Wins and Woes is our community newsletter — a place for your stories and questions, where you can connect directly with other ParentData readers. A new issue is sent out every Saturday through the ParentData newsletter. To join the conversation, please sign up for a free subscription to ParentData.
In honor of Pride Month, we asked our LGBTQIA+ readers to share their parenting wins and woes with us.
We know that people in this community may face medical hurdles, social stigma, and a lack of understanding or support along their parenting journey. Despite these challenges, so many of you find strength in your resilience and are committed to raising happy, healthy children who embrace love and acceptance for all.
We also have a question from a parent who would like your suggestions on LGBTQIA+ and family-friendly countries — share your thoughts or ideas! As always, this is your space, so please submit a story for next week or leave a comment for any of your fellow readers.
One thing that I think is so important for hetero families to understand is that education about LGBTQIA+ families starts at home and is so important if you consider yourself an ally. I’ll never forget when my daughter came home from school and said her classmate told her, “Only a mom and dad can get married.” Now, we don’t know for certain if her parents told her that, but what we do know is if her parents told her, “Anyone can be a family and get married — two moms, two dads, etc. — and families are made up of all different types of parents,” that may have been avoided. It doesn’t have to be extensive education, just help your kids understand that families are made up of other things besides a mom and dad. Also, joke’s on her, because me and my wife are married, so she is spitting lies 😉
We’ve been lucky and didn’t have a ton of struggles getting pregnant with IUI, as I know that’s not always the case — we had friends who did 13 rounds of IUI between the two of them and now are moving on to IVF. So my heart goes out to those who are trying to conceive and having a hard time, as with any sexual orientation it can be disheartening and a tough journey!
We’re two moms to five-month-old twins and a 3-year-old toddler. We’re South African, which makes us lucky in the sense that our country’s constitution is fairly liberal, so we are legally married and had access to IVF to grow our family.
A parenting win for us: I think we have a pretty equal distribution of household labour, which can’t always be said for heterosexual couples, even nowadays. And a woe: One gripe related to LGBTQIA+ is that people keep referring to our sperm donor as the “father,” which is a bit infuriating, but it’s probably just out of ignorance and it’s too much schlep to keep correcting.
I had Carter through IUI in 2021 and have just finished an IVF cycle (had surgery this past Saturday). My wife has had a couple miscarriages and an unsuccessful IVF cycle. The hope is that I’ll have enough good embryos for us to try for another kiddo — Marjorie will carry this time … fingers crossed, cuz this kiddo needs a sibling! Lol.
Happy Pride Month!
My wife and I have been trying to conceive for going on two years, and it has been a very tough road. By the numbers: we’ve done six IUI cycles (and counting), had several canceled cycles due to premature ovulation, and did one egg retrieval, which resulted in two embryos that were chromosomally abnormal and therefore incompatible with life.
I feel like the whole process is simultaneously a win and a woe: We are so fortunate to be privileged enough to pursue fertility treatment at all, to live in a time when fertility treatment has advanced significantly, to have each other to lean on, and to be surrounded by the support of family and friends. At the same time, we have agonized about money every step of the way, driven hundreds of miles to and from clinics, lost hours of sleep for early-morning monitoring appointments, wept with other hopeful parents in a support group, and felt the deep and unrelenting pain of watching many friends successfully conceive (usually for free). Our fate as hopefully future parents is completely tied to the inhumanity of a privatized health-care system, and despite living in a relatively progressive state, we are now facing a cultural climate that is openly hostile to queer people as we continue to try to bring a child into the world.
All of this is to say: I’ve learned that queer parenting begins long before there is a child to care for.
My wife and I always knew we wanted to start a family. Navigating this has been quite the journey. As part of our wedding registry when we got married in 2021, we provided the option of monetary gifting toward our future family. We received around $1,200 (we had a small wedding), and this definitely helped. Then we started navigating our fertility benefits with our employers, which turned out to be non-existent.
My family means a lot to me, especially after my mother passed away in a car accident. I am 38 and my partner is 32. My partner was actually conceived with a sperm donor since her parents had fertility issues, so she was indifferent as to what route we chose. We decided that her odds of conceiving going the IUI route were higher than mine. In November of last year, we began all the genetic and blood testing at a fertility center.
In January, when my HSA was funded by my employer, we purchased the donor sperm. Yes, you can use HSA funds to purchase donor sperm. I had to do some research on this, since I was afraid the claim would get denied. We were told by the fertility center to purchase between two and three vials. We only purchased two based on the cash we had accessible to us at that time. The donor search proved quite a few things. Purchasing sperm is an extreme privilege to begin with. The donor backgrounds in terms of people of color were very limited. I am Mexican and my partner is white, so we wanted to find someone of Latinx descent. The one we found ran out of vials. But we were not deterred. We knew it was a privilege, so we branched out. I have really curly hair, and a lot of my African American friends have always thought I was mixed. So we decided to look into African American donors. We found our donor and had it shipped to start our first cycle attempt in March.
Unfortunately, the first cycle was not a success. During this time, we thought about the last remaining vial. My wife did a few things differently this time around, since this was it or we would have to drop at least another $7,000 to ensure we had at least three more attempts. She had acupuncture. She saw on TikTok a few women leaving out a jar of water with a pregnancy test under a full moon, “Moon Water,” and manifested and drank the water. She got a cold and took Mucinex. We like to think these things helped, because after the 14 long days of waiting to test, we found out we were expecting our firstborn. Shortly thereafter, I purchased Expecting Better after a few friends recommended it. I really enjoyed the data-backed information since it allows us to make our decisions based on facts. It has really helped me advocate for my wife and understand everything during our OB appointments.
While there is still more navigating to do, like the fact that I have to go to the courthouse to adopt our own kid, I’m grateful for the privilege to be able to start a family.
As a nonbinary, queer parent working in mental health with (primarily) queer and trans people (including trans kids), this Pride Month feels so heavy. Some of you may be aware of the unprecedented, coordinated movement to ban access to gender-affirming care — which has been successful in 20 states (and counting). For me, it’s not only a daily fixture of my work but of my life.
When I see my almost-2-year-old pointing out airplanes in the sky or naming objects and colors around our house, I feel baffled — and heartsick — to remember that there are people actively trying to destroy families like mine. There are people out there who think my gender expression and my use of multiple pronouns for my child (including they/them) make me unfit to be a parent, and would like to see me reported to child protective services and my child taken from me. When I look at my vibrant, silly, happy, intelligent kid, I know they are an amazing child, and that I am an amazing parent. Plenty of woes here, but also a big giant win. We’re here! We’re (a) queer (family)! We will persist!
This week’s reader question:
If we were to consider emigrating, what would be the most LGBTQIA+ and family-friendly country to choose as a destination? We live in South Africa, which currently faces many challenges related to infrastructure, the education system, etc. We feel our kids don’t have a future here.
What do you think?