For a while, Bette and Tina parent their daughter together outside of a romantic relationship, but eventually they reconcile and try to adopt another baby, a boy.Through this portrayal of lesbian parenting, the show challenges the conventional understanding of motherhood as a biological urge and an act that is properly performed within a heterosexual marriage.Although in some ways, Bette and Tina emulate a traditional, two-parent household model, they also allow their friends and family to care for their child, while demonstrating that lesbianism and (good) motherhood are not mutually exclusive.
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(2004-2009) follows a fictional group of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women living in Los Angeles, including Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals) and Tina Kennard (Laurel Holloman), who decide to have a baby together after dating for seven years.
Tina first has a miscarriage; she undergoes another insemination with sperm the couple stored at a cryobank, but she does not tell Bette in case she loses another baby.
Tina then discovers that Bette has been cheating on her, and the couple breaks up.
While single, Tina learns that her second pregnancy attempt was successful, and after a brief period of deliberation, she decides that Bette deserves equal custody rights over her baby, who she names Angelica.
Reproductive technology has made many kinds of motherhood possible in modern times, but dominant ideologies of motherhood still center on the ‘natural’ love women feel for their biological babies.
Even Alex Kuczynski, who wrote a New York Times Magazine article about her experience with a gestational surrogate, could not stop worrying about circumventing “the natural order of things” and “the circle of life.” After asking herself, “Would I really be his mother? ” she decides that birthing a child isn’t necessary to be its mother, so long as a genetic connection exists.
Although a biological relation is still largely seen as a necessary component of motherhood, Bette and Tina challenge this assumption.
Bette has no biological connection to their baby, but she is still portrayed as a parent with equal rights and responsibilities.
At first, Bette chose an artistic donor in hopes that their child will then share her love of art, but after is found to be infertile, the couple attempts to seduce a straight man into unknowingly fathering their child.
Tina asks Bette if she is okay with this new plan, and Bette assures her, “I want to have a baby with you.
And if we make it together, then that’s enough for me to know that it’s our baby.” This attempt is unsuccessful, so the women find another donor – Bette chooses a friend who is black, so the baby will “reflect who they are” (Bette is biracial), yet she knows and is comfortable with the fact that her baby is not her blood relation.