Imagine a pair of mittens, and bootees to match, tiny and all furry soft and with paw prints on the palms and soles. And in the half-price sale. Of course we bought them, but this time they were not just a gift for one of our many breeding friends (someone‘s popping one out at least once a month or so now). No, we bought them as a symbol – a symbol of our decision-making process about whether to have a child. If one day, someone else’s child wears them, it will be because we decided not to do it. For now though, the jury is out…
It’s the suddenness of prospective parenthood that is most disconcerting. After fifteen years of sorting out your sexuality and looking for love and, once you find it, a bit of time settling down, rings and vows and all, by the time the question of kids even crosses your mind as a vague and rather complicated option for a lesbian couple, you’re suddenly aged thirty-four and starting to think actually, if we’re going to do this, it needs to be soon. Do straight couples actually really think it through? Or is it just what you do, once you’ve been working a few years and you’re married with the three-bedroomed semi and the Ford Focus? I don’t honestly know, but my guess is, when you’re gay you think it through a lot harder.
You question your motives: is it selfish to want a child? Do we just want one because our friends have them? Because we think we could do a good job of it? Because now we’re civil partnered, what’s next? You question the morality of the method: is it wrong to have a child by artificial insemination when so many children need adopting? (I’d follow this principle when acquiring a cat – but does the morality change with a child?) To what extent is it genetic engineering when you select a donor who looks good on paper? (Don’t even ask what makes a donor ‘look good’ on paper.) And is that selection process actually any more engineered than a straight person selecting a spouse which whom to breed?
And then once you’ve convinced yourself you’re okay with the whole sperm donor idea, what then? A series of weird discussions (We know – we’ve had them) about which of your friends or friends’ husbands you would most like to impregnate yourself/girlfriend. Do you ask the one who’d be least freaked out by the whole prospect, or the one who looks healthiest and still has a good head of hair? And when you ask him, how exactly would that conversation go? Seriously, I’d like to know.
Frankly, it’s going to involve some uncomfortable discussions, but on the other hand, that whole donor bank thing of a complete stranger with blue eyes, brown hair and an A’ level in computing appeals even less. Our recent discovery of the Pride Angel website has introduced a more attractive option of finding a sperm donor who we can meet and develop some sort of (albeit unconventional) relationship with, but who is otherwise unconnected with us personally, and this is the option we’re currently working on.
But for now the mittens and bootees, with the fur and the paw prints, are on a shelf in the wardrobe, waiting patiently for the possibility of any paws close to home that might one day fit inside.
Winning article: by Lindsey, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom 12th December 2011