The event brought together a panel of 4 same-sex parents through the different means, we had Steven who has adopted 2 children, Elizabeth who had children with an ex-husband before meeting her new female partner and myself, a dad of twins born through surrogacy. Also we had Suran who runs Diversity Role Models (http://www.diversityrolemodels.org) a phenomenal charity that actively seeks to prevent homophobic and transphobic bullying in UK schools through education about diversity.
The panel spoke in turns about the preparation that each of us went through in order to start our families. Obviously for Elizabeth it wasn’t so much preparation as matter of fact but for Steven and myself it was about how we went through the adoption and surrogacy process and what tips and pointers could we give to the audience.
It always surprises me the amount of bureaucracy and evaluation adopters have to go through when starting the process. From trying to convince social-workers that 2 working parents are OK to have children, to talking about the red flags that social workers might have of people who have a child (through a man/female relationship) who want to adopt now they are in a same-sex relationship and why this might not happen. With surrogacy there is so little social worker oversight that I actually wonder how if a happy medium could be achieved. As always at events like this each panellist had a very different story and it is amazing to hear how supportive and positive the family and allies of each panellist had been in helping when things got tough.
After discussing our individual routes to parenthood we then moved the focus of the event on to how it was to be an LGBT parent. Bizarrely it seems that no matter which route to parenthood you take, you all end up in the same place! Worrying whether or you we are doing the right thing, choosing the right school, making the right decisions for our children. The one thing that we all had in common though was that we want our children to grow up in a loving and supportive environment where they flourish due to their self-confidence and self-esteem. This is where Suran spoke the most as at DRM they see exactly how children are able to challenge stereotypes through education.
I find evenings like this really inspirational and I wish that when we were going through our journey we had had a network of people who had been through the process to bounce ideas off. All in all I think it was a fantastically informative and great evening.