Often Betsy’s posts spur my own thoughts around what to write about- it’s a fabulous part of doing this blog together. One of Betsy’s recent posts got me thinking and I had this realization about why it’s sometimes tricky for me to come up with material to share on this forum, even though I think opening up allows the most meaningful parts of my experience as a non-gestational parent to be shared and received.
We have a known donor and he is a good friend of ours. We don’t go shouting from the rooftops that he’s our donor, quite frankly it’s not really anyone’s business and I want to respect his privacy. At the same time, it’s nothing we’re embarrassed or ashamed about and we feel strongly that being somewhat transparent helps normalize the reality of what we had to do to start our awesome, little family… so our good friends know as do some family members. I feel sensitive about what I share in regards to having a known donor since anyone with access to the World Wide Web can stumble upon this information.
I will admit that there are things that come up for me around being a queer non-gestational mother that are around having a known donor and how this fact impacts my life and experience as a parent. Not because our donor is doing anything wrong- he’s actually incredibly thoughtful, respectful, and generous- but simply because of the reality of being a non-traditional family and me being the odd-lady-out so to speak in a society that institutionally and culturally doesn’t fully understand or support non-gestational parents (and I’m saying that living in a state where I actually have some legal protection). The fact that he has a biological tie to our daughter and I don’t does make our situation a bit complicated. Again, nothing he’s doing wrong, it just is what it is. Maybe it’s more the fact that we have to have a donor period that makes it complicated. I actually have found that as time has gone on I have come to associate love and warmth in regards to how our donor plays into our life as a family. He has been overwhelmingly cool and respectful about this whole gig. I can see that our daughter likes him and he cares about her and anyone who cares about her has won some high points in my book. And yet there is this small, admittedly probably insecure, part of me that gets nervous and territorial sometimes like I need to defend my role and prominence in our family even though it’s probably not really being threatened… at least not by our donor. It’s like I’m swinging quiet punches, but I can’t see my target and I don’t even want to be fighting.
At different points in my life I’ve thought about how polyamory* seems like something I could get behind, if I was born into a different world than this one that is (think Starhawk’s utopian San Francisco ala The Fifth Sacred Thing)… one where everyone involved was supremely intentional, thoughtful, safe, respectful and loving. Yet in reality it seems like a lot of work and rather exhausting, even though I know some people do it with grace and joy. Maybe that’s a metaphor for my own little family and our donor: I want to believe it can work, and most of the time it really does, but the larger society makes me question things along the way. I think I will have to use my instinct as my compass and hope for the best. Right now it’s a balancing act between respecting my own needs and being open to what will bring the most joy, love and support into my family. My compass is saying to trust the path.
* “Polyamory (from Greek πολύ [poly], meaning ‘many’ or ‘several’, and Latin amor, “love”) is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.” – Wikipedia, 2012