Friday, August 5, 2011


"I had a dream about you," she said.

She was Maria, our favorite cashier at Save-On Foods and Drugs, where we buy our groceries.  I couldn't imagine what she'd dreamed about us, or why.

"I dreamed you adopted a little baby," Maria continued enthusiastically, as though she were trying to sell us on the idea.  "Have you considered adopting?"

For exactly three and a half seconds, I answered.  In all the time Chris and I have been together, I think the subject of becoming parents has come up two or three times.  But it's gotten as much energy as we might give to talking about what to have for dinner, or which restaurant to go to.

(Truth be told, many years ago I thought if Chris and I were ever serious about having a child, particularly one with biology as close to ours as possible, he could contribute the sperm, and my sister could contribute the egg.  An interesting consideration, given that my sister has never had her own children, has no interest in kids whatsoever, and would definitely think I'd lost my mind if she learned of this asinine idea.)

Yes, we told Maria, we've heard of gay couples who adopt children.  No, it's not something we've ever seen ourselves doing.  But maybe I shouldn't presume to speak for both Chris and me, when he's never said anything about it one way or another, always deferring to me instead.  

Chris would make a great father; I have no doubt about it.  His endless patience would make him an ideal parent.  After all, if there's something parents need when it comes to raising children, it's patience.  I envision him playing with our child hour after hour, becoming a kid himself, and having a grand time.  I also see him being too lenient, unwilling to discipline, and leaving all the tough stuff for me.  

I was told I'd make a terrific father, once.  Coincidentally, the young woman who said it was someone I supervised.  She'd seen me work with colleagues and customers, and assumed the way I conducted myself on the job would translate to the role of parent at home.  What she didn't realize is there's a big difference between who you are within your own four walls, and who you're paid to be in the workplace.

In fact, I know I'd make a miserable mother.  I'm too much like my own mother to be any good in the role--uptight, selfish, and impatient.  If I made the commitment to be a parent, I know I'd be a good one, in spite of myself, because I don't take on anything without giving it my complete attention, energy, and time.

But that would be at the detriment of the child, whom I'm sure I'd make miserable.  I'd worry and fuss over it altogether too much.  I'd never give it any freedom or leeway.  I'd be behind it continuously, watching and judging and correcting everything.  My expectations would be too high.  I'd love it to death, is what I'd do.  And that's not good, either.

I think it's critical, whether you're gay or straight, to make a conscious choice about whether or not to have children.  To think long and hard about bringing another soul into the world and to realistically assess if you're the right people to do it.      

It's not because you can biologically have a child that you should.  Many heterosexual couples think having children is expected of them, so that's what they do, without giving serious thought to if they really want them, or if they have what it takes to raise them in the best way possible.  I pity children in that situation.  They had no choice to be born to a couple not well suited as parents.

No, there won't be any children around our house, other than those of our neighbors.  Chris believes it's not fair to the child if the parent is already older at the point of having them.  He's in his early forties now, and I'm in my early fifties.  That means by the time a child we had graduated from high school, Chris would be in his early sixties, and I'd be in my early seventies--perhaps not the best situation for a young adult.

Or are we making excuses?  The point is, some of us are meant to be parents, and some of us aren't.  Without question, I'm not.  But Chris?  I can't help but think a child is being deprived of having a parent as loving and as caring and as patient as I know he is.  On the other hand, do I really want to share Chris with a child?  I'm not so sure.  I'm not so sure.  


  1. Children! Children!! Children!!! The hardest part of coming out to myself was the realization that I may never have children- it was a painful reality that took me a lot of time to mourn. Although technological advancement and various forms of parental arrangements have enabled desiring LGBT to become parents, it still a tricky deal.

    Sometimes I worry if the child/children will face untold discrimination and whether its a selfish thing to want a child as a single or partnered gay man. Its a lot to think about but I just know that life will be so incomplete for me without a child- but then I don't want to make an innocent child's life hell because of my orientation. Like you said Rick, lots of things to consider in making this decision.


  2. You raise some very good points, Donald. But here's my thought on whether gay singles or couples should have a child or children, using one of the various options available today.

    If I were determined to have a child, like I now know you are and I know elevencats in Estonia is, nothing would stop me from having one, EXCEPT whether or not I thought I was the right person to parent it (that is, can I emotionally and financially support it, among other important things?).

    I do not believe for a moment your sexual orientation should have anything to do with your decision. I'm confident gay people can be just as good parents as straight people, maybe even better, because we have a tendency to be very sensitive to the needs of others, and because our love is just as deep or wide as any.

    So many gay people have a child or children now that I think it's becoming more commonplace. In the coming years, I don't think the world will blink when it finds out a gay person or couple has one or more children. It will become normal.

    While I've heard some children of gay parents have difficulties in school, that's the nature of schools. People are bullied for any number of inconsequential reasons. If it's not that they have gay parents, it would be something else. So, again, not an issue for me.

    Thanks for your interest in this post and for your contribution to the discussion. I appreciate it.

  3. Sometimes kids just happen. Similarly as a person sneezes. I “happened” that way and not for one second can I say that my mom hasn't known how to raise me.

    For me, having a kid is a dream-like wish. But do I really comprehend what having a kid means? I don't think so. Still there is something inside my that tells me I am not a whole person without being a father. I know I can be a great father with my patience, dedication and a capability to switch from a friend to a discipliner.
    Despite that, there are many reasons why I think I will not be a parent: 1. My field of work is quite low-paid but time-demanding. I like what I do and what I study. Would I be willing to change what I do in order to afford raising a child? No, I wouldn't. 2. I don't let anyone too close to me. So there goes the possibility of a partner. And raising a child on my own... I would go crazy. 3. Knowing the atmosphere regarding gay issues in Estonia, I think that my home country is not ready for same-sex parenting. Yes, we can say that children are bullied for different reasons in schools, but I don't find it right to make this little person have harder life because he/she has two dads. Are there teachers who would take a kid from a family with two dads, are there doctors who would take care of my family, etc.

    At least for me the main question is as follows: what do I want more and what I am willing to sacrifice to get what I want. I agree, maybe I am also just not made to be a parent. I believe that every person can be important in their own way. Seeing my parents with their kids I can say without a shadow of a doubt that when you would have a kid there wouldn't be a blog of this kind. With what you have created here, you have been a second dad/mom for young gay people all over the world. I know I wouldn't be the person I am today without your guiding words.

  4. For Donald: I'd imagine that a couple of generations ago there were interracial couples who lived in conservative areas, and wondered if their children would be bullied or teased...which of course seems ridiculous now. Basically anyone who isn't a straight white man has had to be a pioneer at one time or another, right? If you want to have a child (and for those of us who do, it's just something you feel is so necessary, it doesn't seem like it's an optional thing), you absolutely should. You might also find the following article interesting (although it's about lesbian, not gay parents):

    "The authors found that children raised by lesbian mothers — whether the mother was partnered or single — scored very similarly to children raised by heterosexual parents on measures of development and social behavior. These findings were expected, the authors said; however, they were surprised to discover that children in lesbian homes scored higher than kids in straight families on some psychological measures of self-esteem and confidence, did better academically and were less likely to have behavioral problems, such as rule-breaking and aggression.,8599,1994480,00.html

    Good luck with whatever you decide!

  5. @elevencats: As I reread your comment, I want to respond to a few points.

    For gay people, I think whether or not to have a child is a decision not made lightly, because we have to go out of our way to have one. Biology is not on our side, so we have to look at the options open to us and follow through until we arrive at the desired result. Thus, if you find yourself going down that road, you have to believe it's because you really want a child, and you're meant to be a parent.

    Repeatedly, in past comments you left, you've spoken about how important being a father is to you. Don't let go of that. Believe me, plenty of people have had children who didn't have high paying jobs, lots of time, or the most secure futures. But they got by, and they created wonderful homes for children, not because of what they provided them but because of the love they had for them.

    In your comment, you said you don't let anyone close to you. I want you to promise me that you'll leave yourself open to the possibility of someone getting close. You've written about wanting to have a life partner, too, but that will never happen unless you make yourself physically and emotionally available. I believe you would do that if the opportunity arose. I can't imagine my life without Chris, and I want you to experience that kind of love at least once in your life, too.

    I can't presume to speak for how difficult it would be for you and a child you raised in Estonia, but times are changing. People all over the world, in the most unlikely places, are more open than you think about gay couples raising children. If it's important enough to you, you'll find a way to make it work.

    Finally, I was moved to tears when I read your kind words about being a second dad/mom for young gay people, and about the positive influence I've had on you. I could not ask for anything more. Thank you so much for letting me know. I hope I can continue to help you in the ways you might need it.

    @Sarah: Great parallel between the challenges interracial couples encountered decades ago with respect to having children, and similar challenges gay couples face today. Your point is well made.

    And thanks for sharing the "Time "article with me and my readers. I found the information interesting and enlightening. (I have to admit I'm not surprised by the results.)

    Thank you again, elevencats and Sarah, for your comments. I really appreciate them.

  6. With the risk sounding like a five year old, sometimes I am just so sick that I always have to be the one who takes steps to the unknown. It makes everything harder and more painful... Then again, hard times are what I learn most from. Being a gay parent is also dependent on two things. Firstly, the opportunities life gives us because it's biologically impossible for two man to have a child. Secondly, I need to be self-confident: to know that we would be perfect for our child, no-one else.

    I try to be more open every day. It takes time. For me, speaking is quite hard and unpleasant activity. I like thinking more. I can say that I have about three friends who are in my life because for some reason they enjoy being with me and they never take it too hard when I want to be on my own for a while. Maybe life happens... and I will find someone who is also interested in me despite my million flaws as a social human being. At least I like to think that it will happen to me too. Every night I go to sleep I say “I love you, my special someone, wherever you are.” I dream that he kisses me and hugs me. And then I fall asleep.

    I think being gay is mostly about learning to cross the barriers. It takes a lot effort and strength. And I am thankful for this little home here where I can find the support needed for that.

  7. Elevencats, it's great to hear from you again.

    I'm not sure you've noticed, but today's post titled "Be Open to the Possibility of Love" was inspired by our last two exchanges. Be sure to check it out. I hope it will resonate with you.

    I want to respond to a few other items from your comment above:

    Taking "steps to the unknown," as you put it, is called being human. That's what all of life is about. Whether we're talking about me retiring from my job four years ago into an uncertain future as a writer, or you becoming a parent, all of life is about searching and exploring and trying and failing and starting all over again. The day we cease to take steps to the unknown is the day we cease to exist on this earth. And, as you so appropriately write, we learn our greatest lessons from hardship. Yes, we do. Otherwise, we don't grow and experience our fullest potential.

    You've come a long, long way since we started corresponding to each other through this blog, but I worry about the terminology you use sometimes, and I think you are still far too hard on yourself. Of course your friends enjoy being with you. That's why they're your friends. And we all have, as you put it, millions of flaws, but we should never linger on them (although we can try to improve them if we want). In the end, we have more things going for us than we do against us.

    When I think of you, young man, here's what comes to mind. From your words and your thoughts and your feelings, I know you are a sweet and kind and thoughtful and considerate and compassion and loving human being. Unless you're hiding a horrible secret and you're really an ax murderer, I believe you have everything going for you. And, while I think you're coming to the realization this is the case, I think you still have a ways to go to truly believe it.

    So be careful about what you put out into the world. When you put yourself down in any way whatsoever--in your thoughts, in your words--that negative energy comes back to you and keeps you feeling the same way (again, I speak from personal experience). Stop saying negative things about yourself. You don't deserve it. I know for a fact you will make some lucky man a wonderful partner one day. Don't think it will never happen. Just leave yourself open to the possibility of love.

    I appreciate you calling my blog a little home. You know I'm here for you anytime you need it.