By Christa Craven, PhD
July 26, 2017
For many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) parents, there are few resources to help with the loss of a child during pregnancy, birth, or adoption.
When my partner and I experienced the loss of our first child together in 2009, a miscarriage at 18 weeks, we too found very little when we searched for support.
We live in a rural town in the Midwestern United States and feared that local miscarriage support groups would not be accepting of our family.
Even online, national and international support for the loss of a child almost always assumed heterosexual families.
While there were “universal” aspects of miscarriage—practical questions, hormonal changes, and generalized grief—there was little on the emotional, legal, and often financial investments queer parents make in having children, and nearly nothing on the experience of female parents who had not been pregnant themselves.
As an anthropologist who studies reproduction (http://discover.wooster.edu/ccraven), I initially sought to distance my own pregnancy experience from my research—thinking that I just wanted to be a “normal” (queer) mother & not overthink things.
But the experience of losing a child as a queer parent, and the lack of resources we found to support our family, made me committed to finding a way to share the stories of LGBTQ people who have experienced loss.
Over the past few years, I have interviewed over 50 LGBTQ parents.
Although I discovered that many had found support in unexpected places, most had also experienced homophobia and heterosexist responses during their grief.
I am currently working on a hybrid print/digital book to share many of these stories.
In the meantime, the list below contains the resources that I and/or other LGBTQ parents I interviewed have found useful, both online and in academic journals.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contribute your story, or if you know of resources that I can add to this list.
Online & Print Resources for Grieving LGBTQ Parents:
“Partners Too” (2014) A Leaflet from The Miscarriage Association in the UK
Levesque, Jodi (2011) “Finding Support as an LGBTQ Parent After the Death of a Child.” It’s Conceivable
Many online support groups exist, which you can find by typing “Miscarriage Support Groups” or “Adoption Support Groups” into a search engine. I have found little to support LGBTQ experiences of loss during surrogacy, fostering, or adoption.
Academic & Professional Publications on LGBTQ Experiences with Reproductive Loss:
Cacciatore, Joanne, and Zulma Raffo (2011) “An Exploration of Lesbian Maternal Bereavement.” Social Work 56 (2): 169–77.
Craven, Christa and Elizabeth Peel (2014) “Stories of Grief and Hope: Queer Experiences of Reproductive Loss.” Queering Motherhood: Narrative and Theoretical Perspectives, Margaret Gibson, ed. Bradford, Ontario: Demeter Press.
Peel, Elizabeth (2010) Pregnancy Loss In Lesbian And Bisexual Women: An Online Survey Of Experiences. Human Reproduction 25(3): 721-727.
Walks, Michelle (2008) “Breaking the Silence: Infertility, Motherhood, and Queer Culture.” Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering. Special Issue: Mothering, Race, Ethnicity, Culture, and Class. 9:2 (fall/winter 2007 [March 2008]). 130-143.
Wojnar, Danuta (2007) “Miscarriage Experiences of Lesbian Couples.” Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health 52(5): 479-485.
Wojnar, Danuta & Kristen M. Swanson (2006) “Why Shouldn’t Lesbian Miscarriage Receive Special Consideration? A Viewpoint.” Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 2(1), 1-12.
Read more within the “Support” Menu:
Books Websites and Blogs: Grief Support & Healing
Movies Poems, Thoughts & Pictures
Support Groups: Where can You share your Story, Random Thoughts or Furious Rants
Resources & Support for LGBTQ Parents
Finding Support in Metaphysical/Spiritual Beliefs Finding Support in Religion
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