Thursday, June 26, 2008

And is the father involved?

A couple of people have asked how things are working out with Donor Dan. Really great!, is the answer. I am so impressed with all of us. At the moment (looking about for some small suspicious ritual to do so as not to jinx myself) I think we could be a model for an ideal 'created' family. Maybe we could write a book on how to do it - but really, it hasn't been tricky at all so far.

Lovergirl and I had some anxieties over using a known donor. We've heard some horror stories from other lesbian couples about situations where everybody's expectations changed dramatically once the child was born. The mothers feel more protective than they expected to, and the donor feels more paternal than he expected to. He wants to come around every week, he wants to fly them to Albury-Wodonga to meet his family, he takes them off to the park and brings them back hours late full of sugar. And then of course there are the donor's parents, who, having resigned themselves to their gay son's eternal barren-ness, want to be involved wiyh the progeny of their darling son.

Also, it sounds like some women aren't terribly clear about what they mean when they say they want a 'father fgure' for their children. So the mothers are thinking a framed photo on the mantelpiece, while the donor is thinking football every Saturday and sleepovers.

Dan was very clear from the outset that he has no paternal inclinations at all. His reason for donating was, he said, that he believed gays and lesbians should have families, and that meant someone needed to donate (or something like that - I'm paraphrasing). He also confessed to a bit of curiosity about what sort of babies he would help create. We liked those reasons - for example, one person we screened out had said he wanted to donate because his girlfriend was infertile - that seemed way too dangerous to us.

Lovergirl and I were very sure, when we started looking for a donor, that we wanted to be the only parents. We didn't want to be discussing schools and negotiating moving to a different area and making decisions about childrearing approaches with a third person, and possibly third person's partner. Parenting is hard enough with two opinionated adults involved. Dan really got this. A few of the guys we talked with (read: cross-examined) found this too much of a mental leap - to donate sperm but really and truly not consider the ensuing children 'yours'. Thankfully, the men we talked to before Dan were mature enough to know they wouldn't be able to do this from the outset.

Anyway, to date Danny has really been true to his word. He lives here in the same city, although in a much funkier part, being young and gay and child-free. We are in reasonably regular email contact, and I send lots of photo updates, but he's only been around to visit a handful of times since the babies were born. He and his boyfriend James seem quite fascinated by them, but in an intellectual way. I would even say James is more clucky; Dan just seems curious about how they are turning out. Last time they came over they stayed for the afternoon, hanging out with Junior and Lucky and me while Lovergirl went off to some supervision session, so that was great. I do like a bit of adult company, with whole sentences strung together.

The bright side of having to use IVF in the end is that it makes our legal situation much clearer. If we'd gotten pregnant through self-insemination, Danny would be the legal parent, even if I didn't put him on the birth certificate - not so great for him, either, as he would be vulnerable to me chasing him for child support. In a medically assisted pregnancy, however, the donor is not considered a parent (This obviously is to protect straight couples who use donor sperm - you couldn't have the donor turning up in five years to the nice nuclear family, saying 'that's my child' This makes me go off on a few tangents, so more on this in a future blog entry).

I'd like to tell you more about how it is going, but it just feels so straightforward that there is nothing to tell. Danny and James are, we anticipate, going to become Lucky and Junior's funky uncles. Our children have three branches to their extended family - Lovergirl's side of the family (cousin Toby, who's 7 , grandma, grandpa, two aunts and an uncle); my side of the family (granny, pop, aunt, uncle and cousin Jess, one month older than the twins) and the donor side (Donor Dan, James, and his other donee family, Anya and her son who is 2). As Lucky and Junior get older (primary school age, or maybe as teenagers), I think it will be important for them to be able to say, 'I have a father.' I know other lesbian families choose differently; I'm just saying, I think it will make that particular developmental stage easier.

So if you're looking for a donor, I reckon important donor qualities include: self-awareness, honesty about motives, intelligence, ability to negotiate and deal with different opinions, and commitment. In many ways, I'm realising, it's good that it took us so long to get pregnant. I've said before that it strengthened my relationship with Lovergirl; but also we learned a lot about Dan (and James) in that time.


Karen said...

you have some very beautiful children!

Lizzie said...

I still have sadness sometimes that we don't have / didn't find the 'right' donor and went with frozen unknown. Your situation is exactly what I would have wanted if we'd gone that path. So happy for you!

E, M, and the Little Man said...

Sounds like you have an ideal situation.

JahTeh said...

Now that is a real family with two very much wanted children.

Mikhela said...

Yes, we are all very pleased with ourselves - donor, recipients and children all feeling very grateful at how it's turning out. We are so lucky!