In researching my earlier post on “Gary and Tony Have a Baby”, the CNN documentary hosted by Soledad O’Brien about two gay men becoming parents through egg donation and surrogacy, I almost included this link to Joe.My.God’s post about the film and the preview screening Joe attended, but didn’t because I was looking for a more straightforward review of the program.
However I couldn’t stop thinking about the many comments left by Joe’s readers, a group of mostly gay men with a sprinkling of lesbians and straight supporters. They had a freewheeling discussion of the politics of adoption vs fertility treatments, and represented a range of experiences and perspectives from the gay community. Their comments were passionate, eloquent and quite moving.
I’ve taken the liberty of excerpting some of the clearest and most representative comments from that discussion and pasting them below.
If I’ve excerpted your comment and you would like it removed, please email me and I will promptly remove it.
What do gay men think about adoption, egg donation, and surrogacy?
Guest: I respect everyone’s choices. Let me start with that. I am looking to adopt kids one day as a gay man. So, on some level, I don’t understand the need for surrogacy. Its a) way more expensive than adoption and b) well, there are so many existing needy children. So, why do people go that route rather than adoption?
lee: One reason could be the loose use of “adoption”. In some states, if you are a biological parent then adoption restrictions applicable to gay folks don’t apply. I’m sure there are other reasons too, but it’s a thought.
Guest: Friends trying to adopt using the foster parenting system have children placed with them for a week or so and then they are taken away to live with family members. Each time it causes a huge amount of emotional stress.
The priority for the foster parent system is for kids to be with relatives, as it probably should be.
Adopting kids — even troubled, non-infant kids — is not easy for gay men.
Alejandro: I have to admit that despite the obvious feeling of “you go girl!” whenever I see gay men adopt . . . because it’s an obvious sign of equality, etc. . . . i cannot help but feel a sense of class envy. I feel my choice to be child free has been made for me because I don’t make x amount of money (well, that and I don’t have a partner).
Being a gay parent requires means (unless one would go in with some lesbians or something).
Tony Adams: What is interesting in the story of Tony and Gary is that they inherited a substantial amount of money in one windfall from a lady they knew. They could have used that money for any type of luxury, but they used it to have a child. That fact stands as refutation to those on certain other websites who grouse about gay white privilege. I hope you see the show. I liked it very much.
Joe AO: Alej: I totally understand how you feel. Sometimes I am sad that the chance to be a gay parent would require more means than I have. Then again, I see one of my straight female friends who is now a single mother and struggling a bit due to her employment situation — she doesn’t regret having her daughter one bit, but I don’t want that kind of stress. And then sometimes I feel like I’m whining about “needing more money” because people raise children without a lot of money all the time. It requires major lifestyle realignment in a lot of cases.
Kenny: I have a brother who is adopted. Watched the never-ending red tape that my folks went through to first be his foster parents and then be his adoptive parents. Was a ridiculous process. Since I’m lucky enough to afford surrogacy, I had no interest in adoption. I don’t regret my decision and have two wonderful children because of gestational surrogacy. Women willing to donate eggs and women willing to serve as surrogates for gay men are angels and I will be forever grateful to them both. What route you use to become a parent is irrelevant (provided you don’t steal someone else’s kid). The important part is to be engaged in their life and make sure they always know that you love them more than anything on this planet.
Guest: Despite the red tape, I think your brother would say he’s happy to have found a family, and that’s something that I want to give to someone.
JoeAO: Guest, I totally agree.
It’s anyone’s choice what to do with his/her money.
However, I cheer a little harder inside and my heart melts a little more when I know anyone has adopted rather than used reproductive technology — though most stories of the long road to parenthood are heartwarming no matter the circumstances.
I consider reproductive technology, surrogacy, and so forth to be hyper-luxury services, and I feel the same about them as I do about most hyper-luxury services.
Countervail: Why can’t we be honest are really look at the gay community head on with all the beautiful and the ugly though?
Why do we need “positive spin” about a couple privileged enough to be able to afford a surrogate (and probably privileged enough to not face a lot of challenges the rest of the gay community faces)? Why no profiles of the courageous gay couples raising other people’s children through adoption? Why no profiles of couples who have been together for decades who still can’t get the same legal recognition as their heterosexual counterparts? Why no profiles of the hundreds of kids in NYC turned out by their families to become homeless before they even graduate high school?
Steve: My husband and I have two children – one via surrogacy and the other via domestic adoption through a private agency. The surrogacy costs were $120,000 when the dust cleared, while the adoption ran us $60,000. Having gone through both preocesses I would say that neither is perfect. We had our son via surrogacy first and then decided that if we were to have another child we would not use surrogacy again. It felt too much like a business transaction (which it was) and involved financial and emotional costs that we hadn’t fully planned for. Before going forward with the adoption of our daughter, we thouht adoption would be less like a business transaction and more like a win-win situation with social justice overtones. We were taking a child into our home and hearts and saving her from a life that likley would not have been very happy. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the reality of the situation was not quite so black and white. We entered into an open adoption when we adopted our daughter and the longterm concerns (which are almost totally absent from surrogacy arrangements by the way) are daunting. Our daughter’s birthfamily is a very mixed bag, but she and we will need to make them part of our lives nonetheless for the foreseeable future. Still, being parents is somethng that my husband and I always wanted and we are blessed with two terrific kids.
For gay men who want to create their own families, the options are fraught with thorny ethical issues that need to be weighed carefully. Surrogacy is NOT for everyone. It is expensive and could rightly be viewed as exploitative (we did not view it that way, though in the end we wouldn’t choose that path again). Private adoption (domestic or international) is also expensive and for domestic adoptions the standard is the open adoption – one in which there is some level of contact with the birthparent(s). Public adoption is unavailable to gay men in many states and in others, is subject to the whims and prejudices of the social workers and courts. Other arrangements, such as co-parenting with female friends, are possible but are logistically challenging in my opinion. I guess if you want something badly enough, you work to make it happen.
Andrew: Wish they had adopted.
Too many needy kids need good dads, and we’ve got too many people on the planet as it is.
Angry Snappy Black Queen!!!111: I gots too many lesbians who want my swimmers to be spending 120K or 60K when I can just go to Walgreens and buy a plastic cup and a turkey baster.
But jokes, aside, good for them. It is kinda iffy to spend that much money when there are kids on this planet who need attention too, but that duty falls onto everybody and not just ‘the gays.’
Are you a gay man thinking of becoming a parent? How are you going to have your child?
Photo credit: legofenris