The invisible families
Paper short abstract:
In my paper, I intend to focus on the gay and lesbian families with children, in Portugal, and how they draw a different demographic reality with no great statistical impact.
Paper long abstract:
With a fertility rate of 1.36 born children/woman in 2007, Portugal stands below the European rate of 1.52, following the tendency of most industrialized countries. The decision of having or not having a child is obviously linked to the social, cultural and economic conditions, and there is more than one way of explaining the fast decline of such a rate. But a fertility rate established by the expectation of how many children a woman will give birth to is already in itself limiting the ways in which we face the issue, since it overshadows important transformations on child bearing and alternative ways of creating a family. In Portugal, there is a significant increase of applications for adopting children, both by couples and single women and men. Simultaneously, alternative families are establishing themselves, having children, and contributing to demographic changes in ways which do not affect the fertility statistics. Homosexual relationships, often (erroneously) perceived as sterile, are claiming they right to parenthood in Portugal and all over the modern world. Although the legal system fails to recognize their existence, these couples are finding ways to create their families and educate their children, as a legitimate human desire, despite one's sexual orientation. In a workshop dedicated to questioning the demographic changes and what the decision of having or not having a child means, focusing on the growing and assertive ways in which gays and lesbians decide to have children may contribute to discuss the family and its importance in the modern world.
Questioning the 'quiet revolution': demographic change and modernity