Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Father's Day

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Here's a belated love note to the fathers in our lives. First a shout out to our Dads (Bernie, Bruce and Ed), without whom we would be poorer, less well fed, less loved and have a less loved child. Thank you for all the ways you have been incredible Dads to us.

The next part...
I've been thinking a lot about our sperm donor, Mike, this Father's Day and I want to give a shout out to him. I do this at the risk of confusing a lot of folks. I know a lot of lesbian parents who have used sperm donors to become parents have to or choose to draw very hard lines in the sand about their child not having a father. I can respect that. However, I am clear that Simon has a biological father and we set it up that way on purpose.

Without our friend Mike offering to become the biological father for our child, Laura and I might not be parents. We certainly wouldn't be the parents of Simon Lev. I will be forever indebted to him for choosing to  be a biological father to a child he will never parent. Ironically, part of what allowed him to become the biological father to our child is that he was already a father and raising three children, two of whom he is biologically related to.

As we began our process of looking for known donors, the few men we approached had the same challenge: they all wanted to have children of their own but didn't have any yet and were struggling with the  dea of not being a father to first child they would help create. Laura and I completely understood this challenge and realized that our short list of possible donors was going to get even shorter. When Mike  offered to become our donor, I felt much more confident that things might actually work out because our child would not bring him across the threshold of "Father". He was already there and up to his ears in it!

I felt very strongly about having a known donor was so that Simon could know who his biological father is. I was not interested in an anonymous donor that our child could never contact and always wonder about. We considered "identity release" donors from a sperm bank, but that wasn't what I really wanted in my heart of hearts. I wanted Simon to have some kind of relationship with his biological father. I had a gut feeling that we would be able to figure out some other permutation of a biological father/biological child relationship what was not a "Dad/Kid" relationship in a traditional sense. There are all kinds of fathers in the world: biological fathers, Dads, good fathers, bad fathers, step-fathers, dead-beat Dads, donors, adoptive fathers, etc and I was pretty sure we would be able to create something that worked for all of us.
And we have.

We see Spunkle (Special-Uncle, dirty birds) Mike a few times a year and while he doesn't call Simon his child, we all refer to his children as Simon's half siblings. Mike's kids love seeing Simon and Mike's Mom keeps up with us on our blog and Facebook. Everyone is clear that he is not Simon's "Father" but we are all now connected to each other through this biological relationship that he and Simon have. I love it. I see it as more family and more people to love our delightful boy. It's confusing for people sometimes but we seem to all have it worked out.

I hadn't really thought much about Mike in the 4 months after Simon was born. However a few months after Simon got sick, I was suddenly struck almost to the ground realizing what Mike might be feeling. I can't imagine what it would be like to have a child that you are both connected to intimately and not at all, become critically ill. It's one thing to agree to be a donor for a kid that you know will be raised in a loving and caring home that is not your own, but another thing entirely to know that the child that has half your genetic material is in peril.

We haven't really ever talked about it with him, and we probably won't. But I know that he sent good thoughts and prayers just like everyone else in our life, and that's what we really needed.

As we mark Father's Day, I want to honor him for being such an incredible Dad to his own kids and for intentionally choosing to be a biological father for a child that he will never raise so that Laura and I can be mothers.

Mike recently pulled together a team of skilled construction workers that are going to help rebuild Haiti. When I learned about this, I wrote him this note:
"I'm really proud of you for the work you are doing to get to Haiti and the work you'll do when you get there. It's something I will tell Simon about when he gets old enough to understand. He comes from good people."

You *are* good people, Mike.

We make a damn good family.