Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Alternatives to alternative families

So a few months ago I received an email from a woman who wanted my input about the many different types of known donor arrangements rather than anonymous for same-sex couples.  I was so eager to hear her views and wanted to share to many alternatives for alternative families, that take into consideration the best interests of the child, as well as respecting the wants of same-sex couples to procreate.  

There are many options for same-sex couples to have children without resorting to an anonymous donor - which I have and always will advocate against.  One is using a friend as a donor who will have an "uncle-like" relationship with the child.  While some families that choice this option do not tell their child that their "uncle" is really their father, I argue that eventually that child will find out that their "uncle" is their father and feel just as betrayed as a donor offspring that was never told, or told later in life.  

There is also co-parenting arrangement, where the child knows both their mother and their father, and both raise the child with that knowledge.  In an article from February 2009 in the Guardian, "My Future Family", Catherine Hall explains her unique relationship with her gay friend.
"What are you doing in Italy?"
"Trying to get pregnant."
"Ah, so he's your boyfriend?"
"No, he's my..."

And then I run out of words. It's true that we are trying to have a baby together, but he's not my boyfriend. I don't know what to call him. Our relationship is impossible to define. Last September, A and I moved from London to Milan. He's here on business. I'm here because I'm trying to conceive a child with him. People often assume that we're a couple, but we're not. He's a gay man and I'm a lesbian. We are, in one sense, simply friends, but at the same time we are something much more.

Despite not being a couple, we want to raise our children together. We plan to bring them up in a house that we will buy in London with three close friends. We want to create something shared. We're trying to build a family.

Our future family may not be built on romantic love, but it is based on a form of love that we believe is equally deep. We share the same tastes, friends and approach to life - but, more importantly, we have a shared set of ethics and values to pass on to our children. The outcome of our story may be something very different to what we hope for. The potential pitfalls are huge and the stakes are high. But despite all our doubts, our fears and our questions, our instincts are telling us that it's the right thing to do. And in this way we're no different to anyone else who decides to have a child. Everyone who does it has something in common. You take a leap of faith.
In the article Catherine also discusses that her friend and her are not abstaining from other relationships, but that any future partners will have to somehow be worked into their unique family.  She says she doesn't know if that by choosing this she is choosing to remain forever single, but she's come to terms with that and realizes that remaining a "family" is more important.

All of these options are kid-friendly alternatives to using a donor.  Honestly, they could also be used in traditional families, but I'm sure that's going to be a much bigger hurdle to jump.

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