption nor surrogacy are a gay rights issue because becoming a parent is not a “right” for anyone, gay or straight.

Adoption, Surrogacy, LGBTQ+ Rights and Intersectionality

Intersectionality is about the interconnection of social categories such as race, class, and gender, creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage as they apply to a given individual or group. I unequivocally support equal rights for all. Love is love and no love between consenting adults is off limits. Violence and discrimination against anyone based race, ethnicity, gender identification or sexual preference is abhorrent should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

My advocacy focuses on mothers, fathers and child rights. As such I am opposed to surrogacy and many questionable adoption practices that are not child-centered.

Adeline A. Allen, Associate Professor of Law at Trinity Law School, notes:

Surrogacy is dehumanizing to both birth mother and child, because it reduces them to commodities. By design, it denies mother and child what they need to flourish as human beings.

What is a Fundamental Right – and What is Not?

Jill Bindel journalist, author, and feminist poignantly asks “when did having a biological child become a human right?” Indeed, parenting one’s child is a constitutionally protected right. Becoming a parent is not.

Opposition to surrogacy is not homophobic because surrogacy has long been – and still is – used by heterosexual couples and activists object to it equally as strenuously.  Surrogacy and unethical adoption practices are contentious regardless of the race, ethnicity, gender, gender identification, or sexuality of the people pursuing parenthood. Our concern is about the best interest of the child that is being created or taken and given and women’s bodies being used. Unethical is unethical; exploitation is exploitation for hetero couples or same-sex couples.

Surrogates are paid but it is not a sustainable livelihood and comes with no benefits and the risks are high for a surgical cesarean delivery because they are implanted with multiple embryos. Other risks include gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and premature birth, hormonal/emotional stresses of pregnancy, delivery and handing away the child you’ve grown, and death. Surrogates sign a contract that obligates them to terminate the pregnancy if the fetus appears to have a “defect” that those paying for it are unwilling to accept. The gestational mother has no say in the matter or she violates the contract and gets nothing, except maybe sued. She also must agree to pregnancy “reduction” – a euphonism for killing any babies in excess of the one or two wanted by those paying, as happened to Melissa Cook.

Egg suppliers likewise face risks, primarily from the hyper-stimulating fertility drugs. These include mood swings, headaches, allergic reaction, Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS) of the ovaries (5% chance in any cycle), abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, or even death.

As for the children, a study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry suggests that it’s more difficult for youngsters to deal with the idea that they grew in an unrelated woman’s womb, than with the concept that they are not biologically related to one or both parents. Adolescence was found to be most difficult for those born through egg or sperm donation or surrogacy.

“Opposition to surrogacy has made for strange bedfellows. The Catholic Church opposes it, as do some feminists. Some wealthy progressive European nations outlaw it, as do some poor conservative Asian countries. One thing in common here is the recognition that treating the birth mother as a ‘carrier’ is reductionistic of her whole person. It is demeaning and dehumanizing. She is reduced from a whole person to a commodity: a rent-a-womb, raw material,“ argues Adeline A. Allen.

Additionally, some within the LGBTQ+ community also oppose surrogacy and the anonymous purchasing of ovum and sperm. Julie Bindel and Gary Powell, who describe themselves as “a lesbian women and gay man” who do not “buy into” the heteronormative model of parenthood write that they:

[B]oth unequivocally oppose all forms of surrogacy as unethical; as legally, medically and psychologically dangerous; and as an abusive commodification of women and of babies that also carries significant and barely-reported health risks for the women and babies involved. . . Furthermore, the practice of surrogacy finds widespread global expression in wealthy couples paying economically deprived women to bear children on their behalf   . . . Little thought seems to be given to the racism and misogyny involved in the international surrogacy tourism industry, where customers and agencies target vulnerable and economically deprived women abroad in order to meet their requirements.

Likewise, Vincenzo, who identifies as Italian and gay, writes that in Italy children are not seen as property and says “we consider the mother/child bond to be sacred” writes:

Italians oppose surrogacy because it requires a mother to abandon her child.  And that’s incredibly cruel. Even as a gay man, especially because I’m a gay man, I condemn surrogacy out of love for children.

Gary Powell, longstanding advocate for gay and lesbian equality, notes that:

Big Fertility rides on the coattails of the LGBT+ movement in an effort to sanitize the perception of commercial surrogacy as an intrinsic LGBT+ right that enables male couples to have children. As a gay man, and as a gay rights campaigner over four decades, I am dismayed at the socially harmful, irrational, and bullying entity that the LGBT+ movement has become.

Powell believes that “As gay people, we cannot insist on the right to carry out practices that harm the rights of others.” He also notes that:

. . . once the legal surrogacy gate gets opened, all kinds of people walk through it, not just those who genuinely care about children and will provide them with unconditional love and excellent parenting. The rigorous vetting procedures for adoption do not apply.

Indeed, commercial surrogacy is an open door for pedophiles to buy babies. Powell concludes:

Rather than being an LGBT rights issue, surrogacy is a women’s rights issue and a children’s rights issue; like the sale of human organs, it is not an activity that should be promoted or indeed permitted.


Both surrogacy and adoption involve trauma and loss. Adoption should never be about filling a demand to “become parents” but rather should prioritize the needs of children above those of all adults by finding suitable homes for children who need care. Not manufacturing them.

“Manufacturing children using the genetic material of multiple parents is not a prospect to be celebrated. It is a dystopian technology, making children, as if they were consumer goods, and unmaking the family, as if it were not essential to the common good.” Christopher O. Tollefsen is College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina, “Making Children, Unmaking Families.”

No one gets a pass to exploit or commodify others.  No one needs to create a baby, buy anonymous gametes, rent a womb or insist on adopting a newborn when many children are in need of safe, loving care.

None of the concerns related to adoption or surrogacy herein have anything to do with the sexuality of consumers of those services. Attempting to silence those who speak that truth by falsely labeling us homophobic does not alter that truth and is antithetic to intersectionality. Yet, many who speak out on behalf of the voiceless children and mothers have been subjected to bullying, intimidation, threats, and being labeled a homophobic in an effort to silence me by using one issue as a platform to advance another cause, like playing the race card.

Gay men, thus, have a choice to be a part of the problem or part of the solution.

For one group to justify the exploitation or dehumanization of others is diametrically opposed to the concept of intersectionality. It is thus disheartening to be subjected to bullying, intimidation, threats, and being labeled a homophobic in an effort to silence those who speak in defense of exploited women and children.

Mirah is author of two internationally acclaimed books, more than 200 published articles, and cited in twenty professional journals having been researching, writing and speaking about American and global child adoption, restoration of adoptee rights, as well as contract anonymous conception and surrogacy since 1980. More at her website and Wikipedia. Read other articles by Mirah, or visit Mirah's website.