Pissed Off

Ok, queers.  Get your shit together.  Here is a story that really makes me mad:  Back in 2005, after things had gone south in their relationship, two women in North Carolina went to court over who should receive custody of the child they conceived together.  This child was being raised jointly by both mothers.  The non-gestational mother was granted a second-parent adoption (back before it became illegal as a result of this court case).  When the gestational parent decided that she was more well suited to mother the child, she took the non-gestational mother to court saying that she never should have been granted a second-parent adoption in the first place.  The case went to the NC Supreme Court which sided for the gestational mother, negating the non-gestational mother’s adoption of the child.  She was granted joint custody with limited rights to see the child.  Whoopie.  WHY DO WE DO THIS TO EACH OTHER?

I know several cases involving lesbians where one gave birth to their child[ren] and once the relationship dissolves, the gestational mother decides she is more of a mother than the other.  BULLSHIT.  I have heard bonding used as a reason for this.  Sure, a baby may bond with its gestational mother first, especially if breast-feeding is involved.  But there is SO much more to parenting than breast-feeding.  What about caring for the breast-feeding mother? Changing diapers? Feeding the adults? Cleaning the house? Rocking? Shushing? Walking? Shared sleep deprivation?  I could go on.

Gestational mothers pulling this shit makes me really angry.  Not only do I feel angry for what they are doing to the non-gestational parent, but I feel angry for what they do to the queer movement.  Recognition of our families is vital for our children to grow up feeling seen and respected.  When they pull this, gestational mothers are saying, “I am really the mother.  Not her.”  Fuck you very much.

My kid didn’t come out of my vagina and he hasn’t ever suckled at my breast, but I am his real mother too.  100%.  Try to prove different.

-Betsy

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6 responses to “Pissed Off

  1. I totally agree with you, it’s not just awful for the family / child, but it reinforces bad stereotypes that we are not real families, in that it says that the other mother isn’t a true parent. Awful.

  2. It is, indeed, a horrifying injustice, and yet, I also have to admit that I came rather close (at least in my head) to completely excluding my kids’ non-gestational mom at one point. Our twins were 18 months old when my wife fell in love and had an affair with a man she met when traveling for work. She’d been gone for a month, and I’d been solely caring for our twins (I was the primary caregiver even when she worked closer to home). When she got home and told me she wanted to leave me and be with this guy, I thought, “just TRY to get any custody of MY babies!” We had not done a second-parent adoption and had only gotten legally married days before she left on her trip. We don’t live in NC, but I still think it’s possible that I would have won, had our case gone to court.

    Luckily, I didn’t actually follow through on my plan, and nor did she. We actually reconciled and stayed together for another 6 years before ultimately getting divorced. I have primary custody of our kids, but have been open to my ex taking the kids whenever she’s able (and she does take them 2-3 nights a week).

    Anyway, I used to seriously judge the lesbians who pulled this shit, and then I found myself thinking those very same terrible thoughts. I think when marriages break down, all parents (queer and non-queer) are apt to wish that they didn’t have to share custody with their exes. If that is a potentially achievable reality in some states or circumstances, it surprises me zero that gestational mothers will try it.

    Maybe the conversation needs to acknowledge why parents would wish to exclude their exes post-split, and how hard it is to share custody with someone who you truly loathe. We need to hold ourselves accountable, as a queer community, for those parents who are choosing to use the fact that our federal government doesn’t recognize our queer marriages and that some states won’t honor non-traditional parental relationships, AND we need to reach out to those very same parents with compassion and understanding before we can help to make change.

  3. Yeah, this is one of my perpetual rant topics. I really think there should be some community ritual of shunning for women who use anti-gay laws to deny their own families. Who would date someone who did this? Are you guys in NC? The NC situation seems particularly horrible because the decision was so sweeping. Blerg.

  4. If we want to change the world (and we do want to, and we do change it) and its perceptions of what makes a family, then we have to hold ourselves to a higher expectation and really push each other to be accountable to this kind of bad behavior. It is infuriating, and I’m glad you are ranting about it!

  5. HELL YEAH SISTER! I LOVE YOU.

  6. Well said, sweetie. I am the gestational parent in our household. However, our daughter goes to my partner for comfort, for playtime, for all things she should be coming to the ‘bonded mother’ for. It really shows that this is not about who carried and birthed the child, but who is loving the child. I would never dream of doing something like this to my partner. Should be split. It would affect my daughter more than anyone. I have to wonder if people think about the kids when they make these kinds of rash decisions.

    I guess we don’t know the details of the behind the scenes, so I choose to hold my judgement. I could see doing this if the partner was emotionally or physically abusive, lesbian couples are not immune to that, but just to be vindictive? That’s not appropriate.

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