I was never someone who thought about practical things but preferred to spend a lot of time in my interior world where all things were possible.
I was very determined and I lived in my own world because the world around me was already very crowded. I was the youngest of six children, growing up in a lively house but I preferred a very rich imaginative world of my own creation where detailed fantasies could be played out. I loved my own world and enjoyed spreading out in the spaciousness of it.
As a teenager, I used money I earned in various after school jobs to buy copies of English Vogue. It wasn’t readily available at our local newsagent but I was able to order a copy of it through my friend who worked there. There wasn’t much demand for it in the blue-collar suburb I lived in and I became instantly hooked on the lavish fashion editorials of the 70s. In those days, exotic locations were used for the photo spreads…. the mysterious markets of Morocco, the splendiferous Gaudi architecture of Barcelona, the beaches of Saint Tropez. I was lost in those lavish fashion spreads dreaming of life beyond my bland suburban Brisbane bedroom. I had no idea how to realize my dream of traveling to these destinations but knew absolutely that I just had to travel the world.
It wasn’t until much later in life that the idea of parenting seemed like a real possibility. Some friends, a lesbian couple, had asked me to have a child with them. For Christmas they presented me with a turkey baster! I really loved them both and carefully considered their proposal as a way to fulfill my dream, but then I’d had to opportunity to move to America and I reluctantly told them I couldn’t proceed. I knew I’d want to be involved in the child’s life and really be a “hands on” parent, which wasn’t a possibility now that I lived outside of Australia.
Time was passing and although I hadn’t a significant other in my life, I still held out hopes of becoming a parent. I would wonder if I might meet a man who had children from a previous relationship. I would occasionally be browsing books in the “Parenting” section of a gay bookstore near my apartment in downtown Manhattan and wonder if my eyes would meet another man’s as we both reached for a book about parenting. It didn’t happen.
Quite by chance, after my now husband and I had been living together for almost a year, we were invited to the screening of a five hour avant-garde documentary film made by a friend’s husband which centered around their life together and raising their two children.
On our walk home from the screening while discussing the film and our feelings about it I said, “To me the film was an ode to Motherhood. It was an epic poem”.
“It was wonderful. I’d always wanted to have children,” my partner said casually.
“So did I!” I was stunned.
We’d never thought to have this conversation. In the year we’d known each other there had been many conversations but this hadn’t been one of them. By the time we’d arrived home to our apartment we had decided that this was something we realistically could do.
Arriving home from work the next day I found a stack of books on the coffee table from the local library about adoption and surrogacy. Ever the researcher, my partner (and soon to be co-parent) had organized a reading list for us to begin our journey on the road to becoming parents. We read books and checked off various options until we agreed that adoption should be the route we would take. Neither of felt the need to have a biological child and being the child of an adopted mother, I knew the joys of adoption first hand.
We found the Gay and Lesbian Center around the corner from our apartment had a monthly support group for “Wannabe Parents”. The group would meet and share information about gay-friendly adoption agencies, adoption attorneys would speak on how laws in different states varied regarding out-of-state adoptions and second-parent adoptions. We heard from gay and lesbian parents who spoke about parenting teenagers, PTAs and the visibility that being a gay parent brings. I also learned a lot from that group about fertility treatments and sperm donors. Each month we’d meet to hear where everyone was in his or her quest to becoming parents. Who was speaking to a prospective birth mother, the cycle of fertility treatment, countries still open to international adoption and then just the supportive circle of friendly faces were there to cheer each other on and celebrate whenever someone was successful in becoming a parent.
I still remember one of the lesbian moms who spoke to our group about the travails of the teenage years. She looked at us all and said “We used to be sitting where you are now and feeling like we’d never be parents. But I can tell you if you really want to become a parent, you will become a parent. Somehow.”
That became my motivational slogan. I held onto that piece of wisdom. And have used it myself when speaking to other “wannabe parents”.