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Reinventing the Family

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What makes a family? For generations, lesbians and gay men have been left out of any idea of family and burdened by the notion that homosexuals and children can't mix. That era is over. From the thousands of parents who came out in the early 1970s to those already out as openly gay people, who in record numbers are choosing to have children, lesbians and gay men are creating what psychologist Laura Benkov calls a "cultural earthquake." Drawing on the stories told by parents and children themselves, as well as ...
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Overview

What makes a family? For generations, lesbians and gay men have been left out of any idea of family and burdened by the notion that homosexuals and children can't mix. That era is over. From the thousands of parents who came out in the early 1970s to those already out as openly gay people, who in record numbers are choosing to have children, lesbians and gay men are creating what psychologist Laura Benkov calls a "cultural earthquake." Drawing on the stories told by parents and children themselves, as well as thorough research into case law and the psychological literature, Reinventing the Family creates a compelling portrait of those on the forefront of some of the key battles of our time. Even as debates rage over whether they should be allowed to raise children at all, lesbian and gay parents are challenging society with a host of vital questions. Can a child have two mothers? Is a sperm donor a father? Should schools include curriculum on lesbian and gay family life? As lesbians and gay men reinvent the family, we as a society must look more deeply at our ideas about family life. Same-sex couples dividing the work of parenting, for example, revises our concepts of gender and childrearing. Even an issue as seemingly simple as what a child calls a parent - or what a child's last name will be - reveals the complex relationship between language and family life. Creating a plethora of families that don't fit existing legal definitions, lesbian and gay parents force us to examine the role of the state in defining family life. What happens to children of lesbians and gay men when parents split up or when the biological or adoptive parent dies? Is a family defined only by biological connection and heterosexual union? Eight-year-old Danielle, the daughter of lesbians and gay men, suggests an alternative definition: "people that love each other, help out, and understand each other." Like the families who are its subject, Reinventing the Family breaks new ground. A la

The first thorough investigation of the joys, challenges, and issues facing Lesbian and gay men who are choosing to be parents, fighting for custody, and changing how we all think of "family values." From what to name your child to legal and psychological issues, here is a thoughtful guide to raising a healthy child in a homophobic world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gracefully written and lucidly argued, Benkov's study is the first sustained analysis of the emerging phenomenon of lesbian and gay parents and of the considerable obstacles they must surmount in reinventing the family. Benkov, a Boston psychologist, draws upon case studies that dramatize the ingrained antipathy of the larger society toward homosexuals that pervades the psychiatric community, courts and social service system. At the same time, her case studies refute the detrimental assumptions hampering wider acceptance of gay parenting: children raised by homosexuals do not have significantly greater problems growing up than do those reared by heterosexuals, nor are they any more likely to be gay--though, as Benkov asks, what would be wrong with that? Author tour. (Aug.)
Library Journal
In this wide-ranging work, Benkov attempts to examine all aspects of gay and lesbian parenting. Among her topics are the experiences of gays and lesbian parents "coming out" of heterosexual marriages; legal developments in adoptions, foster care, and custody battles; artificial insemination; society's view of parenting roles; children raised by homosexuals; and the influence of homophobia. The author's research is combined with illustrative case studies. A supervising psychologist at Children's Hospital, Boston, and a lesbian, Benkov argues that our society must learn to accept nontraditional families and that children raised in a loving environment-no matter what its composition-will become well-adjusted adults. Recommended for lesbian/gay and parenting collections.-January Adams, ODSI Research Lib., Raritan, N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517171875
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/2/1996

Table of Contents

Author's Note
1 Journey 1
2 Toward an Unknown Place: Parents Come Out 16
3 In the Halls of Justice? Lesbian and Gay Parents Enter the Courts 34
4 Save Our Children: Foster Care and Adoption Struggles 82
5 Choosing Children: Biological Parenting 108
6 Who's the Real Mommy? 144
7 A Rose by Any Other Name 166
8 What the Children Must Learn: Facing Homophobia 186
9 Children at Risk: The Legal Limbo of the Reinvented Family 212
10 The Road Ahead 254
Notes 261
Bibliography 277
Acknowledgments 283
Index 285
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