This June we’re celebrating Pride Month and chatting to a couple of lovely mums about raising their son as same-sex parents.
Here at Sassy Mama, we know that families, like individuals, come in all shapes and sizes. The stereotype of the Mum, Dad and two perfect kids has long gone out the window! In honour of Pride Month, we’re chatting to Katie and Chrissy, members of the LGBTQI+ community, and same-sex parents to a gorgeous little boy (seriously, those blonde curls!). They kindly shared their pregnancy journey as well as some of the challenges faced along the way.
And, if you’re looking for more great Pride Month content, check out what Sassy Hong Kong has to offer. There are our favourite LGBTQI+ shows to watch on Netflix as well as books you can read to become a better ally to the community (and a great way to talk inclusivity with your teens!).
Did you always know you wanted to have kids?
We have both always wanted children so it was a very easy decision to start the ball rolling and research how to make it happen once we reached that particular time in our relationship. Our son was born in 2019.
What is the process of starting a family like in Hong Kong?
We decided we wanted to go down the route of trying for a biological child which meant we needed a donor and assistance in becoming pregnant. You can only be considered for IVF in Hong Kong if you are legally married however as our marriage is not recognised in Hong Kong, we didn’t even look into it here.
We researched IVF clinics and donor clinics in the UK, New Zealand and Australia before choosing the UK. Each of these countries has similar rules and regulations around IVF and donor sperm which are aligned with our belief system (limited live births, the donors aren’t paid and our child is able to contact the donor if so desired once he is 18 years old). As it turns out the UK was the most accessible and fitted in with our plans at the time.
Interestingly, by the time we got a phone call from the NZ clinic saying we were at the top of the list for sperm donation we had already had our son! We took great pleasure in telling the clinic to go ahead and make the next family on the list’s day!
Did you face any challenges along the way?
We went for a mixture of private and public maternity care here in Hong Kong. The private company (Annerley) was excellent and we never had any issues. At the first public hospital appointment, the admin team asks for your HKID card as well as your partner’s.
“When I gave them a copy of Chrissy’s ID card they waved it away and wrote ‘SINGLE’ in large letters across my form.”
At the birth, a relative is allowed with the birthing mother in the public system, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the father, so there were no issues. However, Chrissy was discouraged from having skin to skin with our son as he was whisked away for tests. We’ll never know, but always wonder if that would have been the case if Chrissy was the father.
Are there any legal or paperwork challenges around being a same-sex couple?
The only names allowed on the birth certificate are the birth mother and the father.
“A same-sex partner, even one who is the legal parent, is not allowed on the birth certificate.”
I also had to write out a long statement claiming I had no knowledge of who the ‘father’ was. It was definitely not the quick registration of the birth our heterosexual friends had experienced!
How did you juggle issues like maternity leave?
I took the full maternity leave and Chrissy was given the standard five days “paternity” leave that fathers are granted in Hong Kong. And, yes, it was still called “paternity leave” in the system!
What has been the reaction from other parents, schools or playgroups when they realise you are same-sex parents?
The people we have encountered in Hong Kong have all been quite open-minded even if the systems aren’t. Actually, one day Chrissy was swimming with our son when a stranger said “oh wow – your daughter looks just like you!”. She smiled and thanked her whilst kindly letting her know ‘she’ was in fact our son and actually, Chrissy wasn’t the birth mother. Feeling unnecessarily embarrassed the woman then said “I am so sorry, let’s change the subject. Which part of Australia are you from?” to which she had no choice but to reply “I am from New Zealand”. It was so funny, but she didn’t talk to us again!
Is there a same-sex parenting community or network in Hong Kong?
There is a Facebook group called Rainbow Families of Hong Kong. Unfortunately, meet-ups have been on hold over the last couple of years. We are also part of a WhatsApp group for two mum families. We are lucky in that we have a few friends who are also same-sex families, some with children and some who don’t have children yet. We also have solo parents and adoptive families in our friendship circles who reinforce that all families can look different and ensures our son sees people not sexual preferences.
Your son is three now, has he started to ask questions about why some families have two mums and others don’t?
We have always openly talked about how different families can look and we have a range of those families in our lives. We have a lot of books about different families and about having a sperm donor. It is really important to us that our son sees himself represented in the stories he reads.
“Having different families represented in literature and for children to have access to these books should be a non-negotiable. It’s up to the grown-ups and schools in their lives to provide these.”
If there was anything that Hong Kong could do it would be to do just that, oh and recognise same-sex marriage!
Recommended reading for kids
- We Are Family by Patricia Hegarty
- Stella Brings The Family by Miriam B Schiffer
- Zak’s Safari by Christy Tyner
- Mommy, Mama and Me by Leslea Newman (there is a Daddy, Papa and Me too!)
- It Feels Good To Be Yourself by Theresa Thorn
- The Family Book by Todd Parr
- All About Diversity by Felicity Brooks and Mar Ferrero
If you or someone you know is going through this process and would like to connect with Katie or Chrissy, please reach out via Instagram @mississyb and @ktetch, or contact [email protected], who can put you in touch.