Sunday, June 26, 2005

Introducing. . . . The Negative Six Month Old!!

Since mainly the non-blog reading sibilings are the only ones who have not yet heard the news; and because the FYO doesn't know the URL, I am free to post the following fact:


Please find below a link to heretofore unposted blogs on the neuroses of the first trimester after having had a miscarriage:

The Thing I Can't Blog About

Eight Weeks, Zero Days: 8.0

8.1: Week 8 Day 1

The Externalities of Pregnancy

The Cherry Parisite


Nausea Returns!

In'sha allah Redux

Week 10: No Longer an Amphibian

The Parallel Universe

HFRM#1 and the Due Date

Neosporin and Hairspray

11 Weeks, 5 Days


12.5: Appointment 2

We Have A Heartbeat!

X-Ray Vision

Telling the Folks

The Ultimate Christmas Present

15 Weeks 3 Days

You shall have no other gods besides Me

Conversation with Sidekick and her Dad:

Sidekick: Is God a boy or a girl?

Her Dad: Neither. And both.

Sidekick: Like [blogauthor]?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Is Gay Marriage the New Abortion?

Last week's article "What's Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage (It's the Gay Part)" by Russell Shorto was unbelievable.

The article was an in-depth exploration of anti-gay-marriage cursaders in Maryland.

The story begins, not surprisingly, in Washington, with a little lobbying group called the Family Research Council. In their (get this) "gift shop", they have, 'neath a plaque "emblazoned with the group's slogan--Defending Family, Faith and Freedom," a shrine to "traditional" marriage: a complete groom's outfit -- tux, tie, fluffy shirt -- and a bridal gown with all the trimmings down to teh dried bouquet.


In May 2003 the heads of 26 conservative organizations, including the Family Research Council, formed an entity, which they called the Arlington Group, to pool resources and come up with a combined strategy for fighting the forces of secularism.

They felt, for example, that Lawrence v. Texas was essentially an "endorsement, at the federal level, of homosexuality itself.

This is what is strange to me. It is as though they have convoluded several issues and actively the constitution as well as the ideals upon which this country was based. They have no regard for separation of church and state. Gay marriage is obviously not an issue of civil rights*. In fact, are pushing for The Church to have more of an influence (hence "fighting the forces of secularism"). But it is, clearly, not just any church they endorse and feel should have priority.

Furthermore, what does this have to do with gay marriage except that homosexuality is not usually condoned by their interpretation of The Church. Of course this is one issue, but why is it their main (if not sole) focus?

But as I learned spending time among the cultural conservatives who are leading the anti-gay-marriage charge, they have their own reasons for doing so, which are based on their reading of the Bible, their views about both homosexuality and the institution of marriage and the political force behind the issue. In the words of Gary Bauer, president of American Values -- one of what is now a total of 61 organizations under the Arlington Group banner, with a combined membership of 60 million -- gay marriage is "the new abortion." He meant that, as with abortion, conservatives see gay marriage as a culture-altering change being implemented by judicial fiat. But gay marriage is also the new abortion in that it is for groups like Bauer's a base-energizing and fund-raising issue of tremendous power.

But for the anti-gay-marriage activists, homosexuality is something to be fought, not tolerated or respected. I found no one among the people on the ground who are leading the anti-gay-marriage cause who said in essence: ''I have nothing against homosexuality. I just don't believe gays should be allowed to marry.'' Rather, their passion comes from their conviction that homosexuality is a sin, is immoral, harms children and spreads disease. Not only that, but they see homosexuality itself as a kind of disease, one that afflicts not only individuals but also society at large and that shares one of the prominent features of a disease: it seeks to spread itself.

The author then goes on to discuss a grass-roots activist, Laura Clark, mother of four, and suburbanite from Catonsville Md. Her husband says: "At the stage of life we're in, its all about family."

[Note that as I write this, I am watching two kids in a kiddy pool and slip-n-slide in my back yard, surrounded by juice boxes and popsicle sticks. I couldn't be any more 'all about family' at this stage in my life.]

From her home, Laura trolls the Internet for news articles and developments, nationally and in teh state, that have to do with same-sex marriae and other issues of concern to the group, like abortion, and then she compiles them into a newsletter that is e-mailed to members. Her sources: The Washington Times, Family Research Council and the Drudge Report.

Marriage seems to be their primary focus for two reasons: opportunism and the importance they place on that particular institution.

1. Opportunism: The various conservative Christian groups leading the anti-gay-marriage charge cooperate in many ways. Local groups with ties to one of the big national organizations may meet as events are heating up in their state. "Sometimes we have coordinated attacks," said Michael Bowman, the director of state legislative relations for Concerned Women for America, a public policy organization based on biblical principles that was founded by Beverly LaHaye, who is married to the best-selling Christian writer Tim LaHaye. "Our local person will be in touch with the Catholic Conference person or with Focus on the Family. They'll create e-mail loops, decide when to hit the pavement." Gay marriage is providing unparalleled momentum for this kind of linkage, Bowman added: "The marriage issue is waking up alliances that never existed. Abortion was never like this."

2. The Institution: To see marriage as in any way a secular or legal union of two individuals is to miss utterly the point and conviction of the Christian forces lined up against gay marriage. As Dobson states in his book: "To put it succinctly, the institution of marriage represents the very foundation of human social order. Everything of value sits on that base. Institutions, governments, religious fervor and the welfare of children are all dependent on its stability." Every activist on the ground I spoke with said something similar. "Marriage was defined thousands of years ago and has served us well," said Rebecca Denning, a retired secretary in southern Maryland who volunteers alongside Evalena Gray. "I think marriage is about procreation and families. And I think we're getting into something that we don't truly understand what the ramifications will be."

To break down this particular institution is to break down society as we know it:

Some on the other side of the issue -- notably Andrew Sullivan -- make the argument that extending the marriage franchise into the gay community will have positive results for everyone: it will encourage gays and lesbians to settle down into stable families, and given that about 40 percent of marriages end in divorce, it will bring new devotees to an ailing institution. The anti-gay-marriage people readily acknowledge that marriage is in a state of crisis, but they counter that the solution isn't to dilute the traditional meaning but to reinforce it. And that meaning, they say, is bound up in biology. "The homosexual community would have us believe that marriage is simply about loving one another," said Rick Bowers of Defend Maryland Marriage. "I say it's about two human beings who are wired completely differently, one with estrogen and one with testosterone, living together in love but with the purpose of procreation. It's a lot deeper than love. So I can't see how someone could look on a same-sex marriage as marriage at all."

Ultimately though, rather than banishing gay marriage, they'd like to, out of love (for sure!) treat the root of the problem: homosexuality itself.

"The Hebrew words for male and female are actually the words for the male and female genital parts," he told me. "The male is the piercer; the female is the pierced. That is the way God designed it. It's unfortunate that homosexuals have taken the moniker 'gay,' because their lifestyle and its consequences are anything but. Look what has happened in the decades since the sexual revolution and acceptance of the gay lifestyle as normal. Viruses have mutated. S.T.D.'s have spread. It shows that when we try to change the natural course of things, what comes out of that is not joy or gayness."

Explaining how homosexuality resembles an insidious disease, Racer said, "If you have a same-gendered union, you have no natural, biological way to propagate your philosophy." So, he explained, it seeks to spread itself by other means, including popular culture. Bryan Simonaire added: "We have to recognize that they have a strategy to propagate their lifestyle. Think back 10 or 20 years ago, when you had the first openly homosexual person on TV. It was shocking to a lot of people. Now it's the norm on television, so you don't have the shock factor. Then they had two men with a passionate kiss on TV. That's the road they're heading down. They have a strategy."

If only it were that easy. Ellen announces she's gay. Jack and Will spout a few one-liners and we're all comfortable with ourselves as promiscuous drug-seeking hedonistic homicidal AIDS transporters with new recruits by the dozens.

As for being stylish, maybe he's right. Maybe pink (as in a pink triangle) IS the new black!

*The fact that civil unions, as well as efforts to extend specific rights and benefits to gay couples, receive significant support in polls suggests that many who object to gay marriage nevertheless see an underlying civil rights issue.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Donor vs. Dad

This past weekend BioMom and I were in Washington. Me for the IAFFE conference, her for a little r&r.

On the way home we got stuck in Chicago and I caught up on all the Washington Posts I had gathered along the way.

Sunday's Magazine contained an article for father's day called The Donor by Michael Leahy.

The article was interesting and strange, offensive and sweet all at the same time.

It focused on one particular family: a single woman whose weight is referred to no less than 4 times in the article, insinuating that she was not single by choice but because she was fat, and her two kids, conceived with Donor 929's sperm.

McGhee [the mother] didn't match Rubino's [the donor's] image of the donor-inseminated mother. She was neither married nor involved with a man experiencing a fertility problem, but rather was a 300-pound single woman who had decided in 1997, at age 36, to have a family on her own, finding a sperm donor through the cryobank.

McGhee was representative of a new wave -- a highly educated, unmarried professional able to afford donor sperm and related insemination costs that wouldultimately cost her about $6,000 for her two children. Single women and lesbian couples, most of whom bought the sperm online and had it shipped to them or to their doctors' offices, were on their way to becoming 60 percent of California Cryobank's sperm-buying clients.

Having been disappointed for years that no slim, attractive men wanted to date her, McGhee could, for the first time in her life, she says, choose from an abundance of fit, intelligent men. "Selecting a donor was empowering," she remembers. "Suddenly I had my pick of these incredible male specimens. I was the one with the power to accept or reject. I loved looking at those donor profiles; I mean, I could have any of these guys."

As BioMom said, when I read her that quote, it sounds like someone whose been dumped one too many times.

What was interesting, and strange, is that McGhee had dreams of meeting the donor. And, again it is insinuated, you get the feeling that she would like to have an intimate relationship with him (although she had never met him) and would like them to be a 'family'.

"Some women in my position wanted nothing to do with a man," McGhee remembers. "That was never me. After I had Aaron, I thought it would be important for a child to develop an important relationship with a male. More than ever, I wanted to meet [the donor]. I just didn't know how I was going to do it, and I had other things on my mind."

McGhee regularly reminded her children about their donor-father, recalling personal characteristics of Donor 929 as if he were an absent loved one. "Do you know your donor lives in California?" she would ask them when a television program mentioned something about the state. She would hold up a drawing and say brightly, "Hey, this is one of your donor's favorite colors: red."

On Father's Day, she made it a habit to gather her children and say: "Let's send lots of hugs and kisses to your donor. Let's think of your donor. Let's send our love."

Her children, as she recounts, happily chimed in: "Thank you, donor. We love you."

Through a Website, Donor Sibling Registry, she eventually got in contact with donor 929, Mike, "daddy". And they eventually met.

McGhee was reading Aaron a bedtime story, she recalls, when she noticed his eyes growing heavy, the boy falling into that state between dreams and consciousness, where people are at their most truthful, thought the psychotherapist, who sought an answer to a question nagging at her.

"Aaron, have you ever wished you had a dad?" she remembers asking him.

"I wish I had a dad to play with me," he murmured drowsily.

"How come you've never told me that?"

"I don't know," the boy said softly, his eyes closing.

The moment affirmed her conviction that she was doing the right thing in bringing her children to see Rubino. And, deep down, she did not rule out the possibility that maybe something miraculous would happen and she and Rubino would become a couple. "I'd be lying if I said that my mind didn't go to that fairy-tale ending, and that it ended with all of us living happily ever after," she says. "But, at the same time, as a responsible adult, you realize that such a [scenario] is a fairy tale, and unlikely."

Weirdly, the donor has similar fairy tale notions, albeit with the kids. Not the mom:

One night, as McGhee and Rubino remember, Rubino called to say that he had placed photos of Aaron and Leah in his home, asking whether she minded that he had referred to them as his "children" around a few of his friends. She was pleased, and then asked what he would like the children to call him when they arrived in L.A.

"If I could choose, I'd love it if the kids called me 'Dad,'" he said.

WTF? Remember, these kids have never even MET this guy.

During the visit:

Yet now, after just one full day together, Rubino is having a very conventional moment with his new family. Aaron again rests his head on Rubino's shoulder, watching another cartoon.

"Aaron, do you want something to eat?" his mother asks him.

The boy doesn't seem to hear.

"You're happy right there with your Daddy?"

The boy nods, burrowing into Rubino's shoulder. Rubino puts an arm around him, drops his chin on the top of the boy's head. For an hour, they don't move.

And in the end:

By then, Raechel McGhee will be taking early steps to uproot her psychotherapy practice and move with her children to Los Angeles, talking about it from Massachusetts to Rubino. With his support, she will have begun the process of redoing her will to give custody of her children to him should she die, and of changing her children's names to Aaron Rubino McGhee and Leah Rubino McGhee.

15 Weeks 3 Days

Its all still very abstract.

BioMom is showing.

If you know what to look for.

And definitely uncomfortable in her regular pants. But it still doesn't seem very real.

One strange symptom: super itchy legs. I find her scratching like she's got chicken pox or a bad case of poison ivey and reading What to Expect in search of a solution.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Ultimate Christmas Present

So, we haven't yet spilled the beans about the news to the FYO but we've started prepping her through clandestine questions like:

Would you rather have a baby sister or a baby brother?


What do you think about asking Santa for a baby for Christmas?

Her response, invariably, is that she is unwilling to give up any potential presents for said baby.

What Would You Do?

So, the FYO is actually reading quite well.

Yeah. Yeah. We're proud of her, etc. etc. But reading brings on another level of issues.

For example, when Cousin was in town over Easter and we were reviwing the TIVO playlist, the FYO yelled out

What's Sex and the City?

Tonight's question was much more difficult.

She had grabbed my New York Times Magazine in the back of the car and was just flipping through it, spelling out words she didn't know and asking for clarification.

What is T-I-G-H-T?


What is T-E-R-R-O-R-I-S-M?


What is that?

Its like a scary movie?

Like Star Wars Three?

Um. Not exactly.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Fugitive

Today, after being forced (by various means of extortion) to pick up after herself (in literally about the most minute way possible), the FYO decided that she wanted to go and live with MRM#1 and MRM#2.

Their place is her heaven.

Their place equals:
1. new barbies all the time
2. ice cream
3. pizza
4. constant personal attention
5. staying up past 10 p.m. on occasion to watch a movie.

But we'd miss you!

I'd come and visit!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

As Free As The Wind Blows

Yesterday I picked up the hot and sweaty FYO on the tagalong and we rode home in the nice hot sun.

When we got home I had a few gardening tasks for her as we waited for a little leftover pie dough with cinnamon and sugar to cook in the oven. [I'm not really that domestic!].

She was watering some plants and we were fertilizing some trees when I thought, Why not take off her shoes and enjoy the cool water a bit?

She disappeared in the front of the house to do so as I watered the roses.

I started to wonder how long it takes to remove shoes and socks when out she skips, naked as a bird on the front lawn!

I gasped. . . and asked her to put on her skirt back on.

Why? She asked.

She is just big and old enough for such a sight to be inappropriate. At least in the front yard. But explaining this to her, without making her feel ashamed about her body is the tough part. She was so free and happy. And so confused when I asked her to put her skirt (at least!) back on.

Telling the Folks

Last night we had dinner with BioMom's folks in a choreographed attempt to tell them that she is pregnant with the FYO out of earshot.

Her Mom: I KNEW IT!!!

She claims she could tell by some particular splotches on her face still unseen by my own eyes.

Of course, when we got home I had to check out "mask of pregnancy" on the Internet.

The Internet is beautiful.

I was able to bring up all of these crazy faces and tease the hell out of BioMom.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

X-Ray Vision

Oh, I am DEFINITELY going to hell for lying and teasing the FYO.

For my most recent tall tale, she has fallen hook, line, and sinker.

She thinks I have X-Ray vision.

What is funny about it is that she will bring it up out of nowhere and I will have forgotten that I told her about my secret powers.

Most recently, she's been asking if BioMom is pregnant. She, clearly, has heard us talking. BioMom isn't showing per se. But if you know what you're looking for, you can definitely see a little pouch. And I like to say that in a couple of weeks she's going to have some 'splaining to do. We're planning on telling her folks this week.

So, the other day she asked me if BioMom is pregnant:

Is she pregnant?

I dunno. We should talk to the Doctor.

No! Just LOOK at her belly!!

Friday, June 03, 2005

We Have A Heartbeat!

Holy SHIT!!

12.5: Appointment 2

BioMom keeps wandering through the house singing "Dead or Alive."

We're not cynical.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

From What Perspective is the World Flat?

I'm about halfway through Friedman's new book The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century.

It is interesting in its fairly easy-to-read journalistic style but, as was the case in Baby Boon, I've been spoiled by the empirical data-centered literature of economics.

His thesis is that this so-called third wave of globalization is eroding hierarchies of all kinds around the world.

". . . the dynamic force in globalization 3.0-the think that gives it its unique character-is the newfound power for individuals to collaborate and compete globally" (Friedman, 2005: 10).

". . . I think this new era of globalization will prove to be such a difference of degree that it will be seen, in time, as a difference in kind. That is why I introduced the idea that the world has gone from round to flat. Everywhere you turn, hierarchies are being challenged from below or transforming themselves from top-down structures into more horizontal and collaborative ones" (page 45).

He then goes on to list 10 "flattening agents" including: The fall of the Berlin Wall, the Day Netscape Went Public, Work-Flow Software, Open-Sourcing, Outsourcing, Offshoring, Supply-Chaining (read: WalMart), Insourcing, In-Forming, and (I haven't gotten to this yet) "The Steroids".

Again, his journalistic style makes some of this quite interesting. His little chapter on outsourcing and offshoring, I think, might make a good read for my intro students who, while appreciating that trade lets them have more stuff, consistently fall back on the anti-globalization rhetoric when it comes to losing their parents (or possibly their own) jobs in the name of free trade.

Also, the primer on open-sourcing was fascinating.

However, none of it comes with any real empirics to put it into any perspective. For example, how big is the open-sourcing movement? Is it really large enough to dismantle the corporate, for-profit software development structures?

And, he dabbles a bit with some concerns over worker rights in China and the treatment of labor by large MNCs like WalMart, but it is only a comment or two.

The last irony (so far) (pointed out to me while on a WAY too long bike ride yesterday for my not-quite-in-shape legs with a fellow history professor) is that some hierarchies have only increased. Example being: income and wealth inequality. This is not only not mentioned, it is certainly not substantiated by empirical evidence.

Here is a recent Los Angeles Times article (May 31, 2005 "California Executive Pay Report: Gulf Between Top, Bottom Gets Wider" by Kathy M. Kristof) that shows that CEOs' pay is growing at a much faster pace than that of rank-and-file employees.