I remember each person’s reaction when we told them that we were having a baby. Most people were shocked, followed by full of joy and wow and OMG. There were those that just couldn’t process it because, I mean, gay guys raising a baby? And then there was one reaction that really stuck with me. It wasn’t positive or negative, just a question: “Do you really want to be bringing kids into THIS world?”
Prior to that stunning question I hadn’t thought about that specifically.
Yes, I wanted to be a dad. Yes, I want to someday be a grampa. Yes, I want to help form a little life and see what becomes of it. No, I didn’t want to bring a child into this world, a world that would see our family as odd, different or, as I’d been told, gross. And that’s when I had to start thinking about how this world would be for said child and what family meant. What things did I want to see change that would make THIS world better for our future baby?
Below you’ll find the three things that helped us feel secure and confident in growing our family and preparing our kids to face the world ahead of them.
Legally family – At the time we found out that we got to have a baby, all my partner and I had was a little certificate from the City of Seattle that said that they were down with us being committed to each other. Per the lawyer we’d met with prior to getting the baby-ball rolling, until the full on adoption process was completed, only one of us would be a legal guardian for said baby. If something happened to one of us before that, there was a portion of the future being totally left to chance. I wanted to see our family unit recognized and understood as any other family would be. I wanted our child to live in a world that didn’t stare at us because we were two dads and a kid. I mean, have them stare at us because we seem wild and crazy or because one of us has toilet paper stuck to our shoe. Due to progress in Washington State, legally, we are good to go and now we’re married and … And today, I think that this world doesn’t look at our family like it once would have.
Our family unit – The family you’re born with: that’s an interesting drinking conversation. The family you create: that’s what you talk about around the campfire. Even before we were talking about babies we were building our family. I have to say, I lucked out in terms of in-laws with truly out of this world ones, both because they treat us like normal people and because they’re just fun. Beyond in-laws, there are the best friends, and that’s where we continue to build our unit (so many aunties and uncles). Even though we weren’t always planning on kids, we were always working to create the support network that we’d eventually need to raise children in this world.
Regarding our family tree, as our oldest says, “we have a way big huuuuuuge famiwie.”
Setting boundaries – You know how there are just those people, family or not, that might be abusive, hurtful or just plain old bigots? Well, sometimes they change and sometimes not. There are those who get locked out due to hurt too deep, but then there are those that want to fix things and move forward. Boundaries about respect and being treated with dignity are a necessity if not everyone in your world treats you like any other normal family. When you have kids, you can’t compromise on being respected, especially for the sake of kids that are learning from everything they see. It’s nice to have your own, original family there for you, especially if it shows that people can change. When that happens it’s an example to give hope that others will follow suitHaving a family is the biggest step in anyone’s life. Sure, you’ll make decisions to travel the world, buy a car, buy a house, get a tattoo, but creating or taking on another’s life and teaching them how to be a citizen of the world: there’s nothing greater. You may help others every single day, but being a parent has a longer reach than you realize until you’re doing it. Good luck!