I was in a stable relationship in England and we looked together at how to have a baby. It took 10 years for me to find out that I could not get pregnant. I tried home insemination with two donors, a clinic for sperm and hospital investigations.
The hospital ethics committee made the decision that I could not get IVF on the NHS as I was a lesbian and they would not allow me to pay for it within the hospital.
I finally tried to get pregnant by having sex with a man in a toilet, which left me feeling I had gone as far as I could. I had to face the fact that I would not have a baby.
My friend talked me into allowing her to have a baby for me, which she did and I now have a son. We followed the surrogate process. I gained parental responsibility and when he was over a year old I registered to adopt him. We believe we were actually the first in the North West – my son says, in the country!
My ex-partner was not out when my son was a baby and I refused to have him live with anyone who would deny his relationship or mine, or let him see any sense of shame for who we were or how we lived.
This was resolved when my partner changed jobs and came out. We then lived as a family and she adopted him once the law allowed. I had a lot of emotional difficulty with my partner’s adoption but ended this by seeing that it made a lot of difference to my son. We all changed our name so we have the same name. We separated but still share in his life.
I guess the emotional context is the incredible despair I was feeling through all the years I could not conceive. And of course the absolute joy when I held him in my arms, having watched him be born. Though I still have a sense of loss for not being pregnant.
The surrogacy process, health professionals, social services for the adoption and the legal process could have been fraught with discrimination but my fears were unfounded as they were all excellent.
The one thing I did learn was to be careful of solicitors fees – sadly learnt too late! The solicitor cost about £2,000 – the court process for parental responsibility. Social services assessment for adoption court cost £75. I was financially a single parent until he was about 5. We lived in a house with no central heating but we got through it.
Of course the process continues. I decided in the beginning to be honest at all times with my son and at each agency we meet in our lives. We have been ‘lucky,’ or maybe honesty prevents discrimination…
The next step is secondary education. I do have anxiety about the amount of people who will now have to be in our lives. I am lucky as other people have led the way and the school has several children with same sex parents.
Our situation is complicated by us being separated but my son has half-brothers at the school from his birth mother’s family (we are still very close) and from his birth dad’s new family. He calls them brothers and has a good relationship with them which, I think, gives him confidence and me some feeling of security for him.
From my family’s point of view, my mum was a little doubtful but they have all treated him as my child and I have had no difficulties.