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Paths to Parenthood for LGBTQ Couples

Every year, the number of LGBTQ people starting families grows. A Williams Institute study found that, in 2019, almost 29% of LGBTQ people in the US were raising children, compared to only 19% in 2010. In North Dakota and Minnesota, LGBTQ couples have a variety of options to choose from when deciding how to grow their family. Gjesdahl Law is proud to assist parents-to-be in their journey to parenthood through the following methods.


Adoption is a legally recognized process that creates a parent-child relationship between individuals who are not biologically related to each other. They can be open, meaning the birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) have contact before and/or after the placement of the adopted child; or they can be confidential, in which the birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) do not meet, exchange information, or maintain contact with each other. In Minnesota and North Dakota, LGBTQ individuals may petition for adoption; gender and sexual orientation cannot determine who can or can’t adopt a child.

In North Dakota, child-placing agencies may refuse to place a child in a home that violates their religious or moral beliefs. It is important to find an agency that supports the rights of all couples when adopting a child.

Gestational Carrier Agreements

A Gestational Carrier Agreement (GCA) is an agreement by which an embryo is placed in a potential birth mother who has no genetic connection with the embryo. The birth mother agrees to carry any resulting child to term on behalf of the intended parents and to surrender custody and parental rights to the intended parents when the child is born.

There are many different types of GCAs. The intended parents must decide if they will use their own genetic materials (sperm or egg) in the creation of the embryo. They must also choose a genetic material donor. Donors may be known or anonymous. The gestational carrier may receive compensation or may be uncompensated (altruistic).

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) refers to medical procedures used primarily to address infertility. Some examples are artificial insemination (more properly known as intrauterine insemination), gamete intrafallopian transfer, gamete uterine transfer, in vitro fertilization, and frozen embryo transfer.

What laws are in place?

In 2015, the US Supreme Court issued a groundbreaking decision permitting same-sex marriage nationwide. States must extend the rights and benefits of marriage to LGBTQ couples, including stepparent adoption and joint adoption. Likewise, Minnesota has nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ parents adopting or fostering children. North Dakota has not adopted nondiscrimination laws related to adoption and foster care; but it is governed by the U.S. Supreme Court case and does permit and bless gestational carrier arrangements. In other words, non-gestational and/or non-genetic parents can legally establish their parental relationship to the child born of their gestational carrier agreements.

Curious about other state’s LGBTQ laws? Check out this interactive equality rights map.

What if I’m single?

Whether single or partnered, these paths to parenthood are open to all individuals. The desire to raise a child is not limited to couples.

Where do I start?

Whether you’re just starting to consider parenting or have already made up your mind, a consultation with one of our adoption or ART attorneys is a great place to start. Get in contact with us! At Gjesdahl Law, we’re committed to working with our clients and guiding them through times of familial change. For additional information, visit our LGBTQ Family Law Pages:

We are lawyers for families – all families.


Kari A. Losee

Kari joined Gjesdahl Law, P.C. in 2016. She is dedicated to helping families resolve their issues and address their changing needs. Her practice primarily involves adoptions, …
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