Saturday, 28 July 2007

Psychological Evidence Supporting Same Sex Parenting

It's been a bit of a blue couple of days. I've been allowing some narrow minded internet users get to me. Thank goodness for Sarah and her unwavering optimism.

Whilst I know rationally that we will make great parents, I've allowed myself to become troubled by accusations that without a father, our child will grow up to be a disturbed. We have carefully selected two 'god'fathers to play an active role in our child's life and thus provide male role models but is it enough? DavidX, who attacked us in a Usenet forum, believes not:

"It's a proven fact that a child (particularly a boy) needs the male influence of a father, particularly at the crucial stages of development up to age 5 (and of course beyond) in order to develop normally. By setting out to bring up a baby yourselves, you are preparing that child for an abnormal childhood, which is likely to lead him or her to developmental difficulties, and potentially to a disturbed adulthood. There's nothing radical about this - it's standard text-book child psychology. You don't have to believe me - you can read it almost anywhere."
- DavidX
Was he right? Could our child suffer without a father? Where were these text books that DavidX talked about? If the evidence is indeed, anywhere, then why did a quick browse of Google Scholar uncover the following:

"The body of literature generally concludes that children with lesbian and gay parents are developing psychologically, intellectually, behaviorally, and emotionally in positive directions, and that the sexual orientation of parents is not an effective or important predictor of successful child development."
- Fitzgerald (1999)

"There are no data to suggest that children who have gay or lesbian parents are different in any aspects of psychological, social, and sexual development from children in heterosexual families."
- Gold, Perrin, Futterman and Friedman (1994)

"More than two decades of research has failed to reveal important differences in the adjustment or development of children or adolescents reared by same-sex couples compared to those reared by other-sex couples."
- Patterson (2006)
With decades of evidence on our side, I suddenly felt much more positive about our child rearing potential.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Candidate #7 - Handsome Henry

Finally a candidate with potential. I've just got home from a very promising lunch with a guy called Henry - don't draw conclusions from his old-fashioned name - Henry is actually 33 and refreshingly dishy.

He had a way of putting me at ease that suggests that he has a gentle and amiable nature - family studies suggest that personality can be inherited. He also seemed calm and generous, reassuring me when Sarah called to say she couldn't get away from work and insisting on paying for lunch at what was certainly not Soho's cheapest restaurant.

Another thing that I liked about Henry was the fact that he seemed to be prepared to help because he supports what we're doing and not to fulfill an agenda of his own. Whilst we don't object to people with their own reasons for donating per se, we are concerned that men with few other fathering options may find it hard not to interfere once our child is born.

Unfortunately Henry looks nothing like Sarah - he's blonde and blue eyed whilst she has a darker complexion and deep brown eyes. Ideally we would like to have a child who resembles both Sarah and me but that is obviously not as important as other aspects such as health.

Sarah hasn't had a chance to meet Henry yet, having been busy with work, but I spoke to her on the phone earlier this afternoon and we're planning to invite Henry to dinner later in the week - could he be the one?

Pros: pleasant personality; in good health; handsome; happy to help; appears not to have own agenda.
Cons: doesn't look much like Sarah.

Verdict: Possibility.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Candidate Backlog

Sarah and I have been overwhelmed by the response from men offering to donate us sperm. We hadn't expected to find any potential donors at this stage of our search yet we currently have a backlog of fifty messages to respond to - hopefully our perfect donor will be among them.

We're also delighted by the amount of support we've received from people of all sexualities and ages, including many people who are gay parents themselves and one or two people who were raised by same-sex couples.

Thank you for all your messages and apologies to those we have not replied to - as you can see, we've been inundated.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Is it selfish for gay people to have children?

Countless people seem to be attacking us on Usenet with the assumption that we're thinking about ourselves and not our child. Interestingly enough the ones who've said this don't seem to have read our blog and discovered the degree to which we've thought this through.

If we thought there was any chance that our child would wish that he or she hadn't been born, then of course we wouldn't go through with our plans but as it happens, we know that we can raise a happy child who's loved and cared for.

Perhaps there will be a little name calling in school but kids really will latch on to anything if they want to tease somebody. You don't see parents with big ears or acne-prone skin withholding from having children do you?

It's the very people who criticise us for wanting children that could potentially make their lives a misery, not us, the open-minded, thoughtful and loving parents.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Can you choose your sexuality?

After reading an ad we put on Usenet, some people have been arguing about whether or not people can choose their sexuality, something I touched upon in this post.

Below are some highlights from the argument:

"I believe that people growing up had difficulty mingling with the so called "normal" people, and perhaps may have been rejected by the many of their classmates, hence leading them to mingle with the huge minority, that be the gay population where they would most like receive some friendship and perhaps love." - Devil's Advocate

"I don't think you understand, no-one CHOOSES to be homosexual." - Clint and Tammy

"That is a crock of shit........everyone chooses if they want to be homosexual. For chris sake, you don't think people are born to be gay do ya?" - Devil's Advocate

"Homosexuality is not social or chosen it is whom you are, as much as some behaviours are gained as social skills, your sexuality is not." - Clint and Tammy

"nobody chooses, it it pre-decided, do a bit of research on it and you will see" - Jamie

"you choose your sexuality, youre not born with it. From what I remember about being a 5 year old girls were gross, but I certainly don't feel that way now!...
...if my kids ever remark something about being gay I'll smack the shit out of them." - Crocop

"As you stated when you were five you thought girls were gross, and now you don't feel the same. Something inside you more powerful then choice and logical thought instilled in you felt drawn toward the opposite sex. Knowing this you still think homosexuals/bisexual wake up one day and say hell I know all the suffering it may cause me but sure I think I want be gay/bi. They feel the same as you do but toward the same sex. Same feeling different sex, nothing more!" - Clint and Tammy

Whilst the jury is out on what makes some people straight and others gay (genetics, hormonal changes, environmental factors) of one thing I'm certain, you can neither choose nor change your sexuality.

Likewise there is no evidence that your parents can pre-choose a sexuality for you, even (and perhaps especially not) if, as Cropoc worryingly suggests, they smack the shit out of you. If it was as simple as parents picking a path for their offspring, there wouldn't be the many gay people out there who have been rejected by families because of their sexuality.

I can only profile two groups of people who could honestly believe that sexuality is a choice:
1. heterosexuals who have never felt the need to try to change their sexuality
2. homosexuals who have decided to renounce their true feelings in favour of belonging to the majority group

I would be quite resentful towards practicing homosexuals if I had chosen to repress my true feelings. Given the intensity of some of the negative reactions in this discussion, I'd say that at least a couple of the more bigoted participants belong to the latter group.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Candidate #6 - Grinning Graham

With it being the weekend, Sarah and I had the rare opportunity to go out for lunch together. Just as we were about to leave the house we got a call from Graham, a potential donor who we've been chatting to over email. Graham is leaving the country for three weeks tomorrow, so we really wanted to find out whether or not he's a possibility before he goes abroad. This meant that we sacrificed our tasty pub lunch for a few sips of scolding coffee and half a muffin in Starbucks.

When we got there we met a man whose smile actually met from ear to ear. He made no effort to hide it. Nor was their any mistake as to the nature of the smile. It was not the expression of a long wannabe father or an excited left wing charitable type, it was the gawp of a man with a fetish for lesbians.

"Are you Graham?" Sarah asked, with the slightly hopeful chirp that only someone as optimistic as her could muster.
"That's me" he grinned. Our hearts sunk.

I was reluctant to leave Sarah with the creepy man while I went to the counter to purchase coffees for us all, but as I glanced back, they seemed to be making polite conversation. Sarah, like me, can find something to say to anybody, but unlike me, she can remain polite and calm in the face of rudeness.

When I returned they seemed to be talking about model railways - not a subject I had expected to be discussing today. As I sat down, Graham's voice trailed off. He looked at me and the perverted grin returned to his face. "So..." he begun, "Which one do I get to do it to?"

Sarah spat coffee across the table, splattering my white vest top. I looked aghast. "We did mention that we want an artificial insemination."

"What does that mean?" he asked.

"It means no doing it to!" I explained, angrily.

"Not even her?" he asked, gliding his hand towards Sarah, who cowered away. I have no idea what he meant by even her and we didn't wait around to find out. Rapidly, we grabbed our jackets and hurried out of the shop, making the polite goodbye noises that only British people would bother with.

It wasn't until we got to the tube station that I realised we'd left two perfectly good muffins almost entirely uneaten. "Nevermind," said Sarah, "We are not going back!"

Pros: keen; apparently healthy; comes across well by email.
Cons: wants a natural conception; seems creepy in person; going abroad tomorrow.

Verdict: Unsuitable

Homosexuals want to raise homosexual children?

"I believe that heterosexual couples aim to raise heterosexual kids (just like you as a lesbian couple would perhaps aim to raise homosexual kids)," - Devil's Advocate (Usenet forum)

This displays complete ignorance about the gay culture. We are no more in the business of trying to make our children gay than we are in the business of trying to "turn" the people around us into homosexuals. We are not about spreading homosexuality! We just are gay and want to live that way.

Should I give birth to a girl and find out in 16 years that she is a lesbian, I won't be shouting "That's ma girl!" I'll be concerned that she may be subject to the same prejudice and abuse that we've had to suffer. Obviously we will accept her, whatever her orientation and do our best to prepare her for adult life.

Sarah and I are not going to tell our child that gay parenting is superior to heterosexual parenting and that he or she should replicate our home situation; our offspring will be aware that there can be many different family setups, of which ours is quite rare, but no less effective than others.

The controversial discussion we sparked on Usenet

An interesting discussion has occurred on a Usenet forum in response to a post I left adverting for a donor. You can read the full discussion here but below is a summary of key points that were made and my responses to each:

"In my opinion, that's just wrong. I don't think people think about the effect that will have on the child. I think that should be illegal." - Brunswick
As pointed out by Neil Bolt, there is no evidence that children raised by lesbian couples are any worse off then children raised in more traditional families. The most important criteria, as Kwhela points out, is that a child is loved and respects, which ours will be.

"I feel if you want to be homosexual, that's part of the deal, you don't get to make kids." - Brunswick
If you want to be homosexual? I don't think you'll find that anybody chooses their sexuality - it chooses you.

"God made rules and that's one of them" - Brunswick

"There you go again, the existence of God is also a debatable subject. Where exactly is this rule that your God made? I'd like to see reference to a rule that says a homosexual couple isn't allowed to raise a child." - Neil Bolt
Being atheists, Sarah and myself are not too bothered what God has or hasn't got to say on the matter. However we have gay Christian friends who belong to a church group that fully accepts their lifestyle.

"I'm allowed to have my own opinion...
..This is a public news group, and if you post something that controversial here, you can certainly expect some difference of opinions." - Brunswick
Brunswick is quite right, we all have freedom of speech and I'm happy to hear a variety of opinions, even from people who I completely disagree with.

"Wouldn't you think that a gay female couple would perhaps encourage lesbianism?" - Devil's Advocate
Why would we do that? We're all about freedom to live as you are whatever your sexuality - we certainly wouldn't try to influence a child to be anything other than what felt natural to him or her. Besides of which, I don't think it's possible to nurture sexuality - if that was the case then how do you explain the many parents who aimed to bring up straight children and found that their offspring preferred same sex partners?