I’m a queer lady, and I’m also a mom. I understand that that is a surprise for some people (though I sometimes find myself wondering what rock they are living under) and it’s fine that people sometimes have questions. I actually really like answering questions about my family, because my family is awesome and I like talking about us! That said, some questions do get annoying, and sometimes people really do need to think before they speak. Here’s a short list of some of the worst questions that I hear when people find out that I’m a queer mama.
Fortunately, the worst question is also the one that I get asked the least often! Most people know enough to understand that assuming that my child has a dad, and asking about that dad, is extremely rude at best. But that’s only most people. Some people still take one look at my beautiful child, my amazing wife and me, and feel the need to ask about our kid’s “dad.”
To set the record straight, our child does not have a dad. Our child has two moms. While some families with two moms do have children who also have dads, that is not the case in our family. What my kid does have, and what many people are trying to get at when they ask about his dad, is a sperm donor. But equating sperm donor with dad is a problem for everyone, including our sperm donor, who is trans, and doesn’t want to be a dad.
I mean, maybe? Mostly I just think my kid needs good role models, period, regardless of their gender. If you’re implying that my kid is wanting for decent male role models because both of his parents are moms, you are sorely mistaken. First of all, having a father does not necessarily mean that a child has a great male role model. Plenty of men manage to reproduce without doing much more than that!
As it happens, there are lots of amazing men in his life, both friends and family, that can serve as role models for him as he grows. He also has many female role models, and genderqueer and trans role models. Basically, our kid is growing up with lots and lots of examples of how to be an adult in a healthy way, which is exactly what we want for him.
Between the needle-less syringes we purchased for at-home insemination, the jar of salsa that we emptied and cleaned out as a storage vessel for genetic material, and the tests we paid for for our sperm donor, our getting-pregnant costs were still under a hundred bucks.
Lots of queer families do spend a lot of money to get pregnant, for a wide variety of reasons, and that’s just fine. But queer families are not the same as families struggling with infertility (though clinics often treat them as such), and everyone needs to remember not to assume that we are. Many queer families cannot afford the costs associated with expensive clinic treatments. Many prefer less medically invasive insemination processes anyways. In the case of my family, we used a known sperm donor and were able to inseminate at home, which didn’t cost much.
I have an idea: Let's not assume that every single person who has a uterus wants to use it to grow a baby. Seriously, just like there are plenty of women who don’t want kids period, there are plenty of gay ladies who like kids just fine but aren’t interested in doing the biological work of pregnancy and childbirth. My wife likes to tell people that she hit the jackpot, she has a beautiful child and gets to be a parent, but didn’t have to go through the hell of pregnancy (because I did it). We aren’t planning on having more kids, but if we ever did, that job would be all mine once again.
In some families with two moms, the non-birth mother chooses to induce lactation, and both moms breastfeed. However, in far, far more cases, only the birth mother breastfeeds (if she chooses to). There are plenty of reasons that someone might be unable to, or uninterested in, breastfeeding, so it’s really unfair to assume that any mother is breastfeeding in the first place. To assume that both moms are breastfeeding just makes it sound like literally your only concept of queer families is the lesbian couple in the Breastmilk documentary.
It can be extremely trying to be asked these kinds of questions just because my family doesn’t look exactly like what people most expect. But there is one question that I never, ever mind answering:
“I guess I don’t know a lot about what the options are for gay people looking to become parents… If you’re comfortable, would you mind sharing a bit about how that works, or at least how it worked for you?”
It’s all about being respectful, and not assuming that you know how my family works before you even ask. And luckily for me, I get questions like this a lot more often than I get the annoying kind.
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