Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Intentional Families

Both LesbianDad and Dana Rudolph over at Mombian commented on the New York Times piece titled "Your Gamete, Myself" which explored "issues surrounding conception via an egg donor" and overlooked LGBT families.

Dana highlights (as quoted by LD) that "'intentional' parenthood characterizes some, but by no means all families in the current 'gayby' boom. Many kids are born into heterosexual families, before one or the other parent comes out and continues to raise them. Significantly, at least as of the moment, families planned and realized from within LGBT community skew towards the white and the middle class on up..."

I am very interested in the outcomes for kids of GLBT families and have noted the difference between kids who are born of heterosexual parents who later come out (actually the General Social Survey shows that there is no significant difference in number of kids of GLBT families and heterosexual families due to this phenomenon) and kids whose parents were "intentional" in conceiving them within the GLBT relationship.

In the book Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner make the argument that Roe v. Wade explains much of the precipitous decline in crime in the 1990s. They argue that the kids who would have been born pre-Roe, to women who, given the choice, would have aborted them, were more likely to participate in criminal activities. They make the argument that these kids were somehow less wanted and the parents were less likely to "invest" in them (in all ways that parents invest in kids).

The corollary argument is that parents who intentionally have kids are more likely to invest in their kids and are likely to have better outcomes (however defined). This intentional GLBT group falls into this category.

Great argument for gay marriage, huh?

This is my next research project, given that I can locate some decent data.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Coming Out All Over Again

The other day Big and I attended a weekly event at our local branch of the public library. It was a little "story time" for kids, hosted by an animated librarian (who, incidently, I saw later that week at the Harry Potter Seven release party at our local women's bookstore).

While there, Big started goofing around with a kid about his age and his mother and I got to talking about the things that that SAH(M/MO/D etc.) talk about. She seemed interested in getting the boys together and talked of having us over for a play date.

It is at this point that I feel full disclosure is necessary. A) if someone is homophobic, I don't want to waste my time and b) if someone is homophobic I don't want to waste their time.

Coming out in this context still feels so strange and awkward to me. At one point during my "out and proud" twenties, I instated a personal moratorium on "coming out" because I felt that it was somehow confessional in nature and I had given up the Catholic Church and all of those sorts of rituals. Furthermore, I had had enough with educating.

I know that sounds immature, but gimmie a break. I was in my twenties.

I still don't usually formally come out to my students. But the reasons are different. It is probably just laziness at this point. Or maybe an assumption that everyone knows.

After attending my twentieth reunion this weekend, I came to the lovely realization that noone gave a rat's ass about it at all. It's so strange. In high school everything mattered. A bad hair day was significant (thanks to High School Friend and Taggert for processing this insight with me). And being glbt mattered in high school--on many levels.

So while discussing future school choices with the gal at the library we got to discussing the catholic school that Seven attends which happens to be only a few short blocks from both the library and this woman's house. She asked if non-catholics attended and I reassured her that yes, they did and that we were a glbt family and that we felt welcomed.

For me, now, it is all about Seven and Big. I'll cover over every crack in the China where their parent's sexuality is concerned to make them feel safe and secure in us, their family, and themselves.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Park/Toddler Etiquette

So after having a few, ahem, incidents, I'd like to propose a formal set of etiquette or code to govern the expectations around social behavior at parks and playgrounds for kids (particularly toddlers) and their caregivers (SAHMS and the like -- my new personal moniker: Stay At Ho-Mo).

I have developed my own set of park-rules, based on several assumptions. Until recently, they seemed to work. However, I have come to realize that my assumptions may, in fact, not be universal.

Here are my assumptions when I go to a park or playground with Big:

1. If you are at the park and caring for a child of a given age, the child either a) is a toddler, b) will be a toddler or c) was a toddler. The age can be challenging and we need to all understand and respect that, giving both the toddler, him or herself, and the caregiver wide berth.

2. If you are at the park, it is your intention to be social. It is a public place, after all. If you wanted to be alone or with some preferred group of friends (kid and otherwise) you should have stayed home.

3. That one (possibly latent) goal of going to the park is to socialize your child. This may include the following activities: making friends (for him and yourself), introducing the notion of sharing, and gently disciplining unacceptable behavior like stealing, kicking, throwing sand and the like.

4. That at the park, however prepared you may be, your child will inevitably strictly-prefer whatever food, toy, hat, shoe style and other apparel that some other kid has over his/her own. Knowing this, I usually try my best (bringing along various trucks, balls and snacks) but am open to sharing anything and everything with any kid that comes my way.

5. That some toys will be left behind and some toys will be found (without a current owner) suggesting an organic "toy turnover" in the neighborhood.

Apparently these broad assumptions are not shared by all.

Today at a local beach we unfortunately missed the GLBT family play-date that was scheduled and so we set out to make-due without our sturdy companions. Big walked right up to a group of young girls (say threeish) who were in the process of constructing a somewhat intricate sand-city complete with what appeared to be a down-town area constructed from an empty cottage cheese container, and another park-like area consisting mainly of small would-be boulders (to the inhabitants of such a city). Big, fascinated by them and their work, set out to "participate" (i.e. demolish). I, being the ever-willing urban planner that I am, sat down with him and one of the now-somewhat-dissapointed-looking girls (the other two had moved on to other pursuits) ready and willing to rebuild as needed. I looked over my shoulder to find, presumably, one of the girls' mom giving me that passive-aggressive concerned look that I literally could not interpret. Here I was, engaging with the kids (not sitting on the bench) and it was, after all, SAND!!!

They are all big sisters. . . I guess they'll understand,
said she.

I began to rebuild in ernest.

Oh, you don't have to do that, said she. Keep it up!, meant she.

In another recent incident, Big and I ran across a boy with a literal HEAP of matchbox cars. Big was fascinated and sat down with him and started playing. The boy turned to his mom, nearly weeping, and she looked at me as if to say "why did you let your son play with my son???"


The last installment at this time is a story of which I am not proud, but lends itself to the establishment of my proposed social code.

We were at a pool with some friends. It was time to go and, as is the case whenever kids have been swimming in the sun for several hours, a meltdown was imminent. They were hungry and tired, and we had to get out of the pool area, into the car, and home before those needs could really be met. Oh, and they didn't want to leave the pool.

Big had spotted a little matchbox truck, alone on a foldout chair. I grabbed it, knowing that it would distract him while I got him into the stroller and, hopefully, out of the pool grounds.

As we were leaving, we stopped to say goodbye to our friends. One friend's son (a bit older than big, possibly nearing four) recognized his truck. I turned to his mom and although in my head I was screaming "please don't make us give it back! please don't make us give it back", I said "oh! Is this yours?"

She recognized the toddler-predicament in which I stood and let is borrow the car for the time being.

What is your toddler/park code and what assumptions do you make about this unique social situation and its associated decorum?

Sunday, July 15, 2007


So, on a suggestion from Cousin, BioMom and I have been watching Big Love in our spare time.

On a camping trip with the Family-of-Four-Kids, we got to talking about the show, Mormons, and polygamy more generally. Seven, AKA "Big Ears" overheard some of the conversation and announced that she wanted to become a missionary when she grew up.

What? said I.

Yeah! A Missionary! said she.

What, exactly, does a missionary do, do you think?

Go on missions. You know. Like a spy!

Ah. I thought. Since reading Harriet The Spy last year, she's had an interest in such activities. It all made sense now.

On the way home from the camping trip (it was Big's first, and he has, I believe, been won over with the whole thing what with being outside 24/7, hiking, sleeping in tents with your WHOLE family, fires and, of course, s'mores) we stopped at a little pizza joint in a local town.

While waiting for our flat, we played "I See You" games with who we suspected was a lesbian and wondered if she was accompanied by a partner and possibly children.

Me to Seven: Want to go on a mission?

She: YEAH!

Me: Okay. Now, what I want you to do is to casually, I repeat, CASUALLY, walk by that family in the second booth up there behind that little wall. Let me know if the person facing THAT WAY (I point toward the street) is a girl like me, or if the person is a guy.

She: Okay!

Me: Let us know if there are any kids.

BioMom: Yeah! We want to know if they are a family like ours.

Seven (nearly running with the excitement of SOMETHING TO DO), leaves.

She goes up the stairs in order to walk by so that she faces the more manly of the two suspected women. We see only Seven's head, and, as she walks by and looks (quite a bit more than casually, I must say) at her, her head followed the poor woman the entire way--practically straining her neck--as she walked by, obviously checking her out.

They were in fact a "rainbow family" and when I finally met the more manly of the two, she told me that our daughter had walked by and stared at her. She commented to her partner that the young girl had experienced "gender confusion". I clarified that no, it wasn't gender confusion, it was in fact, reconnaissance.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Monday, July 09, 2007

Irregular Monthly Newsletter: 19 Months

Nineteen months old today, Big.

Not a milestone per se. Not to anyone but us, your family, because a) we're over that little expected behavioral "hump" (heading speedily toward the terrible two's) and because you have finally (finally!) gotten your eye teeth--those terrible pointy teeth with literally longer roots than wisdoms.


One little vignette provides a decent overview of month nineteen.

A few nights ago you were having a hard time falling asleep. I'd put you in the crib and walk away, fingers crossed, and you'd howl. We're quite empathetic with this behavior since it usually signals a problem on your side of the equation. In this case, as we expected, it was your impending teeth.

The third time I went in, I picked you up out of your crib and held you, humming a little comfort song, hoping you'd relax a bit.

You hooked your left arm around my neck and held tight.

As the song neared its end, you leaned back and emphatically and repetitively made the ASL sign for "more!"

One year ago, this month:

Tuesday, July 03, 2007