Openness in lesbian-mother families regarding mother's sexual orientation and child's conception by donor insemination

Madeleine Stevens, Beth Perry, Amanda Burston, Susan Golombok, Jean Golding (2003)

Please note: this is a legacy publication from CPEC (formely PSSRU at LSE).

Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology 21 4 347-362

This study aimed to examine how lesbian mothers deal with their 5–9-year-old children’s growing realizations about the unusual nature of their family. Using standardized interviews with 38 mothers, the study examined how open lesbian mothers are with their children and others about their sexual orientation and about the child’s conception, where this was by donor insemination (DI). The study also looked at how much the children seemed to understand and how the knowledge may have affected them. Half of the 38 children were fully aware of their mother’s sexual orientation and only two were completely unaware. The majority of children developed awareness gradually, rather than being told. No children reacted negatively to finding out. Comparisons with earlier studies suggest these children have a greater awareness than their counterparts from 30 years ago. Ten children had been conceived by DI while the remainder were conceived in heterosexual relationships with the mother later identifying as lesbian. All DI mothers had told (n~9) or planned to tell (n~1) their children about their conception.