The Queer Parent’s Primer, New Harbinger Publications, isn’t so much about navigating the straight world, as it is about navigating queer parenting – with some excellent advice on the legal, spiritual and social implications of becoming a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender primary parent, co-parent, or extended family member.
There is advice on the best way to “come out” to a child, what to expect right after the child’s birth, and how to respond to that well meaning commentator on the grocery store check out line.
This is an important book in our time of groundbreaking technological and social change.
How do you clarify the role of a sperm or egg donor? How do you choose a last name when there are more than two primary parents?
Just how much respect should be accorded the bond between the birth mother and “your” baby? (A lot.)
Stephanie A. Brill, renowned Berkeley-based midwife and parenting educator, addresses these issues and more.
With a foreward by Kate Kendall, Esq., Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Queer Parent’s Primer suggests common sense language, action, and legal solutions to minimize the unique pain, discrimination, and injustice that queer families too often experience.
Even “small” problems can become formidable. What are the neighbors going to think when the baby shrieks at 2 a.m.? And what will they do when they discover that the whole family slept in the same bed last night?
In America, in 2001, queer non-biological non-adoptive parents can lose custody of the child they’ve loved, supported, and nurtured since birth with less effort than it takes to close a screen door.
Brill stresses the importance of parents honoring their non-adoptive, non-biological, partners’ parental roles – despite our legal system which doesn’t generally recognize such connections. Brill offers exercises devoted to increasing cooperation and mutual understanding – along with the advice that every parent evaluate every issue while asking: “What’s in the best interests of my child?”
Brill describes this as walking a path of love and a path of pride.
Superb examples demonstrate the value of patience, maturity, and good will in resolving dilemmas.
How soon should the gay, male, partnered, co-parents of a newborn expect regular overnights with their new baby – when this requires the baby to be away from the lesbian co-parent who is still breast-feeding him or her every hour and a half?
What happens when the day care plans fall apart? What if people at the child’s school are homophobic?
How do multiple partners make religious decisions? And what to do when romantic relationships stumble? (Brill recommends new parents wait a year before making permanent relationship decisions.)
Being a competent parent can be satisfying, grotesquely beautiful, and “normal” for anyone. There’s an urgent need for the wisdom offered in the Queer Parent’s Primer, which can bring dreams to fruition – and joy to many.
Sari Friedman, whose short fiction and poetry appears in various literary magazines and anthologies, teaches writing at Vista, Laney, and Merritt colleges, and at the College of Alameda.