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Gay Family (4 children) moving to Santiago?

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:59 am
by 09910745
Hello all. My partner of 8 years and I are contemplating a potential move to Santiago (5 year contract). He is an architect and has been offered a position as a consultant for a major 'international' (actually just Chilean but with offices throughout Latin America) firm in Santiago. I myself work as a filmmaker, and have worked on projects both in the United States, Europe and Asia. We currently live in New York and have a 6-year-old, 4-year old and twins (via surrogate) on the way.

I myself am in fact half-Chilean; my mother was from Chile, she moved to France in her youth and later the US. I was raised and educated in the US and have had very limited contact with my family in Chile, despite having many cousins, etc. I do, however, have very fond memories of visiting in my childhood and spending beautiful summers at the beach and hiking in the Cajon Del Maipo. Given my limited contact with my Chilean relatives, I have only a basic understanding of the situation for gay families in Chile. The few relatives that I know are on a whole rather educated, and as such, not very ignorant or homophobic and as such been very supportive of my husband and I. Nonetheless, I am very well aware of the Catholic mores of Chilean society and understand the implications that this has on social perceptions on things which are taken for granted or assumed in New York (or the rest of coastal America, for that matter). As such, I wanted to ask if anyone in this forum has had any experience-both individual or hearsay- with gay family life in Santiago or knows of any expats who have made a similar move?

My family has recommended St. George's College and the Grange School for my children. So far, St. George's is our favorite for its strong tradition of social justice. We've also considered Nido however we're most likely going to be living in the El Golf/Alcantara area and it just seems SO FAR. Does anyone have experience with Lincoln Academy or know of any other co-ed progressive schools? So far, in speaking to officials from St. George's the topic has more or less gone unsaid...which is rather remarkable given the amount of communication that we've exchanged. Would most Chileans find this question to be too forward? (Then again, if they do, its probably not the type of school we want our children to be at).

Also, any other guidance would be very much appreciated. Ironically, it seems that my husband is turning to me as "the" guy for all things Chilean culture, society, etc as I have a Chilean mother (now deceased) yet know very little about the society save for superficial snapshots I have of visiting every few years throughout my life. We both speak fluent Spanish.

Also, does anyone know of any house cleaning agencies that explicitly place help with expat families, in particular, gay families? We are looking for one nana for household help, cooking, etc and one baby-sitter dedicated purely to childcare.

Re: Gay Family (4 children) moving to Santiago?

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:44 am
by trabajo en progreso
I can't offer advice to the first part of your post as I have no firsthand experience on how life is for families with same sex parents in Chile.

Maxine, a member here, runs homeangels.cl, an agency for Nanas etc She is an English expat living in Santiago. The daily hike to Nido from El Golf would get old pretty quickly, however there is probably a school bus your little one could take - I don't know how comfortable you would be with that though. Some school bus drivers drive like they are in the Grand Prix, my 2 children caught the bus to school/jardin and they absolutely loved the bus ride. I had to insist that my 5yo use her car seat in the bus, none of the other kids on her bus used one. The jardin bus was full of car seats, provided by the bus driver.

If you decide to send your 4yo to jardin, Runningbrook at Vitacura would be one I recommend - and closest of the Runningbrooks to El Golf. My daughters were at Runningbrook at La Dehesa and thoroughly loved it, they thrived there. The director, Jacquie is fantastic, and I cannot speak highly enough of the Tia's there, or the other staff. It is an English speaking jardin, however my 2 learnt their Spanish in the playground there. I have a Canadian friend whose 2yo attends the Runningbrook at Vitacura and she is also very happy with the jardin.

Re: Gay Family (4 children) moving to Santiago?

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 7:36 am
by admin
Most of the rest of your concerns are covered in other posts or other members can answer. We know of more than a few expat gay couples living in Chile, and seem to be pretty happy overall. Never met any with kids however.

The one thing that comes to mind that might be problematic at some point is custody of the Children. Chile's custody laws are very slanted towards a mother being involved. For instance, mothers are assumed to have default custody, unless they can be proven otherwise incompetent. Crossing the boarder, both parents are suppose to provide consent for the kids to travel, but I believe most of those laws explicitly assume a mother and father.

There have also been some back and forth cases in Chile in the courts, where the courts have ruled that gay couples could not raise kids. The interamerican court appeals on human rights then countered those. Gay couples have won the right in other court cases in Chile.

I don't think you will run in a lot of social resistance, relatively speaking, on a day to day level. Probably more curiosity than anything. What you might run in to is a whole lot of bureaucratic problems, just because no one knows how to deal for instance with kids with two fathers, when the blank on the form ask for a mother's name.

Honestly, totally uncharted territory legally, so be prepared for some challenges. In fact, as far as I know, you might be the first to try it (i.e. foreigner / returning Chilean gay couple with foreign born children).

Re: Gay Family (4 children) moving to Santiago?

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:24 am
by scandinavian
I think you can forget about St George. On the homepage is states that new families have to be catholic.
http://www.saintgeorge.cl/admisiones/in ... %C3%B3n-pk
I have been looking at schools for my kid, to get an idea of the requirements. Since I am not catholic and my son isn't baptized, I have had to exclude a lot of schools.

Re: Gay Family (4 children) moving to Santiago?

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:54 am
by momof3
WELCOME!

Re: Gay Family (4 children) moving to Santiago?

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:23 pm
by Vicki and Greg Lansen
Welcome dadof4 (should have been your forum name?). I have said it before, and if I didn't, I meant to, I am in awe of all of you who are not only doing the very difficult job of raising children, but doing it as expats. I have enjoyed, immensely, reading about the exploits momof3 and others have shared on this forum. Petunio and family, and many others have done it, are doing it, and seem quite successful. What a wonderful gift to give your children...all youse folks.

So, now dadof4, you are going to add a new dimension to raising your family as an expat! Aside from the issues Admin pointed out, in my honest opinion, you seem like you are up for the challenge. Blessings to you and the whole family, including the upcoming two new additions...I will look forward to future posts. Many, many insightful posts and threads on the forum about some of the challenges you most likely will face. Again, WELCOME!

Re: Gay Family (4 children) moving to Santiago?

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:44 pm
by Kimberley
I know of (but I don't know personally) an international gay couple that live close to Santiasco. One of my friends was an au pair for them and their 2 children for a few months. I can email her (she is travelling at the moment) if you like, to see if she is able to provide some contact details for them as I am sure they have been through some of the situations that you may be looking at facing. However, their children are not at school age yet, so maybe your (soon to be) experience will be a great help to them as well!

I can tell you that at a day to day social level, chileans are very curious about family. It means everything to them. You will get a lot of questions about your family in the first second that people meet you! Often Chileans don't really think or interact a lot beyond their family unit, immediate and extended and have fewer friends (for example than I am accustomed to and have here) because of the emphasis on family. Chileans are generally very conservative and have lived very simple lives. Things are changing fairly quickly here, but I am sure you will be the first gay couple for a lot of people that you meet. I think people will generally be curious, but I guess you should be prepared for the 'newness' of homosexuality here. :)

Re: Gay Family (4 children) moving to Santiago?

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:25 pm
by 09910745
On that note, does anyone know of any secular, (explicitly) progressive schools in Santiago? There doesn't seem to be much information on this forum aside from the one's that I have already mentioned. What is the admission for well-regarded public schools like Instituto Nacional, etc. like? Possible for expats?

Re: Gay Family (4 children) moving to Santiago?

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:41 pm
by momof3
...

Re: Gay Family (4 children) moving to Santiago?

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:02 pm
by Donnybrook
09910745 wrote:On that note, does anyone know of any secular, (explicitly) progressive schools in Santiago? There doesn't seem to be much information on this forum aside from the one's that I have already mentioned. What is the admission for well-regarded public schools like Instituto Nacional, etc. like? Possible for expats?
One thing you need to be aware of is the difficulty of finding places in private schools here. There are fewer places than potential students, especially in the first years. So rejections are fairly common. This is the one major headache for anyone moving to Santiago with kids.

If religious based schools are out, your options are fewer. That is the playing field for any expat couple with children. State schools are not really an option. The good ones also have waiting lists and the quality of schools like the Instituto Nacional is only apparent much further up the school. It is also an education more aimed at passing the university entrance exam. What is good and desirable in education is measured differently here. Some schools are better than others at satisfying the university ambition of their students whilst also offering an education which teaches them to think, not an easy task covering those opposite poles. Those schools are very sought after and very difficult to get into.

What you are thinking of when you say a 'progressive school' probably does not exist here. The length of students' hair and skirts is still an issue in virtually every school. There are some smaller schools which don't make the 'top ten' lists but which claim to offer a very personalised education. The disadvantage is that you will find virtually no English, except as a subject, used in the school.

Re: Gay Family (4 children) moving to Santiago?

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:28 pm
by 09910745
Donnybrook wrote:
09910745 wrote:On that note, does anyone know of any secular, (explicitly) progressive schools in Santiago? There doesn't seem to be much information on this forum aside from the one's that I have already mentioned. What is the admission for well-regarded public schools like Instituto Nacional, etc. like? Possible for expats?
What you are thinking of when you say a 'progressive school' probably does not exist here. The length of students' hair and skirts is still an issue in virtually every school. There are some smaller schools which don't make the 'top ten' lists but which claim to offer a very personalised education. The disadvantage is that you will find virtually no English, except as a subject, used in the school.
In Washington DC, where I was raised and in NY where I currently live there is a strong tradition of Episcopalian day schools (St. Albans, National Cathedral, etc) or quaker schools that are 'religious' but more or less in name only as otherwise they are socially and culturally inclusive (for example, my old hs now has a group for LGBT parents that meets at the school). Are there any schools that fall under this category in Santiago? None of the Chileans I've met (of all generations) seem to be particularly religious, but more or less attended religious schools, church, rites, etc as a sort a part of normal childhood socialization, almost as if the religious aspect was an unavoidable and regular part of life that was omnipresent but didn't overly influence one's life and choices aside from overly-religious outlier aunts or great-grand parents, etc

Re: Gay Family (4 children) moving to Santiago?

Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:05 pm
by Donnybrook
09910745 wrote:
Donnybrook wrote:
09910745 wrote:On that note, does anyone know of any secular, (explicitly) progressive schools in Santiago? There doesn't seem to be much information on this forum aside from the one's that I have already mentioned. What is the admission for well-regarded public schools like Instituto Nacional, etc. like? Possible for expats?
What you are thinking of when you say a 'progressive school' probably does not exist here. The length of students' hair and skirts is still an issue in virtually every school. There are some smaller schools which don't make the 'top ten' lists but which claim to offer a very personalised education. The disadvantage is that you will find virtually no English, except as a subject, used in the school.
In Washington DC, where I was raised and in NY where I currently live there is a strong tradition of Episcopalian day schools (St. Albans, National Cathedral, etc) or quaker schools that are 'religious' but more or less in name only as otherwise they are socially and culturally inclusive (for example, my old hs now has a group for LGBT parents that meets at the school). Are there any schools that fall under this category in Santiago? None of the Chileans I've met (of all generations) seem to be particularly religious, but more or less attended religious schools, church, rites, etc as a sort a part of normal childhood socialization, almost as if the religious aspect was an unavoidable and regular part of life that was omnipresent but didn't overly influence one's life and choices aside from overly-religious outlier aunts or great-grand parents, etc
In many ways parts of Chilean society reside firmly in the equivalent of the 1950s in the US. If you want a Catholic school then you have to be Catholic and present a baptismal certificate to prove it. Many Chileans who are not particularly religious attend them but they are at least Catholic in name. There are no Anglican, Episcopalian or Quaker schools. There is a Hebrew school but that is about it. There are secular schools as an alternative, bearing in mind the things I mentioned above regarding entrance. This is a very traditional society and finding a culturally inclusive corner in it is not easy.