This originally appeared on Mamamia. Republished here with permission.
I’ve wanted to be a parent since I was 5 years old. I remember stuffing cushions under my t-shirt and announcing to the entire household that I was expecting, before, minutes later, sitting on the toilet and screaming to my parents that I was in a long and incredibly painful labor.
They’d ask whether it was a boy or girl. It was always a boy. I’m not quite sure why, I guess because I was. They’d then ask, with amused curiosity, the name I’d chosen for the surprise new addition to our family.
Oscar. I always named my babies Oscar.
Ten years later, as I grew into an almost fully functioning teenager (with numerous false-alarm pregnancies under my belt) I felt well equipped to start babysitting three real-life, fighting, shrieking children, all under the age of 4: Violet, Ben, and Angelica.
I looked after them two nights a week for several years. I saw them take their first steps, I fed them messy dinners, I changed their dirty diapers, I bathed them, I read them bedtime stories—and I loved it. I loved it more than I loved watching television, I loved it more than I loved binge-drinking on Jesse McCartney.in the local park with friends, and I loved it more than I loved
I guess it just felt natural. I’ve always safely assumed that, at some point, when financially able, I would have a child of my own—a son, Kale, named after the nutritious, bitter tasting, wild cabbage.
And, being a perpetually single, romantically pessimistic, gay male, I always assumed it would be through a planned surrogacy and with the possible assistance of a qualified nanny.
Obviously. Right? Apparently not.
Recently I was at an overpriced, swanky dinner soiree with a group of female friends in their early-30s. They were talking about their young children, respective pregnancies, various struggles with fertility and IVF success stories. I listened on keenly until one of the women turned and shot me the standard “Do you think you’ll ever adopt?” to which I quipped, as usual, “I think I’d rather surrogacy.”
My response was met with some foreign looks of confusion, concern, and even judgement. Had I missed something? I wanted to use a surrogate, a perfectly common and acceptable form of modern-day, 21st century conception. As narcissistic as it may sound on paper, I want to recognize myself in my child. I want to see my dad’s hazel eyes and gentle nature, my mom’s olive skin and stubborn determination. I want a child that is mine.
“But there are so many children who need homes already…” “Why bring another child into the world when…”
I was barraged with a long list of opinions, most of which I’d heard before and was well equipped to handle. But then, the worst, a comment that completely disarmed me.
“I just think it’s wrong to steal a child away from it’s mother…” Steal. Steal. Steal a child.
Whoa, back up. What? Surrogacy surely wouldn’t be condemned if used by an infertile woman, so what’s the difference? Is there a difference?
I can understand (while not agreeing with) the view that children should be raised with a prominent female presence. Just as I can understand that, for some, the idea of a single gay male raising a child may be a challenging one.
But to suggest that, at some hypothetical point in my future, I could be stealing a hypothetical child away from its’ hypothetical mother—against her hypothetical will—made me want to hypothetically throw a glass of hypothetical wine in this woman’s face.
The worst part was that these women weren’t homophobic. They sign equality petitions on Facebook, watch Modern Family and adore Ellen DeGeneres. They’re the good guys, which had me thinking that, despite the recent swell of support for the legalization of gay marriage, is there still a perception that us Gays should simply count our blessings, settle down in a Queen-sized bed with a glass of Pinot, a couple of Pomeranian-Shitzus and call it a day?
Or, if we simply must have children, is adoption the only socially accepted route? Isn’t the most important thing that a child is wanted and loved and cared for unconditionally?
Samuel Leighton-Dore is a Writer/Director from Sydney, Australia. He’s currently raising the funds to complete his short film Showboy, a queer film starring Lucas Pittaway (Snowtown). To support, visit http://pozible.com/ShowboyFilm or his website http://www.SamuelLeightonDore.