Mothering Queerly, Queering Motherhood

Resisting Monomaternalism in Adoptive, Lesbian, Blended, and Polygamous Families

By Shelley M. Park

Subjects: Cultural Studies, Family Studies, Feminist Philosophy, Women's Studies, Gender Studies
Paperback : 9781438447162, 318 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438447179, 318 pages, June 2013

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Introduction: Mothering Queerly, Queering Motherhood
I. Triangulating Motherhood
1. Querying a Straight Orientation: Becoming a Mother (Twice, Differently)
2. The Adoptive Maternal Body: Queering Reproduction
3. Queer Orphans and Their Neoliberal Saviors: Racialized Intimacy in Adoption
4. Making Room for Two Mothers: Queering Children’s Literature
II. Resisting Domestinormativity
5. Queer Assemblages: The Domestic Geography of Postmodern Families
6. Control Freaks and Queer Adolescents: There’s No Place Like Home
7. Queering Familial Solidarity: Polymaternalism and Polygamy

Provides a model for queering motherhood that resists racist, neoliberal, and hetero- or homonormative ideals of “good” mothering.


Bridging the gap between feminist studies of motherhood and queer theory, Mothering Queerly, Queering Motherhood articulates a provocative philosophy of queer kinship that need not be rooted in lesbian or gay sexual identities. Working from an interdisciplinary framework that incorporates feminist philosophy and queer, psychoanalytic, poststructuralist, and postcolonial theories, Shelley M. Park offers a powerful critique of an ideology she terms monomaternalism. Despite widespread cultural insistence that every child should have one—and only one—"real" mother, many contemporary family constellations do not fit this mandate. Park highlights the negative consequences of this ideology and demonstrates how families created through open adoption, same-sex parenting, divorce, and plural marriage can be sites of resistance. Drawing from personal experiences as both an adoptive and a biological mother and juxtaposing these autobiographical reflections with critical readings of cultural texts representing multi-mother families, Park advocates a new understanding of postmodern families as potentially queer coalitional assemblages held together by a mixture of affection and critical reflection premised on difference.

Shelley M. Park is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at the University of Central Florida.


". ..[a] theoretically informed yet very readable text. " — James Morgan Brown Review