Saturday, August 09, 2008
How important is consanguinity to family?
A woman at the Sutton Park fete last weekend started talking to me about her IVF kids. She was straight, but they'd used donor sperm as her husband's swimmers didn't swim.
So now I'm thinking about the layers of closetedness available to us and the importance of blood ties. For her and her husband, no one will question that they are a family. Man, woman, two children; he's obviously involved, loves them all - they must be a family.
Although Lovergirl is in exactly the same position - involved in the conception and birth, totally there for the children, absolutely considers them hers - we don't have that layer of assumption open to us. People ask, 'Who gave birth to the children?' So far we usually tell people. Friends of ours have a standard response, 'We don't think that question is relevant to our family'! They say they would prefer people didn't know who the biological mother is, to avoid setting up a 'real mother/other mother' hierarchy. I haven't been game to try that one yet but I see the appeal. I've told L that next time someone asks, we need to say that she carried them, just so she can see whether it feels any different to be assumed the birth mother (and I can see what it's like to be assumed the non-birth mother). When she is out with the children by herself of course, people assume she is the birth mother - and it becomes less of an issue as they get older, maybe, as the birth story isn't so prominent.
We have to create a family that relies on neither blood nor legal ties. I feel our little family is very strong - maybe even because it is solely reliant on our commitment, rather than resting on implicit roles.
But it galls me that some people don't think of us as a 'real' family.