Monday, 2 June 2008

My family, future tense

Happy blogging-for-LGBT-family day, everyone. Go check out some of these awesome lesbian parent blogs—I don’t know which ones are writing for today, but they’re all super anyway. You can find all the LGBT family day posts at Mombian.

A few years ago I got the kid bug, bad. I Wanted A Baby. Now this is a heavy topic, so let me offer a disclaimer right away: this is just my experience. People want children and start families for lots of reasons, probably as many reasons as there are people, and I’m not judging anyone here but myself. I wanted kids for some not so great reasons. My marriage was in trouble. (How classic is that?) I thought it would make me a full, legitimate grown-up in the eyes of my family. I would finally fulfill the ultimate act of femaleness and get something about my femininity right. Being female would finally give me something other than trouble; maybe there would be a femininity in there I could embrace wholeheartedly. And most of all? I wanted a little someone I could protect better than I’d been able to protect myself, who in return would, I thought, love me a whole lot better than I loved myself.

T. didn’t go for it. She’s never wanted to be pregnant herself, so the options were for me to try to get pregnant or for us to adopt. She preferred adoption by a long shot; and most days I did, too, but other times I felt like I just had to carry the baby. (There was subtle family pressure about this. I’ve since found out my brother actually does think biologically-related children are somehow preferable and superior, which sucks enormously but was useful at least in confirming that I wasn’t crazy, the pressure was there.) But really, T. didn’t want to start a family with me then. She wasn’t sure she ever wanted to have kids. And hey, as I said, our relationship was in trouble, for reasons having nothing to do with making that decision.

But to give her credit, she made a huge effort to see things from my perspective. She read books and talked to people. And I started looking for positive examples of lesbian parenting, which led me straight into the blogosphere. I came to this fantastic, mind-expanding, inspiring thing of context and community through a back door, but thank god, I did come to it. And you know, the paths of life are winding and complicated. I’ve been a fan of Lesbian Dad for a long, long time. And I found Sinclair through Lesbian Dad’s being a fellow nominee at The Lesbian Lifestyle’s awards contest. And damn if that didn’t lead to a whole new kettle of fish.

This spring, of course, everything changed. I’m figuring out how to accept my own gender and my own self, and how to let go of a whole lot of shame and baggage. At the moment, I don’t know if I ever want to have children. I kind of think I don’t, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that life is always surprising. And our families are beautiful: the ones made up of mamas and mumzies and babas and kiddos, and also the big extended ones, the ones that include ties of friendship and fraternity that don’t have anything to do with legal kinship. I finally, finally understand that slogan: love makes a family. So it does, indeed.


Hahn at Home said...

I think it's fabulous that you are putting so much thought into your next steps, your future, potential child rearing...most people just pop kids out without a thought in the world other than "I wanna baby."

I'm here to say, though, that I think in my own family there was some question whether my kids would be thought of as "real" parts of the family - and I also have to add that once they arrived (in in a rainbow variety of colors), they have never, ever been anything but wonderful, loving and supportive family members.

And, had they not been - well, my choice would have been easy.

Your brother? Well, just like some people have an opinion based on a lack of fact or experience about gay people, they can also have such an opinion on adoption.

A child is a child. If it is OUR child, it is surely an extension of us, and what we bring to the table from our own familial history as much as one born "of blood."

I also have an opinion - something I'm never short of - if you let your concern over how others view the way you choose to add to your family or raise your children, it will be a hard, hard road being a parent. That's a choice only between you and your partner or you yourself if you choose to do it alone.

Good luck, and thanks so much for your mention of my post.

Leo MacCool said...

thanks for stopping by, and thanks for this. i really admire your family, so it means a lot!