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Abba and Meridy Swann-Flint

Meridy, born 1975 : Abba, born 1983


Meridy and Abba are two young women (31 and 24) who were the first lesbian couple to register their civil partnership in Worcester, where they lived at the time and attracted much positive media interest. They then talked about their plans for parenthood and the difficulties they have experienced with the clinic and at work with people not recognising their ‘married’ status.


Coming out 10
Meeting each other and getting engaged 20
Civil Partnership 30 40
Media interest 40
Worcester 10 20
Lesbian mothers 50
Parenthood 50
Homophobia 50

10 Coming out in Worcester
Abba began by saying that she knew she was gay and that at 14 years old in 1997 she talked to a gay man who was a friend of her father. He was non judgemental and introduced her to the gay scene in Worcester, which was her home town. She said that there was not much going on in Worcester. She met other young people that she felt more able to talk to than her school friends.

20 – Meeting each other
Meridy was working in Hereford when she met Abba, who is a chef, through a straight friend who knew that they were both lesbian. “We were chatting and there was a connection, Abba stole my phone number from my friend’s phone and we were texting back and forth. They went for a date that night, and chatted and chatted and chatted. At that time Abba was 21 and Meridy was 28. “We both thought they were in their mid-twenties, we must have been behaving at that level”. When she found out Meridy thought ‘Oh I’m a cradle snatcher!’”. Eventually they moved in together. Abba bought an engagement ring and proposed to her while they were on a walk to their favourite spot. Abba said, “Meridy said ‘Yes’ straight away!” and they became engaged.

30 First Civil Partnership in Worcester – 21st December 2005
They were aware that the proposal for civil partnership was going through the Lords, and a year or so later, when it was and when it was announced that civil partnerships were going to be introduced as what they consider to be the gay equivalent of marriage they decided to register. Abba’s mother came father chose not to come. Both of their mothers attended the ceremony along with a niece. Meridy’s mother and niece came over from South Africa for the ceremony. The niece was quite fascinated by seeing them kiss but she was fine with it. Abba said “We had sleeveless dresses, in December. From getting up, nothing went wrong”.

40 Positive media interest in the civil partnership
“We were the second couple, and the first lesbian couple to register at Worcester Register Office, at 9:30 a.m. on 21st December 2005 and so the media showed great interest.”The BBC arranged to film in the Register Office and Meridy and Abba were promised a DVD of the ceremony in exchange for granting the BBC permission to film. In the event the BBC only filmed a clip of the ceremony although the couple were invited to view the TV coverage at the BBC studios. The other interest came from the Worcester News which featured a large photograph of the two brides on its front page. Running up to the big day, they were filmed picking their dresses etc. On the day of the wedding there was a woman from the radio when they were trying to get ready, at the Register Office the media were waiting. Afterwards they were all taking photos, but we never found out whether their photos were used in the new Civil Partnership brochure”.

50 Planning a baby
Abba and Meridy subsequently moved to Dudley and have now decided to start a family. They have been attending the Priory Hospital in Birmingham, where IVF advice and treatment can be bought. Their preferred method of treatment is that of egg sharing, so they can give something back to someone else, as their sperm donor will be giving to them. Meridy would have Abba’s egg implanted into her, so they would both have be considered the mother of the child. However they have met with difficulties at The Priory because the male consultant and rest of the IVF team which decides whether to let people go ahead with treatment, found it difficult to accept Abba and Meridy as a married couple. If they were sisters it would have been cheaper for Abba to donate her egg to Meridy. Although the team is willing to carry out the shared egg treatment, they will only do so if the couple agree to accept the Priory status of their partnership as ‘friends’ and therefore pay more money for the treatment. They have decided to try another clinic and saving up for the cost of the treatment which can vary between £2,500 and £3,500. It’s not the normal process, they want to be able to say they are both the mother, one would be biological and one would be the birth mother, so no-one can say that that’s not their child. They don’t want to be seen as a step-parent; they have friends in Worcester who have a little boy, and he doesn’t see any difference between the parents. Abba said “I’ve never known any problems with kids, it’s with the parents.” They definitely want to go ahead with parenting plans and hope that this will happen in 2008. They are still deciding who would carry the child, as pregnancy might make Meridy’s fibro-myalgia symptoms worse, so they think that Abba will carry the child and that Meridy will get ‘paternity leave’ or give up work to look after the child full time. Abba who is a chef, says at her work they are still struggling with the idea that she would go back to work. “It’s the same as a woman who leaves the baby at home with its father. I will take maternity leave until I need it and then go back to work knowing the baby is in safe hands.” Meridy hopes to start a website design business so that eventually she can work from home while caring for the baby. “We were both latch key kids and hated and resented it, so we want one of them to be at home looking after the kids, or there is no point having them.”