27 July 2018 – Damien, Cris and Fletcher
Breaking Barriers by Cris Stevens-Todd
My husband & I live in Shepparton, Victoria, with our 4 month old daughter, Fletcher. We are definitely not the first same sex couple in town to have children but the only male same sex couple that I know of currently living here.
Fletcher’s arrival into this world was highly anticipated due to our surrogacy journey being so public over a number of years. We were excited and on the other side of the world in Hamilton, Canada, that we shared a family picture of the three of us after Fletcher was born in our local papers to announce her birth (like any other couple does back at home). Sure, we made a Facebook post too, but for many people like my grandparents who are in their 80s, some wouldn’t get the news Fletcher was born or see a picture any other way than our local newspaper.
It wasn’t long after it was released that our friends started tagging us in a Facebook post from a page (that won’t be named) that had posted our picture with hateful comments. I wasn’t shocked or surprised – after all, this is country living where noone should dare to be different(!)
What did shock me were the reactions from people once we returned home who had seen either the post, us in the paper or my husband’s editorial in response to the Facebook post and hateful comments regarding our family, & our beautiful innocent daughter – when these are meant to be the most joyful moments of our lives.
The reactions from the public were the complete opposite of the hateful Facebook post – we would be stopped getting in and out of the car, having lunch, at the supermarket – to congratulate us. This article that was meant to tear us down actually brought more love and acceptance our way with people wanting to go out of their way to say, “don’t listen to that, you guys are amazing and you can see the love from the other side of the room”.
Four months later we still need to add extra time when we go out because we are still stopped on the streets, people wanting to say hello and, “how is Fletcher going?” I joke that she is “the people’s baby” due to the outpouring of love we have received; and the gifts are still coming in…
Fletcher is already one of the most well-known children living in the Goulburn Valley, rubbing shoulders with the Mayor of Shepparton and the Commissioner of Gender & Sexuality.
It’s not about us anymore – everyone wants Fletcher. We come second – but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
17 May 2018 – Catherine, Claire and Ettie
My name is Catherine, I am gestational mother to an eleven month old baby Ettie and partner to Claire. I’m about to start my birth and post-partum doula training to become a birth worker and am one of the newly appointed committee members to Rainbow Families Victoria. I do website work for RFV and am charged with the running of this blog. I am originally from Brisbane and spent most of my childhood in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. I moved to Victoria about seven years ago and currently call Fairfield home. I am new to this family business, so mind my fresh musings.
I write this, the morning its due – realising, once again I am a creature of habit. Claire, Ettie and I just had our first Mother’s Day together, in the midst of chaos and boxes. We were moving house the next day and were slowly moving smaller things before our beloved volunteers would arrive the next morning to lift couches. What used to take an hour, takes about three with an eleven month old in tow, we found this out the hard way. My mum makes sure to tell me on the phone, ‘you’re doing a great job’.
Mother’s day always appeared to me from the outside as an excuse for a fire sale on fluffy night gowns, slippers and perfume that had been piling up in stock rooms and dusting up shelves since Christmas. My appreciation and gratitude for my own mother aside, I was yet to understand what it means to be a parent. It is agonizing, terrifying and magnificent all in the same minute. You have to give up all control and advice you didn’t take seriously before smacks you in the face as you realize the basis of this whole experience is pretty universal.
So, to the mothers and parents out there – who may, or may not have received fluffy slippers just in time for winter.
You’re doing a great job.
Until next time, Catherine.
A photo of us from a few months ago when our house was neat, taken by the wonderful Jessica Miller.
Welcome to Rainbow Voices
It can often be a huge relief to finally feel like someone else out there is going through a similar journey to you. For most of us in rainbow families, and especially anyone thinking of starting a family, there aren’t a lot of places you can go to ask a burning question, rule books to help you with the tricky situations that pop up when you are parenting or guides to help you respond to an awkward moment with a family member or service provider. For lots of us, hearing from someone who was at a planning or parenting stage just ahead of where you are can be amazing and very helpful! We hope this blog can be that place where these helpful conversations can start.
Our aim is to amplify the voices of diverse members of rainbow families across Victoria. By sharing our personal stories we hope to break down some of the barriers we face when we start imagining, creating or managing our day-to-day lives with our new families.
Each month we will welcome a new guest blogger who will share an interesting moment from their lives – thoughts on planning to be a parent, being a parent or just “a day in the life of” observation. You might share an encounter with a service provider and how you responded to it, a moment with a family member that was surprising or an interesting encounter with a curious child. You might be a donor, co-parent, sole parent, trans parent, fostering or exploring adoption or a step parent, parenting teenagers or toddlers. We would love to hear from you and we are sure there are others who would too!
ANYONE CAN BLOG! You do not have to be a professional writer to be a blogger – just willing to share your life publicly, to be frank, fearless or funny or open to starting a discussion on something you’ve been thinking about.
If you are interested in blogging with us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Little Rainbows is a youth blog direct from the hearts and minds of the younger components of our diverse and wonderful families. Stay tuned!