Having a child is a wonderful thing, no matter how you get there.
But when you’re queer, the realisation that you’re not going to have a baby in the ‘traditional’ way (ie having sex with your partner, one of you getting pregnant, and popping out a kid) can feel like a sort of loss.
Of course, you’re going to love a child regardless of whether they’re genetically related to you or whether you carried them in the womb.
But it’s natural to need some time to accept and process the feelings around this.
How do we do that?
Acknowledge your feelings and understand where they come from
You feel a bit of a loss not just because you’re missing out on certain experiences – being pregnant, going through the scans, seeing if your baby has got your nose, for example – but because you’re letting go of an idea that you may have subconsciously held on to for years.
‘We grew up with various stories and fairy tales about heterosexual monogamous relationships and the princesses being rescued by prince charmings,’ Counselling Directory member Melissa Sedmak tells Metro.co.uk. ‘It is likely that most of us believed in those tales to some extent, and some even well into adulthood.
‘The same goes for the “traditional” way of having children, where the main characters are a woman – damsel in distress, and a man – prince charming, who got together, and lived happily ever after – had a happy family.
‘This is what we call an introject, something we took on board from others or from the society, and accepted as our own truth without much examination.
‘If we then find ourselves in a relationship where this introject does not fit, we need to dissect this “truth” and see how true it really is for us.
‘The recognition that the “traditional” way to have children is not going to happen involves letting go of the introject – the fairy tale – and often the associated grieving process.’
Accept that grief is normal
It’s okay to feel sad about this loss – you’re not a failure of an LGBTQ+ person for having some small part of you that longs for the heterosexual experience of becoming a parent.
Be prepared to go through the stages of grief.
‘After being in denial, feeling angry, trying to bargain (with fate/God), feeling depressed, the final stage of this theory is acceptance,’ says Melissa.
Talk to your partner about your feelings, or, if you’re going it solo, reach out to friends, family, or a professional.
Keeping your emotions buttoned up and swallowed down isn’t healthy. We know it might feel uncomfortable to bring up negative emotions in an ostensibly happy time, but it’s worth doing so to have a vent and seek support – a problem shared is a problem halved, after all.
‘Grief is a normal part of life,’ Melissa notes. ‘We learn to deal with it from young age.
‘We need a supportive environment, and time to be with ourselves and our grief.
‘Talking with close friends and family, with those who are in a similar situation, and a counsellor would help, as long as the support network is queer-affirming.’
Have faith in the future you’re creating
Worried that your ability to parent will be affected by you not carrying the baby or being genetically related to them? This is a common fear, but it’s not at all the reality.
‘I have spoken with some who grew a family that is not genetically theirs, and this concern fades away once the child is with them,’ says Melissa. ‘And there are many examples of this bonding regardless of whether the person is queer or not: step-parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, those who brought children into the world with the help of donor eggs or donor sperm.
‘Being a parent requires so many different skills, and being genetically connected to a child is not a determinant of those skills.’
Remember this: the ‘traditional’ way of starting a family isn’t always a magical, perfect dream – and just as parents who go through a natural pregnancy have no guarantee of the perfect child and the perfect journey, going through the non-traditional route doesn’t destine you to have a family that’s in any way ‘lesser’.
You can become a parent in all sorts of ways – the most important ingredient in the recipe is love.
Metro.co.uk celebrates 50 years of Pride
This year marks 50 years of Pride, so it seems only fitting that Metro.co.uk goes above and beyond in our ongoing LGBTQ+ support, through a wealth of content that not only celebrates all things Pride, but also share stories, take time to reflect and raises awareness for the community this Pride Month.
And we’ve got some great names on board to help us, too. From a list of famous guest editors taking over the site for a week that includes Rob Rinder, Nicola Adams, Peter Tatchell, Kimberly Hart-Simpson, John Whaite, Anna Richardson and Dr Ranj, we’ll also have the likes Sir Ian McKellen and Drag Race stars The Vivienne, Lawrence Chaney and Tia Kofi offering their insights.
During Pride Month, which runs from 1 – 30 June, Metro.co.uk will also be supporting Kyiv Pride, a Ukrainian charity forced to work harder than ever to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community during times of conflict. To find out more about their work, and what you can do to support them, click here.