Family One: Child one aged 5 born via IVF with known donor when mother was single: child 2 aged 3 born via home insemination with known donor (different donor to child number 1) while mother was in relationship with current same-sex partner. Both children see their donor infrequently, but both know them as ‘Daddy’.
Family Two: Three children born to Mother One during a previous heterosexual relationship. Two children born to Mother Two in a previous heterosexual relationship. Mother One meets Mother Two and they form a relationship and so now have five children living with them. Mother Two co-parents with her ex-husband and Mother One. Mother One’s children no longer have contact with her father.
Family Three: Child one born to Father One in a previous heterosexual relationship. Father One now lives alone but co-parents Child One with his ex-heterosexual partner, his ex-heterosexual partner’s new heterosexual partner, and Father One’s new same-sex partner who is thinking of moving in with Father One sometime soon.
Family Four: Child One born to the sister of Mother One but now lives full time with Mother One and Mother One’s same-sex partner, who we shall call Mother Two. Mother One, Mother Two and Mother One’s sister all co-parent Child One. Child Two was carried by Mother Two and conceived during Mother One and Mother Two’s relationship via artificial insemination with an unknown donor.
Family Five: Child One and Two both conceived via commercial surrogacy in the USA while Father One and Two were in a relationship. Both fathers co-parent equally and Child One and Child Two see their grandparents, who live close by, every second day.
I realise there is something vaguely offensive about reducing the complexity of family lives to a short paragraph, let alone trying to put these paragraphs into neat categories. But the effort of trying to do this certainly brings home the point that same-sex parented families are a diverse lot. Although the majority of families in the Work, Love, Play study could fit into a nuclear-ish mould (two primary parents caring for children conceived within the relationship), there are many variations within this: families where one partner is the biological parent of all the children, families where both partner’s have carried or conceived a child, families where one mother has carried the children using her partner’s eggs, families where the children have a known donor/father involved with in lives (and those who don’t and those who have different donor/fathers for each child), families who have one child and families who have five.