Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Queer Parenting in a Straight World

Has anyone ever asked you to justify your family?

Why did you chose to create the family that you have, why or why not it includes children, parents, friends, siblings, aunts, uncles and whatever blood relatives you want to throw into the mix. Why or why not does it include pets, other people's children, or your plants?

When your family falls outside of the perceived norm, you are constantly asked to justify it's existance, to prove that your family is "worthy" of existance. Our society has put families into two different categories: Those who are "worthy" and those who are "not worthy". "Worthy" families have income, two parents, a place to live, food on the table, be over the age of 20, etc etc etc. Not worthy are families where one or both parents have a visible disability, poverty (think of the Black welfare mothers), low education, young (or over 40), etc.

Nevermind that poverty is a completely fabricated existance by our society. There is no earthly reason WHY a good chunk of the people inhabiting our country live below the poverty line, when we are an incredibly wealthy country. A woman I was once friends with was struggling to complete her degree and care for her pre-schooler. She was a young single mom and dad had fucked off ages ago and never paid child support. She is an excellent parent, but the government would have rather put her child in foster care than provided her with daycare. Our views of what is "right" and "wrong" deeply affect political leaning. Because of some bullshit bias, we don't even have ENOUGH daycare, let alone affordable daycare ($1000/month per child is mind boggling). The message is loud and clear: If you can't afford daycare, wtf are you doing with a baby?

A couple of times, in explaining myself, I've had people ask point blank "well why can't you adopt, there are lots of children in the world without families". This is true, but the underlying message is "you're not worthy of being a biological parent, and because your children require extra effort, why wouldn't you divert those energies and financial resources into adopting a child".

While I generally agree with this idea (and wrestle with it constantly), it's entirely unfair to make a claim on my uterus when you are not me. It's *my* body and only *I* get to decide what to do with it (J has a strong opinion and is invested in the health and well being of my body, but it's ultimately my decision). If I didn't have an overwhelming urge to push a watermelon out of my vajay-jay, I would definitely agree that adoption would be a much more sensible alternative (after all, I rather like my pelvic floor, and the idea of committing to 40+ years of daily kegel exercises is not particularly enticing). However, my body is ridiculous in it's determination to grow and produce another human being, for whom I am then responsible for it's care while my body weeps for it's saggy boobs, loss of bum and the wasteland that was my pelvic floor.

So, how does Queer Parenting differ from Straight Parenting?

Umm.... I'm not sure, any ideas?

No, that's not true, I have some ideas. All queer parents, or potential parents I have ever met, have incredible insight into themselves, the workings of society, injustice, bigotry, ignorance and the importance of humility, acceptance (and not just tolerance), diversity and our collective conscious. I'm sure there are queer parents out there who are total assholes and raise their children to be little shits, but I have yet to meet them.

Queer parents absolutely, unequivocally and desperately WANT to be parents, it is very much a chosen profession. It is not a societal expectation (unlike straight couples, who are made to feel shitty if they choose not to have children), an accident or what have you. Because there is more time and effort put into becoming a parent when you are queer, you really have to sit down and figure your shit out before you even start to flip through a sperm catalogue or adoption list.

Parents who have to go through fertility treatment fall into the category with the "Chosen Parent" category, as that is hell unto itself.

I should add that about half of my straight friends with kids planned their pregnancies, and the other half discovered that the pee stick had a big, fat PLUS sign on it one morning. All are fantastic parents, all want to be parents (since we thankfully live in a country with legal and safe abortions, and a healthy adoption process). It's still intentional parenting, and no different than us.

Apologies for rambling, it's hard to condense 10 years of this into a series of blog posts!!

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