Today, when we think of family, no single image comes to mind. Nowadays, the typical family structure includes blended families, single parent families and same-sex parent families.
With this in mind, we have asked parent bloggers to share their experiences raising families in today’s world.
Heidi, from parenting blog Life with The Langtons, has kindly shared her parenting experiences.
Q: How did the family construct in which you now live evolve?
Cassie and I met in 2009 through mutual friends and fell for each other very quickly; we talked very early on about what we wanted from life, how we saw our future and we were both very keen on having a family at some point.
Though our relationship is not traditional so to speak we have followed a fairly traditional route. We got engaged in 2010, had our civil partnership in 2012 and bought our first home in 2013. Soon after we were legally recognised as a couple we started looking into options for how we could start our family. We did a lot of research into the different options available to us and everything sounded so clinical, we really wanted to create our family in the least clinical way possible, it was something so personal.
We had some friends who had done at home insemination with a donor they knew and the more we talked to them the more we liked the sound of how they’d gone about starting their family; the only thing we didn’t have a clue about was how we were going to get the one ingredient we were lacking. We reverted back to the internet for more research and joined a website called Pride Angel where willing sperm donors advertise themselves, we read lots of profiles and came across one guy that we thought sounded like a good match..on paper at least, so we reached out via message and started communicating. He seemed perfect, said all the right things, seemed to be offering his services for all the right reasons so after a while we decided to meet in person for a coffee.
The first meeting went well, or so we thought, he seemed very genuine, provided paperwork, test results, donor agreement paperwork. As it turned out, everything we thought at the beginning couldn’t have been more different when it came to going ahead with an insemination. He suggested that it would be more likely to work if we “did it properly” amongst other things and he made us feel incredibly uncomfortable. Needless to say we didn’t continue along this path so it was back to the drawing board! We decided that we would start looking into clinics, we didn’t want to put ourselves in another uncomfortable position so figured the only option was to go down the more clinical route.
That was until a random Wednesday evening when we got a message from a male friend; he wanted to talk to us. That was nothing new, Cassie was often his go to for chats about all sorts of things so we just thought he was having some sort of relationship drama and wanted some advice. This time however that wasn’t it. He knew what had happened with the Pride Angel situation and he wanted to help us…our immediate response was no, we were worried, he already had a child who he adored and we were concerned that it could be awkward, we didn’t want to ruin a friendship. We talked..a lot..and every reservation we had he had the perfect response. It didn’t take us long before we realised that he was a real life angel, he was prepared to give us this amazing gift and genuinely wanted nothing in return, he will forever be the most amazing man we could ever have wished for. It was clearly meant to be as the first cycle we inseminated; at our home, in our bedroom, in the most personal way; we got the result we wanted so much…we were pregnant!
After a miscarriage scare at 6 weeks we had an early scan at 8 weeks where we found out that we had been blessed with not one but two babies, we were having twins and the rest as they say is history. We are now a family of four, the girls are almost 5 years old and they are our world! We are still friends with our donor and it has been perfect, he has met the girls many times and it has been amazing. We asked him how he felt after they were born and his response was simply that it was like meeting any other friends children and nothing like when he saw the child he was raising be born. He cares very much about the girls, we know he would be there if they needed something and they do seem to have a special bond which is wonderful. One day we will tell the girls exactly who he is and how he gave us the best gift we could ever have wished for and we will support whatever relationship they want to have with him, we’re happy that they will know exactly where they came from and be able to ask him questions if they want to, we would never stop them exploring that part of who they are. For us home insemination with a known donor has been an amazing experience, excluding the initial hiccup and we are both so glad that things worked out the way they did.
Q: How do people in your environment respond to your family? Have you ever felt discriminated against as a family? If so, how did you handle the situation?
To be completely honest we’ve been very fortunate that aside from a couple of comments from older relatives when we announced the pregnancy we’ve never felt discriminated against by anyone who has been involved in our lives be that family, friends, work colleagues, medical professionals, school staff or other parents. I think we’ve been very lucky, I know not everyone who has a family like ours has the same story which is incredibly sad. Generally people who don’t know us assume that Cassie is Mum as the girls look a lot like her and that I am a relative or friend; this can be awkward at times but its always been an innocent assumption; sometimes we correct people and sometimes we don’t, it depends on the situation. At the end of the day we are just a family of four, two parents who love and adore our two children and simply want to provide them a safe, supportive, loving home and happy life filled with wonderful experiences and that’s really all that matters.
Q: On a scale of 0 to 10: How much do you feel your family model is accepted by society? (0 = not accepted at all, 10 = fully accepted)
I would say a 7, in our experience at least; we know plenty of people who appear to fully accept our family and some who would perhaps have a different view if they didn’t know us. I’m sure there are people who we’ve met who don’t totally agree with our choices or who may have made comments behind closed doors but given that families are so diverse these days I think many more people are accepting of the historic “non-traditional family” than ever before.
As every family is unique, we want to hear from parent bloggers with different structures and experiences. If you are a parent blogger and would like to take part in the We Are Family series, please get in touch with sophie.moran(at)care.com. Hashtags: #wearefamily #familyforeveryone #familyfirst
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