Now and again, Sam and Molly read their son Rory a children’s story. It’s one Sam wrote herself. In it, a girl meets another girl, they dance together and they fall hopelessly in love. “But then they wonder,” says Sam, explaining the story down the phone, “Why it is they’re so sad?" The two girls realise that what they really want is a baby, and so they travel to "the most beautiful place in the world" in order to have one. They arrive in Barcelona, meet a handsome (fertility) doctor, and the story ends, says Sam, with the birth of a boy – “the most loved baby boy in the world.”
Sam tells Rory this bedtime story for a few reasons; to help him understand how he was made, so that she doesn’t have to sit him down at the age of 11 and shock him with the news that his dad is a Spanish man his mums don’t know. She also tells him so that the idea of two women having a child together seems perfectly “normal” in his mind, and so that, if anyone ever says anything hurtful about his parents in the future, he’ll feel loved enough and secure enough to deal with it... or so, at least, she hopes.
Since 2002, same-sex couples in the UK have legally held the right to adopt a child, allowing both people in a same-sex relationship to have their names sit on an adoption certificate. It’s only since 2009
however – a measly seven years ago – that parents of the same sex can both be named on a child’s birth certificate. If they go through a licensed UK fertility clinic, they don’t actually have to be married or in a civil partnership to qualify as a child’s legal parents – the birth mother can choose who is to be put on the birth certificate as second parent.
This choice technically gives same-sex couples an equal footing to heterosexual couples when it comes to having children. The reality, however, is that while same-sex couples in the UK might enjoy legal equality today – the right to marry, co-parent and adopt – their lived experience of bringing up kids in a same-sex household will not always feel
equal. This can start right from conception, since two women or men cannot biologically have a child together (yet
), and manifest in expensive fertility treatment, encounters with homophobic healthcare professionals, and difficulties finding a sperm donor or surrogate.