I am so happy to announce that my sister Annie and brother in law Rahul welcomed their first baby this week. My sister toughed out a difficult delivery and baby boy L is doing great. Rahul and Annie have already had some good practice helping us with AJ and JJ when we took two extended trips to India a few years ago, so I know they will be great parents.
Today is the official launch day of Eric Rosswood’s new book, Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood. I was able to receive an advance copy and wrote a glowing review for it on Amazon. Of course, I am somewhat biased given the fact that I contributed our family story to this collection of personal stories about gay and lesbian parents.
With that said and having now read the entire book, I think Eric Rosswood did a marvelous job. I really do wish a book like this existed when Josh and I were originally considering our options for family building.
It is very well organized into five sections covering different paths to parenthood for same sex couples: Open Adoption, Foster Care, Surrogacy, Assisted Reproduction, and Co-Parenting. Each section includes multiple representative firsthand stories by gay and lesbian people that went through it themselves. Each story takes you on an emotional roller coaster toward parenthood that keeps your attention while at the same time informing you of the highs and lows that may occur along the way. I think that same sex couples hoping to have children will have better understanding of practical issues, but especially the emotional complexities that come with each approach after reading these personal stories. Other books may focus on a single approach, or read more like a clinical manual. This book is warm and intimate.
For the detail oriented, the end of the book comes complete with multiple appendices that comment on legal issues, benefits and challenges, and questions to ask yourself when considering each of the five different paths to parenthood.
I encourage any gay or lesbian couples interested in pursuing parenthood to check this book out today!
For a few years before AJ and JJ were born, Josh and I had a retired racing greyhound named Madison. She was already more than 10 years old by the time we took her in and she sadly died of old age shortly after we learned we were expecting AJ and JJ. Even in the short couple years we had together I became very fond of the breed and I always told myself if we ever had another dog it would be a greyhound.
For the last couple years the boys have been bugging us about getting a dog. After the holidays we could stall no longer and contacted an agency that specializes in fostering greyhounds. I felt this would be a good trial period to make sure that DJ and MJ were okay around dogs and vice versa.
Tyson Jo (TJ for short, ha!) is a male greyhound almost 3 years of age that raced at a dog track. He had a short but reasonably successful career winning 8 of the 52 races he ran in. Below are video replay links to the races he won! He retired last year and has been waiting for adoption for several months in a kennel. We took him in and introduced him to his first house a couple weeks ago and he has adapted remarkably well to the environment. Of course, the kids have quickly become attached and AJ in particular loves this dog. It looks like this foster situation is quickly evolving into a forever home.
Since AJ and JJ were born, we have taken family photos periodically on birthdays and holidays. With the addition of DJ and MJ, these photos have become increasingly challenging to stage because of the number of moving parts.
Last week we had our photo session and I was initially displeased because of how restless MJ was throughout the shoot. Somehow, the photographer managed to capture a couple moments of relative cooperation. Of course the beauty of our children won me over and now I love the photos.
Looking over the last few family portraits I am struck by how much the kids have grown over the last couple years!
My New Year wish for 2016 would probably be for solidarity among LGBT moms and dads of different stripes.
Parents in general are probably familiar with a phenomenon I call “competitive parenting.” Because of their love for their children and a deep desire to do their best as parents, people often subscribe to different philosophies and methods: attachment parenting, free range kids, cloth diapers, etc. Furthermore, insecurities about whether they are actually making the best choices for their own children sometimes leads them to go from self-affirmation to putting down other parents in order to make themselves feel superior. This can be as subtle as singing the praises of a gluten-free kid diet in mixed company, and as extreme as telling formula-feeding moms that they are depriving their babies. I find this competitiveness to be the best mom or dad unnecessary. We are all in this together, we all love our children, we are all trying our best, and we really shouldn’t have to prove ourselves to anybody. We have more in common than there are differences to be found. Solidarity!
LGBT moms and dads in our unusual situation often struggle with even more insecurity because of feeling judged by society as a whole. In attempt to prove themselves just as good, competitive LGBT parents grapple with how we raise our kids, as well as the manner in which we built our family in the first place. Over the past few years, interacting with LGBT parents on social media, I have found some mutual support in these groups, but a lot of division as well. I can easily dismiss hateful comments from outsiders, who know nothing about my circumstance, as ignorant. When other gay dads talk about fostering and adoption as a more moral path to parenthood, or even suggest that commercial gestational surrogacy is selfish and exploits women, it really bothers me. I also dislike when I see other gay dads through surrogacy turn up their noses at the idea of fostering or adopting kids.
Rather than putting each other down, we should be lifting each other up together. We are all in this together, because society does not distinguish between gay dads through adoption, surrogacy, co-parenting and previous relationships. We’re just perceived as gay dads. We all love our children equally regardless of how they came to be in our care. We are all doing what we think is best for our own families, because the truth is that there are merits and drawbacks to any family-building approach. Josh and I have already discussed in previous posts how we carefully navigated surrogacy twice in effort to ensure, as much as possible, positive outcomes for all parties involved. We have complete respect for gay dads who foster and adopt. After considering that path ourselves, we decided to pursue surrogacy instead for very specific reasons. The best way to have and raise kids in one’s own case is not necessarily the best nor the most feasible path to parenthood for others. There should be more solidarity than divisiveness, because LGBT parents have more in common than differences.
In closing, I would just like to mention that Eric Rosswood’s upcoming book, “Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood: First Hand Advice, Tips and Stories From Lesbian and Gay Couples” takes a unified and balanced look at these varied ways same sex-couples become parents. We are very happy to have contributed our personal family story to the section on surrogacy, and we are excited to read other family stories about assisted reproduction, fostering, adoption, co-parenting and more. We hope prospective LGBT parents will find this resource informative and helpful in deciding their own best path to parenthood. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon now. Check it out!