How important is it, really, for a child to be of your own blood? Are there any unselfish reasons for having children? Are there right and wrong reasons for having children? How much is it about me, and is it an inherently selfish act to have children?
These are the questions which have been rolling around in my head ever since I first began contemplating being a parent. Perhaps writing them out will help me wrestle with them.
In my personal case, the most pressing issues of parenthood before I actually become a parent are working out my motivations, and working out whether these are the right choices, if there are even right choices for having children.
The usual answers I hear when I ask people about reasons to have children run the gambit from, “To propagate your DNA and family line” to “to complete your family” and “to rediscover life through a new person’s eyes”. The last reason appeals to me the most, it reminds me of that episode of Star Trek: TNG when Data became a father and observed how caring for his child, Lal, helped him see the world in a new way.
I have the most difficulty with the idea of “propagating the family line”. My girlfriend, being trans, would either have to halt her hormone regimen in order to impregnate me, or we would have to have children at a much younger age than we liked, or have her completely put off her full transition until we were ready. IVF is not an option for us. None of those options, truthfully, are desirable for either Jaime or me. My first choice would be to have a close male friend offer to impregnate me, ideally. I already have one, a close friend whom I trust implicitly and believe would be a good role model and take an active role in the children’s lives in mind.
“Why not adopt?” I’ve heard this one asked before. At one point, I wanted to adopt autistic children so that I could give them a good home and be assured children of my neurotype. Call me cynical, but I think that a lesbian couple who are both disabled and one of whom is trans are probably going to have a very difficult time being considered an appropriate family for adoption. I know on paper it says you are not supposed to discriminate against families like ours in the adoption process, but I’ve had years of experience to tell me that what is said on paper doesn’t always translate to what is practised.
I also cast a weary eye on the fashionable trend of international adoption and of adopting the children of teen mothers and disadvantaged/poor women. Both are uniquely problematic, but the root of my distrust of them stems from the fear of eventually making pregnancy and childbirth a labour (sorry!) of the poor, uneducated, and disadvantaged, while rich women reap the babies. The Adoption Industrial Complex?
The larger moral questions still remain cloudy for me. Is it right to have a child when the world is in such a population peril? Is it right to bring a child into a world with so much suffering, where in this current social climate, they will inevitably suffer as the children of two women? Am I doing this for the right reasons?
I don’t know where to turn for answers. It’s not enough for me to hear that all of these problems will be solved if I use cloth diapers or adopt, or that I’ll know the true meaning of it all once I hold the baby in my arms. I feel a deep seated love of the idea of becoming a parent, but I want to be able to have a better understanding of what it will mean for myself and the potential children I would have if I decide to become a parent.
I hope the old adage is true and with wisdom comes age. I’ve met many examples to the contrary, but I hope I at least have these hashed out before I turn 30.