2015familyday403How do you know you’ve done a good thing as a parent?  Well, one indicator is when your adult son, who just became a father himself, tells you that he wants to create a group of parents with kids his daughter’s age.

“You know, like you all did, Mom.”

These days, he and his wife have the convenience of the Meet Up site to aid them in their search.  In 1985 in Boston, we had Lesbians Choosing Children, a homegrown group that met at the Women’s Center.  It was from that group that I found the lesbian moms who would become my closest friends, really my chosen family, as we all proceeded to raise our children—separately and together—over the next 30 years.

We’d heard this could be done.  Lesbians in San Francisco had started to have children a few years before.  Each of us knew at least one family where the kids weren’t the product of someone’s past heterosexual relationship.  We sought out these parents so we could learn which doctors, which midwives, which clinics, or which adoption agencies would accept us.

If you’re sensing a bit of an underground tone to all this, you’re not off base.  In 1985, two young children were summarily removed from a foster home in Boston because the parents, who’d been pre-approved, were gay men.  The story was all over the papers and hardly any politicians or state government officials sided with us.  So, yes, back in 1985, there was still some degree of risk and quite a lot of stigma attached to the whole notion of lesbians having and raising children.

But we did it anyway because we wanted kids and we all believed we had a lot to offer.  And we made the conscious decision, year after year, until these kids were nearly in college, not to do it alone.

First, there was the babysitting co-op.  Each month a couple got a Saturday night to themselves because their child was sleeping over another family’s house.  We all had a chart up on our refrigerators; which nights you took a child and which nights you brought yours to someone else.

Then, there were rituals.  Christmas Day dinners.  Marching together at Pride with a barbecue at someone’s house right after.

And then there was family camp.  A week away in Maine for about 10 families, with counselors and kitchen help hired, and yet another chart to divide up the cooking, plus trips to the Union Fair and the Rockland Lobster Festival.  Oh, and to Port Clyde for ice cream.

Even though our kids went to different schools and different summer camps, they always knew they weren’t alone, that there were other kids with lesbian moms.  They had a support system just as we did.

These were the women I could come to with anything.  I didn’t have to pretend that my kids were perfect.  I could confide my worries.  I could seek help from them.  There was no posturing and no one-upmanship.  We celebrated each of our achievements and supported one another through the difficulties, including our own relationship breakups and the deaths of our parents.

This is what I wish for my adult son and for every parent.  But I especially wish this for every queer parent.  Don’t isolate yourselves.  Find one another and create your own rituals, your own memories.

The notion that “it takes a village” has become a bit hackneyed by now.  But I’ll tell you, I’m eternally grateful for the little village my friends and I created for ourselves and for our amazing, now grown-up kids.  Among us we’ve produced quite a diverse and wonderful group of Millennials, including an attorney, a farmer, two artists, a member of the foreign service, an engineer, a political consultant and a photo editor for a major TV network.  Not too shabby for The (Lesbian) Village People.