Friday, August 10, 2012

As if she is a used incubator

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in Wonderland, where words no longer have plain, easy to understand meanings and people are carrying on conversations in a foreign language (and I thought those years were over long ago when my toddlers outgrew toddlerhood!). With a hat tip to Deacon Kandra, here's the latest from a world I can't quite understand:

As lawmakers and courts expand the legal definition of the American family, same-sex couples are beginning to feel the same what-about-children pressure that heterosexual twosomes have long felt.

For some couples, it is another welcome sign of their increasing inclusion in the American mainstream. But for others, who hear the persistent questions at the office, dinner parties and family get-togethers, the matter can be far more complicated.

Many gay men had resigned themselves to the idea that they would never be accepted by society as loving parents and assumed they would never have children. They grieved that loss and moved on, even as other gay men and lesbians fully embraced childless lives. So the questions can unearth bittersweet feelings and cause deep divisions within a couple over whether to have children at all, now that parenting among same-sex couples is becoming more common.

The process can be also daunting logistically and financially, as would-be parents wrestle with whether to adopt or use a surrogate. And once they have children, many same-sex couples still endure the inevitable criticism — spoken or unspoken — from those who remain uncomfortable with the notion of their being parents.

Adopt or use a surrogate--no big deal either way, right?

I've written plenty over the years about why surrogacy is evil. So let me quote, instead, a bisexual man raised by lesbians who now lives as a married man and a faithful husband--yes, you read that right:

Most LGBT parents are, like me, and technically like my mother, “bisexual”—the forgotten B. We conceived our children because we engaged in heterosexual intercourse. Social complications naturally arise if you conceive a child with the opposite sex but still have attractions to the same sex. Sherkat calls these complications disqualifiable, as they are corrupting the purity of a homosexual model of parenting.

I would posit that children raised by same-sex couples are naturally going to be more curious about and experimental with homosexuality without necessarily being pure of any attraction to the opposite sex. Hence they will more likely fall into the bisexual category, as did I—meaning that the children of LGBT parents, once they are young adults, are likely to be the first ones disqualified by the social scientists who now claim to advocate for their parents.

Those who are 100-percent gay may view bisexuals with a mix of disgust and envy. Bisexual parents threaten the core of the LGBT parenting narrative—we do have a choice to live as gay or straight, and we do have to decide the gender configuration of the household in which our children will grow up. While some gays see bisexuality as an easier position, the fact is that bisexual parents bear a more painful weight on their shoulders. Unlike homosexuals, we cannot write off our decisions as things forced on us by nature. We have no choice but to take responsibility for what we do as parents, and live with the guilt, regret, and self-criticism forever.

Our children do not arrive with clean legal immunity. As a man, though I am bisexual, I do not get to throw away the mother of my child as if she is a used incubator. I had to help my wife through the difficulties of pregnancy and postpartum depression. When she is struggling with discrimination against mothers or women at a sexist workplace, I have to be patient and listen. I must attend to her sexual needs. Once I was a father, I put aside my own homosexual past and vowed never to divorce my wife or take up with another person, male or female, before I died. I chose that commitment in order to protect my children from dealing with harmful drama, even as they grow up to be adults. When you are a parent, ethical questions revolve around your children and you put away your self-interest . . . forever. [Emphasis added--E.M.]

Think about that sentence in bold for a moment. What the New York Times article so blithely references as a burning question for the gay male couple--adopt, or use a surrogate?--Robert Oscar Lopez pegs for the ugliness it is, with a single, perfect sentence. The beauty of what follows, of his own decision and committment, is only made stronger by the stark ugliness of the reality of what the "choice" of two men to "make" a baby together really means.


L. said...

I think the truly sick part of what he said was the last chilling line: " When you are a parent, ethical questions revolve around your children and you put away your self-interest . . . forever."


Red Cardigan said...

I think of it as along the lines of the quote to the effect that being a parent means knowing that your heart is walking around outside of your body.

But then, I'm happy to feel that way about my kids.

L. said...

I've always liked the heart-outside-the-body comparison, actually.

But I think the idea that one needs to "... put away your self-interest . . . forever" is as bizarre as saying, "...put one's self-interest first...forever." Neither extreme is ideal.

People don't stop being individuals with needs just because they reproduce, and denying self-interest all the time is as unhealthy as giving in to it all the time.

This obviously applies case-by-case, and sometimes there are no clear right or wrong answers -- and there are also situations when even the most selfish parents would admit the kids' interests come first.

But I think it was the absolute certainty of his statement that to be a good parent requires one to be selfless at all times, "forever," made me say, ick, no!

freddy said...

Well, as a Catholic, my example is the Cross: where my God "put away" His "Self-interest forever" to redeem fallen mankind.

How could I call myself a Christian and do any less?

And the love that I give to my husband, my children, and the world isn't mine, anyway; all my poor broken love is given to Him, and He pours out His love through me to them.

Whether Mr. Lopez is a Christian or not, he's surely closer to Christ than many who claim the name!