Two men and a baby
llan Luciani-Crout, 41, Daylesford, Vic
When I met Mark, now 47, 16 years ago, it was love at first sight.
Within six months we'd moved in together and although we were happy, about five years ago we realised we wanted a child to complete our family.
It was a difficult process, not only because same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt in Australia, but because we were worried a child might be discriminated against for having two dads and no mum.
But eventually we decided to go ahead and searched the internet for the right country and surrogate for us.
We were recommended a place in India and went to visit, checking out the hospital and meeting our potential surrogate and her husband.
We had to provide the sperm and used a donor egg. This was then implanted into our surrogate, and happily, resulted in a pregnancy.
It was all completely above board and, while we would be re-mortgaging our home to pay for it, our surrogate would be paying off hers. She certainly hadn't been forced into it.
In August last year, after paying around $60,000, we went back to India for the birth of our daughter, Rani.
It was an amazing day and we both cried for hours when she was placed into our arms. It was by far the best thing we had ever done.
We've been really lucky and have been accepted by our local community completely. People's views are changing.
Occasionally we get people asking if we are giving Mum at home a break for a while. When we explain Rani has two dads, they are normally just a bit embarrassed about the mistake they have made.
We haven't had any abuse or problems.
We're glad people have become more accepting of all types of families and we hope that in future gay families will have the same rights as anyone else.
One thing's for sure though, Rani has completed our family. We're over the moon to have her.
De facto and devoted
Katrina McGill, 39, Albany Creek, Qld
Unlike most of my friends, I'd never dreamed of a big white wedding.
While they discussed their perfect dress I usually zoned out. It wasn't that I didn't want to find my soul mate, a wedding just wasn't high on my list of priorities.
'I like my surname too much,' I'd joke.
But the issue became more serious when at 19, I met Tony, 18. We were perfect from the start but when he mentioned marriage two years later, I still had little enthusiasm.
'One day,' I shrugged.
We didn't think a piece of paper would make our relationship any stronger. Admittedly marriage is a guaranteed commitment, making it harder to walk away. But this just meant we had to work harder to make sure neither of us wanted to.
Seven years after we'd met, Tony proposed. I happily accepted but we never made it down the aisle, content with how things were.
Then in 2000, I discovered I was pregnant. We were thrilled but it raised a familiar question.
'Will you get married now?' people asked.
But we didn't really think it was necessary.
Tony and I knew we would be great parents despite not being husband and wife.
'If it aint broke, don't fix it,' we explained.
We'd been together so long, everyone knew we were a committed couple.
That solidified when we had our son, Luke, then Jake, two years later.
Thankfully it's never been much of an issue, for us or others.
'Tony and I aren't actually married,' I explain and most people just simply nod.
Once upon a time, we would have been persecuted for having children out of wedlock, but these days, no one gives it a second thought.
'It doesn't mean we don't love each other,' I say.
Today, after 20 years together, Tony and I still aren't totally against the idea of marriage.
But whether there's rings on our fingers or not, we are just as loving as any other family and that's really all we need.
Second time lucky
Jasmin Crewe, 28, Turramurra, NSW
When I was just 23, I fell in love with the man of my dreams. Mark was hard working and handsome. I'd never met anyone like him.
When we were together, it just felt right. But there was one problem. He was 42, separated and had a son Alex, now 18.
Everyone told us it wouldn't work out.
'You have too much emotional baggage, don't drag her down,' friends said to Mark.
'You aren't responsible enough to be a step-parent to Alex,' others told me.
And when we walked down the street, I'm sure people thought I was Mark's daughter.
But we managed to ignore the concerns and got engaged seven months later.
We also made another big decision. Mark had his vasectomy reversed.
It was lovely to have Alex as my stepson, but I wanted my own baby too. Luckily, Mark was happy with the decision. 'I've always wanted a big family,' he said.
We married in November 2006 and had our baby Tahlia nine months later.
Mark was just as excited as I was. You'd have no idea it was his second time round!
And I didn't mind that we weren't experiencing childbirth for the first time together. I was just happy we experienced it.
I thought when Mark was with Tahlia, people would think she was his granddaughter.
But Mark looks good for his age and everyone soon got used to the idea of us together.
Today, Mark and I have added another boy to our family.
Sam is now one and the apple of Mark's eye. With three kids, he's got the big family he wanted. And we aren't finished yet!
I know our family is anything but traditional but I don't mind. After all, you can't help who you fall in love with.
The changing face of our families
- The number of cohabiting same-sex couples doubled from 10,000 in 1996 to 20,000 in 2001.
- More than 33 per cent of babies born in 2008 were to unmarried mothers, up from 8.3 per cent in 1970.
- In 1975, only 16 per cent of couples lived together before getting married. By 2008, 78 per cent of married couples had.
- People are having fewer children. In 1966 the average number of kids was 3.5. By 2006 this had dropped to 2.6.
- Dads are getting older. In 2008, 8566 babies were born to men aged 45 to 49, compared with 3252 in 1988.
What are your thoughts on changing family traditions? Share them by leaving a comment below.