Susan Doyle-Sazar has been looking for activities to get her and her 12-week-old baby out of the house.
While there is no end to baby and parent activities in Toronto — ranging from baby massage to mom-and-tot aqua aerobics — there is a lack of events specifically for lesbian mothers.
“I would prefer to make connections with other lesbian moms,” Doyle-Sazar says. After a search that didn’t turn up much, she discovered MUMsquared, a Toronto discussion group and blog that hopes to connect lesbian parents and parents-to-be so they can share their experiences.
Kara Zakrzewski, the founder of MUMsquared, was driven by similar lonely experiences as a hopeful parent-to-be. She and her wife are trying to conceive, and they’ve run the gamut of fertility clinics — and not all their experiences have been positive.
“There was a clinic that we went to where we really felt that we were a number, and we didn’t feel respected as two women who were starting a family together,” Zakrzewski says.
While more same-sex couples and single lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are making the choice to have children, not all fertility clinics have caught up with the times and started offering inclusive services. Kyle Macdonald, the business development manager at ReproMed, a fertility clinic in Toronto’s west end, says that old-fashioned attitudes about the LGBT community often play a role.
“You see negative things in the media sometimes about the LGBTQ community starting families,” Macdonald says.
It occurred to Zakrzewski that having a network of people to talk to might have saved her and her wife from the negative experiences. “It would have been nice to hear other people’s experiences of clinics but from the specific context of being same-sex moms.”
While programs like The 519’s and LGBTQ Parenting Network’s Dykes Planning Tykes provide educational opportunities for lesbians who want to learn about planning for a child, she could find no meet-up groups that provided an opportunity to connect with other moms and moms-to-be, whether to learn from each other or to make friends.
The MUMsquared website is in its early stages. Zakrzewski hopes that as the community network grows, she’ll find other volunteers who will be able to help develop the website and start meet-up groups on their own. She sees the potential for the idea to spread far beyond Toronto, and she’s already had inquiries from lesbian parents across Canada and the United States. She adds that the meet-up groups and website will always be free and volunteer-based.
The ReproMed clinic will host the first three of the discussion groups as part of its ongoing outreach to the LGBT community.
Doyle-Sazar is looking forward to the first meeting, not just to meet other lesbian moms, but so that her young child can meet other kids with lesbian parents. “Long-term, I want my baby to be around other babies that have lesbian moms so she has similar experiences.”