A couple weeks ago Zach Wahls, activist and son of two lesbians, was interviewed on If These Ovaries Could Talk. He mentioned that his moms ensured he knew from the very beginning that he had a donor. In other words, there was never a moment in his memory when he wondered where he came from or if he had a father. That comment got me thinking for the first time in a while about when Kathryn and I made that same very intentional choice for our son (who on this site we’ll refer to as “G”.)
It also got me wondering what other LGBTQ parents choose to share with their kids about how their family was made. Do you wait until your child asks, and then answer the question as it’s posed? Does your child have a relationship with their donor/birth parent(s)? Is it something you’d rather not talk about with your child? There are so many ways LGBTQ families are created, and so many different ways to talk about it.
In order to help ground G in the story of our family we decided to make a little hand-made “Story of our Family” book when he was about a year old. We keep this book on his book shelf with all his other books. When we made it we knew he was too little to understand or even really care about much of what was in it. But we wanted the book to be there and to be familiar, so that as he got older he could notice more and more about it, while never being shocked by what was in it.
I’m pretty new to sharing personal things on the big-wide internet (as opposed to in my own little social media bubbles), but I thought that sharing some pages from our little hand-made book might be a good way to start a conversation about how we each help our kids understand our families. I’d really love to hear your family stories and your strategies for sharing them too, so if you’re comfortable please consider leaving a comment.
This is the story of our family as our son knows it. So far he’s been primarily just interested in the pictures of the family that we have throughout the book (which is not surprising given his age), but he’s also asked a few questions about the donor page as well.
Admittedly G hasn’t really shown any interest in these pages that don’t include him, but they made Kathryn and I happy to reminisce and we wanted to make sure G knows how much we love each other too
Best backyard wedding ever…
We want G to know, first and foremost, that a whole lot of love made our family.
We put a little snippet of the donor report on this page. G has only shown a passing interest so far, but we want him to be able to organically take note of that as his interest level changes. We don’t want it to be a bombshell to him that we know some things about the donor. But we also don’t want that front and center right now.
In this picture G sees that he grew in Jenn’s belly. Similar to the donor page, we want him to just know — without it being a question or an issue — his biological roots.
The next page includes many pictures of new-born G with the extended family. In order to respect the privacy of the rest of our family, I’m not going to show a picture of the page here, but the text says:
“9 Months later G was born! Jenn and Kathryn were so happy. Jenn, Kathryn and the whole extended family loved G the moment they laid eyes on him. Family came up to meet him and hold him right away.”
After that page, we have several pages of just pictures of G with different members of the extended family. This “photo album” aspect of the book has by far been G’s favorite part. He loves to talk about the family.
How do you talk with your kids about your family story? If you’re willing to share in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!