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Di and Liz: smoother sailing

Tue 9 Jul 2013 In: True Stories View at NDHA

After a long battle to conceive their beautiful twins, things were much smoother after the Harding family doubled in size. The couple look back on their parenthood experience so far, and share a few words of advice! When we left Di and Liz’s story, they had just welcomed newborns Indigo and Glen, after a long struggle to get pregnant. Read Di and Liz's rough road to motherhood here The Harding family Support The couple became part of an ante-natal coffee group, which is something all new parents are assigned to. “We had some anxieties about how we would fit into the group … it seemed quite a conservative group of people. But they ended up being good friends. And it was a really enjoyable group to be in. We were the only lesbian couple, but it wasn’t a big deal at all,” Liz says. The Hardings say it was a great source of support and they made good friendships, staying in the group till the twins were about five. “Every year there was a combined birthday party for all 12 kids,” Di shares. “It was great.” The couple also joined Rainbow Families, as they wanted to be able to connect with other two mother families, and for their children to spend time with other kids who had two mothers. “We didn’t know how it was going to be for them when they got older. So a lot of their friends to start off with had two mothers, and they didn’t think it was anything weird or different.” The couple got involved with the local pre-school, with Liz finding that “as long as you were friendly and didn’t have a chip on your shoulder or anything like that then…” Di cuts in “people accepted you for who you were.” ‘What do they call you?’ Liz thinks that when you have children people see the similarities more than the differences, because you’ve got a lot more in common. Some people asked questions, like what the kids called them, which for the Hardings was “mummy and mama”, something which has evolved sometimes into “mum” as the twins got older. “Muuum …” Di bellows in a mocking impression. “No not you mummy, I want mamma!” Now teenagers, Liz says they are a bit old to go around saying ‘mummy’, “so they call us mum and it just sort of works out. And occasionally they might say ‘mum Liz’, or ‘mum Di’. Or ‘the other mum’ if the wrong one answers.” The legal stuff When it comes to legalities, the only way Di could have a legal relationship with the twins was by becoming their legal guardian, something she says was a drawn out and involved process. “The children had to have their own separate social workers and we had to have social workers and have interviews and it had to go before a judge. And that was the only option open to us. With the marriage equality bill that’s all changed. You don’t have to go to all those lengths anymore, if you get married.” The other option was for Di to adopt the children, but then Liz would have to give up her right to them. The twins’ dad Frank, a good friend of the couple’s, showed lots of interest in Glen and Indigo right from when they were born. “He was very supportive of us and sort of became an uncle for the kids, and a mentor for them. When the kids were about one, because he’d been so supportive, we sort of promoted him to ‘daddy status’ really. And so the kids have had two mums and a dad the whole way through really.” It wasn’t so much about giving the kids a male role model, more that he was just around and wanted to part of the picture. “So he is sort of part of the family too.” How was it for the kids? When it comes to the realities of growing up with lesbian mums, Liz says they have always been straight up with their kids. Primary school wasn’t an issue, but at intermediate age things changed a little. “They have had some people who have been mean to them because they have two mums. But generally they’ve just dealt with that themselves. But they have lost friendships over it, and that’s sad,” Liz says. “But they’ve also had really good friendships. Both of them feel it’s important to be themselves and they never wanted to pretend they were anybody that they weren’t. So we’re quite proud of them for that.” Liz thinks some kids have even been a little jealous of the twins for having two mums! Advice? As for advice for prospective parents, Di says as much as you make contracts and plans before they are born, things change when children arrive and you think differently. “Don’t make any hard and fast rules, because they don’t work.” Liz says it is good to think about the issues that might come up, but says you can’t really document how it will all go. When it comes to the logistics, Liz puts her doctor hat on: “A lot of people have their children at home now, I don’t think you need to use a fertility clinic. For a while I ran a clinic through Family Planning, helping couples and donors prepare so that they could start a family at home. I think that works really well. You just have to be careful about making sure the donor isn’t at risk of having contracted HIV or anything like that. It just depends on the lifestyle of the donor really. There are plenty of guys out there who aren’t putting themselves at risk.” As for all the arguments spouted against gay parents, the couple is clearly not even bothered about haters and critics. “We’re not the first to be doing this at all,” Liz points out, with Di adding they had just met a lesbian mother who now has grandchildren. “When our kids started school, eight other kids started at that school, that year, with lesbian mothers!”       Jacqui Stanford - 9th July 2013

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Tuesday, 9th July 2013 - 9:42am

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