BALTIMORE – Camren knows she is a special girl, and she happily shows off with a little prodding from her parents.
The 2-year-old counts up to 10 in English, French and Spanish, just like her mother taught her. Then she demonstrates the proper hand signal for a holding penalty in football — just like her other mother taught her.
“I have two mommies,” Camren says.
The fact that they are both women does not mean Renita and Jacqueline Young do not have the same dreams and goals as heterosexual couples — including having children. The two had a commitment ceremony in 1996, when Jacqueline took Renita’s name, and Jacqueline gave birth to Camren in 2000.
“I just think we’re a normal family,” Jacqueline, 31, said. “I know we’re different in terms of we’re gay women having a child but I think we’re doing better than the ‘normal’ families these days.”
Statistically, however, the Youngs are far from the typical family. Of the 1.98 million households in the state, just 11,243 were same-sex couples in 2000, according to the Census Bureau, and only 3,257 of those gay couples are raising children.
There are other differences, too. Unlike other parents, Renita had to adopt Camren and she keeps the adoption records with her at all times to prove that she is legally authorized to make decisions for the girl in an emergency.
In a photo album Jacqueline brings out, there are snapshots of drag queens carrying Camren and watching the Washington, D.C., gay pride parade. And the Youngs are proud of the fact that when Camren plays house with the other kids in day care, she encourages them to have two mothers run the household or have a boy play the mother’s role.
The Youngs also are a biracial family. Renita is black and Jacqueline and Camren — Jacqueline’s birth mother — are white.
Accepting a multiracial, lesbian family has not been easy for everyone. The women sometimes make people temporarily speechless when they talk about their family, and when they go out they might get a few glances. Renita said her Christian father only reluctantly accepted her lifestyle.
“I said, ‘If you can’t accept this that’s too bad but you can’t disrespect my family,'” Renita said.
But for the most part, they said, no one has made offensive remarks to them or their daughter — even though the Youngs know that Camren might face prejudice when she gets older.
“When you have a really cute 2-year-old, people are not going to make comments,” Jacqueline said. “If she comes off as well-mannered and well-educated I hope that will offset what people will say when they get to know her and her roots.”
Jacqueline said she “always knew” she wanted a family. “As long as I got all my female parts I was going to do it,” she said.
Both women agreed a few years ago they would raise a family and that each would bear a child by the same sperm donor to ensure their children were related.
For two years, Renita has held off on getting pregnant because she did not feel ready. Renita — who in her spare time played for the Baltimore Burn of the National Women’s Football Association — was also reluctant to give up her active lifestyle.
“I didn’t know what I should feel like,” she said. “I’ve always played some sort of sport and it took me a while to say I was ready.”
Now, she said, she is ready.
Two previous attempts have failed but Renita, 30, hopes her third try will succeed. She already predicts she will have twins.
And Camren, whose room is decorated with footballs and pink music boxes, is hoping for two sisters.