SARAH AND PAM
First Name: Sarah
Partner’s First Name: Pam
Age: early 40s
Number of Children: 2, Wynn and Marlo
When did you decide you wanted children?
It all just sort of happened. It was my birthday, I’d had too many margaritas and we met this guy in Puerto Vallarta…. Actually, that is not at all how it happened. I’m sure it has happened that way for someone, but we had just a teeny tiny bit more work to do. And it took way longer.
But I’m not sure we ever really decided, before it happened, that we were absolutely, positively sure that we wanted to do this. At least it never felt that way to me, but I have a very hard time feeling absolute certainty about any decision I make – especially an irreversible one such as having a child. Except in 2001, when we got a dog. I was absolutely sure I wanted to do that. So, we decided to have kids by doing it. We started, and we just kept going.
And it turns out that it was a great decision at least it was yesterday, and it is today. And when the kids get up from their nap which they are now taking, it will probably still feel like a great decision, but that sort of depends what mood they’re in when they wake up.
How did you decide to either biologically have a child or adopt a child?
First, see question 1 about my decision-making abilities. And second, we didn’t really make this decision, either. I hope you are getting a real sense of how genius I am at avoiding important decisions. Call me. I can help you decide. Or not. Because there are three options for everything: Do it, don’t do it or neither or both. That might be four options, but whatever.
Anyway, because we couldn’t decide whether we wanted to adopt a child or have a child, so we did both. We started the adoption process through the City of Denver, and I started fertility treatments at the same time. I am all in when it comes to not deciding.
Actually, the real answer here is also that it didn’t matter that much to us. A child is a child. And we wanted to have one to love no matter whether it was related to one us or not. It was never going to be related to both of us, so did it really matter if they were related to me? Not really. And Pam didn’t want to carry a child, but that’s because she is better at making decisions. And even today, after having two, full-sibling biological children, I still think of them as adopted. Because they are. They were adopted by Pam shortly after each of them was born. So in the end, we have both – biological children and adopted children.
Did you share your journey with your family and friends? If so, have they been supportive?
Yes, we shared the journey. Everyone got a call from the hospital letting them know that our daughter had been born.
But before that it sort of depends. We didn’t say anything to our parents, many of our friends and god forbid, people at work, while I was getting fertility treatments for a few reasons. 1) I didn’t really want to talk about it. 2) People say crazy shit to you, and I wasn’t really ready for someone in our family to ask some probing or conversation-halting question. And 3) I was getting pregnant right around the time of Octomom. Yeah, remember her? So whenever I would tell people that I was having a baby, a lot of them would bring up Nadya Suleman, and it made me feel sort of weirdly paranoid and judged, like I was in a let’s-conduct-scientific-experiments-on-ourselves-for-media-attention club. I can’t actually remember if we told many friends. Probably one. Or maybe six. But the ones we told were great. Because we have frigging awesome friends!
And a side note: One of the most difficult things about this process is that many people don’t actually KNOW how to be very supportive, because, frankly the whole thing is quite mysterious and weird. And I still think that and I’ve done it. So my recommendation is that if and when you tell people about your journey, also tell them what you NEED from them. They will be forever grateful and so will you, because saying what you want and when and how you want it helps to clear up mysteries and weirdness for everyone involved. Just my two cents.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced raising children as a lesbian couple? How have you overcome those challenges and what advice would you give new parents in a similar situation?
It’s extra work, more expensive and more socially awkward, so what’s not to like? But it’s really good practice for actual parenting, which is also lots of work, expensive and social awkward – especially potty training. But just in case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here are some highlights in the getting-pregnant-and-having-a-baby category. Insurance does not pay for sperm as well as quite a few of the IVF procedures necessary to actually become pregnant. You start to have conversations like this: “Insurance will cover the syringe that we use to put the sperm in your body, but it will not cover the elevator ride that you take from the lab to the exam room.” And I had GREAT insurance by all accounts. And then once your babies are born, your spouse needs to adopt them. At least if you want to keep them long-term and act like their parent when you take them to the hospital or sign them up for kindergarten. So, picture yourself testifying in court that you want the person that is the love of your life to be the real, actual, legal parent of your children, even though you believe with every ounce of your being that they already are. So yeah, there are just a few challenges.
What do you wish you would have known before you started?
That sperm produced by someone who has a PhD costs more.
But for real? That it would all work out perfectly in the end. All of the ignorance and all of the hard lessons became a really important part of the whole story. The people that rejected us and the people that supported us were all very surprising in the end. And although the whole thing was extremely bumpy and painful at times, these turned out to also be the parts that were beautiful and perfect.
Joseph Campbell said it best: “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
What was the funniest thing that happened along the way?
What wasn’t funny about it? This is why I started a blog about our life, because most of it was really funny, and still is. But one small water-colored memory that doubles as a tip: If you’re within the range of your due date, you don’t have gas. You’re in labor. Call the doctor.
Did you ever consider giving up?
Yes. Every day. But we didn’t.
How has your life changed during this process? Before having kids and after having kids?
I am braver. This experience has given me courage that I never thought I had. And I will never be the same, thankfully. I feel like there is nothing that I couldn’t accomplish now. I was completely and totally broken open to experience my life and everything it has to offer by having children.
How much did you budget for the process? How much has the process cost so far? What were the actual costs and how were they different from what was planned?
Uh, what is the question? Oh, I would have to call Mastercard to find out how much we spent. And I’m not sure I want to know. We never had a budget, because that would have added more stress to an already stressful process. So, I won’t be able to help you there. But let’s just say it cost a whole lot. Like, I could have bought a new (nice) car, probably. But I got two, totally awesome kids instead, and they will never have too much mileage on them.
Was your location a challenge to the process? How did it impact your decisions, if at all?
Denver, Colorado, which is a great state for gay parents (now). We have a civil union law, a second parent adoption law and some really wonderful adoption agencies. C’mon, come here. We can be friends.
Will you prepare your children to answer questions about their donor?
We are totally unprepared. But also totally open to what might happen. So I think that’s good enough for now. And I have a few foggy ideas about what we can do to thank our sperm donor on Father’s Day even though we’ll probably never meet him. I need to remember to talk about with Pam about those. Hang on. I’ll be back in a second.
Any other advice or wisdom about the gay parenting process?
Yes, loads! Visit me and our family on my blog: www.sevenlittlemexicans.com. You can also follow us on Facebook. Or you can follow me on Twitter @sarahresonance. But you will also get other stuff there, too. Because I cannot shut up.