Creating Kin, Remaking Kinship: An Exploration of Queer Experiences of Motherhood in Aotearoa New Zealand
Kinship norms in Aotearoa New Zealand are inherently heteronormative, constructed out of the settler colonial ideal that a heterosexual couple with children in a nuclear family are the ultimate social unit. This thesis outlines queer experiences of motherhood given this context, highlighting the ways queer people engage with family narratives that implicitly exclude them. By drawing on the stories of six queer individuals, I trace these engagements through the adoption and foster system, usage of assisted reproductive technologies, and finding a sense of belonging and community. In each of these contexts, my participants subvert, reject, and reproduce, heteronormative understandings of family. These accounts primarily draw from in-depth interviews, as well as one instance of participant observation. I analyse the actions of my participants in relationship to LGBTQ+ political stances, examining whether they represent positive progress, or assimilation into heteronormativity. I argue that regardless of political intent, the engagements my participants make with family norms prove the malleability of kinship ideology. Through relating this to the construction of family narratives in Aotearoa New Zealand by settler colonial action, I emphasise that kinship norms are not static nor universal. This thesis posits that if kinship ideology is not naturally arising, or permanent, it has the potential to be remade more inclusively in the future.