Why write about queer parenting?
Welcome on my first post in the series about queer parenting! Why a series on this topic? It’s quite personal. I always knew I wanted to be a parent, but I found the world isn’t yet as informative and in-your-face about queer parenting as it is about the more traditional forms of parenting. In this series, I want to give some information about the road to LGBT+ parenting through book reviews, interviews with queer parents (and their children) and information on the process and organizations related to this topic.
Some questions I asked myself
How does all this work? Where do we ‘get our baby’? Are kids from LGBT+ families as happy as kids from traditional families, or do they ‘miss’ something in their lives? Do they feel different? Are they picked upon by their peers? Should my partner and I explain that we are lesbians and if so, when? Will the child even care?
Being a lesbian, in a relationship, nearing 30 and hoping to start a family one day, I really wanted an answer to these questions. Information is there, somewhere, but I didn’t see it anywhere. The pregnancy section of Dutch bookshops didn’t provide much information and although the advertisements on my phone happily show me where to buy my pregnancy tests and baby clothes, it doesn’t say anything about where to get my baby.
Not that long ago, being queer basically meant that you would never have kids. There’s some queer people who are completely fine with that, but others have expressed and put into practice their wish to start a family themselves, be it through assisted reproduction, adoption and foster parenting, surrogacy or co-parenting. These days, more and more versions of families are appearing, showing that loving families come in all shapes and sizes. As Melissa Gilbert says in Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood: “Whether they consist of a mother and father, two mommies, two daddies, single parents, a foster family, grandparents or whatever, it’s not about what the family looks like. It’s about how much they love one another.”
Instagram as a starting place
Instagram was one of the first places where I found happy, healthy looking queer families whom I immediately followed, to get a sense of ‘normalcy’. Even though I’ve been out of the closet for quite some time and know some queer families, social media and movies show me mainly traditional family set-up’s. As a result, thinking about myself and my partner having kids, made me feel happy, but also a bit odd. Following these people (biffandi, nolapapa, genajaffe and her wife jordanajaffe, thismummy_thatmummy, raffinee, to name a few) on Instagram, made ‘normalizing’ my type of family a lot easier. On their profiles, I see happy, lively families, who share their fun, but also their difficult and moving moments. It provides a very realistic picture about what life can be like for me in the future.
Sometimes the stories that appear in my newsfeed are happy, at other times they are sad. On some days they shed a light on the things that make LGBT+ families different from traditional families, on other days you see mainly the similarities.
In one of these stories, Genajaffe, who has a 2-year-old with her wife Jordanajaffe, told about their sadness about the loss of their embryo’s when trying for a second baby:
“When we were planning our frozen embryo transfer (FET), our doctor told us there was a very low chance that an embryo wouldn’t survive the thawing process. We started prepping my body in January for an FET on January 29. When we arrived at the clinic, I actually had to go into the transfer room by myself … getting knocked up by a bunch of strangers without your partner is the most non-romantic way to get pregnant but hey, it was a big day! They told me that the first embryo they thawed didn’t make it so they thawed the final embryo and it looked amazing…And our amazing little snowflake didn’t stick around. So we lost two embryos in the span of one week. Two babes I will never know.”
But there’s also the heart-warming stories, such as this one from Biffandi:
“Even though she was sick yesterday too, this amazing kid [his daughter] took such good care of me. She brought me food and tea (the tea was a little cold but whatever), read Harry Potter to me, and generally made me feel so loved and cared for. We had a bath together and she told me how happy she is that I’m getting top surgery, even though she doesn’t want me to get any surgeries because “it could hurt.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I could live ten lifetimes and never be as kind and thoughtful as my 8yo, Hailey. She is truly one of a kind.”
I love reading the stories of other queer families. They are often touching, ‘normalizing’ and also informative. The stories make me also feel more connected to who I am as a person, even though I haven’t actually been through what they’ve been through. I think it has to do with representation and what could be. My world of possibilities becomes bigger with every story I read.
If you’re wondering about whether or not to have kids as a queer person, I would recommend to start by following LGBT+ families on Instagram or other social media. Of course, looking at traditional families would do (part of the trick) too, as they are also often very honest, but traditional families share only part of the struggles the LGBT+ community go through. Such as their kids having to explain to peers that they have same-sex parents. Or that one of their parents is trans. Or the difficulties of getting pregnant. Or finding a surrogate or a child they can adopt.
In the next post on LGBT+ families, I will do some reviews on books I read on this topic!
Is there anything you want to know about starting an LGBT+ family? Let me know in the comments and maybe I can write a blog about that as well!