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Mommy Talk: Raising Children in a Same Sex Marriage

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"Mommy Talk" is series of interviews between ESSENCE's own ChicBusyMom and everyday mothers doing extraordinary things. Meet Donyell Thompson, an attorney who is raising her adorable son along with her wife, Krista.

CHIC BUSY MOM: What do you both do for a living?

DONYELL THOMPSON: Krista is a Special Education Preschool Teacher. I am an Attorney.

CHIC BUSY MOM: How many children do you have?

DONYELL THOMPSON: We have one son, who is a year old. We expect to expand our family within the next year or so.

CHIC BUSY MOM: Can you share how you decided to have children (gave birth, adopted, had a surrogacy or another option)?

DONYELL THOMPSON: Both Krista and I were raised in a traditional two-parent household with siblings. When we decided to get married, we both knew that our family would include children since we both loved children and could not imagine our life without any.

CHIC BUSY MOM: Do you feel the need to prepare your kids about how to deal with ‘family structure’ questions from their peers?

DONYELL THOMPSON: We do feel it is necessary to provide our son with the language and knowledge to respond to questions from other adults and peers about his family structure. We also feel that it is necessary to provide him with the same language and knowledge to deal with questions pertaining to his cultural identity in a white dominated society. As an African American male, we know that our son will face challenges, especially since he is being raised by two women, so it is our responsibility to raise him with the ability to answer questions about his race and family structure in a positive manner.

CHIC BUSY MOM: When looking at schools and neighborhoods do you look for a school that has more diverse families and ones that teach inclusion?

DONYELL THOMPSON: Our son currently goes to preschool. We chose this school because of the diversity of the school's student body and because there were other children of same sex parents that attended the school. It is important for us that our son be in an environment that is open and accepting of our family structure.

CHIC BUSY MOM: What’s the biggest misconception you’d like to shed light on about same-sex parenting?

DONYELL THOMPSON: That our sexuality plays a factor in our ability to parent. We do not parent any differently than any other newly married heterosexual couple. We have the same worries and concerns about our son's future. We perform the same household duties and chores. We barter over who will take off a day when our son is sick. We worry about the pesticides and hormones in our son's food so we make organic choices for him. The reality is that our life is just as mundane as heterosexuals who are parenting. Of course, we have additional challenges and stressors that heterosexuals do not have because of the different treatment of gays and lesbians in this country, which requires us to take additional steps to protect our family unit.

ECHIC BUSY MOM: What are the three biggest reward of being a mother?

DONYELL THOMPSON: Observing our son's first accomplishments, i.e. turning over, standing or saying 'Mama.' What's also rewarding is when we receive compliments from friends, family and strangers for our son's well-mannered behavior and when he transitions easily to friends and family. The biggest reward is having the opportunity to experience life again through his eyes, i.e. going to the zoo for the first time, celebrating birthdays, creating and recreating new traditions from our childhood with our son.

CHIC BUSY MOM: What has been the biggest challenge for you both as a mother?

DONYELL THOMPSON: The biggest challenge is defining what our roles as mothers will be in our son's life. Neither Krista nor I are attempting to fill the void that exists because our son has no father. We are two women who are co-parenting. As the gestational mother, I had to adjust my desire to come to our son's aid when he cried and allow for Krista, the non-gestational mother, to build a maternal bond with our son. One way that we accomplished this goal was by splitting our parental leave. I took the first three months and Krista stayed home with our son for the last two months prior to him starting daycare. In addition, when I was on maternity leave, I would breastfeed during the day while Krista would do the evening feedings and bedtime routines. Now, our son has moments when he prefers one of us over the other but that is because we each serve different needs for him.

CHIC BUSY MOM: What are your guilty pleasures?

DONYELL THOMPSON: Krista's guilty pleasure is chocolate chip cookies. My guilty pleasure is finding bargains. I hate paying full price when I can easily find my desired items at a discount, whether it is a preferred toy for our son or theater tickets. Also, since our son's birth, I have refused to pay for items that I can easily make at home. We make our own baby wipes, detergent, deodorant, etc.

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Filed Under: Mommy Den