Who’s in your family?
Our immediate family is made up of me (Sonja), Rosie (8) and Ari (1). Then there are our fairy godparent and biological families. The biological one is quite conventional (and a bit conservative with some Christian-right elements) but the fairy family more than compensates! They are a whole bunch of friends (and Ari’s donor and his boyfriend) who have a ‘special’ relationship with me and the kids.

Where do you live?
Foothills of Adelaide.

How did you create your family?
Rosie was conceived in an unsuccessful attempt at a straight relationship. She still spends around half her time at her dad’s house. Ari was conceived with the help of a very old gay friend… and an intimate relationship with a collection of syringes.

Do you have a relationship with your donors?

Ari’s donor and his boyfriend come over for dinner most weeks. They adore both the kids (something I never fail to point out when people ask about ‘biological’ attachment). When Ari gets a bit bigger he may wish to call his donor ‘dad’, and I think that’ll probably be OK with me although I was initially very resistant to the heteronormative assumptions that word lugs around… In any case, donor ‘D’ has no legal and/or financial responsibilities… his job is just to love us all unconditionally ; )

Give us three words to describe each member of the family

Me – analytical, optimistic, self-scrutinising

Rosie – open-minded, imaginative, forthright

Ari – charming, curious, feisty

What’s the current favourite activity of each of your children?

Rosie – grinding up petals and rock dust to make fairy potions and dyes

Ari – inspecting the bolts and wheels on high chairs, prams etc. and/or climbing up and down steps, always resplendent in borrowed jewellery!

What’s your favourite thing to do together as a family?

Candle-lit aromatic bubble baths

What are some great kids’ activities where you live?

Beach, playing/walking/bike-riding in National Parks

How would you describe your parenting style?

Rational, flexible, compassionate… and, from time to time, stressed!

How do you feel being a ‘rainbow family’ influences your parenting?

We have many discussions about ‘difference’, equity, and perspective. Rosie is known to her peers as an activist… when they made ginger-bread houses for Christmas last year she boycotted because they were using Arnotts biscuits (palm oil) and Nestle smarties (third world distribution of infants formula). I had to do an emergency run to the shops in search of ethically produced Australian equivalents.

Single parenting is difficult. Have you found any issues particular to queer single parents?

Probably just the issue of being invisible (as Queer) and/or presumed straight. When I finally got pregnant it was almost a relief to have a casual excuse to out myself when people asked about the baby’s ‘dad’.

Anything about rainbow parenting you didn’t expect?

How much my latent activism would be piqued by the desire to protect my kids from homophobia and gender stereotypes

If you started all over again, is there anything you would do differently?

I’d rather not be dealing with ongoing family court sagas with Rosie’s dad. However, Buddhism has taught me lots of strategies for ‘letting go’… and probably I’m a better parent as a result.

How have your extended families responded to the creation of your family? How have you responded to that?

Now they love the baby to bits…. although I suspect they avoid explaining ‘where he came from’ to their kids. Though I try not to, I still resent that… I see it as passive homophobia. When the opportunity presents I daresay I will endeavour to be honest about who I am… whilst trying not to offend the kids’ Christian sensibilities.

How do you explain your family if outsiders ask? How do you respond when people assume heterosexuality?

Initially they didn’t understand why I wanted to have a second child and the way I wanted to go about it. I got involved in many extended conversations that justified my decision, even when I didn’t feel like I should have to explain. If I were in a straight relationship nobody would question my desire to have a  second child.

Being perceived to be straight is even more challenging to my own sense of identity. I’ve found myself getting dykey haircuts and wearing provocative t-shirts as a kind of compensation… but I’m also able to see how ironic this is! How can ‘passing’ as straight compare with the phenomenal threats to identity and huge scary decisions about visibility/invisibility that trans people have to make every day?

Have you experienced any difficulties as a rainbow family?

This has become even more complicated recently, since I’ve started ‘dating’ a trans guy. Even for this Queer readership I feel the need to explain – female to male. I have had several more nuanced and complex conversations about gender with Rosie… and also had to explain that, even though we see no issue, it’s possible that some other people may not ‘agree’. I’m struggling with this, because effectively I’m asking her to be ‘sometimes silent’… something I’ve come to hate.

Just the need to call attention to ourselves in order to have our existence recognised… even if it’s not validated with acceptance ; )

What supports (rainbow or straight) do you recommend?

Hanging out with other ‘pink parented’ families helps put things into context. I’ve often been surprised to note that, despite our many similarities, our differences as parents/kids/families are just as complex and numerous as any other small cross section of the wider community!

How do you model pride in rainbow families to your child/ren?

Talking about things openly at every available opportunity! Rosie recently took some treasures to school for show and tell. Part of her spiel was about acquiring them at the FEAST picnic… ‘that’s a celebration for Gay and Lesbian people’ she explained…

What advice would you give someone embarking on a rainbow parenting journey?

Be prepared to be challenged in ways you never expected to be! Embrace these opportunities as lessons in becoming better parents…

contact details

I’d love you all to check out our recently launched Queer Digital Storytelling site – Molly has a story there too! www.rainbowfamilytree.com And my very out of date but soon to be updated blog www.familyvalues.katalyst.com.au And business website, inhabited by my filmmaker incarnation www.incitestories.com.au

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