Pealtnägija Reports: Baby Boom Among Same-Sex Couples (24)
Although the gender-neutral Cohabitation Act wending its way through Parliament is controversial and a poll showed conservative societal views are entrenched, Estonia already has hundreds of children in families with two fathers or two mothers, ETV's Pealtnägija (Eyewitness) news magazine program reported.
Many of the children in this baby boom are being conceived through surrogates because adoption continues to be impossible or discouraged in Estonia and other countries.
Gay activist and lawyer Reimo Mets, who on August 18 became a father of a baby girl, told Pealtnägija that he views adopting children with a loved one as a natural part of life, and not second in meaningfulness to procreation.
"It's completely wrong to think that gay or lesbian couples don't want offspring. Naturally the argument has been heard that the existence and relations of gay people is somehow second-rate as they don't produce progeny. I hope that the actions they have taken now have helped completely debunk this thinking."
Mets, 34, followed a typical path for many of the new parents. A lesbian couple he and his partner knew was looking for a worthy biological father, and that couple initiated the process. Mets went to an artificial fertilization clinic and less than a year later a baby girl with de facto two mothers and two fathers was born.
"I don't see anything bad in this child having two fathers and two mothers. The more loving people around her, the better. There's nothing bad about it and believe me, just like kids don't intrude on the bedroom and aren't let into the bedroom, that doesn't happen in a lesbian or gay family either."
Mets argues that while many heterosexual couples have unwanted pregnancies, it is almost always a planned and carefully considered step for gay couples.
"We have really consciously prepared ourselves that when we get a child, we have thought three or four steps ahead - what will happen when I'm not there, or you're not there, where will be the child be, what is the role of the grandparents. We inevitably have to answer the questions that a hetero couple doesn't ever have to think about," said Mets.
New Life from India
Another gay family interviewed by Pealtnägija went through surrogate services in India and now two dads are raising nine-month old twins born in November.
Frank [name changed because of possible repercussions registering a child in Estonia - Ed.] had been living in a western European country with his male partner for over 10 years. The country permits same-sex marriage but they are not married. When they found five years ago that they wanted a child, they considered adoption.
In practice, despite the liberal laws, adoption by gay couples turned out to be difficult and frowned on, even in that western European country, Frank and his partner said.
So, with surrogacy as a paid service not legal in Estonia either, they turned to a fertility clinic in India, New Life Delhi, that is part-owned by two former Tartu University Hospital heads and sources egg cells from people through Eastern Europe.
The egg cell for their future child came from Georgia. The procedure cost 50,000 euros.
When the couple ends up bringing the children to Estonia to live and go to school, the stage could be set for a legal precedent, lawyer Mets says.
Currently the Family Act does not allow the name of a male to be entered into the space reserved for the mother's name.
By that time Frank's children reach school age, Mets adds, society may have relaxed its views anyway.
"The question is that while we are currently seeing the Cohabitation Act discussed in the Parliament, in actuality what we're regulating is the de facto situation. We are creating rights for the hundreds of children growing up in same-sex households - children who need these rights today," said Mets.