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How do we become parents? Exploring the decision making process for gay and lesbian parents: A qualitative study

Nicholas K Park, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Lesbian and gay families are becoming increasingly common and visible; yet the United States has uneven legal and social support for same-sex parents and access to adoption or reproductive technologies are often limited for prospective gay and lesbian parents. Using in-depth interviews with 51 gay and lesbian parents from California and Nebraska, I explored the decision making process that couples went through to become parents. An overall process model was developed to demonstrate how each parenthood pathway (e.g. adoption, donor insemination, etc.) requires specific sets of decisions that couples must make to achieve parenthood. Decisions ranging from how participants felt about being parents, the information they utilized, and the methods they used to become parents are explored. Findings suggested that the pathways to parenthood that couples selected were influenced by a variety of individual factors and structural constraints. The legal protections for same-sex parents were important in determining the methods used—particularly in Nebraska—as some methods appeared to be impossible or more risky for participants based on the fact that they were same-sex couples. Future research and a general discussion of how a lack of legal protections for gay and lesbian families places them at risk are provided

Subject Area

GLBT Studies|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Park, Nicholas K, "How do we become parents? Exploring the decision making process for gay and lesbian parents: A qualitative study" (2012). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3521955.