Solihull Approach | Parenting

Parenting stories


Published 21 February 2024

Conventional unconventional parenting

Reflecting on the significance of LGBT History Month, Anita, self-identified ‘gay mum’, shares her parenting story and experiences of an unconventional journey.

Almost 30 years ago, I had a baby girl.

Our journey to conception...

She was conceived by donor insemination, in a private clinic, after two previous failed attempts.

It was a very expensive process and initially involved securing a referral from my GP and then attending a counselling session to talk through my reasons for desiring to be a parent as a 35 year old, gay woman in a relationship with a partner 15 years my senior who, although never desiring to be a parent herself, was 100% behind the decision. I, on the other hand, was in no doubt about parenting.


Then three years later, we did it all again.


Same process, same clinic, but with a different donor as the previous donor’s sperm had achieved 10 pregnancies and had been taken out of circulation.

Had we known at the time of our first pregnancy, that we could ‘reserve’ that donors sperm, we probably would have done. But we weren’t told that this was a possibility, so a different donor was used. But had we reserved it, we wouldn’t have the same second girl we got, so on reflection we wouldn’t change a thing as we have two amazing young daughters.


We were given ‘pen portraits’ of the anonymous donors physical attributes and hobbies and based our ‘choices’ on family likeness.

We were so conventional (incidentally during one of our clinic visits, we were told that a national newspaper were on the phone, wanting to find out whether the clinic treated gays. Apparently the clinic declined to comment, but this was an example of the climate at the time).

Roles and titles...

One of the many discussions my partner and I had was about her role and title. She was adamant that she didn’t want to be a second ‘mum’ to our child but rather to be seen as a significant other using her first name as her title. This was because she did not want any decisions we made about ‘having two mums’ to possibly impact negatively on the child.

Coming from a Catholic background...

Another element to contend with was the Catholicism issue. I come from a staunchly Catholic background and although I hold no religious views at all, many members of my immediate family did and still do. There was some initial anger and questioning of why do it? My mum, who had had to come to terms with my lesbianism, then had to manage my impending motherhood. She was absolutely brilliant!

She, more than anyone, understood the overwhelming need I had to have a family, having been brought up in a large loving family of seven. Our daughters’ first visitor while still in hospital was their Nan, who loved them from the off. She adored all her grandchildren, as she did her own children, up until her passing.


Our friendship groups on the other hand were nothing but positive and supportive of our decision from the off.


Our girls were both born by normal delivery in a maternity unit delivered by Midwife friends (although not working in the role anymore, we were both midwives).

We decided to capitulate and have Catholic christening’s for both girls, mainly for the sake of their Nan and as well as the church element. We threw parties for friends and family, most of whom had come round to the idea and were also supportive.

Looking back...

A strong memory I have is of attending London Gay Pride with our toddler-aged firstborn, where lots of women approached us and asked if they could push the pushchair. We seemed to be a novelty!

Actually, at the time we were bringing up our two girls, we were not aware of any other gay women or men with small children to socialise with and our girls formed their own friendships at school and we were accepted as a family by parents of those friends.

Our gay and straight friends though, have always been a part of the girls lives and continue to be so, loving them and celebrating the highs and commiserating with them in the lows.

Looking forward...

Last August, our firstborn married her partner of 12 years and we couldn’t have been happier for the two of them. We love him and how much he loves her.
Meanwhile our second-born has had one or two relationships with women but nothing too serious as yet.

To conclude, although our situation 30 years ago could have been viewed as unconventional, (thankfully it no longer would be) we are a very conventional family.


Gay mother

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