August 26, 2007

GLBT Moms: Adopt or Conceive?

That is an intriguing question in today's society, and writer Maggie Quale shared her personal experience with it on The

Here’s what the beating heart sounds like in my tortured head: Hundreds of thousands of children need families. Thump. Our planet is overcrowded and every new person strains our already strained resources. Thump. The world is violent, unstable, and so on. Thump. Conversely, someone needs to produce those kids who are destined to become productive global citizens. Someone needs to be the voice of tolerance and love and inspire positive change. Thump thump. The arguments are compelling and timeless—and they’re driving me mad.

And suddenly the biggest contradiction of all hits me. What if it’s not about whether we should adopt or get pregnant? What if I actually feel selfish out of some lingering internalized homophobia? Like, the reason it's so difficult to have a baby is because I'm not supposed to, that it's wrong. Perhaps it’s really the resonance of my mother’s Catholic background haunting me and reminding me that infertility is a dictum from God. Perhaps my desire to adopt is not about my own desire, but rather me trying to prove that I’m a good person to the straight world. Silence.

Being queer or unpartnered or infertile shouldn’t exclude me from the miracle of pregnancy if that’s what I choose. Finally, wishing I were someone else won’t change who I am or make me happier. That’s coming-out lesson number 1.

So you know what my answer is? Yes, it is selfish. Whether I like it or not, there are always conceivably more helpful and loving choices I could make. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The bottom line is that I love being a mother. I thrive on every single exhausting, endless moment and I’m ready for a gazillion more. But maybe I’ve got to admit that not all of my impulses are perfectly selfless—and that is OK. Maybe just being me is OK. Maybe now the thumping will stop and Kim and I will get some sleep.

I have some personal experience with the conceive vs. adopt question. My late wife Bette and I tried to have a child, were unable to naturally, tried fertility treatments which also failed, and then considered adoption but were financially unable to do that either. By the time we were, we were both well into our 40's and her health wasn't good, so we decided to drop it, although that issue haunted her through her final days.

I wholeheartedly support the right of gay and lesbian people to have kids, both by giving birth and adoption. From my perspective, I would side toward the points Ms. Quayle made in the first paragraph about the existing overpopulation--this planet does not need anyone to go out of their way to make babies, enough are popping out as it is. However, I would never promote the idea of denying anyone who felt they had the calling to be a parent to deny themselves the opportunity.

The world has enough room for babies who are wanted and who will be loved, regardless of the gender or number of parents involved.

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