The annual Alternative Parenting Show, which returns to London this month, exemplifies an explosion in the growth of gay parenting
New film Any Day Now has just hit UK cinemas and serves as a stark reminder of how far gay people have come in the past four decades in respect to equal rights – particularly in respect to parenting.
In the film, which is loosely based on a true story, actor Alan Cumming plays Rudy, a drag queen in late 1970s Los Angeles. He and his new boyfriend attempt to become foster carers of a young man with learning difficulties, but when the authorities discover the true nature of the couple’s relationship, they face a courtroom battle to keep the boy under their guardianship.
Although the film is set in the US, the situation in the UK was not much different at the time. Fortunately, things have changed greatly since then. A law was passed in 2005 allowing gay couples to adopt, and following the introduction of civil partnerships in that same year, more and more gay couples (and single people) are realizing that they too can think about having a family of their own – either through surrogacy, donor insemination and IVF techniques or adoption and fostering.
According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics, in 2011, 8,000 same-sex couples had children in their care. In 2012, that number had risen to sharply to 12,000 couples. Figures for 2013 have not yet been released, but they are likely to show a further rise.
Helping would-be mums and dads to realize their dream of becoming parents is the annual Alternative Parenting Show.
Taking place at the Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden on Saturday (21 September), in association with London Women’s Clinic, the Alternative Parenting Show is aimed at anyone – gay, bisexual or heterosexual – who may be having trouble starting a family.
Organized by Square Peg Media (publisher of g3 and Out In The City magazines), it will offer invaluable information to same-sex and heterosexual couples and to single men and women on how to make the dream of having a family a reality.
Over 40 exhibitors are anticipated, including London Women’s Clinic (headline sponsor), Dawson Cornwell (legal partner), The Fertility Center of Las Vegas (surrogacy partner), Bright Horizons (Childcare Partner), Circle Surrogacy, AdoptionPlus, European Sperm Bank, The Bridge Centre, My Alternative Family, Wandsworth Borough Council, Pride Angel, Little Miracles, Think Adoption and many others. For a full list, check out the official website.
‘The show has become much more than an event for finding out the best routes to becoming a parent,’ says Square Peg director Sarah Garrett.
‘It also illustrates how more gay parents are beginning to believe they have an equal right to have a family and that it is possible. Last year, a gay couple came to the show for the third time, this time with their newly born twin babies.
‘They said the show really helped them to realize how normalized same-sex parenting has become.’
Attendees can learn how to navigate through the alternative parenting minefield, including advice on surrogacy, fertility, co-parenting, adoption and legal information. Seminars will run throughout the day, with seminar admission just £3 per session. These will include specialists on fostering and adoption, surrogacy, IVF, co-parenting and much more.
You will also have the opportunity to speak to the Alternative Parenting Show ambassadors, actors Charlie Condou and Sophie Ward, who will share their experiences of being parents.
If you’re seriously looking at ways to become a parent, to extend your current family, or just considering options for the future, the Alternative Parenting Show will offer a wealth of information and advice. The show, which will run from 9.30am till 5pm, costs £8 to attend.