“Many lesbians saved my life!”
Before I met Mum and Sue, Social Services hadn’t talked to me about going to be adopted by lesbians (I was eight years old then). But I had already told them I didn’t want a dad...
I had had bad experiences with my own dad and didn’t want another one. I also had lived with two different families who were going to adopt me, but neither of them worked out, and they both had a mum and dad and another child in the family. So, I felt safe with two mums. It wasn’t exactly two mums: my mum was Lynn and Sue wasn’t the same as a mum — though she wasn’t a dad either, so we eventually worked out that I called her my co-parent.
Anyway, before we met, they sent me a book with pictures about their family and I could see who they were, and all the cats, and where they lived. I thought, ‘Yeah, I really want to go and live there’. I still have the book; I used to love looking at it. I wouldn’t have known what a lesbian was, but Mum says that when I first looked around the house and saw her big bed, I asked, ‘Who do you sleep with?’.
Mostly I just really wanted to get out of foster care: I had been in care one way or another since I was four and I wasn’t happy. I still had my birth mum who I saw sometimes — she died after I was adopted. But there was a court case where she tried to stop the adoption and I was angry about that because I really wanted to be adopted. I don’t think I knew at the time that the case was about Lynn and Sue being lesbians; they didn’t tell me everything then. But we won the case and the adoption went ahead. To me, it was no big deal that they were lesbians: it’s never been a big problem.
At school, when I was about ten, there was one time when another kid said something about my mum being a lesbian, and I said she wasn’t. When I told my mum about it she asked me why I had said that and I replied, ‘Because you aren’t sleeping with anyone’. She explained about being a lesbian to me then, and that she was still one even if she wasn't having a relationship at the time. Even though she and Sue stopped being together in that way, Sue has always lived with or near us and has stayed my co-parent.
Later on, when I met another girl who had a lesbian mother, we compared notes. She wasn’t adopted, but we thought that there were lots of similar things about our mums: for example, they all seem to have Everything but the Girl, Massive Attack and Tracey Chapman records somewhere in their collection — though her mum had, at that time, a number one skinhead haircut and wore axes in her ears, etc., and my mum wasn’t like that. I suppose it would have been harder for me if she had been. Anyway, I think it drew us together, my friend and I, and we’ve stayed close friends.
When my friends came round, they might ask, and I never had a problem saying that she was a lesbian, although I never talked about it much. But if you were just in the street or something you wouldn’t really know — although she never shaved her legs and sometimes didn’t wear a bra.
Another girl came up to me at secondary school and said, ‘Your mum is like mine’. But there are lots of people with easygoing, hippy views where we live, and really no-one is that bothered. If friends asked me why I had two mums, I’d say, ‘Because I didn’t want a dad’.
I loved having lots of aunties. We didn’t have many men around, but I had lots of my mum’s friends and could pick who I wanted to be close to. Now that I am an adult, there are men in my life and I do have relationships with them. But I felt that, in growing up, I was allowed to be who I wanted to be. I never felt I had to be like my mum or a lesbian. I had a safe place in which to grow up into me. I felt loved and wanted. My mate feels the same and we both think that we have lots of friends who are girls too, that that’s important to us. And sometimes we go to the women’s disco even though we aren’t lesbians. Also, perhaps having been brought up by strong feminist women means that we are good at spotting crap in men and we won’t put up with it. And we know more about women’s rights.
What was important was that my mum was a good mum to me. She is a great mum and we just fitted right away, we bonded. I don’t think that there is any problem with having a lesbian mum. I was going to start writing my autobiography and I thought of calling it Many lesbians saved my life. It’s true.
Jennie (age 20)
Originally published in the Be My Parent newspaper in May 2009.
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Last updated: 30 April 10