Friday, April 8, 2011

Kath and Kim and Fate?

When I was about 17 I remember thinking secretly that I could name three very specific things that I believed would improve my life: having an Australian accent, being able to play the guitar, and knowing how to cook. Partly because they are admittedly silly goals and partly because I’ve never been much for self-improvement, I didn’t actively pursue any of them.

When I graduated from high school, my parents gave me two very rad graduation gifts. My dad, ever the outdoorsman, took me canoeing on the Merrimack River. My mom, who in bygone days was the lead singer of a band in Germany, gave me her guitar. She’d had it since she was twelve (or something like that).

A few years later I found myself living in New York City and in love. He was (or rather “is”, but since I’m talking about the past, I’ll commit to past tense - if that’s okay with you) Australian. And with the lovely Australian came this bit on unknown culture shock:

When I saw Kath and Kim for the first time, the skies opened up and poured heavenly angels unto me. Australia’s delicious self-deprecation mixed with brilliant writing and hidden jokes... it was the perfect brand of comedy for me. Kath and Kim is the reason I still have a VCR player. I’m now officially their Number One Fan – and am Sharon Strezlecky’s second best friend, odviously. The relationship ended, but the accent lived on.

Years later and I still couldn’t cook. Once, I almost burnt down an entire dormitory of high school girls by attempting to toast bread – so I start to think it’s possible I could be been working through a PTSD block. I had three roommates and countless friends who would try and teach me how to cook and still nothing. When I watched Julie & Julia for the first time, I was seething with jealousy.

And then one day, I woke up and knew how to cook. I don’t know how to explain what happened, but all of the information that everyone had tried to impart upon me flooded my soul as I slept – and I woke up and made Eggs Benedict. And then I made Fried Chicken, and Mushroom and Tofu Pot Pie, and Ratatouille and Vegan Stuffed Peppers and Enchiladas MolĂ© and met a man and fell in love.

And now I cook for him. I’m still a beginner when it comes to the guitar, but I can play a handful of songs and what I know, I play for him. The accent is now a habit, which he pretends to be annoyed by but obviously loves.

If I had known definitively that in only 10 years, I’d obtain the three things that I could name and want at that moment in time, perhaps I’d ask for something else. Cheesy and clichĂ© as it is, I imagine the first would be to meet the person of my dreams. It seems instruments, and accents, and ovens brought me to the same place. Funny how circular, how invisibly musical this life can be.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Duo Daddy Dilemma

This article was originally published in the April edition of Diversity Rules Magazine, which you can find online here.

In 2011, the option for gay parenting is alive and well. And thank goodness, because even though my beautiful beau and I are far from having babies, I make no secret of wanting to be a daddy. Including all of the major decisions and responsibilities that involve parenting, gay men in particular, have another significant determination to weigh when it comes to having a child. Adopt or Surrogate - pitting theories of nature versus nurture in the Duo Daddy Dilemma.

On the one hand you’ve got adoption. (Unless you’re in Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Nebraska, or North Dakota in which case what the hell are you doing? Move.) Everywhere you look, there are orphaned children that are in need of a home and some may argue that gay couples are in a unique position to offer them a family since biologically they cannot reproduce on their own. That argument makes sense to a degree. But if we are to consider that all parents (gay and straight alike) are equally capable of raising a child – which on the whole I do, and that is not to say that just anyone should raise children – then as equals, they are each equally justified in wanting their own biological child and therefore equally positioned to adopt a child. The line of reasoning to which the world is over populated only argues that all parents should adopt and not that only gay ones should.

On the other hand, there’s the option of surrogacy. From personal experience, I can testify for simply wanting biological children. Perhaps this is a paternal yearn to see one’s seed continued on. My beau commented that his biological yearning (which sounds revolting) simmered once his brother had genetic children. Or perhaps, there is something more socially selfish about wanting to raise your genetic child. Is it narcissistic to want offspring that have your eyes, your hair, or your sense of extro- or introvert -which, yes, is genetic.

If you should come to the conclusion that adopting is for you, then one must consider options of ethnicity, sex, and the age of your child. On the question of gender, are two men more fit to raise a boy and are two women more fit to raise a girl? This question shakes the very foundation of gender stereotypes. On the question of race, I’m personally against “blending in”, whether in sexual orientation or race, but I cannot deny that some people consider it an important factor when adopting children. On the question of age, adopting a baby versus a ten-year-old involves challenges that require a different and specific set of goals, perspectives, and investments.

If you should come to the conclusion of surrogacy, firstly you’ll need to decide which daddy’s sperm do you use? Chances are that one of you has the perfect eyes and an uncle who’s an alcoholic but the other has gorgeous hair and a family history of narcolepsy. I believe there is a procedure in which the two men mix sperm and let the faster swimmer win, but eventually, a couple has to realize which daddy the babe most resembles. Right? Perhaps you pull a Juliette Moore & Annette Bening and have two children, each the other’s biological, just to make it fair – though that seems like a bad reason to have two children if the original plan was only one. Once the sperm is decided upon, choosing an egg comes with it’s own emotional game of genetic guessing. Will your Baby Mama be a bosom buddy or a Jane Doe? And, of course, one must also find a surrogate and manage that delicate relationship.

Two mommies have other queries and choices to make, but there you have it, the Duo Daddy Dilemma.

Whichever choice you choose, surrogate or adoption, the real meat and potatoes of child rearing comes next. Somehow, while maintaining a modicum of sanity and financial stability all parents are expected to provide a nurturing upbringing with an emotional foundation that will prepare the young individual for the long haul of life. It’s such a magnificent responsibility that it seems appropriate that all couples consider and prepare in as much depth that is required of gay parents. While some people manage the tall order of parenting with flying colors, it is not new to suggest that many do not measure up to the demanding expectation.

Does the Duo Daddy Dilemma offer a conclusion? Oh, not really. Eventually, either decision to adopt or to find a surrogate is easily justified by logic’s standpoint and then shadowed by the enormity of actually raising and unconditionally loving a child. Make decisions that feel right for you and your growing family. Always remember to listen to others but at the end of the day free advice is worth what you paid for it. Most of all, I consider myself fortunate to be weighing these options at all. I eagerly await the great honor of being a daddy.