Working as a gay man in reproductive genetics, one could easily assume that if I want to have children, I will likely go the route of in vitro fertilization (IVF) with an egg donor and surrogate. It might be a harmless assumption – since this is what I do, when the time comes, I’ll do it myself. If you asked me 4 years ago, I would have probably agreed with you; though mainly because at the time, the idea of children was not even a dot on my horizon.
Not so much anymore.
What changed? 4 years ago, I met my husband, Arthur. A chance encounter turned into a breakfast date and then he pulled the classic move of leaving something in my car so we were forced to see each other again. The move worked, and last year we got married.
I really love my husband. He challenges me to grow in ways that take me out of my comparatively tunneled world view, and make me a better person – he helped me discover what it meant to be a part of a much larger gay community full of love and pride, and how that colors our lives. He deepened my capacity for trust and empathy, and showed me by example how being a decent human to everyone, not just some, is mandatory to living a happy life. I really need to stop gushing now, though. I couldn’t speak on what he feels I give him in return, but I guess he like-likes me because he put a ring on it. 😉
About a year before we got married, we adopted a friend’s senior French bulldog named Luca. He is my sunshine. I bring up Luca because learning how to responsibly take care of him awakened something within me that I always knew was probably there: a paternal love and instinct. Arthur has that instinct, too. We want the whole experience of (hopefully) raising a child to become a decent, kind, loving, and generous member of society.
Q&A time. Topic is: Children
Are you going to have children?
How many kids?
Nick: At least two.
Arthur: As many as possible, and also some teenagers with bad attitudes who need good adult influences.
Nick: We live in a two-bedroom apartment right now, don’t even.
Nick: Three to five years from now, when our finances are in better shape.
Arthur: YESTERDAY! And are you sure it’s not possible for a man to get pregnant?
Nick: No. I prefer to remove myself from this narrative.
End of the Q&A portion.
Arthur and I have the benefit of 100% planning when this happens. There’s not going to be any surprise pregnancies, to Arthur’s disappointment (seriously, he is so fascinated with the idea of a biological male getting pregnant).
I was on the fence about adoption versus biological children when I met Arthur, but he was set on adoption way before I ever entered the picture. Eventually though, through a very open dialogue on the subject, we both agreed adoption was the right path for us.
At first, to be frank, adoption simply seemed right from a financial standpoint. Neither of us come from money, and we’re not self-made millionaires (yet). While adopting is still no bargain in comparison to other options, there are some adoption routes that can be more affordable than others. We plan on going the route of foster-to-adopt. Doing this will give us some financial aid from the state. We also plan on looking for slightly older children rather than newborns – ideally 3 or 4 years old. From a strictly logistical standpoint, this might help us get matched quicker. However, as we explored this topic further, something very real and visceral made us realize why adoption was truly the right choice for us.
I am a reproductive genetic counselor, and Arthur is a social worker. Our professions have exposed us to many of the complexities of having and raising children that other people may never be aware of. Between the two of us, we have seen how heartbreaking it can be when a couple who so desperately wants a child cannot have one naturally, and how expensive the endeavor into artificial reproductive technologies (ART) can end up being; sometimes to no avail and further heartbreak. We have experienced first-hand the pain of seeing a child so desperately wanting and needing a parent they don’t have, or watching a child get lost in a welfare system and how that shapes their life and worldview. We know how hard it can be to keep a family from crumbling when money is hard to come by or housing is hard to keep. We’ve sat with the mother who’s an addict and has just been notified she will not be keeping her child after birth, and she simply doesn’t care. We’ve counseled the woman who is lucky enough to be very fertile and takes that all for granted; and we’ve counseled the mother who has made the decision to give up their child because they don’t have the means to support them.
We know the costs and uncertainties of having biological children as a same-sex couple, and we also know that there are thousands upon thousands of children that are not born into happy, loving homes. We have a happy, loving home, and we want to raise children in it. If someone were to ask us why we have decided to adopt, we would in return ask them, “Why bring more children into this world when there are already so many here that need a home?” By no means is this meant to be a judgement on ART, or on couples, both homosexual and heterosexual, who choose to pursue ART. Some people have the strong urge to raise biological children, and we simply do not. Whatever children the universe puts in our path, we will love and support them voraciously.
Is this the right decision for us? Definitely. Is it the right decision for everyone? Absolutely not.
Here’s a useful tidbit about the human condition we all find ourselves in: go with your gut. Do what feels right to you.