Are You My Daddy?

Remember that children’s book “Are You My Mother?” It was one my favorites, even though a baby bird falling out of his nest and spending the next 15 pages trying to find his mother is a pretty tragic plot line for a children’s book. I remember feeling especially distressed when the baby bird climbs onto a construction crane and asks, “Are you my mother?” Actually, I sort of feel distressed right now just thinking about it. Like that panicked feeling at the mall when you thought it would be funny to hide in the circular clothes racks but then realized no one was coming to find you and your mother had moved on to the next department. No? Anyone?Every lesbian who chooses pregnancy has to face the great donor debate. And having this debate within a marriage or partnership can be even more difficult. Meredith was originally all anonymous all the way. But I had some apprehension about taking the sperm of someone I would never meet. Someone I picked out of a stack of profiles because he has nice handwriting or enjoys Augusten Burroughs memoirs. And so, the great donor debate continued between us.

I don’t think it’s uncommon for lesbians to have sperm offered to them. For awhile, it seemed that we were getting offers regularly. Mostly from guys who were those peripheral type friends that we didn’t see very often. Feeling the need to spread their seed. Or just trying to be helpful. Who knows. Most of the offers we graciously declined. But one offer lingered with us for a couple years. One of my very closest friends made a pretty serious offer to be our sperm donor. So for awhile that was on the table. I liked the idea of actually knowing that our donor was a good person. That he didn’t just pretend to have an appreciation for art and music but that I’d had 3-hour long discussions with him to prove it. Then it was mid-summer and the timeline for getting pregnant felt closer and everything surrounding it felt very real.

I don’t often think very logistically or realistically. I’m an idealist. I leave the pessimism of logic to my wife. So for the longest time, everything seemed to line up in my head for using this friend as our donor. He is sweet and educated and artistic and funny. He’s adorably quirky and incredibly loyal. A lesbian’s donor dream. I thought, we couldn’t have found a more perfect donor. Why would be pass this up? It’s hard to gauge your kid’s reaction to the news of his biological father. And I think this is why we went back-and-forth on the donor subject for so long.

But, when it came down to what we were really comfortable with as a pair, it was choosing an anonymous donor (maybe with an option to have contact when the kid turns 18). Neither of us want to deny our children the right to know where they came from biologically. At the same time, we weren’t interested in having that conversation that starts:

“Um, yeah, so you know ‘Uncle Jerry?’ Welllll …”

So the decision that once seemed impossible to reach, became very clear to me a few weeks back. Meredith and I will choose an unknown donor for our baby.

Over the weekend, we spent time with our once-possible-baby-daddy-donor and did some of my favorite New England things: antiquing in Ipswich; pints of beer in Newburyport; consuming fried seafood. We also had a good chat about the idea of him helping us have a baby. In the end, everyone is in agreement. We wanted to do this great idealistic thing that would bring us all closer together. But for us, it’s not supposed to work like that. I don’t want to go through legal proceedings with him and have him sign paperwork surrendering his rights as a father. I want to sit on my deck with him, drink Mexican beer to the sound of Stevie Nicks, and consider boiling lobster for dinner.

This set up of a known donor no doubt works for some, but I don’t think it’s right for our family. So it’s donor-catalogue-or-bust for us. And, just for fun, we’ve decided to grease our motherly bearings by bringing another four-legged newborn into the house.

We rescued this little thing from a shelter in Connecticut last Wednesday and have been adjusting ever since. We call her Birdie. Duncan – the worst behaved, highest anxiety pug that ever lived – is looking pretty good next to his baby sister who chews on computer cords, pees on the floor, and wakes us up at 4 a.m to go outside. But she sure is cute.

One comment

  1. mcpherson · · Reply

    This kid is going to be dope because (s)he’ll have dope parents, no matter which side of his/her brain is dominant. You guys will be the kind of parents that will take the kid to JCPenney for no other reason than to play hide-and-seek in the circular clothes racks. And THAT is what makes a kick-ass kid.

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