Phil Reese

The babies conundrum

Filed By Phil Reese | September 08, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: adoption rights, lesbian moms, surrogacy

My boyfriend and I are not in agreement on babies. I want them, he doesn't. surrogacy.jpgWe've apparently been able to find a sort of middle ground arrangement that would work for both of us--only trouble is it will involve a lesbian couple who think I'm adorable and genetically sufficient, while wanting to raise a child a bit more than the two of us.

Mikey has indicated that if I was to donate my... genetic material to a lesbian couple looking to raise a child, while still maintaining a presence in the child's life, he'd be fine if we took weekends. How do you arrange such a thing though? I know there are websites for arranging a surrogacy, but is there a Craigslist section for local gays or lesbians who want kids but not 100% of the time?

This very situation has just happened to fallen into a friend's lap: he donates, the girls raise the baby, he gets weekends. How common is it? Will my dream of being a dad be plausible, or will I have to trade in my man for a more domestic model? Is eHarmony going to set up

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It is more common than you think, but I don't know how folks arrange it. I remember a story from Oakland a few years ago and the kids, yep 2, were just entering school.. and had 4 parents!

Is it at all common the other way around? My girlfriend wants kids, but I don't. It's just more responsibility then I want...or I can scares the crap out of me really. Though, sharing that responsibility with another couple...maybe would be okay?

Yes, this is an arrangement some people set up, but you should not enter into such an arrangement without fully researching it. It does work for some people, but for a lot of people it can be a big headache. For starters, 3 or 4 people can't be legal parents, so who are the two legal parents? Do they have more say in the parenting decisions? What if one of the couples breaks up? What does a break up mean to a child?

I am a parent with just one other parent. It is hard enough getting both of us on the same page for our parenting decisions. I can't imagine trying to get 4 people on the same page. What if two parents believe in spanking and the other two are totally against it? What if one couple wants private school and the other public. What if you get totally attached to the kid and the couple who has primary custody decides to move away?

There are many challenges to this arrangement. It takes some very thoughtful and unselfish adults to make it work. The people who it seems to work for are the people who are truly putting the needs of the kids first--which is harder to do than one might think.

Before you embark on this journey, please explore the emotional and legal implications it will have for you. It is not something to be done just because we can.

I don't want to rain on your parade ... but I will.

Depending on where you live, once you donate your "genetic material" you become, prima facie, the legal father, with all the rights and responsibilities of a legal father under the law.

Including, but not limited to, being sued for child support. And not just for the weekend portion of your time-shared offspring.

It might (and I'm sure it will) work out just fine. But play it safe and get some legal advice first.

Lee Sonoflaw | September 9, 2010 9:43 AM

I think it would depend on the laws of the State in which you reside. Any a gay or gay friendly lawyer should be able to help. The important thing is, once you make a leagle contract, its binding. If your situation changes: Job loss, relocation, seperation, death you must be prepared for the consequences.

Why don't you practice this "middle ground" system w/a lesbian couple for about five years w/a puppy. But something that will grow to be EXTREMELY large and cumbersome... like a Bullmastiff.

Cause THAT is about 1/10 of the room, time, space, patience, damage and no where EVEN NEAR cost. You get through 5yrs of co-petting, amiably, w/out a lawyers, then consider a child.

What's the rush? It's not like your sperm ticking.

Hope this doesn't come across as too harsh, but it sounds to me like someone who wants to "play" at Daddy without all the work and responsibilities that go along with the job. Is this like planning a divorce before the marriage and then going ahead and having children that are raised between two homes? How close are the two homes in child-rearing ideals? Who takes care of the child when he is sick, regardless of which side of the schedule? What about those legal responsibilities regarding child support, even just paying the bills for the things any child requres? I'm not saying these things haven't been worked out between separated families but there are more problems than success stories and everyone gets hurt when it fails. Children aren't puppies.

Well, remember that "being involved " in a kid's life should be a total commitment that the child can count on unconditionally. One can not explain to a child that Dad is not around when the kid may want him, because it is not his weekend, and expect that the child will not feel abandoned. I think that it is like beginning life with "divorced" parents. It is tough enough getting two parents to co-operate to raise a child, let alone four.
Since you are in DC, I think that two good places to start are the following. First, are you already legally married? If not, why not? I suggest starting with YOUR relationship first, before you bring any others (including a child) into it. Give long and serious thought about why you guys ( you call him simply a "boyfriend, so I assume that you are not married) are not married yet. This is a very common issue for hetero couples to determine whether a partner is for keeps or not, based on the very fundamental issue of having kids. Also, what is behind your partner's decision not to have kids? There is nothing wrong with that decision. However, if it is because he still imagines himself spending four nights a week at bars, dance contests, and Mr Buns of Summer 5 years from now, and you imagine yourself to be attending PTA meetings with the kindergarten teacher in 5 years, there is a basic divergence here that you should analyze.
The second thing I suggest (after figuring out your relationship), is to consult one of America's top gay/lesbian rights attorneys, and Bilerico contributor, DC attorney Nancy Polikoff. She will surely point out the legal minefield involved. One issue that I see is the huge challenge involved with the possibility that you present, with 4 separate persons moving to 4 separate jurisdictions, and each potentially claiming some "parental" right. Remember, sometimes these claims arise simply as bargaining chips in a palimony situation, or if anyone is married, in a divorce. But whether you current boyfriend is interested in parenting or not, his potential "claims" need analyzed to protect the child as well as you.
Finally, I think that the safer situation is to figure out why you would not find a life-partner who also wants kids. Being a parent or not is sort of a basic matter of identity and life style, just like being gay. If you really want to live life as a Dad, why are you considering doing it on a severely compromised basis fraught with potential legal hazards? Having a child is making a non-revokable commitment to a child that you will be totally there for the child for at least 18 years, any hopefully longer. I think that it is great to have a circle of friends who are honorary aunts and uncles or godparents, but child-rearing has enough challenges without inviting other problems because of an uncooperative partner, or due to the involvement of 4 parents from the get-go. Too many decisions about education, religion, etc etc evolve in the day to day relationship of the parents, and their common experience together, and with their common experiences with child. It is impossible to have a "committee" make decisions and vote, like at your condo or tenant association meeting.

I appreciate all of the comments! I hope you all understand I was having a bit of fun here. I do take being a dad seriously--as alluded to in the opener, I really want to be one. But after a silly conversation with my boyfriend, I thought I'd post something humorous.

PS, I don't live in DC, I live in Central Illinois--where ethanol comes from! ;-)

I love the humour of the article. Actually - my partner and I have often spoken of the same thing - and wondered why someone didn't start a "rent a kid" site for gay men wishing to become weekend dads. Then we realized - HEY - Big Brother for Gay kids - sadly the only organization we can find for this appears to be in California... .we live in miami. Keep looking.

Take a look at by gay Dad Christopher Nordquist . There is a photo and article on the Advocate's website about him.

Yes, but they have a FULL TIME baby, and my boyfriend vetoed that idea.

It's amazing how gay Chevy Chase, D.C. has become. There are several gay or lesbian couples who have kids in the neighborhood public school, Lafayette. My neighbors have two kids (adopted) and the gals across the street each bore a child. At the Sunday Takoma Park Maryland farmers' market, there is a veritable parade of gay/lesbian couples with kids, gathering around the banjo player who always entertains the kids.
I agree with comments above that it is best to have both partners in a couple agree to be parents, and of course, it is much better to get married where possible. You can't flip parenting on and off like a light switch. My husband and I inherited two nephews when they were in grade school, due to parental death and mental illness of the other, and had never planned to be parents. It was a huge challenge, but we rose to the occasion. The older just entered college. The kids became huge gay rights supporters, and once DC legalized marriage, they insisted that we tie the knot.

Break up with your boyfriend and partner up with someone with the same life goals. Then find a surrogate -- if your new partner is also another man. Problem solved.

I agree with Leigh Anne. You need to decide whether you really want to be a father or not. Either really do it, or forget it. But don't just "dabble with it." Parenting is not a hobby. You nned some self examination about how much you really want this or not, and then if it is significant, you do need to think about finding the right partner.

Phil, looks like you're going to have to party like a het and knock a girl up. Then come out in one of those dramatic scenes after the baby is already born and hope she never finds your posts on Bilerico.

Surrogates, arrangements, adoption... all that's putting money and paperwork in the way of God's primary reason to send people a child: irresponsibility.