I remember being at a family event when I was very young and asking my grandma why this little girl had two moms. My grandma responded by saying families come in all shapes and sizes, that's what makes them special. I'd like to thank my cousin Kate for sharing her beautiful story.
X0 - Katie
I never really thought about being a mother until I found my life partner, her name is Deb. It didn’t occur to me that LGBTQ+ people could even have children until I was in my thirties. In the 90’s, there weren’t very many queer-motherhood role models for me to look up to, and the only lesbians I knew with children were ones that “came out” after having kids in a previous marriage. But once I found myself in a committed, long-term relationship, my partner and I decided we wanted a family.
There weren’t many resources for us, so we had a lot of research to do along the way. We started a local discussion group for Lesbian couples and single women trying to conceive. It was where we learned everything about how to start our family. People told us about sperm banks and even underground sperm donations. We considered all our options, but decided we wanted the sperm donor to be someone we knew because it was important to us. Not every family chooses this or has the privilege of knowing their sperm donor. No choice is better than the other, and each option has it’s unique pros and cons. We wanted a donor who could remain a part of our future child’s life, just not in a parenting role. Our friend Mark, who we dearly loved, agreed to help us out.
The process included lots of discussions with Mark, and several months of trying. I found out I was pregnant on the 4th month of trying. My partner and I were so excited. However, our thoughts weren’t just about baby names and birthing classes. There was a lot of paperwork and attorneys involved. The law stated that the father couldn’t release his parental rights until after the child was born. So for a long time, I was terrified he would change his mind even though he assured us he wouldn’t. When the day came, our daughter was born and he lived up to his word. He wrote a letter to her explaining that he wanted to give up his rights as a parent because he respected her mothers and not because he didn’t love her. My partner got to officially adopt her a month later. We were lucky. Same sex couples couldn’t legally adopt everywhere. There was a loophole that made it possible in Washington state, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the federal court blocked the last few restrictions against same-sex adoption.
It was joyful and challenging raising a child. Most of it was just typical stuff that every family experiences. It felt unique but also normal, for our daughter to have two moms and a dad in her life. We tried to expose her to all different types of families growing up, and we were privileged to live in a neighborhood with other same-sex families. However, throughout her school years, she was often the only one in her class with two moms. I think that was when she first started to realize her family was different. Most people have been very accepting of our family because we live in a liberal city, but still, the 90’s were very different from now. Even in a liberal city with other queer families, it didn’t take long for her to understand that she didn’t have a typical family and not everyone supported families like hers.
I come from a conservative midwestern family, and they had a mixed response when I told them I was pregnant. I think the negative responses were related to their religious beliefs and mostly fear of the unfamiliar. My family was concerned about how we would raise a child, and who she would grow up to be. Once she was born, we were fully embraced and they treated her like any other grandchild/niece in the family. I am forever grateful for the support of both our extended families. There are many families like ours that don’t have the same amount of support or even any at all from their relatives.
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage and we were ecstatic at the implications for future couples. We weren’t part of that first wave of marriages, but after 33 years of partnership, my partner and I got married in 2016, with our daughter at our side. I remember her telling us how proud she was to have been raised by two strong and inspiring mothers. When I think of my family and how far we’ve come, I am filled with pride and love. I am hopeful for a future filled with all kinds of families and children who are proud to be themselves, whomever they may be.