Once upon a time, there was a childfree-by-choice woman in her thirties who made the decision to have kids, after all. This was a radical shift in thinking and in life-planning, so she and her spouse set out on a year and a half of talking, writing, and thinking about everything you can possibly overthink about having kids. Here are some things they learned about the process and about themselves and about each other.
1. What is queer parenting, even?
The first thing we did was go out and look for resources for queer parents and families. We found some lesbian parenting books and some gay and lesbian parenting resources. We got some books that had helpful info. But it didn’t feel like they were really written for us so much as for middle-to-upper class white lesbians. Queer parenting, it seemed, was mostly code for two cis gay men or two cis lesbian women. We didn’t find a whole lot for bisexual parents, for trans parents, for queer interracial parents, for gender non-binary parents, etc. etc. So we decided to join the blogosphere to make connections and start processing what this all means. Through that, we found other bloggers writing about their experiences, including poly families, trans moms and dads, gender non-binary parents, lesbian dads, pregnant butches, and young-ish queer people like us.
What is different about queer parenting? So much. It’s about raising kids in a queer-normative environment. It’s about the way that we create family, which has little to do with blood and a lot to do with love — but we know that — our chosen families have always been bound by love. It’s about how you disrupt heteronormativity and the gender binary and how you help your kid navigate all that in the real world. It’s about considering intersectional feminism as a basis for the worldview you present to your kids. It’s about lots of stuff that we won’t even know or understand until we get there. But it’s not in any book we’ve read yet. Queer parents are changing the narrative, pushing the boundaries of “Heather Has Two Mommies” into new territory.
2. How many ways can you consider adoption?
I always thought I’d adopt. I’m an adoptee. I always thought I’d adopt from South Korea, actually, where I was born. Something about having the ability to help another Korean adoptee navigate life in the white-washed U.S. felt really important to me. However, I never thought I’d have kids, so I’d never truly entertained the idea. As it turns out, which is no big surprise, same-sex adoption and single parent adoption is illegal in South Korea, so there’s no way to make that work. OK, but adoption still seemed like the better idea to me. I’ve never wanted to be pregnant and adoption was still more appealing.
As it turns out, adoption decisions aren’t as easy as agreeing that it’s a good idea.
Younger vs. Older Children
I don’t have a strong preference towards infants. In fact, I like older children. However, Waffle really strongly wanted a baby. I couldn’t blame him. He certainly isn’t the only person to imagine a future with a baby in his arms. Sometimes we just want what our hearts want and I get that. Infant adoption, however, means a longer wait time and more competition with other potential adoptive parents.
Adoption Through Fostering
The Fosters is one of our favorite shows. But it also makes pretty clear that adoption through fostering is not always simple. We know some queer folks who are foster parents and have adopted through fostering and it was a lengthy and emotional (and absolutely very worth it) process. Additionally, we aren’t really interested in fostering, personally. It’s hard to imagine not getting super attached to a kid who lives with us and becomes part of our family. So, foster adoption was checked off the list of possibilities.
Surviving a Home Study
It is very possible for same-sex couples to pass adoption screening these days. Especially seemingly non-threatening, dual-income, married couples like us. However, we are a queer couple, not a same-sex couple. Waffle uses different names and pronouns in different contexts, which he is 100% open about. But it would add an additional layer of having to explain ourselves over and over during the very-invasive, mandatory home study. So we could decide to try to pass as lesbians, which neither of us are. Or Waffle could try to pass as a man which is not necessarily how he identifies. Or we could try to find a highly-queer-and-trans-friendly adoption agency. Or we could seek out a knowledgable LGBTQ law attorney. Or we could plan to do Gender 101 to everyone we meet in the adoption process. Or we could crawl into a hole and die.
Closed vs. Open adoption
At the end of the day, it came down to this. One of us is firmly in support of open adoption. One of us is firmly in support of closed adoption. We went around and around and around until we came to terms with the fact that neither one of us was going to change our opinions. We both had very deeply personal reasons for our opinions and neither of us was budging at all. So there it was. Adoption, it turns out, was completely off the table.
And yes, every time some well-meaning person asks, “Have you considered adoption?” or “Why don’t you just adopt?” I want to slap them in the face. Not only because I’m an adoptee and like WTF, but also because we have thought about it a lot more than anyone who has asked me this question.
3. Who will carry this potential human?
Easy. Me. Waffle has zero interest and I respect that. I mean, really, neither of us has much interest, but I’m the only one with the capacity, really. So in a move that was as close to my worst nightmare as I’ve ever gotten, I decided it’d be me. I’m not afraid of pregnancy or of how my body will change or of popping out a baby. I am nervous about how the world will treat me, as a pregnant woman, as a mom in the most traditional heteronormative sense of the word. As a femme feminist, I know that people are going to start reading me as straight more often if I’m knocked up and that I’m going to have to deal with people seeing my body before my brain in a weird, patriarchal way. But this was the best way, so onward!
4. Where will we get the sperm from?
Neither of us is interested in a known donor. I actually think having a friend donate the sperm is very sweet and I love big, extended families. But for us, we know we want an anonymous donor. I’d like to have an open donor, though, which means that the future kid would have the option of looking up their donor’s name and biological heritage when they turn 18 and that the donor is open to being contacted at least once at that time. As an adoptee without any biological records, I know that it can mean an awful lot to have that door open, even just to get a complete health history. But also to have access to who you are, fully, and what your heritage and history is. My parents are my parents and my family is my family, but I do wish I knew something — anything — about my birth history and biological heritage.
Oh, and I decided pretty early on that I wanted Korean sperm, if possible. I’d like to share an ethnicity with my kid and I’d like to be there for them as a Korean-American. Waffle has no issue with this. Sharing biological material isn’t important to him and, for us, it isn’t what makes a family bond.
5. Midwife? Doula? Doctor? Hospital? Home birth?
We’re still figuring this out. As of yet, we don’t have strong opinions either way. Maybe we will once I actually get knocked up, but we are checking out some midwifery practitioners to get a feel for what we might want.
6. How far are we willing to go with fertility treatments?
We’re going to start with IUI (intrauterine insemination), the least invasive and costly procedure. We’re going to do it at a fertility center. Neither of us feels very romantic about it and we’re perfectly satisfied to have a medical professional deliver the package, if you will.
Hormones or no?
In the beginning, I was staunchly against taking hormonal stimulants. But now that we know what path we are on and how much it will probably cost and have talked to a lot of folks who have done IUI in their 30’s, I’m feeling more open to it. Taking Clomid (a commonly prescribed hormonal stimulant) slightly increases your chance of twins from about 2-3% to 8%, which I’m not super pleased about. But it also increases your chances of conceiving, at all, so…
The jury is still out on whether we’d be up for a more lengthy and costly procedure like IVF. Waffle thinks it’s my body and I have the final say. We are both kind of…not sure if we would be willing to go there. I think we’ll have a clearer view if it becomes challenging to conceive through IUI. Until then, we’re putting all our (my?) eggs in the IUI basket.
7. What about gender?
We have a lot of thoughts about gender, obvs.
What’s in a name?
As most folks do, we started thinking about names right away because it’s a fun thing to do. We agreed that we wanted our future kid to have a gender neutral name. We don’t plan to raise them genderless, because we plan on sending them to public school and they will be out in the world and watching TV and we can’t imagine being very good at creating a gender-free household. However, we want to raise them with a very open and critical view of gender and we want them to be able to decide how to express gender and how to identify. If their gender is different than what they are assigned at birth, we want to give them a name that doesn’t make coming out more difficult.
Also, gender neutral names are amazing! As we started going through gender neutral names, we agreed on very few. We also realized that we felt differently about names based on whether they were for someone assigned male at birth or assigned female at birth. Like Spencer is a cool girl’s name, but not a cool boy’s name. GODDAMMIT GET OUT OF MY HEAD GENDER BINARY. Anyway, we finally got down to a few names we like that are really gender neutral. And I think our number one choice right now is “Remy” or “Remi” for a child of any gender.
Will we find out the assigned sex?
No. I mean, I’m not pregnant yet so maybe we’ll change our minds once I am, but I doubt it. We both feel like it’s better not to know. We won’t be swayed by our gender binary-loving lizard brains if we don’t know. Also, it will force our well-meaning family and friends to not put our future human in a gender box before they are born, either.
Gender neutral baby room themes
Ranked by preference:
8. When will we share the news?
Honestly, I’d be down to shout it from the rooftops immediately. But Waffle doesn’t want the heartache of dealing with everyone knowing if the pregnancy doesn’t “stick.” And I get that. I also want to be able to talk about it if we do have a miscarriage, because I don’t want to be alone in that. But I know I have an ample support network if that happens. And I respect where Waffle is coming from. So we are planning to do the typical no-telling-until-the-second-trimester thing.
9. Whose last name will future human have?
There is a reason we didn’t hyphenate our names when we got married and that’s because our hyphenated name sounds ridiculous. We fought a little about this one because I felt like if the kid came from my bod, they should have my name. Waffle felt like I would have a strongly recognized legal bond with the kid because of being the birth mother, so they should have Waffle’s name. Valid argument. Also, if we are successful with this whole Korean sperm donor thing, the kid will not look like Waffle at all. So they are getting Waffle’s last name, in the interest of making parent-teacher conferences less confusing. However, they are getting my Korean birth last name as one of their middle names. Lee is my second middle name and it will be future kid’s middle name, too.
10. How will I share cultural heritage with this future human?
As a KAD (Korean adoptee) whose parents and spouse are white, I feel I have a responsibility to this future person who will share some of my DNA and who will be at least half-Korean and hopefully 100% Korean like me. I want to share my family’s cultural heritage — my mom’s homemade butter cream frosting and my dad’s authentic Italian red sauce and our family traditions. I want to share Waffle’s family traditions, as well.
I also want to give future human a taste of their Korean ancestry — no, more than a taste. I want them to know the Korean side of their heritage, too. The challenge is, I’m still learning about Korean history and culture. For example, I want to celebrate toljabee, a Korean choosing ceremony on a child’s first birthday where various items are put in front of the baby representing wealth, long life, scholarly pursuits, etc and the object the baby picks up foretells their future. I was 18 before I had any Korean food. I want them to at least know what traditional foods are, even if they prefer McDonald’s over kimchee. And if possible, I want to send them to Korea school so they can learn the language. I’d like to learn my people’s language, too.
I feel like taking almost two years to really think this all through and to conceive of a financial plan to make it happen in the way that we want it to, was worth it. I mean, I’m not going to lie. Since we started on this and I fully realized that some people can just rub up together and make babies for free, I’ve been a little resentful. But I also know we are so privileged and lucky to be able to afford to do this in the way we want to and that many queer and trans folks don’t have the options we have. So we’re taking a deep breath. And we’re ready. In fact, this is the closest to a biological clock situation I’ve ever been in. I am ready to go now. I’m prepared. Let’s do it.
12. What if it doesn’t work out?
There is great risk in putting all these words on the internet before we even know if this is going to work. What is it doesn’t? What if we just can’t get pregnant, for whatever reason? What if we have to make an abortion decision? What if we have a miscarriage? Honestly, we don’t know. We know it feels right to be honest and that there are so few queer narratives out there in the world around pregnancy and parenting. And we know that writing these words down has helped us so much to process, to connect with other people in our real life and online who are also trying (or tried and gave up) and we feel so much better about these decisions now. We feel less alone. We feel like we have more queer resources and support networks. We don’t regret it. And if it doesn’t work out, well, I feel confident we can support each other through it and we’ll take it from there. And have a lot more expendable income in the future, for sure.
How about you baby-wanting or baby-making or child-having folks? What questions surprised you or challenged you along the way?
This is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!
Dinosaurs all of the time.
ALWAYS DINOSAURS. That’s the theme. Definitely.
Ah! I’m so excited for you!
I definitely started crying imagining you and watching your future baby foretelling their future at their toljabee! That idea of poc parents who were raised by or partially raised by white parents (like people who were adopted like you and mixed-race people like me) passing on their culture to their children always gets me right in the heart.
And definitely dinosaur rooms are always the answer!
I knew you would approve of the dinosaur theme. We may have to consult you, what with your being a dino expert and all…
KaeLyn! You’re going to make a baby shark!!
Thank you for sharing your up-and-down feelings about this journey. Really excited to read more.
Yay, baby making! Very happy for you all. This sounds a lot like all the things I thought about before making my big decisions. I’m a single mom by choice with the help of a non-friend known donor, and conceived without the help of a doctor. I would love to know about what blogs and resources you found. I started with books and blogs 6 years ago and am coming up on the 4th anniversary of my blog. I felt the need to password protect for a while but everything recent is open. Goodfamiliesdo.wordpress.com
Yay! Great to hear from people who’ve been there! I learned that there are a lot more of us out there than I thought when we started blogging, both online and off. Friends who I didn’t know were trying to conceive or adopt and/or who had their own parenting stories and didn’t have a community to talk about it started popping up.
As far as resources, there are still not a ton that aren’t for lesbian and gay couples, specifically. We have a blogroll of other queer and/or trans parenting blogs that we loved on our infrequently-updated blog. There is the Queer Mama series on autostraddle. And Autostraddle has published some great stuff recently from single moms or single parents-to-be or DIY insemination and a whole bunch of stuff that is exactly what we need in the world. Honestly the blogs are still the best. There still aren’t a lot of books that I love. There are a couple new collections of essays that are good reads. But there is very little on adoption for queer folks and nothing that includes an adoptee perspective (<-- VERY IMPORTANT). There's not much for single queer people or people with poly or blending families, etc.
I’m sure we can add even more to your blog roll! I had a dinner meet up with Are You the Babysitter?, and used to read Falcon Project. I’m going to see if my readers will help me make an LGBTQ blogroll. I have been reading the parenting related content on here when it comes up.
That sounds amazing! And so cool that you met some of the prominent queer parenting bloggers IRL!
I’m only 23 but somehow I feel like I need to decide soon whether to have kids, and I am deeply indecisive about it, so this right here is a thing I want to read allllllll about. ALL the parenting freakouts, so that maybe if I read someone else’s I can figure out my own shit too. KaeLyn, I’m really grateful for your openness in sharing you and your spouse’s difficult decisions and disagreements and ambivalences, I think those are very honest things that get left out of parenting conversations a lot. It’s comforting to hear about other people wrestling with these big questions.
Yeaaaah, more awesome parenting content to come, for sure. It feels funny writing about it before I’m even preggers or expecting a babe, but it was a LOT to think about.
Partially because we can’t conceive “naturally,” it gave us lots of time to overthink. But I’m grateful for the overthinking time! I feel so much more ready to go…now that we’re ready to go.
I am so. Fricking. Excited!!! Mama Shark is adding to the school!
Can our future shark babies be friends? (If that’s still a thing you’re considering)
I am excited for you making an incredible little human and being awesome parents! I did not know about your blog, but I just read a handful of your posts and I am not used to reading things about parenting that I can relate to that much. I hope I get to read more about your baby-making journey!
<3 We should start writing more on our other blog…oops. Haha! But glad you enjoyed. I started writing because I couldn’t relate to the parenting blogs and stuff that I found and I needed to process all the weird feelings I was having. Be the queer parenting blog that you want to see in the world…
That picture of y’all rhino-ing put me into feelings-excitement-love-joy overload. Congratulations and so much luck to y’all <3
My besties (and housemates) have been having the baby conversation recently and it’s so interesting to see how the conversation differs in Australia. Adoption for example isn’t really an option as there are maaaayybe 1-2 children a year that are placed up for adoption in our sunny country. Some years there are none at all. you could adopt from other countries (legally permitting of course!) but that could potentially throw up some frustrating ethical questions, if the adopting couple are both white (imo).
Also also also there are laws in Oz that say that donations (of sperm or eggs or even in terms of surrogacy) have to be open. There is a donor register and technically (legally?) even if you get a known/friend donor, they are supposed to go on the register and sign something saying that any potential child can contact them after they turn 18.
You can import sperm from the US though which is expensive but allows for a closed process.
Anyway, you guys seem like you will make excellent parents and will teach your children to think critically which is always a great skill :) go forth and procreate!
This is really interesting! I haven’t done much research into these topics in other countries. Thanks for sharing this info. I’m especially interested in the required open donor law. Personally, I am very for open donor registries, but I can understand how some folks would like to circumvent that law.
Interesting! I’ve been trying to find details about whether it’s possible to import sperm from the US or Denmark (either to NSW or Victoria) and can’t seem to find information online about it (which tbh kinda blows my mind – clearly I rely far too much on the internetses for info). Do you have any links about the state-based laws about individuals importing, rather than clinics, by any chance??
So exciting!!! Sending you lots of good hippy vibes for luck! Thank you for sharing, I hope to read more along the way!
My wife and I are having a lot of conversations about the ticking clock lately (well hers, we have a six year age gap) … But there are just so many more things we thought we would have done before we started lugging a little human or two around with us. We are really into adventure travel and going to countries most westerners can’t place on a map, and there is still a fairly long list of non-child friendly places to go!
Do we say screw it for another few years, and place all our eggs in my basket… or do we take the plunge while we still have a chance at what we have discussed as our ‘plan A’, where we each take turns to carry a child??
I find I do get those resentful feelings towards cis-opposite-sex couples, who can (mostly) make a baby for free! It feels like we have a financial handicap on other couples establishing a home and long term financial security etc.
On the other hand though, we are the middle class, cis, white lesbians that all the literature is aimed at, so we do need to focus more on being grateful for those privileges that will make it easier along the way, rather than wasting energy feeling resentful and jealous about what we can’t do and can’t have.
One possible option to consider is for your wife to freeze some of her eggs. My wife and I tried IUI with her gametes that she had frozen before her transition. It didn’t work the three times we tried. We have one try left and are working to save the rest of the money we need for IVF (about which I have mixed feelings). So one thought is to freeze some of my eggs now, I’m 34, and then try IVF in the next year or so.
Thanks so much for your comment. This is definitely an option we haven’t given enough thought to, and we really should. We have some added complications with geography (not sure how long we are going to keep living in our current country or continent -we hesitate before making the commitment of buying bulky furniture let alone depositing or cells somewhere) but if we are no closer by this time next year that could be our answer!
Yeah, we are still trying to figure out the possible logistics, but it’s good to know that it’s an option. It can also be a good option for people before beginning the possible medical parts of transitioning.
Just a reminder, of course, that there are some queer same-gender couples who can make babies for free. And some opposite-gender couples who can’t.
But I know you know that.
Also, lez be honest for a second. One of the reasons it has taken us thing long to get it together is that we kind of went on a whirlwind year of doing adult trips and things and throwing money into stuff that we really want to do for fun. And I don’t regret it at all! It was worth it to get a last take of pre-kid grown-up-ness. I think a lot of queer folks get a late start on having the disposable income to do that kind of stuff and it was important to us that we do some fun stuff before we got super serious.
Thanks Kaelyn! I kind of meant to exclude queer couples from my group of people I feel resentment for – I still feel a sense of kinship and support with other couples under the umbrella of queer and gender non-conforming, even if their anatomy combinations mean they can make kids for free… it’s the 100% heteronormative straight & cis couples who don’t have to have awkward conversations about science advancements and anatomy with Grandma and educate people about queerness every time they present as a family, AND on top of that get one for free that really get my resentment.
Sadly it”s probably not even a vague angry-at-the-world feeling… it’s quite targeted at specific straight cis woman friends of mine that I know and love, and who I’ve gone through other life phases and milestones with who can now just stop taking the pill or stop using protection, and fuck their boyfriends/husbands for a free baby… and I have to navigate a mess of red tape, hormones/drugs and spend a house deposit to get what happened quite simply and free for them.
Intellectually I know it’s no different to any couple of any gender/sexuality pairing (or single) people struggling with infertility for whatever reason… and jealousy isn’t a good colour on anyone, let alone someone who lives with as much other privilege as I do… but no matter how much I try and be a bigger person it still gets me down after i talk to these particular friends about general procreation topics.
Just had to vent. :(
This was excellent. Thank you so much for this.
My partner and I are in the middle of similar conversations. I am not adopted but always wanted to adopt (adoption is close to my heart for various reasons including friends’ experiences and my area of work), but my partner finds it more daunting and similarly to you we had different expectations of age etc (we’re in the uk so most adoption is closed as far as I know) so initially we will be trying to have our own baby, though we haven’t ruled out adoption further down the line. For me, carrying the child is more appealing but my partner feels more strongly about biological connections so we may look at intra partner IVF (me carrying her child) but of course it is more expensive and invasive. We are both cis and White but she is Jewish, I was raised Christian and she would like to raise our children celebrating Jewish traditions so we need to work out how to compromise as I’m up for some of the cultural traditions but don’t want to raise my children religiously.
I loved First Time Second Time (on your blog roll) for its discussions about being the non-bio mum, and found the gender posts really interesting (less relevant for me but really informative!).
Good luck with your plans – I’m looking forward to reading more about your journey and really like that autostraddle is posting more about queer parenting!
Good luck to you both! It sounds like you have an exciting journey ahead of you!
I feel a lot of pressure not to say something stupid and ruin the name for you…
This was really sweet, especially because you are not pregnant yet but have already figured out themes for the kid’s room and the way you want to raise the kid. I know you know it is early and I just think it is super endearing how excited you are. You are going to be great parents!
Yay! Thanks! We think so, too.
You definitely couldn’t ruin it for us. I mean, we already know it’s a Game of Thrones character and the name of the rat from Ratatouille, but we’re OK with both of those associations.
Wait I mean not Game of Thrones. X-men. Duh.
Thanks for sharing KaeLyn.
Whenever I think of adoption, I always think of a PoC friend who didn’t want to adopt an “Asian” baby because it wouldn’t look like them, but were ready to adopt a white baby even though it wouldn’t look like them either.
I’m sorry you never got that opportunity of adopting (in ways that respect both of you and the adoptee), but I’m very excited about your baby making, especially from your QPoC perspective.
Dinos, btw, dinos all the way.
Oh boi. Adoption is not so easy. It’s a minefield of questions that not everyone who steps into it thinks through or is asked to think through.
Thanks for the comment. It means a lot. It was hard to realize that adoption wasn’t actually the answer for us. I didn’t really plan to have kid before. But when I imagined having kids, it was always through adoption. So it’s been quite a shift in perspective for me!
Hey! I was where you are once! I mean, not totally, but I’ve gotten pregnant because it was the easiest way to get a baby as a young woman with a uterus.
I have 4 kids who were conceived in a total of 13 inseminations. The last two were IUI, which is what I would do if I were to try again. The last one we used a trigger shot because ovulation wasn’t predictable.
Anyway, I’m old and my fertility knowledge probably is, too.
I’m not femme, my kids call me Baba, and I’m still presumed straight. If you find a good way not to have to come out every day, I’m all ears.
Hahahahaha. I think I’ve decided to just grin and bear it.
Person presumed to be woman + baby = heterosexual
I’ll let you know when I’ve dismantled the patriarchy.
Thanks for sharing your experiences!
Super into an open sperm donor speaking as a donor conceived person. Even if you ultimately don’t, or sometimes still can’t, meet them having the option is something that feels very important to me in regards to the potential future human’s autonomy. Also telling your child they’re donor conceived, talking about it just always being part of their conception story or sitting down and having the big conversation.
Thanks for this point of view! I really hope we can find an open sperm donor because I agree that it is important to a child’s personal story. I joke about my “birth story” as an origin myth, because I know nothing about it. When other kids would talk about their birth story, I was just like…I came on a plane.
We will definitely tell our child they are donor conceived and make it a part of who they are. I’ve been reading stories of donor conceived children, too, because it’s important that I understand that perspective as someone who was not donor conceived.
Sounds like you are so all over things! Best of luck to you and Waffle.
This hit me in all the feels.
I love how thoughtful and considered all of your decisions are. I think this is something especially particular to the queer community, because we can’t “just rub up together and make babies for free”. So while we think and figure out the how/what/when/where/why and this all takes so much time, we think a lot about options and the types of parents we want to be, in a way that many (but not all) straight couples do not.
Wishing you both a smooth road to pregnancy and baby.
Thanks! And I agree! We do have all this time to sit and think because it isn’t as easy as just “doing it.” Most of us don’t really have the luxury of just figuring it out as we go…
Aww! This article is so sweet! And, also, great for people on the fence about baby-making. (These are all questions I considered about my own path, before I decided that parenting wasn’t in my future but being a happy auntie Rie is.)
I love being an Aunt! It’s the best!
Thank you so much for this article! My wife and I tried IUI and it didn’t work. It was a more emotional experience than I expected. My wife is not out as trans* to most people and so only a few people knew that we were trying IUI. It was difficult having few outlets for discussing the excitement and the deep sadness when it didn’t work.
I love kids and have always worked with little ones, but am not overly tied to having a biological child (though I would love to breastfeed). So I was surprised by how depressed I was that the IUI didn’t work. And part of it is that we only had 4 vials of my wife’s gametes and have tried without success using 3 of them. There is only one left and I have such conflicting feelings about IVF.
Foster care is something I’ve looked into previously, but my wife in worried about getting attached to a kid and then them having to leave. Adoption is tricky especially as a queer couple. I have wondered about at least putting our names out there with people we know as being open to caring for a child who is gender non-normative, but am not sure how that would/could work. So we are working to save the rest of the money we need for IVF, and we were close before my wife lost her job due in part to her depression.
Part of me feels like we need to hurry up before my eggs get any older, and we might try freezing them. And another part of me feels like we need to wait until things settle down a bit.
I had always assumed that I would be a parent, and it is a thing that I would love. For the past 10 years I have watched other people’s kids in our home and just last Friday closed to work with kids in other capacities. Partially it was due to frustrations with the parents’ expectations and a bit was due to the sadness that having a kid of our own didn’t work. Also fears of getting overloaded. My wife says she will help if/when we have a kid, but she’s not a huge fan of the little ones. People say that it’s different when they are your own, but goodness they can be a lot of work.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m so sorry that your journey has not been without bumps. Wishing you luck and sending love and support as you figure out what your next move it. I wish you and your wife all the happiness in the world, whether you have a kid in the future or not.
If it’s any help, two of my friends who are foster parents and have adopted through the system are going to be part of the Gayby Maybe AMA. If you have any questions, feel free to send them to me or pop into the AMA post. I believe they were able to put a note in their file that they specifically are open to foster LGBTQ kids and were successful with a couple placements.
Have you read any first hand accounts from “donor” kids on sites like Anonymous Us? So many stories that shed light on how those created by such means feel.
I just went down the rabbit hole of that website and it was very enlightening, and honestly pretty intense. One of my best friends is a sperm donor and I often wonder if he’s really considered what that means. He donated openly and in 18+ years, he could be contacted by up to 20 kids from all over the world (we live in the US, but apparently this bank gives a lot of sperm to the UK). I’ve thought a lot about adoption and IVF, but since I’m still young it is still very hypothetical. I hope everyone takes the time to consider all of the options and know that there is no one correct choice.
I have! And I think it’s so important. I wish this was mandatory reading for all parents considering the fertility path. Thanks for bringing it up!
There’s abundant reasons to doubt the veracity and authenticity of any comments on that site. It’s run by an extremist Catholic who advocates against all women’s reproductive health, even birth control, and seems to feel the only people who should have children are male/female couples.
It’s like trying to get advice on being gay from an ex-gay site.
The stuff about sharing cultural heritage really resonated with me! My family is more Jew-ish than Jewish but I still feel like I’d want a child of mine to feel more connected to their roots than I do. Even as I think about adoption as a future option for me- I want them to grow up with a Jewish sense of humour and a book full of recipes AND help them connect to their own ethnic/cultural heritage.
Thanks for sharing! It’s great to see content like this on Autostraddle – even though I’m a long way from having kids/even deciding if I want kids for sure, the parenting articles have really been helping me figure out some things in my head with regard to parenting and I feel lucky to have these resources available to me.
You have such a clear and focused attitude toward all of this. This read like all the practical moments in my many “maybe baby” conversations with my partner. Maybe one advantage to queer baby-making is it gives you some time to really assess if raising a child is the best decision for you. There aren’t “one night IVF” stories floating around :P
Anyway, thank you for this vulnerable and courageous essay. Hoping the best for you and your partner :)
“There aren’t one-night IVF stories floating around…” LOL
There are kinds of all-partners-are-queer baby babymaking that could involve a one-night stand – involving similar-gender, different-sex people, involving dissimilar-gender, different-sex people who both happen to be queer, involving a family unit (is “quadrad” a word, like triad but for four people?) of two mommies and two daddies who are all in a joint relationship with each other, blah blah blah. I guess the last isn’t going to count as a one-night stand even if an unintended pregnancy happens.
Very true that there’s a lack of one-night IVF stories though! :D
Oops. I got really drunk and spent $12000 on IVF with my spouse and a random donor while I was blacked out. WHAT A NIGHT!!!
That would be a great story, tho.
Such a great article. This is exactly the same set of choices and concerns that we went through. I particularly like the attention you paid to adoption because I’ve definitely experienced microaggression on our choice to do IUI instead of adoptiong. It’s expensive and intrusive.
Don’t sweat the baby room too badly. It’s for you, not them.
Hahaha! It’s true. The baby room is totally for us. HOPE THEY LIKE DINOSAURS.
I can’t tell you how many times people have inquired about whether we’ve considered adoption. Like we have never considered it. I mean, HELLO I’M AN ADOPTEE. Adoption was actually my first choice when it was all hypothetical. With a different partner in an alternate timeline, perhaps that is what we would have done. The reality is that it makes a lot more sense for us to try conceiving. Not because I care at all about whether our child is biologically related, because adoption is still not really friendly to genderfluid queer parents and because adoption is not “an easy choice” like some people think it is. “Why don’t you just adopt?” is my least favorite question right now.
I’m adopted. I love adoption. I would love to be able to adopt. Please stop assuming I haven’t considered adoption, strongly. Ugh.
Having complained in the bi-and-dating-men thread about how all the queer pregnancy/parenting stuff out there seems to be the “two cis gay men or two cis lesbians” version of queer pregnancy/parenting, this is very nice to see. It’s not my situation, but it’s undoubtedly similar to the situations of a bunch of people whose stories are not usually told in conversations about queer pregnancy/parenting, and that’s wicked valuable.
I wrote a thing about bi invisibility in queer families on my Queer Family blog a while ago that you might like AND I’d love to hear more about your experiences!
As a parent of two, mostly everything you think goes out the window once you get pregnant. My advice is to enjoy the ride and don’t over think it.
These are huge conversations and decisions that definitely don’t go out the window after the child is born. Yeh some of our ideals and perspectives shift but the reality of our choices and intentions are still there. The reasons for having chosen a known donor for myself did not go out the window, they solidified and will always be a part of my child’s sense of self.
I fully expect to know nothing and change my mind about anything! :) As with most life-changing experiences, I know that I can’t really know what it’s like until I experience it! But thinking these things through helped me envision a future with a kid and what that might look like for me, given my politics, my relationship, my feminism, and my conversion from childfree-by-choice to ready-to-carry-to-term. Thanks for your support!
How about checking if both mom’s can be on the birth certificate from birth. Major issue if a known donor and depending if your state has caught up with equality. Why should one of you have to adopt your own kid?
I didn’t include this, but we did consider this a LOT when deciding on going for IUI instead of adoption. Because my partner and I live in a state that has had full marriage equality since 2011, it makes it a lot easier to just put both our names on the birth certificate. #nodrama (hopefully)
Super informative Kaelyn!! Sharing this ASAP with Christine. Any thoughts on pros and cons on adoption vs IVF? What about costs?
Yes please, to discussions around adoption and IVF. There are so many issues that come into play. Before I got together with my partner I had never thought I would consider IVF. Then when she told me that maybe we could make a baby with her gametes and mine, it gave me pause. My wife wants to have a biological child and I want to raise a child, but the three IUIs we tried didn’t work (the first without clomid and the second and third with). We have one vial of her gametes left. So we have looked into IVF. My understanding is that $12,000 is around the minimum in our area. Saving money for the procedures and me being able to take time away from work to drive to a doctor’s office are considerations that we are working through.
With adoption I know that our midwestern state, or at least the DCFS on the other side of the state, has a specific policy in place working to recruit LGBT parents into foster care and adoption. But I don’t know how it would play out in our small town. And my wife has some attachment issues from her child hood and is very uncomfortable with the uncertainty that can come with adoption.
So for now I’m working at a job with a non-profit that provides short term care, up to 72 hours, for parents as a support to help prevent child abuse. So it’s a bit like short term foster care but the parents are empowered to make the decision and can receive supports without losing custody of their kids.
I am interested in hearing other people thoughts and considerations on the issue.
Hey! We are actually doing an AMA on gaybe stuff soon. Do you mind if I include your question in that round-up. There is so much to say and I bet a lot of people would benefit from reading the answer toy our question. Is that cool, V?
Short term answer: Costs of fertility treatment depend on a lot of things including whether you have health insurance, what your insurance covers, how your insurance determines “infertility,” what state you live in and what the laws are, what kind of fertility treatment you are considering, etc. Adoption varies a LOT because there are a lot of ways to adopt, from quite a bit for international adoption to not much money (but usually a LOT of time and dedication) for foster adoption.
I WOULD TOTALLY BE OKAY WITH THIS BEING IN THE AMA!
So your insurance would only cover if you are considered ‘infertile?’ Uh, IDK how I feel about that. Christine and I have talked about IVF and adoption but I can almost tell we both would want IVF in all honesty. She would def love having some kid with my genes (that’s possible right. well it’s 2015, I guess anything by now is possible) Cost wise, I think I’ve heard/read just about the same amount. 5 figures mostly..?
I know I want to be a parent someday, and I’m currently in the kind of queer, trans partnership where we *could* just make a baby together if we wanted to, but the logistics of actually raising a kid make me incredibly anxious.
My main concern: bullying. I was facing verbal sexual harassment at school on a regular basis from about fifth grade on through the end of middle school, largely targeted at my gender nonconformity (which I wasn’t even intentionally cultivating at the time). I am terrified at the thought of raising a kid who would likely experience something like that, too, because of their parents’ identities if nothing else. I don’t feel like there’s a clear, simple solution because I can’t have control over everyone else’s kids’ behavior in a school. Long story short, I expect I’ll be a very blunt and forward parent when it comes to quizzing teachers and staff about policies around harassment and student safety.
That is really real! And it is hard to control. It’s important to think about. As an international adoptee who grew up in a mostly rural area where I was one of the only Asian kids in my class, I can tell you that I was definitely bullied. But my parents knew that might happen and they were prepared and before I ever even went to school, they made sure I had pride in who I am. It didn’t stop the tears from flowing when I encountered bullying for the first time, in elementary school. But they also weren’t caught off guard. I don’t know that they totally thought through what raising a Korean kid in a white place would do to me long-term. But they did think about bullying and they created the safe haven at home and instilled the confidence in me that I was able to be OK. I always knew they had my back. It’s not the same, but I think of it now when I think of how our future kid will interact with the world. Definitely being “that parent” will probably be part of it. But I think kids are more resilient than be give them credit for, especially when they are backed by a supportive, loving family who is there to help them work through this kind of stuff. BUT WHAT DO I KNOW?! I guess we will see when we get there and try to prepare as much as possible along the way. Like you. :)
Hey beautiful humans! KaeLyn has an idea! You may have seen on social over the past week that we are working on a huge massive post where we will have experts in parenting, baby-making, adoption, fostering, etc answer your anonymous baby questions!
The deadline to ask questions has technically closed, but if you have questions and can get them to me by tomorrow, Wed, 8/5, I’ll include them!
If you have questions, reply to this post or ASS message me or email me at kaelyn at autostraddle dot com! If you get’em in soon, we may be able to answer them!
Don’t know how possible this is with your resource pool but it would be really cool if some.of your experts had a perspective from outside the USA. I know its not possible to cover off everybody’s country and that the philosophical, emotional and ethical aspects transcend geography, BUT so much of what I read in English about logistics/costs/legalities is like ‘this is how it works in the USA now go spend another 10 hours digging to figure it out anywhere else’. Its nice to get more than one country as a reference.
A couple of questions from my partner:
How do other trans women manage internalized transmisogyny as it relates to parenting, especially jealousy of other women and/or anxieties about being a good mother?
Do any disabled queer and trans folks have advice about how to handle disability and/or mental health issues as parents, especially anxieties about passing things down to offspring?
These are great questions that overlap with my partner’s and my experience as potential parents a lot. I know I’m super late to this, but thank you for asking them!
a) tbh i’m feeling torn between dinos and cute monsters.
b) this is an AMAZING resource, and i am so grateful to be moving into the years where i’m going to start asking myself some of these questions with you and other queer mamas/parents as role models and inspiration.
Hi! Thank you for posting this, KaeLyn! It was fascinating to see another couple’s thought process on narrowing down all the options.
My partner and I have (for various reasons) landed on private open adoption as the way that seems the most right for us. We’re trying to figure out which agency would be a good fit, and are about to have some conversations with other couples we know who have gone this route. I’m looking forward to more of these AS parenting articles! <3
Congrats on making a decision that is right for you! That is awesome! Good luck!
My wife and I have been having these talks recently and it’s so nice to hear from people in similar positions. Like, we’re talking about creating and raising a human here!!! I want to know everything there is to know and hear from every perspective there is before we start making these huge(but so very exciting) choices!
I admire how open you have discussed this whole process and I wish both of you the best time with your future child
Thank you so much for this, KaeLyn. I don’t know many other queer people considering parenthood and I love that I can find this discussion on Autostraddle! I’m also 32, queer, femme, married, and a lot of your questions reminded me of the discussion my spouse and I have been having, though we’re both white and neither of us is an adoptee. We recently decided I’ll start IUI once we’re both done with grad school in 18-24 months. We’re from different class backgrounds and we ended up talking a lot about class, which influenced our thinking about how we want to become parents and what “good” parenting is. I don’t think we could be planning to try to have a kid without those conversations first, though sometimes I feel weird admitting that we had all this processing in order to make a plan.
For me, talking to my nurse practitioner was really helpful in figuring out how we might go about this. I was nervous about it but she was informative and reassuring. I know that’s not the case for everyone and I wish it was.
We also love gender nonspecific baby names. My spouse has and grew up with a gender neutral name and has always been really grateful. I’m also a big fan of gender neutral parenting with the idea that kids often let you know how they identify at a pretty young age and you can just go with it. Like, my mom was a feminist into gender nonspecific baby clothes, but I apparently screamed when I was made to wear pants. I still don’t really wear pants, so…
Yay for dinosaurs and cute monsters. We’re thinking cuddly kraken for our (hopeful) future human.
Good luck! Thank you for sharing this with us.
Thanks for sharing, Elinor! Wishing you and your love a lot of happiness and success, too! It is weird that we think so much about it. Because we started talking about it almost two years ago now, I think people are like… “Um, are you doing it yet?!” but it’s not as easy as just starting, you know? Or maybe it is? It hasn’t been for us. :)
Thank you for sharing, too! I think cuddly kraken is an adorable idea.
Congratulations to you and your partner for undertaking this journey to parenthood. As a parent of three grown children I can tell you that parenting can, and will be, both truly joyful and heart- wrenchingly painful- so get ready! That said I am saddened by your easy dismissal of the struggles of a whole generation of lesbian and gay parents. Creating our own families challenging the heteronormative, raising kids who challenge gender roles and look at the world around them with a critical eye – that sounds a whole lot like what the many different kinds of lbgt families that I know have tried to do. I’m glad that you and your partner feel like you’re continuing to push the envelope of what it means to be a family. But please, can we have just a little appreciation for some of what us older folks accomplished and an acknowledgment that, just maybe, you and your partner can push the boundaries beyond “Heather Has Two Mommies” largely because lbgt families like mine, and other like mine, have been pushing them for a very long time.
In any case, good luck and a few tips from one who has been there: remember your children are NOT little adults, practice patience, learn to pick your battles with your partner when the inevitable disagreements over parenting come up, and most importantly enjoy your time with your children because it all goes by very quickly!
Oh my gosh, I don’t think we’ll ever be ready. Is anyone every ready? Thanks for your comments and for sharing your experiences and advice!
I didn’t mean to imply any dismissal of lesbian and gay parents. Sorry if you read that into the post. I know many gay and lesbian parents (younger and older) who have had to fight a lot of stigma to create the families they want and who definitely blazed the trail. We are where we are today in terms of LGBTQ rights, in general, because of those that have come before us in the gay rights and feminist movements. I by no means meant to invalidate anyone’s experience. It is true, though, that a certain image of what “gay parenting” looks like is what we have to currently draw on and that image is largely cis, same-gender, and white. That is not because of anything other than that it was much, much harder to do this stuff 30 or even 20 years ago and the people with the most structural privilege were the most able to make lesbian and gay parenting decisions. Not that people of all socio-economic statuses haven’t always found ways to make parenting decisions–it was just even harder then. As we win more and more rights and our community gets more and more inclusive and diverse, that definition of what a queer family looks like needs to expand. That is all I’m saying. I don’t think calling for continuing to move forward says anything negative about the work that has come before me. :) I hope we’re on the same page!
Thanks again for the advice and for your comment and for raising cool kids when (or before) Heather Has Two Mommies still had the sperm section and was a subject of hot debate!
When I came out in my late teens I thought I’d definitely have kids, because there were lots of options and why shouldn’t I be able to. Ten years later I feel further away from it then I did then. I’m in a serious relationship but neither of us are ready to start doing this now. She’s older than I am so I feel like if it did happen we would at least have to start in the next five years. It feels like we would have to decide soon whether or not to do it, and that most likely it just won’t happen. It’s sad but I don’t know anymore, I don’t know how it would work.
This is so great; I want to hang out with y’all and commiserate. We are going through a very similar journey, (two home inseminations with a known donor so far, might be moving on to IUI if we can find someone who will do it with fresh semen) with many of the same questions and situations. My (queer/trans) husband is adopted, and we have also “considered adoption” in all of the myriad ways you describe, but combined with my genderfluid/queer self, and our part-time/low-income household, we’ve decided to go the pregnancy route (hopefully) before going through all of that time, money, scrutiny, heteronormativity, and heartache.
Good luck, RJ! Best wishes for you and yours. I have been a bit overwhelmed by how emotional the whole journey has been so far. I’ve had a hard time finding emotional supports, and been surprised by how depressed the whole thing has made me. My wife is trans* and not out to most people so I don’t discuss where the gametes have come from and why we have so few tries. And in general it is a private thing, but my wife has depression and the whole thing makes her sad, too, so sometimes we’ve been able to support each other but sometimes not.
The sadness part of it was unexpected. Just… PMS is so much worse when it means another unsuccessful attempt. Good luck & baby dust for y’all as well!
This is so exciting, KaeLyn! My wife and I have been trying to figure out the route we want to go and it has taken so many turns already. From adoption to known donor to being told by a social worker our known donor (brother) was not a good idea. We just want to do the best thing but everything feels so scary. So much overthinking over the past two years. I am looking forward to hearing more about your experience.
This is so wonderful, KaeLyn, thanks for putting all these thoughts and questions out here. I’m super excited for you and Waffle!
It’s so good to read articles like this (and see the comments of so many people whose journeys are/were/might-turn-out-to-be similar). Me + wife ~ similar path into these same mountains. For us, baby is still just out of sight… maybe visible from the top of this next climb…?