LONDON, April 26 (Openly) – It took Leonie Plastina and her wife Sonja years of careful research – poring over LGBT+ rights laws and private medical costs in various European countries – to fulfil their dream of having children. The Swiss couple consider themselves lucky – Sonja conceived in their first round of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), which they eventually did in Spain. But their costly, cross-border quest highlights the challenges lesbian couples face to parenthood. “It makes you painfully aware that you’re not really the same,” Plastina said on a video call. “You almost feel like you are living in a parallel world, where you are treated different just because of the fact of who you love.” Same-sex marriage or civil partnership is now possible in 30 European countries, according to LGBT+ advocacy group ILGA-World, but legislation allowing lesbian couples to have children – either through adoption or sperm donation – has lagged behind. Across Europe, 21 countries let one member of a same-sex couple adopt a partner’s child, 17 permit joint adoption and 14 allow lesbian couples access to fertility treatments involving donated sperm, including IVF. Lawmakers in Switzerland, where civil partnerships have been legal since 2007, voted in December for same-sex marriage, a law that also included joint adoption and access to donated sperm for married lesbian couples.