Some Friends Fade, But Family is Forever

 

unfriend

To excited first time parents to be, I would offer encouragement and well wishes, but a bit of sobering advice as well: Be prepared to lose some friends.  Most experienced parents know of this phenomenon, but for a couple reasons that I will go into below, I think this effect is felt even more acutely by gay parents.

Fact: I have lost more friends becoming a gay parent than I have coming out as gay in the first place.  I have always been a bit of a nerd and thus in grade school I wasn’t a popular kid, but I mingled with a group of similarly studious friends.  Two of my best friends, “Rich” and “Nick” remained tight with me even though we all went to different colleges.  When I came out of the closet in college, I was pleased that both of them were accepting of me and remained close friends well into adulthood.  Rich and Nick were in turn friendly when I introduced them to Josh.  Even though the three of us lived in different places, when we visited we would all hang out together like old times.  Nick would share about his girlfriend problems, and Rich invited Josh and me to celebrate his engagement and his wedding to his wife.  It was around this time of transitioning to a different phase of adulthood that Josh and I started talking about having children in earnest.  Just like Rich and Nick shared their major life events with us, Josh and I were excited to share about this endeavor with them.  Rich was clearly in a happy place in his life and was happy for us when we shared the news.  I distinctly remember calling Nick to giddily tell him about how Josh and I were going to California to look into gestational surrogacy and become parents.  My heart sank when he responded by saying, “Why are you telling me this?” In further discussion it became clear that Nick did not understand why we would ever want to have to children, and that he was not particularly happy for us.  I ended the rapidly deteriorating conversation and hung up the phone before it became an argument.  We exchanged superficial pleasantries at Rich’s wedding, and then we did not speak for about two years.  Around the time that we were planning AJ and JJ’s first birthday party, I received an email from Nick.  He was attempting to strike up a conversation and asked the question,  “What ever happened between us?” as if he was oblivious to how my feelings were deeply hurt.  I responded angrily that he knew very well what happened, and he again responded, this time stating openly what I knew to be the truth all along: He disagreed with the idea of two men raising children and felt it would adversely affect children to be raised in a non-traditional household.  In retrospect I feel that Nick was perfectly fine with the novelty of having gay friends that hung out in gay bars doing stereotypically gay things, but as soon as his gay friends decided to be real people and live their lives outside of a socially acceptable second class box, he became disapproving.

After AJ and JJ were born, many good friends, most of them gay, faded away more slowly.  In our first few years living in Florida, Josh and I had amassed a large group of gay friends.  Most of them had no interest in having children, but they were all very happy for us all the same when we announced that we were expecting.  We invited them all to a baby shower shortly before AJ and JJ were born and the party was very well attended.  After AJ and JJ were born, I appreciated that these friends continued to invite us to go out at night to the bars or have wine tasting parties in their homes.  Because we were busy with twin babies, we would either pass or try to send one of us out to have fun while the other stayed home with the kids.  Inevitably, the invitations became fewer and far between.  Unlike Nick, there have been no hard feelings involved, so I don’t fault these friends in the slightest.  Our unusual situation as gay guys with kids just didn’t fit into their social calendars neatly.  That’s okay.

Losing so many friends over the years both gay and straight, either suddenly or slowly over the years, I have only a touch of sadness.  In place of these friends, I have a large beautiful family.  These four children bring me unlimited and enduring joy and fulfillment.  We are beginning to make a few new friends as well. They are usually fellow parents, and often happen to be gay dads themselves, who seem to be more understanding of our priorities.  Reaching out online we have found some groups of like minded gay parents like the Handsome Father and Gays With Kids.  These groups do amazing and much needed work connecting gay dads around the country and offering support for our special family situation.

Everything I really need in life is right here.

Everything I really need in life is right here.

#DoYourJob

Married four times, won't let gays marry once.

Married four times, won’t let gays marry once.

I just want to take a moment to say, “I told you so.” Five months ago I posted about all the fuss with bakers and florists refusing to serve gays, and I predicted that the true dilemma would be government officials like Kim Davis, County Clerk in Kentucky, refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

After she turned same sex couples away, they filed suit along with the ACLU and asked for punitive fines, not jail time. Kim enjoyed free (and bad) legal representation from Liberty Counsel and proceeded to refuse court orders to do her job. She was quickly dismissed by the SCOTUS earlier this week and was thrown in jail for contempt of court yesterday after again refusing to issue licenses, or even to allow her deputies without moral objections to do so in her stead.

And now the conservatives have their darling martyr of the moment sitting in jail. She is surely raking in cash donations from sympathetic haters nationwide and will be laughing all the way to the bank as soon as she is released. I want the media to do a “Where Are They Now?” investigation on Sweetcakes by Melissa, Memories Pizza, and Kim Davis 10 years after their 15 minutes of infamy to see how holy they are living their lives after cashing in on hate.

The Surrogacy Landscape in 2015

Surrogacy in US or abroad can be wonderful. Our family is living proof.

Surrogacy in US or abroad can be wonderful. Our family is living proof.

A lot has happened in the 2 years since DJ and MJ were born in India.  India has implemented the discriminatory regulation that surrogacy can only be offered to heterosexual couples married for more than two years.  Gay couples looked toward Thailand as an alternative only to have it shut down amidst military coup and scandal last year.  The next destination, Nepal, was hit with an earthquake earlier this year, and yesterday a court in Nepal suspended commercial surrogacy pending further review.  The options for gay couples seeking to become parents through surrogacy have become much more limited, and so my 2013 comparison of international vs. domestic surrogacy is no longer accurate.  International surrogacy has become a treacherous path to parenthood that I cannot in good conscience recommend because of possible disastrous situations like this one and this one.  I will be taking down the comparison page and leave the original 2013 entry in my archive for historical purposes.  Surrogacy in the US remains a safe option, and costs have decreased somewhat as more agencies come into operation to compete for clientele.

Josh and I are forever grateful for our positive surrogacy experiences in both California and India.  We are saddened that the options for gay couples hoping to become parents through surrogacy around the world have dwindled so.  I can only hope that in places like the UK, Israel, and Australia, their respective governments can recognize the extraordinary lengths gay couples have gone to have children, and better allow for well-regulated fair practices of surrogacy closer to home.

Surrogacy and Other Paths to Gay Parenthood

In my previous post, I have alluded to discussions I have had with people extremely critical of us as gay parents through surrogacy. My position is that while questionable surrogacy practices do exist, problematic situations can often be avoided by intended parents who proceed with caution, and prevented by government with regulation that better protects the babies, the surrogates, and the intended parents. I believe that surrogacy when done right can be a positive experience for all involved.

With that said, I recognize and respect the many different paths to parenthood, which can be quite varied for LGBT people from adoption to surrogacy to co-parenting. We recently contributed our story to a book about these many paths to gay parenthood. We are pleased to announce that the book has been picked up by a publisher and will be released next year! I encourage any LGBT people considering their many options in becoming parents to check out the Author website at: http://www.ericrosswood.com/

Taking a fair and balanced view of surrogacy is important

Taking a fair and balanced view of surrogacy is important

Love Wins, Hate Loses, and Life Goes On…

Notorious RBG is my hero!

Notorious RBG is my hero!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the months leading up to this momentous day in history, I have engaged in an increasingly rancorous dialogue online debating marriage equality. Opponents of marriage equality, some of whom profess to be civil and respectful, escalated their political statements into personal attacks against me and my family calling me “sick,” “criminal” and likening me as a gay parent through surrogacy to a rapist, a human trafficker or a child abuser. This type of defamation enraged me, but Josh and some other wise souls helped me realize that what I was experiencing was the last, bitter, fitful and truly impotent gasps of a hateful movement sliding into the wrong side of history. I needed to disengage, because they couldn’t touch us, and our contented lives would go on regardless.

After the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed marriage equality in all 50 states this morning at 10 a.m., what was next? A co-worker congratulated me. I spoke with Josh on the phone and discussed what to pick up at the grocery store. I came home and put on my Ruth Bader Ginsburg t-shirt in celebration. The boys spent some time in the pool while the babies played with cars and balls on the patio. I will cook Shabbat dinner for our family, and we will be extra thankful for our blessings today. After we put all four kids to bed, Josh and I will probably crack open a bottle of wine and share a toast. Our lives will go on largely unchanged, but maybe someday soon, we will get legally married and add an extra sheen of dignity to our already happy lives.

What’s next for the hateful opponents of marriage equality? Many of them were howling on Twitter about what they saw as an injustice today, but it didn’t appear that many people were listening or responding. I imagine that their lives will go on, too. The fact that their LGBT neighbors will be permitted to marry will have no bearing on their lives whatsoever. It won’t touch them. Many of them will realize that society did not crumble because of marriage equality like they predicted it would. Some of them may live long enough to read in the history books about their shameful movement and feel a twinge of guilt for having been a part of it. Even if they never come to this wisdom, I will try not to be resentful toward them. People who choose to waste so much time and energy fussing about other people’s lives and not their own deserve pity, not hate.