Oops! Thought I was getting e-mail notifications on this thread, but I guess not. I’m glad I checked in.
On the subject of dads, our experience has been that it became more of an issue with our kids once they started school. Similar to westchestermom, our oldest son always used to identify families that he’d see in books, etc. as having two moms. Once he hit school that started to change, and I think it was a part of just figuring it out, and realizing that most of his classmates had a mom and a dad. He did tell us he wanted a dad, but I think at least initially that’s part of the same thing, just wanting what other kids have. We heard a story from a Unitarian Minister in Western Mass, where we used to live, and where there are an abundance of lesbian families, that her daughter came home from school saying she really, really wanted two moms. So, you know, I think all kids do this to some extent. It's just learning about how other families are different.
Our youngest son, at 3 still doesn’t quite get that there is anything special about our family. But we noticed that he is more likely now that he’s in school to identify families in stories and books as having a mom and a dad. We challenge him on it if it’s ambiguous. We’ll say, “How do you know that’s a mom and dad. Couldn’t it be a mom and mama?” Sometimes he’ll stick with mom and dad, sometimes he says, “It is a mommy and mama.” We talk a LOT about different kinds of families, and I think our oldest really understands that our family is okay, even though we’re different than most of the other families he sees. He never hesitates to tell people that he has two moms, but neither do we, and he has only seen us talk about our family in a positive way.
All of that being said, I believe our oldest really would like to have a dad. As he got older and we told him more and more about conception and his sperm donor, etc., he finally put the pieces together and realized that his sperm donor is his biological dad. He was so excited! We were discussing how some parents who have kids through donor conception don’t tell the kids or don’t tell them until they are much older, and he said, “Yeah, and then it would be the greatest surprise!” I think because before he put it all together, he just thought he didn’t have a dad of any kind at all. When people asked or brought it up, we just said, he has two moms. We’re happy that he sees it as a positive thing, but we’re gently reinforcing that even though the donor is biologically related that he doesn’t know us, and it’s not the same thing as a dad as a parent. And as much as I think our family is great and we can certainly parent without a dad in the house, it does make me sad, too, at times that he doesn’t have a connection there. I think especially because we have an open adoption with our youngest and benefit from the connection with his birth parents and families, we miss this for our oldest.
Does anybody here have a known donor that is involved in your children’s life? How do you manage that and how does it work for you? What type of involvement does the donor have? I’m interested in hearing how this works for folks.
Jwebbal, thanks for the tip on the Unitarian church. We actually attended the church once before we moved to Lexington during pride weekend here. Cynthia was on leave, so unfortunately, we missed her, but it was an amazing service. We have wanted to go back, and have felt like it would be a good place for us to make connections, but just haven’t made the commitment to it. We’ll definitely give it another try.
Mackysmama & Heather, we also found that we parent very differently than the other gay families we have met. There was a gay and lesbian family group here for a while, but it has since sort of fallen apart. We never felt quite like we fit in, anyway, partly because of our AP parenting style, but also because our oldest was older than most of the other kids. We keep looking for families with 7-9 year old boys that we can connect with, but so far, no luck.
egarcia76, I think things have changed quite a bit in Kentucky in 10 years. I was raised in northeastern Kentucky, and there is absolutely more tolerance in the state now and an organized movement to to making this a fairer place to live for gay and lesbian people, but your DP is right, there are still not a lot of places to turn for support. It’s been a tough adjustment for us after having lived in Western Massachusetts where lesbian families were pretty much accepted in the mainstream culture. Sometimes we wonder if we are doing the right thing by staying here, but we love being close to our family and having their support.
Wow! Thanks for the thread, wemoon. I’ll definitely be checking in more frequently.