Two of my biggest fears leading up to us deciding to have kids were:
1) Will my family truly understand and see Andrea as my wife / mother of our child/children?
2) Will my wife’s family accept and love the kids as much as they would had Dre given birth to them?
I should tell you that both of our families are super supportive – each in their own way. My parents immigrated to this country and had my sister and I later on in life (Mom was 39 when she had me). I never thought they’d accept me/my lifestyle. I waited to tell them I was gay until I was well into my 20’s. They went from accepting that I was gay to accepting my partner of several years, to accepting that we were going to try to have kids. I’m so proud of them. Dre’s parents were equally if not more supportive. They accepted me with open arms and continue to surprise me with everything they do for our family.
So why was I worried? Maybe because despite their unconditional love and support, I knew that the journey we were going to undertake was so foreign to all of us. Would my parents get it? Would they get the delicate balance and their crucial role as grandparents to a grandchild (or two) who has two Mommies? Would they refer to us in a way that made my wife feel accepted? Would they recognize us as a family unit and help us in raising our kids to feel confident even if their family structure might be different than 80% of their friends? I honestly didn’t know. In a way I still don’t know – we have so many potentially cringe worthy situations ahead of us. I do know that they love and respect Andrea. I know that they couldn’t be more in love with their grandkids and call me almost every day to talk about them or to them. But by far, the moment I knew that I had again underestimated my parents (just like I did when I waited 20+ years to come out) was several days after the babies were born. Dash and Phoenix were in the NICU and we’d spent countless hours – morning, noon and night at the hospital with them. My dad came over to me one of those long days and said “You know, Andrea is better than most men. She has been with you, with the babies, so supportive, so loving; most men wouldn’t be here like this.” I’m sure many father’s would have been there, but in his experience he must have not seen many step up to the plate. I know that what he was trying to convey was how happy he was that I’d found someone like Andrea and that he appreciated her. He got it.
Do my in-laws love their grandchildren? Absolutely. Were my fears unwarranted? Yes. My fears were unwarranted but justifiable. You’ll go through your own laundry list of fears; you might even find that you danced a little with the two I’m writing about. It’s normal. Not just for gay parents, for ALL parents. I think it’s what makes you a good candidate to become a parent. You’re worried, you want the best, you don’t want your kids to suffer at all.
As a lesbian or gay man embarking on the journey to have children you will have a special set of fears in my opinion. These fears go above and beyond the “standard” fears that new parents experience. You’ll have those too, by the way. The point is, for me at least, I’m not alone. Somewhere, someone else is in a very similar situation as we were and has the same fears. I finally realized that I’m not alone, despite the fact that I couldn’t find much information at the time.
I don’t feel like a role model, and so in writing this series I feel a bit like a fraud. I am however, a gay woman who is happily married with two beautiful kids. We founded the site because there were no true resources – a one-stop shop – for how to navigate this increasingly and very important journey. I also wanted to write this series, not because I have all the answers or because I have something so explicitly important to say that I needed a forum. I simply want other women and men to know that in embarking in this journey, you’re not alone.
There are thousands of us; thousands of us with the same fears, the same aspirations and the same challenges. I also selfishly always wanted to know I wasn’t alone. I desperately searched for others to identify with, to share some of my unwarranted fears. So I write this for myself as much as I hope it touches others.
Diana is a co-founder of It’s Conceivable. She and her wife live in Brooklyn with their twins, Phoenix and Dashel. You can read their story here.