This is something
I would never say lightly, let alone in a national
magazine, but after much soul-searching, I can now say it
with conviction and promise. If you want to achieve
any dream, getting it down on paper and sharing it
with others is critical to success. For one thing, it
crystallizes that otherwise nebulous internal dialogue and
brings your goal into actionable reality.
So why, at 41, do
I want to complicate my life and my partner's with
children? The answer stretches back three decades, when I
was practically attached to my father's hip.
"Pete and Re-Pete," they called us.
Everywhere he went, I followed. Our mutual adoration had a
poetry that resonates with me to this day. It has made
me who I am: someone who constantly seeks to mentor
others in my life and my work.
Parenting is the
next step of my journey. My parents sacrificed so much
for my benefit. Sending me to the best schools was no easy
feat for a steelworker and a cleaning lady. Today,
sharing these lessons with a child of my own feels
like the highest way to honor their sacrifices.
can't have a child by yourself -- especially not as a
gay man. I don't mean you can't be a
single mom or dad; I just mean that we all need help.
I am so lucky to be embarking on this journey with Stan Lim,
my life partner. Still, it really does take a village.
I write and talk every day about the importance of
peer-to-peer support in all aspects of personal and
work life, but nowhere is this more vital than parenting.
And the process starts long before the baby arrives.
Make no mistake:
For a gay couple, having a child is in no way a "snap
your fingers and make it so" decision. It's a
process that involves research, time, lawyers, money,
and no small amount of stress and heartbreak. It
forces you to explore the decision fully. Can you imagine
if hetero couples had to go through as much thinking and
planning to pop out their progeny? The world might be
a better place!
So here we are,
Stan and I, answering a million questions to make sure
our motivations and abilities to be parents are 100% sound.
But it's not just us talking: I've found
it imperative to share this process with the most
important people in my life, including the woman I call my
"nanny." She runs my life at home, but
she is more like family than an employee. We care so
much about each other that we've even talked about
the possibility of her becoming an egg donor.
play a big part in our child's life, but I'm
still figuring out how to provide him or her with
other female role models. I've considered
finding a "coparent," a woman having her own
child who would partner with me in that experience.
Think of a baby born to parents who divorce soon after
but remain friends. We would share "custody"
of our kids, but we would each have our own romantic
pursued this option with a straight woman who was introduced
to me, a teacher who was planning to be artificially
inseminated. She was on her way to the sperm bank when
we first spoke, and soon we were spending weekends
together and even doing couples counseling to make sure
we would be good coparents. Unfortunately, medical tests
ultimately revealed she was unable to have children.
Stan and I are
also considering adoption. With all the love that will
connect us to our child, who needs genes? But sadly,
I've encountered prejudice on that front, which
makes adoption an increasingly difficult prospect for
us. The upside? I learned of an amazing local nonprofit for
at-risk youths called Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social
Services (GlassLA.org), and I've started
mentoring a child there. The experience has prompted
us to consider foster parenting with the
organization's help, which could lead to
adoption if we so choose.
decide, my partner and I are in the process together.
It's certainly not practicality that drives two
busy, career-minded men to fit a third party into the
picture. It's the desire to share our love, to
instill in a child some of what our parents instilled in us.
But parenthood will be a two-way learning process, I
know--and I'm prepared to learn more than
I ever have before.