We’ve started telling people about Tiny. Not the world, not Facebook, but our parents and some of the closer family members. And each time we have told someone, they have asked:
“Did you use the same donor as Ansel?”
It’s a question we expected, and we weren’t sure how to answer. Initially, we just awkwardly answered.
“No. We used an anonymous donor this time.” and, if they pushed, “It’s a complicated story, it was a difficult decision.”
It was a difficult decision, as you may remember. Ultimately, we decided the ‘pros’ on the anonymous donor list outweighed the deep emotional experience of wanting to use BFF and wanting our children to have a biological connection to one another. It was made further complex by knowing that – as it stands now – we are planning to have 3 children and, again, if things go as planned now, two of them would be biologically “full” siblings and one would not be (ie: we are planning to use one of the frozen embryos from my IVF cycle for #3) We each had to deal with a variety of feelings about the situation, even though we felt like it was the best decision.
And ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Because we believe that biology is not what creates a family. Its a fundamental belief, right? It really has to be, when you’re queers building a family. So if we really legitimately believe that, we can’t get hung up on those pieces. We have to behave in accordance with what we believe, and what we believe is that our children are related because we are their parents, and we are their parents no matter whose DNA they share or whose uterus grew them.
Once we got clear for ourselves with this, it followed that the question about donors stopped feeling awkward and started feeling offensive. Obviously, no one intends to be hurtful but, regardless, asking two parents about the biological make up of their children IS an offensive question.
In retrospect, we wish we would have kept the details of how we conceived Ansel more private. We shared almost every detail with almost anyone who asked – for a lot of reasons including wanting to connect with people, wanting to normalize alternative conception stories, and wanting to process our experience. But ultimately, it meant that lots of people who don’t have the skill or understanding about how to be thoughtful or sensitive with this information had it, and those people also feel more at ease asking us these details now.
We’ve decided that, moving forward, if anyone asks about Tiny’s donor, we are going to let them know that the question itself is problematic because it assumes we are not both Tiny’s parents, and it is not relevant information for them. We might also include something about feeling differently now about sharing this information than we did with Ansel. My guess is that people will end the conversation at that point and make their own assumptions. If they press us, we’ll likely answer honestly, but I don’t think many folks will continue the conversation. It feels hard to make this decision because it’s likely to alienate some people, but it also feels important to be consistent with our own understanding of our family, as well as maintaining some of the privacy we gave up with Ansel.
How do you handle questions about how you built your family, especially when you might want to both keep sensitive information in your control AND want to make stories like ours more normal and less scary?