Hide me!

Nuno

I met my partner when I was 22 and soon afterwards started talking to him about adopting children.

 

When I was 26/27, I started considering adoption more seriously, gathering information from websites and by talking to people who knew more about it and had even adopted themselves. After hearing the stories of several adoptive parents and how their decisions were life-changing, my partner and I reached the decision to adopt and embark in this marvellous adventure.

 

We eventually applied to adopt in Germany (where we were living at the time), but it didn’t work out, neither through state social services, nor through private agencies.

 

We then moved to the UK where we applied through Manchester City Council in 2007 and, after a short period of training, we carried out the interview and assessment procedure.

 

In 2011 we finally met our children, a two-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl, siblings who were placed with us for adoption in September 2011. The court adoption orders were issued in June 2012.

 

We cannot say it’s been a completely smooth process, but it has surely been a worthwhile one. The assessment is a time-consuming exercise, but it also offered us the opportunity to reflect about our lives, where we come from, who we are, and what we still wish to accomplish in life.

 

Meeting our children and then starting to live with them and forming a family has not been problem-free either. It requires a lot of patience and preparation, and a strong commitment and willingness to change one’s lifestyle and priorities.

 

Yet, having children undoubtedly gives a new and better meaning to our lives, and no matter if our children are biological or adopted, one is bound to have to deal with challenging moments. I would, therefore, encourage anyone thinking about having children to strongly consider adopting!

 

The amount of bureaucracy and the time the whole process takes is rather exhausting and trying, but I now consider it necessary to test one’s determination. If one isn’t willing to go through that, then one isn’t probably prepared to deal with what comes afterwards!

 

Emotionally it’s been very exhausting too. The whole adoption process requires plenty of self-reflection and compromising with one’s partner. Once the children arrive, patience and energy levels are constantly put to the test. One’s relationship is also strained to the limit.

 

Our experience has showed me that all the training and interview process definitely needs to be taken seriously. No matter how much one prepares, one will always be taken to one’s limits, so it’s better to invest a lot during the preparation stage.

 

All the paperwork and emotional difficulties were overcome with plenty of energy, patience, determination and communication with my partner: adopting requires plenty of all of these.

 

Make sure this is really for you, because the more you get into it, the harder it is to get out afterwards. If this is really what you want, don’t give up, it’s all worth it at the end. Get ready for a bumpy ride.

Paul

Children have always been a part of my life, as a member of a large extended family. I was married at 19 years and my first child was born when I was 22 and my second when I was 25. I remained married until I was in mid 30s when I had a breakdown and was forced to address issues of sexual abuse as a child and also my sexual orientation.

 

Being a parent has always been the most wonderful thing I have achieved in my life. I have had to address bias and homophobia but rarely directly, as people tend not to be brave enough to say anything to a 6ft man.

 

Everyone’s situation is different and you should do what is right for you. Do not allow anyone to tell you what and/or when you should say anything. Be honest but keep yourself safe.

Amanda

I came out when I was 15 and that did not change anything with regards to my wish to have children. I was in a serious long-term relationship with a female for four years. We often discussed having children in the future.

 

My current partner is a trans man, who I have been with for nearly 10 years. We intend to use donor insemination to conceive. We discussed having children from an early stage. I started to get more serious about it a few years ago and the sense of urgency has increased as I get older – I’m now 28.

 

My partner wanted to delay things for various practical reasons – job insecurity, location, having surgery/hysterectomy etc – and probably emotional reasons as well, and this caused a lot of friction for a while. In the last six months or so we have resolved these issues and finally started on the long road to conception.

 

Now I think we are on the same page. In the last few months we visited the GP to ask for a referral to a fertility clinic. I had to have some blood tests and we are now waiting for an appointment at the hospital.

 

Quite a long time prior to that we had asked a gay male friend of my partner’s if he would consider being a sperm donor for us. Ideally we would like a known donor so that the child grows up knowing him. My partner is Chinese so we wanted a Chinese donor and suspected that waiting times would be very long for an unknown Chinese donor.

 

We waited an exceedingly long time for this friend to decide if he wanted to participate, 18 months at least. Eventually, when I had given up on him ever saying yes, I discussed all this with a friend of mine, who then discussed it with his flatmate, who is Chinese. The flatmate told my friend, who then told me, that he would have no problem being the donor.

 

I had some reservations about this, mainly just because I didn’t know the flatmate very well. With my partner’s friend so undecided however, the flatmate seemed like our best shot. I was planning to have a chat with him about it when my partner told me he’d spoken to his friend and he was interested after all!

 

My partner and I decided to forge ahead with what we had to do so that we could have more information to present to the potential donors. We visited the GP together to ask for a referral to a fertility clinic. I felt it was important that we went together but it was difficult finding a time when we could both attend because of my partner’s long working hours.

 

My partner had already seen the GP so she knew his trans status. He described the GP as ‘nice’ but I thought she seemed rather abrupt.

 

We explained what we wanted and she told us that I would have to have blood tests to see if I was ovulating. I was a bit put out because I felt like I was being treated as if there was something wrong with me when the only known reason for us not being able to have a baby on our own is my partner’s lack of equipment.

 

The GP also told me that I would need to have a smear test – something I had been putting off for years.

 

When we left the surgery I was quite upset. I had known that the GP or the hospital would probably want to do tests to assess my fertility but I wasn’t prepared for how it would make me feel. I was angry and felt like we were being ‘interfered with.’ I’m still finding it hard to come to the terms with the fact that something so personal between my partner and I requires the involvement of so many medical professionals.

 

I saw the nurse for my blood test and smear test. The smear test was about as bad as I expected, the blood test was no problem.

 

I called the surgery for my results a couple of weeks later. I was told that I was ovulating but that I had to go back to the nurse for a rubella check. I was irritated that she hadn’t done this at the same time as the other test because it felt like an unnecessary delay but I duly went back for the rubella check which came back fine.

 

Then I received the results of my smear test. I had ‘minor changes’ which means a re-test in six months to see if things have returned to normal or not. I was not overly worried about having cancer or anything like that but I was very upset at the thought of a further six month delay before even getting a referral.

 

I called my partner and he agreed that this was a possibility but suggested I visit the GP and ask her if I could have a re-test more quickly. He helped me calm down but once again I was quite angry at what I felt was ‘interference.’ If I was getting pregnant ‘the old fashioned way’ no one would know or care whether I had a smear test first.

 

I made an appointment with the GP to discuss all this. Much to my relief the GP told me that she had already sent off the referral and the smear re-test wasn’t an issue. Most likely I would have had it done before anything happened anyway. Dr Abrupt went up in my estimation that day! She took the time to explain to me what might happen next and to reassure me about the smear test results.

 

So that is where we are now – waiting for the appointment with the people who will hopefully refer us to the fertility clinic…

 

Anonymous II

I’m on the waiting list for assisted conception treatment at Ninewells (Dundee).

 

I’ve been in a relationship with my current partner for three and a half years. We started to think seriously about children a few years ago and decided to ask some of our male friends if they would help us and donate sperm. One came forward and we began to plan. However this fell through and we decided to go to my GP and ask for some assistance. That was a year ago.

 

I have had several blood tests and we were asked to see a counsellor to talk through some of the issues that may arise with having a child through a donor.

 

We have been told we should hear in August as I am due for treatment in September. I’m both nervous and excited at becoming a parent. My partner can’t wait too.

 

I hope it all works out and if it doesn’t then we turn to Plan B, and perhaps look at adoption.

Anonymous III

I guess I rarely thought about it in my 20s as none of my peers (largely graduates) were starting families. Focus was on working/career/travelling/ having a great time.

 

As I got into my 30s I started thinking, ‘How am I going to manage this given I’m a lesbian?’ and ‘What will my parents and friends think if I do have a family?’.

 

I started trying to get pregnant in 2006.

 

My ex-civil partner and I were both keen to be parents: I have always wanted to be pregnant/bear a child, and she was keen to be a parent but had no interest in being pregnant. I think this was a good match to some degree, although it had its pitfalls (eg. she simply did not understand my burning urge to have a baby of my own rather than adopt).

 

We went to a Rainbow Families conference in Manchester which was brilliant, provided syringe kits, info on fertility monitoring, clinics etc, and access to people who had experienced it all.

 

We approached a gay male friend (who had a partner) to ask if he would consider being our child’s father – with no specifically paternal contact, or demands from us for support, but able to be in touch/friends with the child, and be identified as the biological father in due course.

 

He (and his partner) agreed and we shortly embarked on home insemination (cup & syringe!). This was made difficult, timing-wise, as he moved some distance away shortly afterwards – but still we persevered.

 

We had about nine attempts over 14 months or so. It wasn’t happening. Another male friend (straight) then offered his ‘services’ with no strings. He was happy to be identified as the biological father in due course, as long as it meant no specific responsibility.

 

We switched donor for a few reasons: the original donor and partner were getting a little too excited and not demonstrating signs of understanding separation (“Can we come to the scan?”, “Can we buy the cot/first bike?”, “Can I take the wee one to see my mother”…). Plus, they didn’t understand the urgency with me being mid 30s.

 

They often put other interests/events before our insemination dates, which were of course last minute and unchangeable.

 

Around this time, I was concerned that I hadn’t fallen pregnant, so went to the doctor’s to request investigation. But I fell pregnant immediately, the first time with the new donor (cup & syringe again!), before any investigation took place.

 

I lost that baby in what was a very dramatic, very public miscarriage, two days short of 12 weeks gestation (blood running down legs on a beach in Australia and an ambulance called). I struggled badly with this, as did my then civil partner, although I did not know the consequences of that until later.

 

After a couple of months’ break, we began to try again with the second donor, and six months later, in December 2008, I fell pregnant – just after I had once again gone to the doctor to see if they would investigate why there was no pregnancy.

 

I had an extremely healthy pregnancy, followed by a difficult birth (C section) and a sick baby girl in the neonatal unit for a few days, although she was 9lbs 9oz – a good healthy size!

 

My family were excited and delighted. My partner’s family were dismissive and homophobic, and largely denied the baby was part of the family, despite our civil partnership and the legal ramifications! They gave token gifts but refused to accept any link or demonstrate any understanding or emotion.

 

This was difficult – but they were always difficult and a bit homophobic. Our relationship hadn’t been great and I had been so focused on the pregnancy that I hadn’t really noticed or paid attention.

 

When my daughter was seven months old I had suspicions about my partner’s fidelity and found sexy messages to an ex on her phone, in Facebook and in her emails (I never checked until I had well-founded suspicions). I caught her going to see this ex when she was lying about going elsewhere.

 

She was aggressive (not physically) and controlling when confronted, but admitted she had also had intercourse with a man (!) after I lost the first baby, during my recovery period.

 

All this I could not cope with, so I left with baby in tow.

 

It was difficult but the right thing to do. She was not prepared to stand by our family, and I think this goes back to a complete lack of understanding of maternal urges or what it means to be a parent (ie. you come second!).

 

I met a wonderful woman seven months later – my current partner – who has two children from her marriage and we have formed a fabulous lesbian family unit. Our children are well-adjusted and well aware of our relationship.

 

There will be challenges ahead – but there are for any parents.

 

My daughter still sees my ex, most weekends for a few hours, but there is no suggestion of a parenting role. I don’t trust her to deliver. My daughter is nearly three and she is the best thing I ever did with my life.

 

If you’re thinking about having children, do your homework and think very carefully about which option you are happy with for yourself and future child:

 

Complete anonymity – ie. online fresh sperm delivery – where neither you nor your child will ever know who the father is?

 

Some discretion – ie. a fertility clinic and unknown sperm donation? Your child will be able to find out who their father is at age 18.

 

Known quantity – ie. private donation, or known donation through a clinic with a male of your choice. This way you know the traits, family medical history etc. You run the risk of emotional involvement, but for me, that was the smallest risk of the three options, when weighed up against the benefits of having a known donor.

Anonymous V

I’ve always wanted children. We actively started trying to become parents around four years ago.

 

Our first choice was to adopt, as we felt that there were already so many children out there who needed a loving home. Unfortunately, we experienced pretty full on discrimination in the adoption process and after a year of being fobbed off, our paperwork being repeatedly ‘lost’ and general messing about, we were told outright that no-one would ever want to place a child with us.

 

We are now trying to conceive through IVF and there’s no reason to think that we won’t be successful, but we do still wonder about the children who we should have been parents to and feel sad.

 

There are so many children out there who need parents and yet we were prevented from offering them a home. It makes me angry that social workers who are supposed to be helping these children, actually prevented them from being placed in a loving, stable family.

Anonymous

I’m bisexual and originally thought children might be something I would do in the context of a heterosexual long term relationship.

 

When I was single in my late 20s/early 30s, I heard Juliet Stevenson on ‘Desert Island Discs’ (!) saying that if she got to an age where it was too late for her to have children and she hadn’t got round to trying, she would feel she had ‘mismanaged’ things – or something along those lines. That got me thinking.

 

I was doing a MA in Women’s Studies and chose to do my dissertation about women having children by donor or self-insemination. I spoke with a gay friend about him being my donor over a long period of time. Ultimately he opted out and an ex-partner but long-term friend agreed to help me and to be a co-parent. He was living abroad at the time and we had a ‘trial’ run at insemination on a visit back to the UK that coincided with my cycle. And I got pregnant first go!

 

Having a child via self-insemination for me was very easy and straightforward. She was wanted, planned and conceived with love and that feels very special. I made sure her dad got parental responsibility via a court order (necessary in 1997) and she has his surname (my choice).

 

I am now a single parent with a 15 year old daughter. I co-parented with her dad, living in a shared household, for six years and have subsequently lived alone with my daughter.

 

Her dad was very hands on and totally involved in shared parenting while living with us. It then got less and less when he moved out and got married. His wife never accepted our long-term friendship and never really saw my daughter as part of their family. So my daughter doesn’t have a great relationship with her dad although she loves him greatly but she and I are very close and have a delightful mum/daughter relationship.

 

My daughter likes the story of how she was conceived outside of a relationship and by insemination. She feels it is special too (in a positive way!). She tells her closest friends, who think it is ‘cool.’

 

I have no regrets about having a child outside of a relationship though I wish about how future partners might feel about our arrangement (both of us were single at the time I got pregnant) and he used to say that if a future partner of his could not accept the arrangement then that would not be the person for him. Turns out he has married someone who doesn’t accept our friendship and our daughter into her life! So sadly, he is totally out of my life now and minimally involved in our daughter’s life.

 

For several years after he first got married the situation got worse and worse as I battled to maintain his input in my daughter’s life. Communication totally broke down and his wife sent me nasty emails, being incredibly negative about me and about my daughter. Eventually I had to end all contact and give up on anything changing or improving.

 

My daughter still struggles with missing her dad sometimes and wishing she could see more of him but overall is resigned to loving him but finding him hopeless.

 

Despite the struggles around those relationships, my daughter and I are incredibly close and I am so glad I had her when I did (I was 33) – it’s one of my top achievements.

 

Parenting alone as I have for the past 11 years does come with financial implications but we have enough money to live in a nice area. Her dad continues to pay maintenance, although that hasn’t increased in 11 years.

 

I’m an academic and so there have been consequences in terms of work and not being able to attend conferences etc without a great deal of forward planning and negotiation, so some limitations there. Possibly my career has progressed more slowly – but it has been my choice really to prioritise life at home and be there for my daughter (perhaps more so given the absence of her dad).

 

I don’t have family support but I do have a good network of friends and I have never had to pay for childcare since nursery in the early years.

 

Having a child has probably impacted on relationships. Given the situation with my daughter’s dad and how much her relationship with him changed when he got married, I have been her main source of stability and security and I have probably prioritised that over relationships. But overall that’s OK. My family never really understood my choices and chose to ignore them!

 

Doing things differently, especially as a single parent, does require resourcefulness and resilience – so the more support you have around you the better. You cannot anticipate every scenario but discuss in advance as much as you can. Go for it!

Carolyn

About eight years ago my partner and I started to think about having children. We’ve been living together for 11 years, and in a civil partnership for three of those years.

 

My partner always wanted to have children and knew from a young age that she wanted to be a parent.

 

After talking about it we decided that I would have first go, although my partner thought she might also like to try later on too.

 

First, this involved me coming off medication for epilepsy, as we knew the medication could harm a foetus. As doctors thought I no longer needed to be on the medication, having been fit free for a long time, this proved to be quite easy and probably the easiest part of the whole process.

 

Next, we started looking into fertility treatment and were seen by hospital number one. This, however, got us not very far forward as there was a very limited service available and in the end we needed help in finding somewhere more suitable. This turned out to be hospital number two. At the same time we were able to select our donor and order his ‘active ingredient’ from the European Sperm Bank.

 

We have been attending hospital number two for several years and have gone through intrauterine insemination (IUI), assisted IUI and IVF treatments. It has been a very long and difficult process, with much heartache, especially when rounds have failed. There have been many problems encountered on the journey, mainly with my insides, and subsequent investigations and treatment have meant that the journey has taken us a lot longer than we ever anticipated.

 

On our 12th or 13th attempt (we have lost count) – the last attempt for me, I had decided – we successfully got pregnant with the help of Clexane injections.

 

We are now six months into the pregnancy and although I am having to get more scans and obstetrician appointments than is the norm, things are looking OK at the moment, so fingers crossed we will have our baby in October.

 

In practical terms, the journey has cost us approx £30,000 and has involved us having to pay for treatment privately. We have managed to pay for the treatments, but when our baby is born we will probably have to make drastic changes to our budgets as our savings have been eaten into quite a bit.

 

Work, on the whole, has been very supportive. My partner has not encountered any problems getting time off for appointments etc. I have managed to get time off although at times my boss has been reluctant and has sought advice as to whether or not she needs to give it to me.

 

In emotional terms, the journey has been a roller coaster. Going down the fertility treatment route has meant spending time on waiting lists to see the first hospital, then being disappointed when no service could be given. At the second hospital we paid privately, which meant we were seen and started treatment more quickly, but issues were discovered about my insides which subsequently caused anxiety and more waiting. Failed rounds of treatment caused further disappointment and heartache.

 

The final positive result was a surprise, a good one, but with all the problems encountered getting to this point, at times I still expect it not to work out and for things to go wrong, which in a way dampens the excitement of the whole thing.

 

My advice to anyone starting down this road is, don’t give up. Start saving early. Don’t assume you will get pregnant first time (or at all). Have a support network to help you emotionally eg. partner (very important).

Claire II

Julie (my partner) is the only person I’ve been involved with, who I could imagine raising children with. In fact, one of the reasons I knew I was going to marry her was how incredible she is with kids.

 

We have always talked about it since our relationship started. We’re starting to do something about it now that we’ve returned to Canada from Scotland. We met in Canada and spent a year in Scotland so that she’d get to know my family, friends and culture in a more in-depth way.

 

Although I ticked ‘woman’ on my survey reponse I am a non-binary gender person, genderqueer. While Scotland has come such a long way in terms of LGBTQ rights and visibility, Canada (and Toronto more specifically) really has more LGBTQ parenting visibility and support networks already in place. We have several LGBTQ friends and acquaintances who have become parents and we can have frank and open discussions with them regarding all our concerns or fears.

 

We are probably going to try and conceive through a donor but right now it’s a financial impossibility. We are still discussing whether to go with an anonymous or open ID donor.

 

As I don’t have a desire to be the birth parent, I have struggled with the thought that the child wouldn’t feel as bonded towards me or that it wouldn’t feel like as big a part of me. However, I know now that just my intention to have a child is already determining the child we have. Had Julie not met me and had a child with someone else, then it would be a different human being altogether.

 

We both have felt angry at times knowing that it’s not as straightforward for us as with heterosexual couples and that we will no doubt be judged more harshly as parents by small-minded people when we’re out in public with our children, but these feelings pass and life is really too short.

 

Plus we have the luxury of living in a city where there are many LGBTQ parenting support networks and we have friends who are already parents.

 

Claire

When I was looking after friends’ children and my niece, I thought about having a family of my own.

 

I have learning disabilities and don’t know how to go about GETTING help or advice on having children. I would love to have a child. I’m bisexual.