‘People soon realise we’re just a pretty average family – what makes us special isn’t our family structure, but just us!’ Two mums talk about their family’s life and the joys and challenges of being same-sex parents.
Life in a same-sex family: a personal story
Helen and Bernadette have two children – Madeleine, aged six, and Dominic, aged four. They live in a regional town in New South Wales. The children’s donor father, Craig, lives in Sydney.*
‘We were in a relationship for several years and we both decided we wanted to have children.
‘We weren’t that fussed about who had the children. It just so happened that I was considerably older and we felt that Bernadette’s family had to be eased into the situation. We’ve had two children, one each, to the same sperm donor. But we don’t make biological distinctions – they’re both our kids and we’re both their mummies. They know whose tummy they came out of, and that Craig is their donor dad and they have an older sister, but other than that, in their family they have two mummies.
‘Once the babies came along, it changed things with our families considerably. Grandparents want interaction with their grandchildren and our relationships were then greatly improved with Bernadette’s family. Her background is non-Anglo and they’re strict Catholics. It took a long time for them to warm to our relationship, but the kids really helped. My family still experiences a level of fear. They still have a fair way to go, but they’re doing their best. After all, there are so many diverse family structures nowadays – ours is just one.
‘The children have contact with their dad – he’s in Sydney with his other daughter. In the future we might move back to Sydney or they might want to spend more time with their extended family. The situation is open and we’re just going to leave it up to them when they’re older.
‘One of the biggest challenges we face is the lack of legal recognition of a same-sex relationship. Things like being on the same Medicare card, small things that people take for granted. If we could legally recognise our relationship and therefore our children within that relationship, things would be much simpler. But we’re currently not allowed to do that in New South Wales.
‘The other thing is the way people view same-sex families. We live in a small country town – homophobia is the same everywhere, and people find difference a challenge. But we do an enormous amount for the schools and we’re very involved in the community. I think this is helpful for the community. They know we’re a two-mummy family and the children are very open about that.
‘People soon realise we’re just a pretty average family – what makes us special isn’t our family structure, but just us!’
*Not their real names