Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. James M. Croteau


During the past three decades researchers have shown increasing interest in studying planned lesbian parenting. However, no previous studies have examined the process of lesbian couples as they pursue parenthood for the first time. Instead, previous research has typically conducted one retrospective interview with one or both parents in order to answer one outcome related query, such as whether a couple used a known or anonymous sperm donor. The current study is a qualitative case study that examines the process of one lesbian couple who is pursuing parenthood for the first time.

The participants in this study were Ann and Jane, a White, upper middle class lesbian couple residing in the state of Michigan. Data sources included sixteen biweekly interviews, an audio recorded conversation, logs the participants completed daily, and documents used by the participants. Fifteen themes emerged from this study, within the areas of External Processes, Ann‘s Experiences, Jane‘s Experiences, and Jane and Ann‘s Joint Process. Among other findings, I discovered that the environmental processes around Jane and Ann as they pursued parenthood were much more negative than they desired (some of which were related to heterosexism and homophobia), Ann‘s experience was dominated by her emotional reactions to various aspects of their process, Jane seemed to value a rational approach to life, but rationality was difficult to maintain as she underwent this emotionally ambiguous situation, and Ann and Jane seemed to work together well as a couple.

In addition to the specific themes, the overarching impact of homophobia and heterosexism became apparent through the process of data analysis. I thus compared Jane and Ann‘s process with Sue‘s model of microaggressions by applying this model phaseby- phase to Ann and Jane‘s experiences with heterosexism and homophobia (2010b; Sue, Capodilupo, & Holder, 2008). I also provide suggestions to guide future research about lesbians pursuing parenthood, including replicating my design elements, conducting additional research connecting lesbian parenting and microaggressions, and researching more diverse groups of lesbian parents.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access