City hosts family planning event for gay couples

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GAY, lesbian and transgender couples are to receive advice on how to start a family at what will be the first event of its kind in Scotland.

Experts from NHS Lothian and adoption charities will join family law specialists at the session in the New Town later this month.

The event is expected to be controversial and follows a high-profile case in Edinburgh in 2009 in which the grand- parents of a five-year-old boy and four-year-old girl objected to them being adopted by a gay couple.

Maruska Greenwood, director of the LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing, where the event will take place, said: “Today, families with lesbian, gay or bisexual parents are becoming gradually more seen and accepted.

“Increasingly, same-sex couples are choosing to become parents through adoption, artificial insemination, surrogacy, or foster parenting, while some gay, lesbian and bisexual parents have children from previous relationships.

“Starting a family can present unique challenges and decisions for same-sex couples and this is a rare and important opportunity for LGBT people to have their needs and concerns addressed.”

Dozens of prospective parents are expected to attend the event, which organisers hope will allow them to ask questions about a topic where they often face barriers in accessing public and private services.

They say starting a family can be a complex process legally, medically, and emotionally. Guests will be able to ask the experts questions focusing on fostering, adoption and fertility treatment.

The difficulties surrounding adoption and fostering were highlighted in the controversial case in Edinburgh two years ago. A set of grandparents had looked after two young children since birth, as their heroin-addicted daughter could not, but put them up to be fostered as they believed they had become too old to care for the children.

The city council found two men who were suitable to adopt, yet the grandparents objected and made the case public, which sparked a major debate about gay adoption.

One gay woman attending the event, who asked not to be named, said she and her partner felt it could be difficult to start a same-sex family and hoped the advice given could be of some reassurance.

She said: “As a woman in a long-term relationship with another woman, I’m really keen to hear about our options in terms of starting a family. It feels there is very little information available for prospective same-sex parents.

“I have concerns about how accepted we would feel accessing support from public and private services and am thrilled this event will provide a space for us to ask questions and share concerns comfortably and without fear.”

Scott Rasmusen, a partner at the city family law firm Gibson Kerr, said: “Getting family planning advice, including legal expertise, is very important when it comes to making life-changing decisions such as having or adopting children.

“There are a lot of complex issues to be discussed, and gay or lesbian partners should feel comfortable when getting the right advice from a trusted expert or family law advisor.”

The LGBT family planning event takes place on November 16 from 6.30pm at 9 Howe Street, www.lgbthealth.org.uk.