Media round-up: Podcasts about diverse families
Welcome to All Bodies Birth's media round-up! Today I’m diving into a few wonderful podcasts about diverse families, so get ready to fill your ears with all things queer, adoptive, single-parent-by-choice, surrogate, blended, and poly!
Fellow birth workers are always asking around for podcast recs, and I often see the same few names being shared: The Birth Hour, Evidence-Based Birth, Birthful, and The Longest Shortest Time are all popular, especially among doulas. And for good reason! These podcasts are great. But I frequently find myself looking for more stories about the variety of beautiful family forms (especially queer families!) that I witness and serve every day, so I set out to build a collection of podcasts about diverse family structures and finally got around to completing it because...
I'm preparing to travel out to San Diego for my awesome sister's wedding later this month (WOOHOO! L + J 4ever!)! But I am not looking forward to all that plane time. I made myself this podcast playlist to get through the cross-country travel. I'm sharing it with you in the hopes that you'll listen to and love these stories, too!
Podcasts about diverse families
Follows queer couple Kate and Karyne of the Bay Area as they navigate becoming parents through reciprocal IVF using Karyne's eggs, donor sperm, and Kate's uterus. Their interactions are candid, funny, and adorable, and they aren't afraid to dive into the nitty gritty details of lesbian conception and pregnancy. Start here if you want a good mix of physical, emotional, and relational experiences.
Topics: fertility treatment, same-sex parenthood, egg donation, sperm donors, midwifery care, non-gestational parenthood, religion (Judaism)
Highlights: all of it! This podcast follows Kate and Karyne's journey right from the start, so it's best to listen from episode 1. Bonus: there's some talk of doulas in episode 33 and placentas in 36!
An extension of the 1000 ways to be a family project that presents a mix of real-life family experiences, professional/expert guests, and commentary on current family-related events in the world. This one puts the focus on children and parenting and covers so many important experiences and issues that impact today's families.
Topics: LGBTQ+ families, single-parent families, stepparents and blended families, feminism, masculinity, gender creativity, religion, race, co-parenting, Canada, and so much more!
Highlights: depends on what topics you'd like to listen to, since this one covers such a wide variety of family-building and parenting experiences. Being married to an editor, I went right for episode 159 (Why Doesn't Children's Literature Include Kids of Colour?); being a person of faith, I also sought out the episodes involving religion pretty quickly, too. Pick and choose what topics are relevant to you, or just listen to them all!
My current fave, because it’s new and fresh and so different from anything I’ve listened to before! I was especially drawn to this one because I’ve worked with several masculine-presenting queer parents and I know just how deeply it impacts them to not have their stories told, heard, and validated. This work is important, yo. The host, Grover, has guests ranging from doulas, artists, rabbis, midwives, and queer, trans, and nonbinary birth parents — their relationships to birth and birth work are each so profound and unique.
Topics: as Grover says, it’s about “the things masculine-of-center queer and trans people do to make, birth, and nurture human life”
Highlights: Episode 3 includes Mac from Braving Doula Collective and Episode 5 involves a rabbi who explores Jewish birth rituals. Each episode is stand-alone, so you can start anywhere!
Bonus: being a new endeavor means the MBR needs our support if it is to keep going! You can listen, leave it a review, become a Patron, volunteer to transcribe an episode, and share it far and wide to give it a boost!
Queer ladies Jaimie and Robin (not a couple!) interview lots of guests about baby-making in non-traditional families and "what it's like to live in a world designed for straight families." This one has received shout-outs from Cosmopolitan UK and Afterellen, and it made the pride collections created by both Spotify and Apple, so it's gone a bit more mainstream than some of the others on this list.
Topics: LGBTQ+ families, co-parenting, lesbian herstory, children of same-sex parents, sperm donors, surrogacy, mental health, birth stories
Highlights: #ITOCT just wrapped their first season and they recorded a "Best of Roundtable" episode with their wives, so if you want to see if this podcast is right for you, start there!
Follows queer Vancouver couple Jackie and Angie from the early stages of trying to conceive through early parenthood, with some very honest and raw insight into the obstacles, changes of plan, and disappointments they've faced along their path to parenthood. They were inspired by Autostraddle's Queer Mama vlog series, which is also a favorite of mine! It's part couples therapy, part info session on two ladies creating a baby, all awesome.
Topics: same-sex parenthood, sperm donors, fertility treatment, mental health, Canada, religion (atheism), gender, home birth
Highlights: this one is chronological with a twist — frequent guest speakers from Jackie and Angie's life! Those extra perspectives are much appreciated. Talk of doulas happens in episode 24, and their birth story unfolds over several recent episodes.
A documentary series by Sophie Harper, a lesbian woman who chose to become a mother while single. Rather than being candid and unscripted, this podcast follows a more edited, narrative style with musical accompaniments, beautiful artwork, and a developed cast of characters from Sophie's life. Her journey is emotional, powerful, and so very important.
Topics: fertility treatment, single parenthood by choice, sperm donors, maternal age, Australia, childcare
Highlights: since this one is also chronological, you should start at the beginning to get Sophie and Astrid's whole story. Episode 29 is particularly special — it's a "child-appropriate" recap of the story that Sophie made in collaboration with Astrid, her daughter.
A raw and eye-opening look into foster care and adoptive family life from the perspective of those who have been adopted, created by adoptee Haley Radke. This one is a mix of expert guest speakers on topics like healing and relationships, and firsthand accounts of family life from people who have been adopted. Haley's goal is to build connection and community among adoptees and to share the multitude of adoption experiences with others.
Topics: adoption, foster care, families of origin, biology, trauma, therapy, advocacy, sex and sexuality, online community
Highlights: season 1 is almost entirely firsthand stories, which are a great way to start learning about adoption experiences. Season 2 begins to incorporate "Healing Series" episodes that address potential obstacles adoptees might face, like anger, betrayal, and questions about identity, which are useful for people with more experience on the topic.
This is a newer podcast that hasn't produced any episodes since February due to the host, Stacey's, battle with postpartum depression, but it's worth mentioning here because of it's mission statement (which specifically mentions trans parenting, single parenting, adoption, and other diverse family forms) and commitment to discussing poly families, parenting a differently-abled child, and miscarriage right from the start. I hope Stacey finds healing and continues this work that is so close to her heart.
Episodes from podcasts you might already know and love
The Longest Shortest Time Ep. 41, How to be a Pregnant Butch: a chat with A.K. Summers about the real-life inspiration behind her graphic novel about female masculinity and childbearing, Pregnant Butch (which appeared in both my wife's and my dissertations, although they were on totally different topics!).
The Longest Shortest Time Ep. 60, The Accidental Gay Parents: this is actually the start of a multi-part series (also including episodes 62, 80, 81, 125, and 144) with Trystan Reese, gay trans dad and social justice professional who adopted his niece and nephew from an abusive situation and went on to grow his family with partner, Biff, by carrying a biological child a few years later.
Birth Kweens Ep. 42, Birth Stories from a Queer Family: a conversation with Heather Thompson about coming out, conservative Christianity, body dysphoria during pregnancy, queer-friendly healthcare, and her two different birth stories.
Birthful Ep. 51, Surrogate Birth Stories: insights from Susan Fuller, who has been a gestational surrogate seven times and has had birth stories that cover nearly every scenario imaginable. She also talks infertility and loss on the way to surrogacy.
The Birth Hour Ep. 161, Double Rainbow Babies: a story of loss and donor conception in a same-sex family, with two babies born three days apart! The moms, Mariel and Viviana, run an adorable instagram account filled with the adventures of their rainbow babies (@moderndaytwins).
The Birth Hour Ep. 258, Lesbian Single Mom by Choice: a known donor helped Jenn Poupard, a single lesbian woman, conceive baby Wallace. This is the story of her uneventful pregnancy and eventful birth, attended by a midwife and doula.
The Birth Hour Ep. 274, Peaceful Epidural Birth & Surrogacy for Two Dads: there are several birth stories from Nicole Gricius contained here, including a peaceful hospital birth and a "less-than-magical" birth of her own and an unmedicated twin birth as a surrogate.
I also recently just discovered Modern Love, produced by WBUR and The New York Times (based on the popular NYT column), hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti and edited by Daniel Jones. I consider this also a rumination on family diversity, since each episode includes reader-submitted essays about unpredictable pathways in love, relationships, and family-building read by notable personalities.
Highlights: When Eve and Eve Bit the Apple read by Rachel Weisz, From He to She in First Grade read by Jennifer Beals, My Husband Is Now my Wife read by Ann Dowd, and A Lost Child, But Not Mine read by Betty Gilpin.
Go forth and listen!
This list is a great start if you're looking to expand your knowledge of modern family life through podcasts about diverse families and hear their journeys from their own perspectives. So, next time you're cleaning the house, traveling to prenatal appointments, biking to work, taking a shower, cooking dinner, or walking the dog, put on an episode and share what you think about it!
Update! Edited on 10-2-2018 to include Outspoken Voices, a podcast for LGBTQ families, which I’ve just learned about and am excited to explore.
Disclaimer: I haven't listened to every episode of every podcast here, but I've dabbled in each of them enough to feel confident in recommending them. That being said, if anything even remotely discriminatory or disrespectful towards any body, identity, or family is contained in anything here, please point it out so the offending episode or show can be removed from the list.