Fiona has always wanted children, and has never seen the fact that she is a lesbian as in any way contradictory to this. Her daily life revolves around kids as a youth support worker. Fiona’s felt the urge to have a baby before, but never so strongly as now.
Fiona is alternative, artistic and engaging. Her style is a radical combo of op shop bargains and edgy chic. She carries off a beret and facial piercing with flair. Her beliefs are a curious mix of traditional and alternative philosophies.
Fiona speaks candidly about her dreams of having a family. To her family is about warmth and openness. It’s about doing things together.
She remembers growing up in conservative far north New South Wales with a mix of emotions. While she loves her mum deeply, the communication isn’t easy. She has felt that being lesbian has marginalised her within her family, that the important events in her life are not celebrated as they would be if she were straight.
Could having a baby bring them around? Fiona feels the universe has provided a solution: a gay friend who also desperately wants a child. Together they are now pregnant.
Darren is 39 years old and a natural comedian. Originally from a small village in England, he met Fiona when they were both working as social workers with people with disabilities.
Flamboyant and flirtatious, Darren invariably takes the spotlight, but despite his ego has a heart of gold and an immense social conscience.
Darren has always wanted to be a father. But being gay has made this difficult. Despite years of trauma trying to have a baby with women who let him down or shut him out, he now feels he’s hit the jackpot. Fiona and Kellie not only want to have a baby, they want him to be a dad and help raise the child. Highly emotional and sensitive, Darren tends to be over-enthusiastic and has already had his feelings hurt more than once as the girls attempt to set boundaries. Darren helped set up Gay Dads Victoria to support other gay men having families - now he feels he’s the one that needs the support. The stage is set to see what happens once the baby arrives.
Fiona met Kellie when they were both studying social work at university.
Kellie is practical and a born organiser. With her short hair and outrageous earrings, she’s warm, down to earth and quick to laugh. She’s candid about the challenges that a baby will bring.
For Kellie, having a family brings up a different set of issues: while she loves Fiona and is committed to having a family with her, Kellie is still studying and is concerned about balancing school, work and being able to financially support a new family. Unlike Fiona, she has only recently met Darren, and feels insecure about not being the birth mother. Since Australian law doesn’t recognize her as a parent, she is worried about her rights if anything ever happened to Fiona. And now she also has to deal with a third person in her relationship – forever.
While the other two seem to be racing ahead, Kellie still has a lot of questions.
We’re redefining what a family unit is and it is foreign, even for us because we grew up in conventional families, but it’s exciting to know that change can happen and is happening and it’s about to happen for us. Kellie
I’ve always loved children. I realised I was gay when I was 13. Probably three years ago, maybe four, I started thinking maybe I could have a baby with a couple. I want them to be mum and mum and for me to go in as dad, but for us to work as a team. Darren
The thing that attracted me most to Darren was his passion for being a father, and it’s funny, that could be what comes to bite you on the bum. Fiona
Models for families in Australia
Is the Australian family in a state of profound flux? Evidence would certainly suggest so. What does this mean for our cultural identity and social mores? What happens when parents who don’t live together have to share parenting and access? Does this affect how we bond with our children and vice versa?
What is the legal situation for same sex families with regard to custody, visiting rights etc? Many gay and lesbian parents would argue that they are being denied their basic human rights by the current family law system. Should the changes in modern families necessitate a rethink of our laws?
What are the religious implications of an increase in same sex and alternative families? How will people vehemently opposed to such unions on spiritual grounds react to their dramatic increase?
Alternative vs. mainstream
Is the notion of alternative families a black and white, ‘wedge’ issue? Are people either in favour or opposition?
Many lesbians who use fertility clinics for insemination choose sperm based on the donor’s profile. Kellie and Fiona chose their ‘donor’ carefully. Does this raise issues of social engineering and designer babies?
My initial film training came as a co-director/writer of natural history documentaries with the ABC Natural History Unit and Sydney-based independent producers. After working in this genre for several years, I became interested in making social documentaries. I am passionate about telling stories that rarely reach a wider audience, particularly concerning minority groups and cultures. 2 Mums and a Dad is my first film as sole director.
I have wanted to make a documentary about gay and lesbian culture for at least 10 years. For one thing, it is a part of Australian society that is underrepresented on television. Also because the current gay and lesbian baby boom is transforming the very nature of what an Australian family is, especially where the family unit involves three or more adults from conception.
I believe 2 Mums and a Dad is the first Australian film to document two lesbians and a gay man having and raising a baby. It tells the story from both lesbian and gay perspectives and includes their extended families.
The idea for the film came from increasing mainstream interest in gay and lesbian families via newspaper articles and TV news. Gay and lesbian parenting arrangements can be extraordinarily complicated, especially without social and legal safety nets afforded more conventional families. I wanted to make a film that would investigate the issues, raise awareness and spark debate.
I completed this film over 2 years, with Sally Ingleton as my committed producer. I found the experience to be an incredible learning process as a first time director, enhancing my skills in working with talent and film crews. For much of the early stages of the project I was unable to afford a professional crew, so I bought my own camera and sound equipment and learnt to film with my partner doing sound. With the SBS presale in hand, the Australian Film Commission provided some Time Critical Funding just before the baby was born which enabled us to employ a professional crew. The film was fully financed in late July 2006 by the Film Finance Corporation Australian and SBS.
With social and legal implications of these new family structures being debated by society, politicians and the courts, I hope this film will offer a timely insight into a unique aspect of contemporary Australian society.