Check one from each category.
Pick carefully. Take one from Column A, one from Column B, or choose what’s behind Door Number One or Two. Immediate or long-term, when it comes to your future and your happiness, as in “Choosing Family” by Francesca T. Royster, it’s good to have options.
The whole idea hit her like a slap.
Francesca Royster had never particularly wanted to be a mother. She’d dated boys in school, decided that she liked women better, and eventually came out to her family. No, motherhood wasn’t on her radar – and yet, when she saw a sleepy toddler wrapped in her mother’s arms at an airport, Royster had the sudden need to tuck that little head beneath her chin.
She never discussed it with her partner, Annie. The urge “receded to the edges of my thoughts,” she says, and they traveled instead, hit middle-age together, cared for sibling’s kids, and joked about “breeders.” She loved the life they’d built as queer women with community, what Royster calls “queer time.” Would she lose that, if there was a baby involved?
She and Annie split, took time to think about the future, but came together nightly to talk and plan. Royster spoke to the “Mothers” – ancestors and goddesses from other cultures – and she thought of the kids near her hometown of Chicago who needed families.
Her female forebears had raised children, their own and others’, in situations that were fluid. Surely, two queer women could, too.
And so she and Annie applied to adopt and after a nail-biting wait and a near-loss, they brought home their daughter, Cece, who became a fierce, smart, loving little girl who’s cherished by the family that her mothers have assembled.
“I… know that there might come a day when Cece won’t feel as comfortable with this motley group that is our chosen family,” Royster writes. But “…by living our lives as truly as we can… we can change the world that she inherits.”
Not that it will affect your enjoyment at all, but the subtitle of “Choosing Family” is a bit confusing. This book is more about “queer motherhood” than it is about “Black resistance” and that’s okay. The best, most meditative, most meaningfully-worded parts of author Francesca Royster’s story are in becoming a mother to her child, and in tales of Royster’s own mother and other steely female ancestors who left their prints on her.
Resistance? No, that’s irresistible, especially to anyone pondering raising children.
Anchored by the turning of the word “family” upside down and reclaiming it from white hetero-normalcy, then, readers are led – indeed, treated – to what Royster and her partner created B.C. (before child) and afterward. Theirs is a made family that includes blood relatives, absent relatives, and relatives-because-we-say-so.
That’s icing on a work-in-progress cake for readers who are considering doing the same thing, formal or otherwise. “Choosing Family” is also for those who’ve done this work, created the family they want, and it’s all good. Picket fence and two-point-five kids or not, check this.