Toronto
5 min

I birth it, you raise it

One dyke's adventures in baby making

YOU GOT TO SHOP AROUND. Finding the perfect fathers to do the parenting for you is a labour-intensive process. Credit: Suzy Malik

One enduring truth about gay sexis that we don’t mingle sexual satisfaction with reproduction in that haphazard, senseless way that straight people do. Unlike those servants of evolution, we have to actually plan to have children.



The first stage of starting a queer family is finding someone with the appropriate plumbing needed to cook up a child. Since you and your same-sex partner don’t constitute a matching set in reproductive terms, producing a child inevitably involves another person. Sometimes it even involves two people, their lawyer, a team of medical specialists, a children’s aid worker and the Supreme Court Of Ontario.



But how do you meet these people? There are a number of methods, but the simplest is what I’ve come to call the baby date. This is when you take 15 minutes to assess a near stranger for their genetic fitness, parental capabilities and capacity to drive you nuts over the lifelong bond you’re about to create by having a child together. Since I wasn’t the maternal type and planned to hand the kid over to the father’s care, I wanted someone who’d be a good dad. I figured that with the shortage of wombs among gay men, my offer would be snapped up in no time. It wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped.



***

BABY DATE #1



Me: Why exactly do you want to have kids?



Him: Immortality.



Me: Hey, me too.



Him: So, we’re compatible!



Me: Well, no. That’s a motivation to procreate, but it’s not a good reason to become a parent. It’s selfish. What about all that responsibility, the diaper changing, the bitter adolescent recriminations?



Him: Oh yeah. About that. You know, I travel a lot and I’m not sure I could handle a kid full-time.



Me: [suspiciously] What do you mean?



Him: Well, when I said I wanted to be a dad I wasn’t thinking the child would actually live with me.



Me: [even more suspiciously] Where, exactly, would your child live?



Him: It’s just that my boyfriend is afraid a baby would ruin the furniture. You know, all that puking and pooping on our Mies van der Rohe living-room set.



Me: [clueing in] Forget it.



The kid’s not living with me.



Him: Aw, c’mon. You’ll be the mother….



***

BABY DATE #2



Me: This is the deal. I birth it; you raise it. I sign over parental rights and become Auntie Regan, which means I visit every so often to give the kid loud, inappropriate toys and feed it too much candy, then hand it back to you.



Him: You’re saying that your contribution will be genetic rather than a care-giving role. Me: That’s right.



Him: What do you know about your family medical background?



Me: Nothing.I’m adopted. I’m a love child from the pre-birth control era. My parents were drunk teenagers who conceived me on New Year’s Eve.



Him: Uh okay, I notice you wear glasses. What does the sign on the back of that fire truck say?



Me: “Stay back isometrics.”



Him: That’s “stay back 150 metres.” How strong is that prescription exactly?



Me: I’m not sure but my optometrist told me I’d be an excellent candidate for eye surgery. Other than that I’m as healthy as a horse. Except for my teeth. They keep breaking when I eat chewy things like bread.



Him: And what are those purple welts on your legs?



Me: Oh, that’s my skin disease. Apparently, I’m allergic to myself. I keep forgetting about that, though. It’s amazing what you get used to.



***

BABY DATE #3



Me: Tell me how you guys have prepared your home for having a kid?



Prospective dad: I thought we could convert the sunroom into a nursery.



Dad’s boyfriend: What? The sunroom stays.



Prospective dad: Why, so those four stinking dogs you’ve got can have their own couch to lie on?



Dad’s boyfriend: At least you knew they were in my life before you moved in with me. I didn’t just spring it on you and expect you to cope.



Me: Uh, have you guys actually discussed having a baby at all? It’s kind of a big decision….



Prospective dad: [winking cheerfully at me] Don’t worry about him. He’s just like this. He’ll come around eventually.



Dad’s boyfriend: Like hell I will.



***

Thinking that the baby dating process wasn’t going too well, I tried a different approach. I went to a queer parenting support group. We were a diverse group with only one common goal: making babies with people we barely knew. We’d discuss having children through surrogates, adoption and coparenting. People would hook up to make their own family constellations, gossip about their adoption workers and the occasional lesbian couple would drop by cruising for donor sperm.



I worried that gay men would prefer a pay-as-you-go-away surrogate rather than the auntie donor I hoped to be. My hopes sank as an entire year went by. I contemplated going against my instincts and raising the child myself, but it was obvious I didn’t fit in with this club.



***

DISCUSSING CHILD NUTRITION



Daddy-to-be: Of course children shouldn’t drink pop. It has caffeine that gets them addicted.



Hopeful-papa: And all that sugar rots their teeth out.



Me: Why worry? There’s a second set ready to grow in.



***

DISCUSSING BIRTH PLANS



Mom-to-be: After the birth, I want to watch my child open his eyes for the first time.



Mommy-to-be: I have dreams of falling asleep with the baby resting on my chest.



Me: How soon can I start drinking beer after the birth?



Discussing family traditions



Daddy-to-be: I’m hoping to pass on my family’s love of cooking to my child.



Mom-to-be: My parents always took me travelling. I want to show my child all the wonderful places in the world.



Me: I was left alone to watch hours and hours of television. I think all kids should learn to have an active imaginary life like me.



***

WHILE WATCHING A BIRTHING VIDEO



Dad-to-be: This has to be the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I was at my sister’s birth, too. It was such a privilege to witness that moment.



Future-father: See how they use receiving blankets to dry the baby quickly? It’s so important to keep the baby warm.



Me: Are you sure she didn’t squeeze out an organ by mistake? Oh… right… it’s moving and screaming. Her liver probably wouldn’t do that.



***

Eventually a couple of guys who’d been looking into adoption finally contacted me about having a kid with them. If you’re contemplating kids yourself, don’t worry. However queer you want your family to be, there’s someone else who’s just as far out there.



Me: So, you’ll take the kid once it’s born and I get to visit and spoil the kid rotten. I don’t do diapers or snot suckers, but I will want camping trips and ice cream binges.



Dad #1: Sure. But we also get to tap you for babysitting.



Me: Fair enough. I expect an undue amount of praise for helping out, though.



Dad #2: And you don’t want any financial responsibility for the child?



Me: None whatsoever.



Dad #1: Not even college tuition?



Me: That’s your job. I will, however, take credit for the kid’s accomplishments. Screw-ups will be your fault.



Dad #2: Let me get this straight. We have all of the parental responsibilities, the financial and legal responsibilities and you just get to drop by and visit pretty much whenever you want.



Me: Yup. Plus, I want wallet photos.



Dad #1: Well, that sounds great to us.



Me: Really?



Dad #2: Yes. I can’t think of a better arrangement.



Me: You can’t?



Dad #2: Not at all.



Me: Quick! Sign here.



* Regan McClure writes humorous stories and now has a daughter named Lucy, but notes that the people and events depicted have been funny-ized beyond recognition.