Family diversity: what are the new family models?

By (gynecologist), (embryologist) and (psychologist).
Last Update: 01/26/2022

In recent years, the concept of family has changed and we know more and more different family models, such as those formed by people of the same sex or single people who decide to have a child.

Assisted reproduction techniques have contributed enormously to this family diversity, since without gamete donation or artificial insemination, for example, some of the new family models would not be able to become parents.

What is family diversity?

There are many definitions of the concept of family. Normally, we understand family as a group of people who are related and live together, i.e. parents and children living in the same house.

This is not always the case, since people who decide to become parents through adoption do not share a kinship relationship with the adopted children and, even so, adoption is one more way of forming a family.

In addition, it has been observed that in today's society the plurality of forms of coexistenceis becoming more and more common. In large part, this is thanks to advances in Spanish legislation such as the following:

  • Possibility for unmarried women to have access to assisted reproduction techniques to become single mothers.
  • Approval of the right to marry in 2005 for same-sex couples.
  • Possibility of access for lesbian couples to assisted reproduction techniques such as the Reciprocal IVF method.
  • Regulation of de facto unions.

New family models

Traditionally, the conventional family has been described as consisting of a father, a mother and their offspring.

However, in a modern society such as today's, there are many more family models such as the ones we are going to discuss below.

There is no one type of family that is better than another. The most important thing in a family is that there is a good relationship among its members, that they have communication, affection, respect, care, and responsibilities.

Being a single mother

The insertion of women in the labor market, the delay of motherhood and the increase in the number of divorces in Spain are some of the factors responsible for the increasing number of women who decide to become single mothers.

This is what is known as a single-parent family, which in this case would consist of a woman and her children.

Women with a reproductive desire whose personal situation prevents them from becoming mothers because they do not have a current partner can go to an assisted reproduction clinic to start a family.

Normally, the fertility treatment indicated for single women is artificial insemination with donor sperm (AID), which is one of the simplest and most economical.

These women do not usually have fertility problems, so in principle, it is not necessary to apply complex techniques to achieve pregnancy.

However, it is also true that many of them make the decision to become mothers at an advanced age and, therefore, oocyte quality may be seriously affected. After the age of 35, this turning point occurs, and in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be necessary.

You can read more about this topic in the following article: How to be a single mother.

Do you need donor sperm for your fertility treatment cycle? Then we recommend that you get your Fertility Report now to find the most suitable clinic for you. Our thorough selection criteria when it comes to recommending clinics plus your particular needs equal the best fertility center for you. You will receive in your inbox a detailed report with the clinics that we recommend for your particular treatment, as well as the conditions that they offer for each program.

Being lesbian mothers

Homosexual couples of two women can also form a homoparental family thanks to assisted reproduction and sperm donation.

The reproductive options in this case are as follows:

  • Donor artificial insemination
  • IVF with donor sperm
  • Reciprocal IVF Method

For the latter treatment, the law requires that both women be married or in a common-law relationship, since this is a procedure in which both women participate in the arrival of their child into the world.

Reciprocal IVF consists of Reception of Oocytes from the Couple, that is, one woman is the one who provides the eggs to be fertilized with the sperm of an anonymous donor and the other woman is the one who receives the embryos and carries out the gestation.

More detailed information on this subject can be found in the following article: Assisted reproduction in homosexual women.

Single or homosexual parents

Men can also be fathers without the presence of a woman in the family. We talk about both single men and gay couples.

Their only reproductive option to have biological children is surrogacy with egg donation.

This treatment, also commonly known as surrogate motherhood or surrogate motherhood, consists of a woman freely accepting to be the gestational carrier and giving birth to a baby that legally belongs to other parents.

Not all countries allow this procedure but there are countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Greece, or some states in the United States where it is permitted.

On the other hand, single-parent and male single-parent families can also become parents through adoption.

International adoption is a bit more complicated for these family models, as there are very few countries that accept single-parent adoption and same-parent adoption by men.

Others

There are also other family models that we have not addressed in-depth, since we have focused on the contribution of assisted reproduction techniques to the emergence of these new forms of family coexistence.

However, we will discuss other types of families below:

Nuclear family
this is the classic two-parent family consisting of two adults, a man and a woman, and their biological children.
Extended family
is one in which other relatives of the second, third or fourth degree are included. For example, the same house in which parents and children live, but also grandparents, aunts and uncles or cousins.
Family of separated parents
are families whose parents have divorced and the children have to live for a period of time with one parent and another period of time with the other, depending on the custody arrangement. Despite living separately, both parents must fulfill their parental obligations.
Reconstituted family
is about a new family formed by two divorced parents with their respective biological children, who would be step-siblings to each other. Also included in this family type would be the union of a single woman with her children and a widowed man with his children, for example.
Adoptive family
is one in which the parents adopt a child who is in a situation of adoptability for whatever reason. Adoption is a child protection measure regulated by law in which a kinship bond is formed between two people who have no biological relationship.
Host family
this is another child protection measure in which a couple or adult only decides to take in a child until he or she can return to his or her parents or find a permanent home.

FAQs from users

Does Law 14/2006 on Assisted Human Reproduction Techniques support family diversity?

By Miguel Angel Checa Vizcaino M.D., Ph.D. (gynecologist).

According to Law 14/2006, of May 26, 2006, on assisted human reproduction techniques, it is established that any woman may undergo assisted reproduction techniques, regardless of whether she is married and regardless of her sexual orientation. In addition, the law indicates that in the case of marriage, written consent of the spouse is required.

Finally, in case of resorting to gamete donors, Law 14/2006 states that the medical team will be in charge of selecting the donor.
Read more

What types of families can adopt in Spain?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

In Spain, any type of family can adopt as long as they meet the legal requirements and obtain a certificate of suitability. Therefore, heterosexual couples, homosexual couples of women and men, single women and single men can adopt a child of Spanish nationality or residence.

How many family models are there?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Many of them. Throughout this article, we have discussed the most important ones, but it is possible that there are even more family models.

In summary, the traditional family is the one formed by a man, a woman, and the children they have in common. Nowadays, we find ourselves in a plural society that recognizes more family models such as the following: single-parent families, homoparental families, reconstituted families, adoptive families, etc.

We have talked about surrogacy as a method to form a homoparental or single-parent family. If you want more information on this topic, do not miss the following post: What is surrogacy?

If you are looking for more information about assisted reproduction treatments, then you can click here: What is assisted reproduction?

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References

Authors and contributors

 Miguel Angel Checa Vizcaino
Miguel Angel Checa Vizcaino
M.D., Ph.D.
Gynecologist
Dr. Miguel Angel Checa has a degree in Medicine and Surgery and a doctorate in Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Preventive Medicine and Public Health from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. More information about Miguel Angel Checa Vizcaino
Zulassungsnummer: 080830513
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Cristina  Algarra Goosman
Cristina Algarra Goosman
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Psychologist
Graduated in Psychology by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Clinical Psychology by the European University Center and specific training in Infertility: Legal, Medical and Psychosocial Aspects by University of Valencia (UV) and ADEIT.
More information about Cristina Algarra Goosman
Member number: CV16874

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