In Toronto in 2010, approximately seventeen out of every one thousand children were born to teenage LBGT mothers between the ages of fifteen and nineteen. Share with us the experience of one teenage LGBT parent, and the challenges facing teenaged LGBT parents around Toronto.
Sara Robertson was seventeen, living in her parents family home in Toronto, still hiding the fact she was a lesbian, when she had Rosie. Her sixteen year old boyfriend Toby promptly left when he discovered he would become the father of a baby born to a queer mother. Sara had to return to working full time when Rosie was three months old. Sara is now twenty five and Rosie is seven.
Robertson explains – ‘I’d just broken up from a two-year relationship with Rosie’s father after coming out to him when I found out I was four months pregnant. I was 17 at the time’.
Although Sara and Toby tried to get back together it just didn’t work. Toby just could not accept Sara being a lesbian and they didn’t see each other for most of the pregnancy. After Rosie was born Toby and his family made contact for the first six months, but after that, Toby’s family sent him to a military school and disavowed Sara and her family completely. Sara has not seen Toby since.
Sara says – ‘I had a full-time job when I got pregnant, and three months after Rosie was born I returned to work. I had to. I didn’t have any support from my parents or Toby’s and Rosie went into child care. I’d already been living out of home for a while after coming out to my family and my parents completely freaked out when they heard I was pregnant – we didn’t have the best relationship at the time’.
Sara coped because she had to for Rosie’s sake. She did not have any support except from a few close gay friends. She found the hardest part of parenting was dealing with being a new lesbian and a new mother. Everyone has a different view on how to be an LGBT parent and Sara quickly learned not to panic but to just to trust her instincts. ‘Mind you, I think if I had a baby now, I’d be much more stressed than when I had Rosie. When she was a baby and she got sick I’d think, “Oh, she’ll be right” and she always was. I think now I’d be much more aware’. Says Sara.
One of the hardest parts of bringing Rosie up Sara points out – ‘Has been dealing with other people being judgmental of her. I’m aware that at school other parents gossip and I know that Rosie suffers from this. I’ve discussed it with her teacher – the bullying and teasing from other kids. Sometimes I worry about how this is affecting her, but I guess all kids get it in some way at some point in their school lives.
Sara leaves us with this parting thought – ‘At the end of the day though, Rosie and I have a very special relationship. We’re very close and have excellent communication, and Rosie understands that she can talk to me about anything. My relationship with my parents has also improved a lot, I am in a happy relationship with a new lesbian partner and all now play an active role in our lives, which makes me just so happy.’