While uploading a video onto YouTube, I saw an old video that was made 2 years ago, shortly after Zoey was born. We had agreed to do an interview for our friend’s school project. In the process, she also interviewed our family and friends and some strangers in her school. This video is the final product.
Re-watching this video reminded me of how fortunate we are. I know that we are able to have our family the way we want to because of our educated middle class privilege. Most same-sex couples out there completely discount the possibilities of having children in Singapore because of the high costs involved and the many hurdles that are in place. I am glad that we have the support of our friends and family as it has definitely made it easier . I don’t care what strangers say because they honestly don’t matter, however, I think it’s great that this video includes what people on the street think about gay parenting in Singapore. It shows the kind of ignorance and discrimination we are dealing with. I feel that a lot of this can be changed with the right exposure and education on how same-sex parents are not that much different from other families. This is also one reason why this blog exists.
In these past 2 years, Zoey has grown from a tinny little baby who could be carried in one arm into an assertive and curious toddler who consistently surprises us with her growth each day. I am glad to report that we have faced minimal discrimination in our daily lives. The bigger challenge has really been to educate people that same-sex parents like us do exist and that we are here to stay.
Before Zoey was born, we took antenatal classes at KKH. While there was some hiccups during the registration process, ultimately we attended the classes feeling quite comfortable and happy. The younger instructors automatically used the word “partner” and we had the opportunity to explain to a middle aged staff nurse that Irene is not my “husband”, but my partner. She had struggled to find the right word to address Irene, but was happy to use the world partner after we explained.
When Zoey was born, we found ourselves surrounded by kind nurses and doctors. They did not question Irene’s right to staying over in the ward with me. While Irene could not be recognised legally on Zoey’s birth certificate, she was the first person, other than me and the staff in surgery, to see Zoey. Our lactation consultant even congratulated us, saying we were very brave to break new ground on having Zoey together. I think we were the water cooler topic for the couple of days while we staying there. There were other administrative challenges we faced while being admitted into KKH, but I would have to say that on a whole, it was a great experience as compared to the experience our friends had at private hospitals such as Thomson Medical or Mt Alvernia. The fact that it was a public hospital did not stop the people there from treating us with respect.
Zoey starting swimming at Marsden Swim School at 6 months old. No one at the school batted an eyelid when we signed up. We meet other parents at the school weekly and they’ve never questioned why Zoey has 2 mummies. Zoey also attends playgroup at Pony Running in Parkway Centre since she was 18 months old. We have had a good experience with the school. The teachers are understanding and supportive. The other parents we have met are friendly and Zoey has made some good friends in her class. Last month we started Zoey on Musikgarten classes at Bloom School of Music and Arts. Although it took some explaining on “why” we wanted to have children together, once we explained, the guy in charge seemed to understand. It only took one lesson of me being Zoey’s “auntie” before we managed to clarify our family structure.
So what I have realised is I struggle to communicate our family structure in Mandarin. Somehow it is easier for me to explain it to people in English. Whenever people have misunderstood me, I found it is because they are either Mandarin speaking or from a different generation. Perhaps it is the lack of exposure to same-sex couples or the fact that they’ve never envisioned that it is possible for 2 women to have children. Either way I think that these 2 years have served to affirm my belief that the more people come into contact with same-sex parents, the more they will understand that we are really not that different from other families.
Here’s the video that I was uploading. Zoey completely enjoying herself at a playground in Ang Mo Kio one evening. I think it truly shows what a happy and self confident child she is and really not that different from any other 2 year old.