Woman raised by four lesbian mums says her upbringing made her ‘self-assured’

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A woman who was raised by four lesbian mums has said that growing up with so many “powerful and interesting” women made her “self-assured”.

Brooklyn Joseph told Slate that she was born in 1979 to her biological mother Lynn via artificial insemination, and that “Mom No. Two” Donna co-parented her from birth. Although Lynn and Donna were not a couple, the close friends decided they would raise a child together.

When she was six years old, Donna found a long-term partner who Joseph calls “Mom No. Three” and then later Lynn also found a partner, who became “Mom No. Four”.

All four of the women raised Joseph together in the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood of San Francisco.

She said: “I usually describe my household as a gaggle of women. Even within the lesbian community, my family wasn’t super traditional.”

Joseph started life thinking her family was the same as everyone else’s, but when she was in sixth grade she was told to make a family tree as homework. The tree had labelled sections for a “mother” and “father” and she had no idea how her lesbian mums would fit in.

She said she came home close to tears and said: “You guys, what am I supposed to do with this? Do I scratch out ‘Dad’ and write out ‘Donna’?”

Her “Mom No. Two” Donna went straight to her middle school to tell the teacher that the homework had excluded their family. Joseph said: “It was probably the first time that teacher realised that was insensitive.”

She added that after that incident she began hiding that she lived with anything other than a heterosexual nuclear family, and only ever mentioned her biological mother. She said: “I was protective of my family, and I didn’t want people to say anything bad.”

Now married and with two children of her own, she is completely open about her upbringing. She told Slate: “Being one of the few children in the household meant I got tons of positive affirmation from all of these powerful and interesting women.”

“A lot of people say how did you become so self-assured, and I attribute that to my household.”

Lynn, Joseph’s biological mother, passed away in 2014 but she said she regularly sees her three other mums. She added that this year, her son spent the summer with “Mom No. Four”.