The list below is an addendum to the “Queer Parenting 101” session facilitated by Philly Family Pride at the Creating Change 2018 Conference in Washington, DC. For suggestions, please comment below or email Stephanie Haynes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click this link to download a PDF of the transcribed questions/discussion topics from the session:
Queer Parenting 101 Butcher Block Post-It Note Questions
18 Lesbian Moms We Love on Instagram
A Womb of Their Own
Biff and Trystan
Building Blocks – Interactive Conversations with LGBTQ families
Dad, Daddy & Kids
Darrow Brown and Juan Calvo – Story Corps
The F-Word: A Foster-to-Adopt Story
Family Focus: Jem, Michael and Tia
Gay Parent Magazine
Gayby Maybe Epic Queer Parenting Round Table
Gays with Kids
Julie Chu and Caroline Ouellette welcome baby to family
Kordale & Kaleb
Love Comes First YouTube Channel
My Coming-Out Story: Out and Proud as a Bisexual Mother
New Film Shows Lesbian Families’ Struggles and Resilience in the South
Sandy & Denise
This Amazing Trans Couple Defied The Odds—And Their Doctor—To Conceive A Child
Tess and Nikina’s Story
9 New LGBT Children’s Books Every Kid Should Read Jan. 2018
A Holiday Guide to 2017’s LGBTQ Family Books
Yes, There Are Queer-Positive Children’s Books That Are Actually Good and Not Horribly Depressing
Corey Silverberg’s Books
The Book Nook – Family Equality Council
FINDING YOUR PEOPLE
Family Equality Council
Gay Parent Magazine List of Support Groups
Gay Fathers Facebook Group
Queer Mamas* Facebook Group
Transgender Parenting Facebook Group
Financial Assistance for LGBT Parents to Be
The Ultimate Gay Men’s Guide to Crowdfunding for Surrogacy or Adoption
ACLU – LGBT Parenting
Legal Recognition of LGBT Families – National Center for Lesbian Rights
State LGBT Family Law Guides – National Center for Lesbian Rights
Families – National Center for Transgender Equality
Protecting Your Children – Lambda Legal
Know Your Rights – Transgender Parenting
How Can Midwives Help Queer and Trans Families Feel Safe?
What Do Kids Call Their LGBTQ Parents?
by PFP parent Leigh Braden
On September 21, 2017 I attended a foster parent recruitment meeting at the William Way Center co-hosted by the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs and Philly Family Pride.
This meeting was held to recruit potential foster parents from the LGBTQ community who would provide loving homes to LGBTQ youth. I attended as a representative of A Second Chance Inc., an organization I work with that specializes in kinship care.
The organizers of the meeting had asked a panel of folks to speak about their experiences and share resources with the group – a foster care agency, LGBTQ foster parents and an 18-year old LGBT-identified youth named Frank.
The room fell silent to hear this soft-spoken, sweet, sad kid talk about how hard it had been for him in foster care, how he came to America from Indonesia fleeing persecution for being gay and how he had no family and wanted to be in a family.
He talked about his love for music and how he had to sell his keyboard when he went into care and how he missed feeling comfortable and affirmed. I could feel tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. I approached Frank after the meeting and asked if we could have lunch together suggesting that maybe I could help him with this situation and find hiim a better home.
Frank agreed and that same week we met. He told me more of his story and how he was in an accelerated high school program in Indonesia and graduated from school early, about the circumstances he lived in while in Indonesia and the kind of fear and discrimination he felt as a sexual minority.
His father died when he was 4 years old and his mother plummeted into poverty and could not take care of her children any more. We talk for a long time. By the end of the lunch, I knew that we were the foster family that Frank needed. I knew that we could give him an affirming home.
My wife Sophie and I talked to our 8 year-old son who loved the idea of having a big brother. We had Frank over for dinner and the decision was made to offer to be his foster family. He said yes and I sprang into action.
We were certified in a month to be foster parents for Frank. This is very fast, but as a person who works in the field I knew exactly what we needed to do and how to get it done quickly.
Frank moved into our home October 27, 2017.
He has integrated into our family and we care about him. He is neither soft-spoken nor sad anymore. He is a teenager, which is fun and frustrating all at the same time.
Frank is applying to colleges for the fall of 2018. I am teaching him how to drive, and Sophie and I are learning how to parent a teenager. Every day Frank sits at the piano in our home and makes beautiful music. We have high hopes for him and his future.
If you live in Pennsylvania and are interested in becoming a foster parent for LGBTQ youth, contact Leigh at email@example.com.
by Sandra Telep
Nearly a decade ago, when my partner and I first began to look into what our options were for starting a family, I was looking to connect with other LGBTQ families. I wanted to hear first hand experiences, get advice from parents who had walked this road, and connect with other prospective parents. Other LGBTQ families weren’t easy to find in the smaller city we resided in at the time, so I sought out community online.
Thanks to message boards I was able to connect with other families. From there I discovered a community of bloggers and started my own blog. I loved reading along with other families’ stories and sharing a bit of our own journey. These virtual friends were my tribe as I battled infertility, grieved losses, rejoiced in a long-awaited pregnancy and welcomed our first child into the world. Many of these friendships grew so strong and important that we made plans to meet face to face and introduce our families to each other, sometimes traveling significant distances to see the kids that we had dreamed about together all those years ago now playing together. Blogging for LGBTQ Families has been a lifeline for me.
Now, we live in Philadelphia, a much larger city, in a very LGBTQ friendly neighborhood with our six year old and three year old. We are surrounded by other LGBTQ families and our children have never known anything but a community of friends and neighbors made of all different types of families. I know how valuable that is to both us as parents, and our children as they come to understand the world we live in. This is one of the main reasons I serve on the board of Philadelphia Family Pride.
I know how lucky I was to begin my parenthood journey in the age of the internet…but I still had to search for and build my community. Philadelphia Family Pride helps build and nurture the community of LGBTQ families in Philly through social events and valuable educational resources for prospective parents and families. Our annual Family Matters Conference includes workshops on legal issues, financial planning, planning for parenthood, and social justice. We look forward to spending time with our friends at some of our favorite social events like camping, the aquarium, Smith Playground, the summer picnic or hiking. PFP really has been a treasure to our family.
Just recently I sat on a panel for one of our Maybe Baby group classes, and I was struck, looking around the room at the group of prospective parents. How amazing would it have been when we were researching parenthood to attend a class where we could talk to foster parents, reproductive technology specialists, parents that used known and anonymous donors, surrogacy agency representatives and other people trying to figure out how to build their families – all in one room! I love being a part of an organization that connects LGBTQ families with resources and each other.
by Sandra Telep
Today we are hosting a guest post by Amy Williams a social worker who specializes in helping parents understand how to navigate technology and the digital life that their tweens and teens are immersed in. This issue is fresh in our minds after last year’s conference theme was “Our Families and the Future” and there were many discussions about social media and their impact on our children’s futures. I hope our members find this infographic helpful. -Sandra Telep, Vice-Chair
Social media has been popular among teens for quite a few years now, but for LGBT teens and children of LGBT parents, the issues run deeper than that – one message copied and spread without their consent could reveal their orientation in front of their peers before they’re ready, and that’s a big problem. Unfortunately, many teens are exposed to shaming and gender stereotypes on social media everyday, and aren’t aware of the dangers until something goes badly wrong – but those who care are constantly looking for new ways of improving their privacy.
If your teen is worried about how they’ll be treated at school – which is perfectly understandable, given their increased chance of being bullied – you may want to keep a closer eye on what they’re saying and help them understand how a message they post without thinking could wind up hurting them. Effective monitoring software can help you keep an eye on what’s going on until they’re ready to handle it on their own.
by Robin Matthews
I haven’t had to explain our family to anybody in a long time.
Our son has been in the same daycare/preschool for nearly five years and, outside of a passing comment, we rarely have to out ourselves anymore. But this year is kindergarten. New school, new teachers, new parents, new kids. It’s all new. And although we live in a fairly progressive town and I know we’re not the only same-sex-headed household, the sense of difference is more palpable than it has been in years.
I haven’t yet experienced any negativity; teachers, parents, and administrators alike seem to roll with it as soon as we disclose and, in fact, it has felt like it might even make us more desirable as friends to some families. But, despite the apparent acceptance, it’s clear that we are not the norm. I imagine it might be different in West Philly or Mt. Airy, but here in Delaware County, the families in the public elementary schools are definitely of the “One-Mom-One-Dad” variety.
I told myself that I would wait a few weeks to let my son settle in before I approached the district with my first concern: the back-to-school forms. On every one, I had to cross out “father” and write in “mother” and while I understand that it’s probably an antiquated state-issued document, there doesn’t seem to be any legitimate reason why it can’t be “parent.” I’m sure other similar things will arise as the year goes on and I will address those too. I am not looking to cause trouble or come barreling in with my big, gay mouth and stir things up, but I do see the need for some education and awareness. Our son has a lot of years ahead of him in this district.
Already, just in the first two weeks, I have outed our family to the parent of a classmate, my son’s kindergarten teacher, his before-school care director, and my co-homeroom mom. That’s four people — with many more undoubtedly to come. My son, while understanding that his family is not like all families, still introduces his parents without shame or anxiety. He has a Mama and a Mommy and figures it’s just as acceptable as any other pairing. At some point though, I expect he will be faced with some pushback when he outs his family to new friends and teachers. There will likely be, at least once, a kid whose expression is more disdain than confusion. An adult whose response is more scorn than curiosity.
As a parent, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I think it’s important to be unapologetically authentic. But on the other hand, I want to protect his tender heart. My hope is that with each passing year, the world at large becomes more accepting, more understanding, and — above all — more intuitive. That the “Muffins with Moms” and “Donuts with Dads” events become “Snacks with Parents” That kids and adults alike ask about family structures instead of assuming. And, at the very least, that school forms become gender-neutral.
by PFP Board Member David D’Amico
Our adoption journey began in the Spring of 2013. We were working with a private agency and could not have been happier with the services they provide to prospective parents and birth families.They helped us feel so energized and excited to raise a child. We soaked up every minute of our adoption journey, attending workshops, practicing swaddles and other techniques, and talking with every parent and prospective parent we met along the way. We asked many questions and read everything we could on adoption, including all the horror stories. We were focused and there was no turning back.
We went through the usual background checks and home studies, which turned out to be more bark than bite. We fully expected someone to walk through our house wearing white gloves checking for dirt, but that wasn’t the case. Our adoption coordinator was so friendly that our meetings often felt like old friends getting together to catch up. At least our house got a much-needed cleaning!
Compiling our profile book, on the other hand, was quite a daunting task. This was our first opportunity to make an impression on potential birth moms, and as far as we were concerned, a great first impression was everything. Luckily, we had just attended a week-long family reunion and had come home with a ton of great pictures with my large family, including lots of pictures with the kids.
Once our book was finished, which included pictures and autobiographies, we entered the pool of prospective parents. This was where the real challenge began – the agonizing wait. We had no choice but to give up our ability to control the process and put our blind faith in the Universe. As time moved on it was nearly impossible to not think about where we were in our adoption journey.
Had our profile been shown yet?
Had we been passed over by any birth moms?
How was our profile being interpreted?
Did we include the right pictures?
A million things ran through our minds and there was no stopping it. But, we were advised to keep busy, so we did. We went out on date nights, slept in, went on spontaneous adventures around the city and did all the selfish things a new parent can no longer do (or at the very least, can only do very infrequently).
Four months of patient waiting had passed when suddenly, we got “the call.” Our adoption coordinator told us that we had been picked! We could not believe it, but deep down I felt that this was truly meant to be and that we were finally going to become dads. During the next two months we built a solid foundation with the woman who picked us. It was truly magical. We instantly clicked with her, and all the pieces seemed to be coming together.
In late March, our son was born as healthy as could be. He has been an absolute miracle in our family. Each day is filled with new learning experiences and challenges, but we are rising to the occasion and doing the best job that we know we can do.
I used to think I knew what busy looked like — and then I became a parent. Each day goes by faster than the one before, and the only thing we can do is try to soak up every minute of every day that we get to spend with our beautiful son. It’s incredible to experience the love that a child brings into your life. It’s truly indescribable but it is real and it grows exponentially. It can make you overcome obstacles and bring you to tears. The night before we took our son home from the hospital, I bawled my eyes out, uncontrollably.
Suddenly, it hit me: I am a dad.
by Robin Matthews
I can tell, just by the amount of time that my kid spends playing Lego, that there is little he prefers doing. Sure, he likes watching Netflix (he’s thankfully backed off the Barney in favor of Clifford, finally) and he’s always up for a rousing game of “Firefighters Rescue”, but given a choice, it’s Lego. Hours and hours and hours of Lego. And I don’t know about your Lego collection, but ours is taking over. He went from a small box of random pieces to nearly every major Lego “City” set sold in stores practically overnight. His Thanksgiving-week birthday following immediately by eight nights of Hanukkah, combined with being an only child yielded an impressive, if overwhelming amount of tiny, nubby plastic bricks swarming our modest little rowhouse.You’d think this would be enough for one little 5-year-old. Alas, it turns out that the only thing he likes more than playing with his own Legos, is playing with someone else’s. The sheer delight in discovering “specialty pieces” that he’s never seen before is matched only by the excitement of recognizing pieces in someone else’s collection that he has in his own. So, imagine his delight in finding out that our local library hosts a monthly “Lego Club” wherein kids are invited to just hang out for a couple of hours with their enormous, donated, hodge-podge Lego collection. Tables lined up in a row, just strewn haphazardly with bricks and minifigures and plates and half-pins and wheels and axles and tiles and…and…and…
Lego Club. Its advent is genius to this mother. Bring your kid somewhere on a weekend where he will sit quietly and play independently (or, occasionally collaboratively with a fellow builder) for two hours? Yes, please. (And — I can’t lie. I kinda love building, too. In fact, we’ve been working on a 6-story free-form Lego structure at our house for weeks and I find myself looking forward to adding to it.)
And what’s better than Lego Club? Why, Queer Lego Club, of course! And thus was born the PFP Lego Club. The Lego table is always a hit at big PFP events like the New Year’s Brunch and the Valentine’s Day Party, so it seemed like a no-brainer. And with the William Way Center generously partnering with us and offering the space, it’s a win-win. Our first PFP Lego Club was last month and we’ll be continuing it on the first Saturday of every month, from 12-2pm. This month, we’ll even be adding board games because — who knew? — April 5th is Table-Top Day. (Really?)
Bring yourself, bring your kids, bring your neighbors and friends. The build is on for April 5th at the William Way (and every first-Saturday thereafter) from 12-2pm. I already know it will be the highlight of our month!