Same-Sex Parenting Deserves Same-Recognition: Interview With Lesbian Moms, Sami & Amanda Nicola

by Eco18

The ongoing ‘marriage equality’ debate is one that continues to completely baffle me. Personally, I cannot understand why some individuals look beyond the simplicity of “love,” the strongest possible emotion that we as humans feel, and decide not to support and/or recognize same-sex marriage. Similar to this debate, is one that is a hot topic in the U.S., the rights of same-sex couples to have children.

In June 2013, The University of Melbourne in Australia conducted a large study highlighting the well-being of children from same-sex couples. The Australian Study Of Child Health in Same-Sex Families collected data from gay, lesbian and bisexual parents, as well as from 500 children nationwide to monitor key indicators of health, such as emotional behavior, self-esteem and the amount of quality time children spend with their parents. The results (to no surprise,) found that there is no difference surrounding the health issues between children from same-sex parents and those from heterosexual parents. Most of you are probably thinking “duh,” but sadly, this is not obvious to a lot of people.

This month, Eco18 was lucky enough to interview two proud moms from Sydney, Australia. Sami and Amanda have been in a same-sex relationship for almost nine years and they have a gorgeous daughter, Mia, age 3. In this interview, Sami and Amanda shed some light on parenting as a same-sex couple and the personal/social issues they have experienced.

1. What methods are available for same-sex couples to have children?

I would say the most common choices these days are artificial insemination (whether that is through a clinic or done at home,) IVF, and adoption (now that the new laws have finally passed in Australia allowing gay couples to adopt.)

2. What method did you choose and why?

Initially we chose artificial insemination because reproductively there was nothing wrong with Sami, so the chances of her getting pregnant seemed quite high. Plus IVF is quite expensive, so we thought artificial insemination would be our best option to start with. However, after the first attempt failed, we discussed the possibility of giving IVF a try. Our nurse told us that there was no reason that if Sami stuck with the artificial insemination that she wouldn’t fall pregnant in due course, but at that stage there was a possibility that the laws regarding the importation of sperm from the US into Australia would change. It seemed like the logical thing to do, to just go straight to IVF and we fell pregnant on the first go.

3. Did you have any criteria when choosing a sperm donor?

Ideally we wanted an Italian donor with blue eyes (very specific I know, but we wanted someone as close to a male version of Amanda as we could find.) The problem is that there is not as much sperm available as you might think. As a result, we had to choose based on other things. Of course medical history was a big factor: “Was he healthy? Did he have any family history of any illnesses? etc.” We wanted someone who was a well-rounded person, who was intelligent, good looking and had good values. These are all things that straight ladies look for in a potential partner, so we thought there was no reason why we should be any different! We were lucky enough to find the perfect donor who gave us our beautiful (blue eyed) angel, Mia. 

4. Do you have contact with the sperm donor? Why/Why not?

No, we do not due to confidentiality laws. Since we went through a sperm bank, all donors are anonymous until the child turns 18. At that point, should the child wish to seek out his or her donor then his details will be provided.

5. If Mia wishes to contact her biological father, will you allow her to?

We prefer to call him her donor. I have people asking me about her dad or father all the time and I think by calling him this it would just confuse her. She understands what a daddy is and if someone talks about her dad she will probably start to wonder why he isn’t around. I digress. If she were to turn to us one day and say that she genuinely wishes to seek out her donor then we would never stop her. Our hope is that for her, this will be purely out of curiosity about her heritage and not out of a feeling that she has missed out on anything in her life.

6. Does Mia know that you are in a same-sex relationship? Do you feel the need to talk to her about it?

Absolutely! It’s not that we feel the need to talk about it as such, it just comes up organically. She’s at an age where she is so curious about the world and asks a million and one questions on a daily basis. So if, for example, when she talks about her friends at day care and their daddy or mummy, we talk about our family and how lucky she is to have two mummies who love her so much. She has very proudly said in ‘group time’ at her day care when discussingfamilies that ‘she has a mummy AND a mumma’ and that was a proud moment for us. Knowledge is power and we want Mia to be completely informed about who she is and where she came from. For her to hear the truth from us and not a twisted version of the truth from someone else is important.

7. Have you noticed different demographics looking at you differently when you’re in public with Mia?

There is the odd occasion we notice a sideways glance here and there, but to be honest it’s usually them looking at all of Amanda’s tattoos rather than our family unit. On the whole, most people don’t bat an eyelid or they comment on how beautiful Mia is. There are often times that we end up in conversations about how their ‘brothers/sister’s/best friend is gay and trying to have a baby and how backward the laws are. We get asked a lot of questions about the process and what we went through to have her.

8. Do you worry about Mia not having a male role model in her life?

Not at all. Mia has two grandfathers, four uncles, one male cousin (so far) and plenty of other males in her life who all adore her, so there is certainly no shortage of male role models for her. There are so many single mothers out there who don’t get scrutinized nearly as much as lesbian couples do about the lack of a father figure in their child’s life, so I find the argument that we are denying our child a father just absurd.

9. Being in a same-sex relationship, do you feel that you have to adapt to certain gender roles. For example, one of you should act as the father, and the other as the mother?

I can’t speak for everyone, but for us this certainly isn’t the case. We are both her mothers. We have completely different personalities and skills. They are not the stereotypical lesbian dynamic. Yes, Amanda is good with power tools and can fix things around the house, but she’s also the one who does all of the cooking and can sew. Meanwhile, I can’t cook or sew to save myself! My mother told me that this was the case in her marriage to my father. He was the one who did all the sewing in the house. So really to us we look at any couple (gay or straight) as just two people raising a child, with no relevance to if they are male or female.

10. Would you feel more comfortable raising a son or daughter as a same-sex couple?

We had no preference at all when we fell pregnant. There was never talk of “Oh, I hope it’s a girl because it would be hard to raise a son with lesbian parents.”  In fact, before we found out the sex we were hoping for a boy! We feel that regardless of the sex of the child, we would instill the same morals and values in them about tolerance, respect and integrity towards other people.  

11. When choosing Mia’s schooling options, do you feel like your same-sex relationship will influence your decision on which school to send her to?

We are having this discussion at the moment because, as scary as the thought is, Mia will be starting school before we know it! Our top priority when choosing a school for her will be what that school has to offer her academically. Secondary to that, yes I think there is a small part of us that also wants to be comfortable that the school is accepting of all lifestyles and this is reflected in their teaching. Unfortunately, there are some religious schools that tell students that our way of life is a sin and we would never put our daughter in a situation where she is forced to defend or justify her family to a teacher.

12. It has been suggested that couples in same-sex relationships with children are more likely to have children who will fall into same-sex relationships. Do you think this is true?

No, we don’t think this is true at all. A person’s sexuality is not determined by their family structure — if this were the case, how would you explain heterosexual couples with gay children? If a child of same-sex parents realizes that they are in fact gay themselves, the only effect their parents would have on them is showing them support.

13. What advice would you give to same-sex couples wishing to have children?

Our main piece of advice would be: If you want to have children, then do not let anyone in this world tell you that you are not entitled to do it. No gay couple goes through the process of having a child with their eyes closed to what that child may or may not experience in their life, because of who their parents are. Do not let this stop you having the family that you dream of. Always be open and honest with your children. They will be better people for it.

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