As some of you may know, I am a political junkie. I love politics and policy and yearn for the day when good policy actually makes for good politics (unfortunately that is all too rare).
Anyway, I follow many political blogs. The past several days the local political blogosphere in my city has been filled with talk of adoption by same sex couples. There are various proposals to make it illegal. I am a big proponent of equality for same sex couples. My mother is gay and so having been raised by a lesbian and seeing the difference between my mother and her partner and my dad and stepmom, it makes me mad when people argue that as a rule one couple is better/healthier/more natural than the other. Or that one set of my parents would automatically raise me better. Sure, I've had some of the usual stepchild-stepparent tensions with my mom's partner (you know, a little jealousy with losing the "smartest person in the family" label). But compared with my actual stepmother locking me out of her house when I went to visit my dad, it kinda gives you a different perspective on what family composition is healthier.
But yesterday I got a little obsessed with a particular blog post on this topic. And I think it has to do with our IF. See, there are two parts to the argument opponents of same-sex couples adopting that make me particularly sensitive to how they might also apply to couples struggling with IF. One, if nature doesn't think you should parent, then maybe you should listen. And two, the whole thing is more about giving the adults the life they want and not what is best for kids. Let's take these in turn.
First, one very common argument against same-sex couples adopting is that it is not natural. If God doesn't think two men or two women should be parents, then why should anyone else? (I'm not going to get into the whole separation of church and state thing here b/c my point is more about whether these arguments apply to infertile couples in addition to same sex couples.) At one point, this particular blog (which I won't link to b/c I don't want to send people there) said that it is "profoundly obvious" that couples that can't reproduce naturally have no business being parents.
I'm a person of faith. While I don't believe that God is moving us around like pieces on a checkerboard and organizing everything in our lives, I do think that our lives take a certain shape because God is present. So this is a hard thing for me to think about. Is God trying to send us a message that maybe we shouldn't be parents? Are our attempts to get pregnant through technology just a way to ignore this message?
There are a lot of shades of gray in my husband's and my journey with IF. So you could make the argument that we can reproduce, it's just very unlikely we would do so naturally. But what about my friends who have no usable eggs? Or my friends with husbands who have zero sperm? The truth is, I'm not sure how much difference people see between a same sex couple that can't reproduce and a hetero sex couple that can't reproduce. I mean, if you compare a lesbian couple to a couple with azoospermia, their basic reproductive difficulty is the lack of sperm between the two of them. So why do we say that one is fit to parent and the other is not?
This is not just an academic argument. Luckily I have not experienced this personally, but I know many of my IF friends have had people say straight out that maybe they are just not meant to be parents or maybe they should just listen to the message that nature/God is sending them and focus on something other than parenthood. And if I'm honest with myself, I've thought that in the deepest part of my brain.
And this is where we get to the second argument against same sex couples adopting that I think is tied to IF. Is the whole endeavor just about attaining our vision of what we want in life and the children involved just playthings for us? As expressed by opponents of same sex couples adopting, this is about gay rights, not about what is best for the children. While I don't agree that same sex couples are by definition less fit to be parents (and so the "it's not best for the children" is a red herring), I do see some truth to this argument. I am after all thinking of doing IUI and/or adopting because I want to be a mother. I don't like to think too much about the negative aspects of IUI (such as what happens if there are too many babies and thus the consequences for their health). And when I think of adopting, I think of bringing home a cute little newborn and say how great it is that I'm helping a kid in need. I don't think about adopting a toddler or older or a kid with special needs who are truly the children in need of good homes.
So part of me wonders that my passion for defending same sex couples in their ability to adopt stems from my own insecurities about IF and what it means for me. Should I listen to the message that maybe I'm not meant to be a mother? If I don't (because truly I don't want to), am I putting my own wants ahead of what is best for children? Regardless of what you think about same sex couples adopting, how do you all work through these questions?
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