Becoming Gay Dads!
Parenting! Imagining myself with a child puts a smile on my face. It always has!
Yet getting there has felt like a distant dream for a long time, with no clear path to reality.
Gay folks cannot have children by mistake. Not for lack of trying though. And so planning, (potentially lots of) upfront savings and a lot of resiliency (and humour...) are therefore a must.
With societal norms gradually shifting, gay parenting is becoming more mainstream, as attested by the ever-increasing list of gay parenting profiles on Instagram.
It is also a somewhat odd situation. There isn’t any real social / family pressure to get married, never mind having children. So, it is all down to us as LGBT individuals to make the decision on what works best for us.
We cannot make this life choice on a whim. However, if and when LGBT+ folks decide to have children, it is a long and lengthy process, which is full of obstacles. Here are a few considerations.
1. The challenge of being parents
Being a parent doesn’t seem easy at the best of times. Looking around me, I see friends and family having their lives turned upside down the moment the pregnancy starts. And then, when the child is born, it goes into overdrive.
Sleepless nights, toilet breaks for the parents “pas possible”, tantrums, potty training, juggling childcare and work, paying for education … and the list goes on and on.
Then, there is parenting style. A very touchy topic from what I have gathered. There are so many variants. And everybody has an opinion on the matter. Everybody is eager to critique and give advice to other parents, but seemingly blind to their own limitations.
I absolutely loved the book; French Children Don't Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman. Read it if you have a chance. It touches on a lot of topics, tons of parenting stereotypes, and yet is very on point.
Being a gay parent is all of the above, with a few extras thrown in.
2. Finding the man
I made a choice a long time ago. I would not have a child without a partner (female friends don’t count!). I wanted to share my life and a family with someone for the rest of my life.
I was lucky! I did.
It is not that common to find a gay partner who wants to get married, even less one who wants to have children. Most of our male gay friends don’t want kids. A lot of gay folks of my generation and above with kids had them before coming out.
c.30% of the US LGBT+ population is raising kids based on a survey published by The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law (LINK). There aren’t any statistics breaking down lesbian vs. gay in the survey, but I would bet the “L” population drives a large portion of the 30%.
I am not saying it is impossible to find a partner who also wants to have children (I married one 😉). But the pool of candidates is a very small niche market.
3. How will we do it?
There are multiple options including surrogacy, adoption, co-parenting, foster care, donor insemination and probably other possibilities we haven’t explored.
Most of these options would be years in the making. Most of them require going through lengthy and intrusive processes. In the end, whichever option you choose, is a very personal decision.
We wanted to have a biological link with our child, be part of the same family unit and have a clear understanding of the medical and living conditions background of our child.
We also considered how biases against gay parenting could impact us (e.g. “special” families, i.e. gay couples, would only be matched with kids with “special needs” for adoption, as was uncovered in France last year).
So, we opted for surrogacy. And this brought us immediately to the next question.
4. Who will be the father?
We both are!
We will love and educate and protect our child like billions of parents before us did. Being two dads won’t change that.
Technically, there is only one biological father. We tried to leave it to chance. But the fertility clinic told us we had to choose. So, we did.
Since we have embarked on the adventure, “who is going to be the dad?” has been the question I have been asked the most. Most people felt they needed to know more than “We both are!” They kept insisting on knowing usually asking: “Come on, you can tell me. Who is going to be the real father?”
I just wonder at the time how the same people would react if I were to ask them the same question. Would that be offensive? In a straight couple, this kind of question is never asked.
Should you consider someone who is raising a child with love, care and dedication any less of a parent because that person does not have any genetic links? I certainly don’t think so. Plenty of families adopt kids and it is not a question. So why should it be for surrogacy? Why should it be for gay parenting?
Will our kid be accepted? Will our family structure be accepted? Most likely, in most circumstances. But not always.
Gay parenting is an exception. And will remain an exception. The LGBT population is simply too small for anything else.
This will always give an angle for some people to attack us and our child, because we are different. Not like them. We are seemingly an “easy” target for their anger. But this is not about us.
And it won’t impact our decision.
We are both going to be dads. And like any would-be parents, we have our doubts, our concerns, our fears. We wonder whether we will be good parents.
Some people would ask - “why on earth would you want to do that? Why spend all that time, money, energy on having children?” After all, there are no expectations for gay folks to have children. No parental pressure (at least not yet).
But we trust each other as a team and to do the best we can. We will love our child, provide them with everything we can. Happiness. Safety. Bearings. The things that will make them well rounded and independent individuals one day.
And above all, our unconditional love.
This simply feels right!