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Families of all configurations

Today, a friend told me, "It's twin Tuesday."  Almost every Tuesday, he and his wife go and spend time with the twins who were born of his sperm, which he donated to a friend so that she and her partner could be mamas.  They never imagined to be this close to one another, to be spending so much time together and to even be taking family vacations together, but they are.  And, it feels right.

We have other friends, also a two-mama family, each of whom bore a child.  Each of the donors remained active in the kids' lives.  "Dad-nors" as they were called.  Again, the extended family unit could not feel more right, with dad-nors joining in on birthday celebrations every year.

Good friends recently became two papas to a 7-month old boy, and they celebrate the day of each month that represents the day that they "got" (adopted) him.  Having had wanted to be papas for a while, they couldn't be happier that it is all smoothly falling into place.

Our families are not restricted to a mama, a papa, and child(ren).  We are so much more than that, with all sorts of definitions that are encompassed by "papa" and "mama", with more than one active mama or papa in any given life.  I would love to hear you share your own experiences with families of all configurations, and celebrate the diversity of our urbanMamas families.


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Ahh... what a sweet post. Our nuclear family configuration looks pretty conventional at first sight - mom, dad, 2-year-old girl - but scratch the surface and we've got something fairly unusual going on. Mom and Dad have been in an open relationship since they got together, and 2.5 years ago Mom - whoops! - got pregnant by a lover with whom she'd never intended to have kids. Wanting to coparent with her partner (now husband) she asked that the biological dad be involved in his child's life but allow her partner to adopt the baby and be the legal and practical father.

To make a very, very long story short, that's how it is now. We're married and are both legally the parents of our baby girl, we're in friendly contact with her biological dad and his family, and our daughter knows that she has two daddies - even though her version of "two daddies" aren't daddies who live together in partnership.

Interesting that you would post this--I was talking with a mama friend a couple of nights ago whose daughter will start college next year. They are completing financial aid forms, and the forms don't offer an easy way (or any way) to address their family configuration. This mama is truly a single mama--anonymous donor and no other parent has been involved in the upbringing of the daughter. Very frustrating!

Sometimes I think so much emphasis is put on "alternative families" that we lose focus on how wonderful and beneficial the traditional family arrangement is. Those alternative families are not necessarily any more exciting or "cooler" than a traditional family with a mother and a father,though it may seem trendier. I don't know many alternative families like you mentioned but I know plenty of fantabulous mom-dad families.

Anonmom, seriously, traditional families have always been the focus of mainstream media, marketing, literature, etc. And the existence of cool "alternative" families doesn't diminish the coolness of the traditional ones. In fact, upon reading this, I thought to myself that this was the first post on UM in a long time to bring up non-traditional configurations, and this is Portland! I'm curious where you witness this perceived emphasis on "alternative families".

I'm really grateful to be raising my two kids in an environment where there is such variety and families of all types tell their stories. Although I'm in a traditional marriage, I have no idea who my son and daughter will love and how they will form their own families one day. I want them to have the freedom to follow their hearts. It's important to me that they know all types of folks in all types of loving relationships.

Our family has a traditional configuration - mom, dad and three kids. But, we have lots of friends that have same sex partners and kids. My kids think it's just as "normal" to have two moms or two dads as it is to have a mom and a dad.

We have had lots of open discussions about that from the time my kids were 3 and first encountered the mom-mom and dad-dad configurations with friends in their preschool. Over the past three years, they've asked some really insightful and really challenging questions, which we've answered openly and in an age appropriate way.

These are things I never would have dreamed of asking my own parents, and it is nice to establish that ability for open and honest dialogue from a young age. I am thankful we live here because we have made it clear that to us, it doesn't matter - two moms, two dads, divorced, traditional whatever... what matters is the concept of "family" - unconditional love, trust and acceptance.

And whatever choices my children make when they get older on that front is fine with me as long as they are happy - and they already know that.

I'm with anonmom... different is not better, cooler or more exciting. My kids have a plain mommy-daddy household and jeepers.. we're still on our first marriage, too. Yes, this might make my kids a little "square" but that's what I was going for.

It's wonderful that we are all free to love whomever and whenever. But is that best for the children? I'm not so sure.

Wow - there's a lot of defensiveness here that reeks of privilege. Traditional families are not discriminated against or oppressed, so stop acting so hurt and recognize that celebrating other family structures does not diminish your own. The world is built for you and your family structure is celebrated all over the place - let one freaking post slide that is focused on something other than you. I'm saying this as someone in a fairly traditional family - 1 mom, 1 dad, 1 kid. I hope my son is able to see that our family is not any better nor worse than any others.

thanks for the nod, urbanmamas!!

wouldn't say my non-traditional family is cooler or more exciting than another. i don't think i'm carrying any kind of persecution complex when i notice that families like mine don't show up a lot in children's books, tv shows or even here on my favorite blog. while visibility isn't a priority for me, it's probably nice for my kids (who are thriving be any measure, by the way) to sometimes see reference to families that aren't 1 mom, 1 dad, nuclear units. so i appreciate the mention that there all kinds of families. i appreciate the celebration of the many ways we live our lives and raise our kids. i love this place.

There are plenty of rotten, dysfunctional, abusive "traditional" families.

As for the topic this came up for us not long ago when my husband and I were working on a will. We were advised we needed to choose someone to raise our kids should we both die (terrible thought) anyway, we had the choice of several family members and ended up choosing my aunt and her partner over the other traditional choices which caused huge friction in the family. One male family member said he'd take them to court before he'd allow lesbians to raise the boys ( didn't care about the girl,lol) and it was ugly. I am amazed at how bigoted some people remain. My aunt and her partner raised four daughters who are some of the most wonderful, educated and happy women you'll ever meet.

Yes to celebrating diversity as in same gender parents. But celebrating other non standard families, such as divorced parents and single parents? It is a little odd to celebrate that. People don't plan to end up being divorced or a single parent. I do celebrate the fact we have divorce laws and nobody has to stay with an abusive spouse but I do not celebrate the fact that we have children growing up without two adults in their household.

Interesting article about "alternative families".

Great and helpful article that you have been sharing here.

Great article. Will pass it on. And I say we do celebrate anyone doing the hard work of parenting.

I recently came across this site and read a letter from an adopted son to his two dads. It was very sweet:

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