Katie Bennet-Hall runs Planet London, a one stop shop for activities targeted for lesbian and bi-sexual women, with her partner Naomi. In a guest blog specially written for Emerald Connect, Kate talks about how her and her partner’s lives changed, and details the personal sensitivities around starting a family, when both parents are of the same sex.

Our Rainbow Family

My teammates, from the LGBT softball team I play for, have over the last five years given birth to, or adopted, enough children to be able to form their own little league team.

There were no children amongst my team members prior to 2010, and then all of a sudden there was an explosion; the little ones now count for about 10% of the team!

It’s a social club, renowned in the softball community and LGBT scene with a work-hard/play hard ethos, a “drinking team with a softball problem.” However, change has been afoot.

Conversations have shifted from alcohol and partying; who stayed out the latest or got the most phone numbers? It’s moved towards chatter about hormones, IVF, donors, IUI, self-insemination, surrogacy, adoption, co-parenting, pushchairs, baby showers and sleepless nights of a different variety. Somewhere, in all the partying and socialising, couples formed, people grew up, and as the rise of relationship equality and same sex marriage got its legal status, my gay friends of a certain age started their own families in a trend I’ve never before seen.

Planet london 1a

Rainbow families are special, coming in all shapes and sizes. The creation of a rainbow family is meticulously planned, bringing with it risks, costs and challenges our heterosexual counterparts rarely take the time to contemplate, choosing instead to focus on asking “who’s the Dad?” to lesbian couples or assuming someone had a temporary slippage onto the “other team”.

In starting a family, there are huge decisions to make. For instance, who will supply the missing ingredients? It can be financially costly the more anonymised the relationship between involved parties is, and very emotionally costly the closer the relationship between those involved is, too.There’s a great requirement of maturity and parties cannot always rely on the simply saying “we will always be friends” as the process moves forward, having to put in place relationship boundaries (legal) and expectations for all involved. 

When starting a family like this, there’s little legal guidance available, and precedents are yet to be set; as such there is no given outcome of parental rights in many situations. This adds a whole new layer where emotional impact and stress is concerned. 

Matters can be further complicated in relationships with international factors – not all countries outside the UK accept equal parentage, which can be challenging for the children’s citizenship status and travel rights amongst other things. 

All these additional concerns, plus the “usual” problems families face as they grow and evolve, coupled still with the battle against social and institutionalised homophobia might make you think the outcome is that of an unhappy family saturation…  but actually, it isn’t. There’s research emerging to show that children from same sex families have more stable lives and are rich in wellbeing (was there ever any doubt?). 

And of course, a consideration once you’re all set with your family, with all the adventures of life you might have planned, is insurance. Insurance for your home, your family’s worldly possessions, the holidays you go on together and your wellbeing. Once you have that little person in your life, who depends on you until they are old enough to spread their wings and fly is just about the single most important element of your existence. Insurance is just one piece of the bigger picture around family security; protecting the ones you love and the place you all call home.

The tide of this new world of different families does not appear to be ebbing. In fact, it’s flowing in full force and as more of my generation, and the next, keep having their families of choice, these issues will be tested over and over again. But, in the UK at the very least, the legal complications that exist today will likely find resolutions. And as that happens, rainbow families will continue to support each other, and ultimately, children, with loving parents will be well looked after and happy. After all, what else more could society ask for the benefit of young people?

Planet London is a social tool where lesbian and bi-sexual women can find a plethora of information about events, nights out, family, educational, cultural and other social activities in London. Visit there site at www.planet-london.com to plan your next day out.