Our Family is a series that celebrates two-mommy families and delves into some of the challenges they face. The goal of the series is to depict same-sex parent families in a way that’s authentic and dispels myths associated with same-sex childrearing.
In lesbian and bisexual communities of color, it is common to find couples with children. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau found that same-sex couples raising children are more likely to be African American. Many families come together because one or both of the women involved have kids from previous relationships. To date, there are several methods that lesbian and bisexual women have available to them such as natural insemination and artificial insemination. Natural insemination is intercourse with the male donor. Artificial insemination, on the other hand, is a non-sexual act that involves the use of donor sperm.
Under the scope of artificial insemination, the couple has to also decide if it will be a donor insemination or self-insemination. Donor insemination is a simple procedure that uses a syringe to place the semen. While self-insemination or DIY (do-it-yourself) is a method in which the woman (or her partner) inserts the semen herself, without medical intervention. There is no one method that all lesbian and bisexual women prefer. Natural and self-insemination are the least expensive as opposed to artificial donor insemination, which can be very costly.
ELIXHER had the opportunity to talk to Ira and Malinka Hardy, a lesbian couple based in San Diego, California with beautiful twin boys conceived via a planned pregnancy.
ELIXHER: How long have you been together and how did you two meet?
IRA AND MALINKA: We will have reached 6 years on October 26. We are happily married and our 4-year wedding anniversary is on September 26. We met through a mutual friend.
ELIXHER: What are both of your occupations?
IRA AND MALINKA: Ira is in the Navy. Malinka is an accountant but at the moment, she is a stay-at-home mom.
ELIXHER: What are the twins’ names and how far apart are they?
IRA AND MALINKA: The twins are exactly one minute apart. They were born on January 4, 2010 and their names are I’ric James and My’ric Malik.
ELIXHER: When did you two decide to have kids? Whose decision was it?
IRA AND MALINKA: It was a mutual decision to have children because it’s something we both wanted. We started talking about it more after we were married.
ELIXHER: How did your friends and family respond to the thought of you wanting kids? Were they supportive?
IRA AND MALINKA: Both of our families and friends were genuinely happy and supportive. However, we did lose a few friends along the way.
ELIXHER: Did you all go to a fertility specialist?
IRA AND MALINKA: Yes, we went to Pacific Reproduction Center in Pasadena, California and they are LGBT-friendly.
ELIXHER: How did you find the donor?
IRA AND MALINKA: When we went to the fertility clinic, we viewed a catalog of different donors until we came across what we considered a “perfect match” as far as physical characteristics and other pertinent factors.
ELIXHER: Is the donor in the kids’ lives?
IRA and MALINKA: No, but he is [able] to be a part of their lives if he wants to. He provided us with childhood and adulthood pictures of himself along with a video of him talking about himself and why he chose to be a donor.
ELIXHER: Was it natural or artificial insemination?
IRA and MALINKA: It was a procedure called IUI or intrauterine insemination, when the semen is inserted directly into the uterus through a small catheter. It was quick and easy.
ELIXHER: How is family life with twins?
IRA AND MALINKA: It’s been a blessing and it’s been double the fun. We’ve never had kids so we don’t know anything different, but they are a handful.
ELIXHER: How did you all decide who would carry the babies?
IRA AND MALINKA: We both wanted to carry, but Ira just went first. We will be trying for our third child this year. Malinka will try to conceive this time, if God is willing.
ELIXHER: How was the pregnancy and birth? Did it bring you two closer?
IRA AND MALINKA: The pregnancy went smoothly, actually. Ira identifies as a “stud” and although some studs may not ever consider [carrying a child], Ira was a trooper throughout the entire pregnancy. She chose to have a C-section and even though it was scary, it went smoothly. Overall everything was easygoing for the both of us. The pregnancy did bring us closer together as we discovered new things about each other.
ELIXHER: Has your sex life been affected because of parenthood?
IRA AND MALINKA: No, but we do find ourselves planning our “adult time.” We always try to find the time for each other. As a matter of fact, that’s what has gotten us this far. You have to be able to sustain as a couple while also effortlessly being a parent.
ELIXHER: What response have you two received from other parents or the school’s staff?
IRA AND MALINKA: The teachers are amazing. They refer to us both as “mom” and the other parents are very pleasant as well.
ELIXHER: What do the boys refer to both of you as?
IRA AND MALINKA: The boys call both of us “mommy.”
ELIXHER: How would you describe parenthood?
IRA AND MALINKA: They were right when they said there are no learning classes for parenthood. We thank the Lord because they are a blessing in our lives especially since being a parent teaches patience. One word to describe parenthood would be “priceless.”
ELIXHER: Any advice to those couples who have discussed having kids?
IRA AND MALINKA: The most important thing is to make sure bringing another life into this world is something both of you are ready for; have fun while trying and last but surely not least, pray!
ELIXHER: Is there anything else you want to add?
IRA AND MALINKA: We would like to thank Elixher for inquiring about our love story and for sharing our positive lesbian family story.
– Ebony Dickens
Ebony Dickens is an Atlanta-based lesbian and graduate school student with aspirations of becoming an attorney. She loves staying on top of the latest news and enjoys a challenge.