By SAMUEL LEIGHTON-DORE
I’ve wanted to be a parent since I was five years old. I remember stuffing cushions under my t-shirt and announcing to the entire household that I was expecting, before, minutes later, sitting on the toilet and screaming to my parents that I was in a long and incredibly painful labour.
They’d ask whether it was a boy or girl. It was always a boy. I’m not quite sure why, I guess because I was. They’d then ask, with amused curiosity, the name I’d chosen for the surprise new addition to our family.
Oscar. I always named my toilet babies Oscar.
Ten years later, as I grew into an almost fully functioning teenager (with numerous false- alarm pregnancies under my belt) I felt well equipped to start babysitting three real-life, fighting, poo-ing, shrieking children, all under the age of four: Violet, Ben and Angelica.
I looked after them two nights a week for several years. I saw them take their first steps, I fed them messy dinners, I changed their dirty nappies, I bathed them, I read them bed- time stories – and I loved it. I loved it more than I loved watching Charmed or Australian Idol, I loved it more than I loved binge-drinking on Bacardi Breezers in the local park with friends and I loved it more than I loved Jesse McCartney. Beautiful Soul days – Big call.
I guess it just felt natural. I’ve simply always safely assumed that, at some point, when financially able, I would have a child of my own – A son, Kale, named after the nutritious, bitter tasting, wild cabbage.
And, being a perpetually single, romantically pessimistic, gay male- I always assumed it would be through a planned surrogacy and with the possible assistance of a qualified Nanny.
Obviously. Right? Apparently not.
Recently I was at an overpriced, swanky dinner soiree with a group of female friends in their early-30s. They were talking about their young children, respective pregnancies, various struggles with fertility and IVF success stories. I listened on keenly until one of the women turned and shot me the standard “Do you think you’ll ever adopt?” to which I quipped, as usual, “I think I’d rather surrogacy.”
My response was met with some foreign looks of confusion, concern and even judgement. Had I missed something? I wanted to use a surrogate, a perfectly common and acceptable form of modern-day, Twenty-First Century conception. As narcissistic as it may sound on paper, I want to recognise myself in my child. I want to see my dad’s hazel eyes and gentle nature, my mum’s olive skin and stubborn determination. I want a child that is mine.
“But there are so many children who need homes already…” “Why bring another child into the World when…”
“Don’t you think a Child needs a female presence?…”
I was barraged with a long list of opinions, most of which I’d heard before and was well equipped to handle. But then, the worst, a comment that completely disarmed me.
“I just think it’s wrong to steal a child away from it’s mother…” Steal. Steal. Steal a child.
Whoa, back up. What? Surrogacy surely wouldn’t be condemned if used by an infertile woman, so what’s the difference? Is there a difference?
I can understand (while not agreeing with) the view that children should be raised with a prominent female presence. Just as I can understand that, for some, the idea of a single gay male raising a child may be a challenging, if not squirmish, one.
But to suggest that, at some hypothetical point in my future, I could be stealing a hypothetical child away from its’ hypothetical mother – against her hypothetical will – made me want to hypothetically throw a glass of hypothetical wine in this woman’s face.
The worst part was- these women weren’t homophobic. They sign equality petitions on Facebook, watch Modern Family and adore Ellen Degeneres. They’re the good guys… Which had me thinking, that, despite the recent swell of support for the legalisation of Gay marriage, is there still a perception that us Gays should simply count our blessings, settle down in a Queen-sized bed with a glass of Pinot, a couple of Pomeranians-Shitzus and call it a day?
Or, if we simply must have children, is adoption the only socially accepted route? Isn’t the most important thing that a child is wanted and loved and cared for unconditionally?
Samuel is a young freelance Writer/Director based in Sydney. He is currently working on his debut short filmShowboy while finishing his children’s book I Think I Like Boys. You can find his Twitter here and his website here.
How do you feel about surrogacy?