Two same-sex couples of differing genders have partnered to conceive and raise a child. Learn all about it on this edition of Frank Relationships.
FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: SAME-SEX COUPLES AND PARENTING
Guests: Dana, David, Michael
Date: February 24, 2013
Frank: Adoption, surrogacy and sex are all options that same-sex couples might investigate in order to have child, but there’s at least one alternative that’s missing. We’ll tell you all about it on this addition of Frank Relationships.
Welcome to Frank Relationships where we provide a candid, fresh and frank look into relationships with goals of acceptance, respect and flexibility. I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at franklove.com.
Once again, I’m joined by my co-host, Dr. Gayle. In addition to being the show’s psychology genius, she’s also the ebb to my flow and the yin to my yang. As always, it’s a pleasure to have her on the team. What’s up, Dr. Gayle?
Dr. Gayle: What’s up, Frank?
Frank: The landscape associated with same-sex couples is continually changing. Many states have legalized gay marriage and the perception around the varying affiliated nuances continue to become less shocking to the community at large, but though the political and social landscape is expanding, there’s still one issue in particular that requires the co-mingling of the male and female representatives and that’s the creation of children. Many believe that same-sex couples can’t have children, but today we’re going to prove them wrong. Enter Zuri and her parents. All four of them. Yep, you heard it right. Zuri is the soon-to-arrive baby girl of two mommy’s, Michelle and Dana, and two daddies, Michael and David. They’re respectively two same-sex couples that merged to bring her into the world and they’re here to tell us all about their experience, negotiation and agreements.
So, if you’re interested in learning how two same-sex couples found each other and came to an agreement to conceive, how they conceived and how they plan to raise that baby girl, then join me for the next hour as we talk with four parents–actually we’re talking with three parents that are reshaping the concept of family and child-rearing. Welcome wonderful family.
Dana: / Hello.
David: / Hello.
Dr. Gayle: All in unison.
Frank: I said wonderful family but do you all consider your union to be one family or two?
Dana: One family.
David: Yeah, it’s one family, definitely.
Frank: How’d you guys come together? How’d you meet?
Michael: Well, we’ve known each for years and we connected through different friends of ours and we’ve learned to respect and grow to love each other.
Frank: Were you introduced by various and you just knew each other in passing and this agreement came about or had you all grown close and it was a conversation that has evolved over some time to have a child?
David: It definitely involved over time. It wasn’t a quick thing that happened. We met each other through mutual friends and we found out that we had things in common. We had a lot in common as far as how we wanted to enjoy the fullness of life and what we thought about as far as families. We just started hanging out more and more and realizing that we were aligned more towards the same goals in life and that we wanted to enjoy life the same ways. And we found out we also wanted to have children.
One of the mom’s already has two children but we figured out we wanted more, so from there decided we were all in alignment with becoming a big family together to have children.
Dr. Gayle: How long have you guys known each other?
Dana: I would say about four–
David: We known each other pretty much about as long as–oh, sorry.
Dana: Yeah. Isn’t it about four years?
Dr. Gayle: Uh-huh. And how long ago has it been since you guys decided you wanted to co-conceive?
David: Yeah, we were just talking about, “What do you guys want in life,” or “How do you know each oth–things do you want,” and we were talking about how we really wanted a child and they were like, “Oh, us too.” And we were talking about the many different methods that we wanted to pursue about going about it. And I don’t know who really brought it up but someone brought up the idea of just biologically, because that’s not a concept that same-sex couples tend to think about because that’s not usually an option for us.
Dr. Gayle: Right.
David: Because we have to go about things through assisted reproduction means or however, adoption or whichever. So, we just–I forget what–
Dr. Gayle: It’s okay. Now Michael or David–
Michael: Actually Dana said. I’m sorry. Actually, Dana said–“Well, you guys could be our baby daddies.” And that was like when we initially met, so we hadn’t really talked about it every year.
Dr. Gayle: Do either of you have children? I know one of the mom’s has children? Do either of the dads have children?
David: No, we don’t.
Dr. Gayle: Okay.
David: Until now.
Frank: Dana, you are the mom that has two children. Is that correct?
Dana: Yes, I am.
Frank: Okay, tell us a little bit about just being a mom and why you decided that you were ready to have a third child.
Dana: Well, my wife and I have quite a bit of age difference and so that was a conversation we had immediately in terms of is that something I’d be interested in. Because she knew that she wanted to do that and so that was just part of the getting to know each other conversation that we had to talk about in terms of our goals, because obviously I have ones that are halfway done. Like, “Are you going to want to start over later,” and I thought about it, took some time and I was like, “Yeah, sure. I wouldn’t mind doing that.” I knew I didn’t want to do it with five little ones but I was hoping to at the time, one or two additional–raising children with a co-unit, because the majority of my raising my two girls was alone. So, I was excited about having an opportunity to do it with someone who shared the same vision.
Frank: Dana, now would you consider having a second? After Zuri’s born, would you consider a second?
Dana: “Consider” is the operative word.
Frank: Okay. Alright.
Dana: I would consider it. If you asked me in this moment, I think I’m okay with just what we’re creating in this moment. It’s not out of the question, like, “No way,” but it’s not something that I’m envisioning right now. I’m just so excited about this moment and this particular child and this particular experience that I feel very full from the thought of that.
Frank: How about you, Douglas?
David: I feel very good about maybe having another child, but like she was saying, in this moment we have to, I guess, show how appreciative we are of this moment and get to that next step later. But yeah, definitely I’m still open for that.
Dr. Gayle: How close do you guys live in relation to each other, Michael?
Michael: Well, we live in Washington, D.C. and they live in Baltimore. So, we live about 45 minutes away from each other.
Dr. Gayle: Okay. So, Dana have you guys determined how you’re going to raise a child? Will she dominantly be at you guys’ home? Is this really going to be shared responsibilities? How’s it going to work?
Dana: Yeah, that’s the plan. Once again, we’re like when we get to it, we’ll figure it out. Having raised some kids, you can plan all you want and you still have to figure it out when it’s going on. But the idea or the intention would be to have her the majority of the time in the beginning because she’s little, obviously. We plan to breast-feed and then as we move forward we’ll start exchanging more with the guys.
Frank: It’s worth noting that Michelle is not on the call. Michelle is Dana’s wife. Just letting our listening audience know that, be clear about that.
Frank: And Michelle is also the carrying mom. Isn’t that correct?
Dana: Yes, it is.
Frank: Tell us about the process of conception.
Michael: Well, David got a phone call at work from Dana and she was like, “It’s time,” and he was like, “It’s time for what?” And she said, “It’s time to have the baby.” And he’s like, “Wait, wait, I have to discuss this with my husband first.”
Dr. Gayle: Okay. So, Michael and David, you guys are also married?
David: Yes, uh-huh.
Dr. Gayle: Okay.
Frank: Alright, we’re listening.
David: The actual process, once we decided it was a good time and we were within the ovulation period–
Frank: Now, how far after you got that call did you decide it was a good time?
David: Well, we all met together and had basically a few dates to see if we were all in alignment with what we were about to do. So, it took a couple of weeks, I think, but that’s how we came to, I guess, the conclusion that we were all ready.
Dr. Gayle: So did you guys actually have intercourse or was it sperm donor? How did that happen?
Michael: Oh no, no intercourse.
Dr. Gayle: Okay.
Frank: So, tell us about the process.
David: That situation we thought if we had intercourse that would be defeating the whole idea of us being married to each other and thinking that our souls and our bodies were–we said we give these to each to each other and that’s it. So, we did our research online over time to find out how to do at-home insemination.
Dr. Gayle: Okay.
David: Artificial insemination. So, we were in two rooms and we had our own little ritual where we did things and met together and made it happen.
Frank: Okay. Now keep in mind–
Dr. Gayle: Go ahead.
Michael: Of course we prayed a lot at first.
David: Of course, yes.
Frank: Keep in mind–
David: There was a lot of prayer going on.
Frank: Our audience–
Dana: Yeah, that was awesome to be able to all sense the presence to need to do that first. Before anything transpired, we all said a prayer and said an intention for the experience we were creating, so that was really lovely. It was very sweet. It was a very sweet–like you know, you hear people say a child is born out of love, but definitely the way we came together in this process that even on that day it was definitely out of love.
David: Yeah, and leading up to things we got to know each other quite a bit better, because there was like–I’d like to say it was our courting time. We started going on dates together to learn more about each other on a deeper level than what we already thought we knew each other. We felt a lot more comfortable because we had a higher level of trust with one another from all of that.
Dr. Gayle: And Michael–
Michael: Oh, go ahead, I’m sorry.
Dr. Gayle: Go ahead. Go ahead.
Michael: And we were very clear that we wanted to be active dads. We didn’t just want to be sperm donors.
Dr. Gayle: I was about to ask. I was just about to ask you guys that question. How active and how involved do you expect to be in the Zuri’s life?
David: Yeah, and we didn’t want them to be the donor moms either. We want to definitely be full parents throughout her whole life. And we honor and respect each other for their–I don’t like to use the word roles, often. I try to shy away from that, but roles as parents to her.
Michael: And like Dana said, we’ll start a schedule probably in early July where we’ll have our baby maybe two weeks at a time a month and they’ll have the baby two weeks of the time a month.
David: I know it seems strange at the moment, because we live 45 minutes apart but we’ve also decided to make plans to–in the future, move at least within, I guess, at least a few miles within one another so that we’re within the same school district. It doesn’t matter whose house she’s going to be at. She can still get up and go to school and everything. We’ll be a closer family.
Dr. Gayle: Right. Right. Now Dana, how do your older children–how have they responded to this?
Dana: Well, my oldest lives with her dad. But she was here as part of the process as we told her what our intention was. We talked to her through the process and she likes babies, so she thought it was cool.
Frank: Now is she 10, is she 20? What’s her–
Dana: She’s 16?
Dana: And then my youngest, who’s 12, she was funny. She’s a very interesting child. At first we thought we wanted a boy, so we were like, “We want a boy,” and I didn’t really find out what her reaction was until I told her that it was a girl. And then she was like, “Yes.” She was excited, because she was like, “Oh, I can teach her some stuff and I don’t know nothing about being a boy, so it would be great to teach her all the girl stuff that I know.” However, after some of the baby showers and gift exchanges and doing the nursery, she did bring up some jealousy about the baby.
Dr. Gayle: Because she’s been the baby for 12 years–
Dr. Gayle: Right?
Dana: Exactly. She was like, “I don’t know if I’m willing to give that up just yet.” So we’ve all talked. We have family meetings about different things and we talked about getting her a sibling gift, which might wind up being like a little spa thing or something, so she has her own acknowledgement in this process of getting ready to be a big sister for the first time.
Dr. Gayle: Right.
Frank: And the 12 year old lives with you?
Dana: Yes, she does.
Frank: Got you. You all mentioned research. You did a significant amount of research to find out how to proceed. What did you find out during the research? What were some of the questions that you had and I’ll throw this out to everybody, because our audience, most of us and them, are clueless about the nuances and the details. So, please educate us as much as you can.
David: Well, the immediate things that you find whenever you’re going on, I guess, the internet are the very simple ones, which is intrauterine insemination, where it’s basically like that doctor taking an egg and a sperm and mixing them together outside of the body and then injecting it, I guess, into the woman’s uterus so that, I guess, things can set and take place. It’s not always guaranteed and usually people spend tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes even hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get this done. And we kept researching many more options, I guess like–basically, all of them are the same thing, it’s just depending whether fertilization took place outside of the body or in the body is where the prices change dramatically.
And then in looking further into some forums, you found out that there actually is a “turkey baster” method, but you don’t use a turkey baster, definitely.
Dr. Gayle: I was wondering.
David: But they call it, I guess, the “turkey baster” method. It doesn’t–I don’t like that term either.
Frank: You noted a dollar sign. I think you said several tens of thousands of dollars. What did the budget end up being for the process that you all participated in?
David: The budget was probably a good $20–
Dana: I have to disagree–
David: So that we can use that–
Dana: It was probably like $10.
Frank: So between $10 and $20? Okay.
Dana: Yeah, $10-$20 *(inaudible) 19:11 a couple of thousand, so yeah.
David: We thought maybe like all these other options are out there and they sound great to have a medical professional involved and whichever, but if we can do it for like $10-20, why don’t we go ahead and try this method first and if it works, perfect. If not, then we could go ahead and try to approach the medical community to try to get something happening. And so, like you were asking, it worked the first time. We were definitely like, “God has blessed us. This is good.”
Michael: It was intense at first, because we had to do the process several times. So, it felt like a job, actually.
Frank: So, it was several times in one setting?
Dana: / In one weekend.
David: / One weekend.
Frank: One weekend and that’s all a part of the one process. So, it’s in doing it one time it includes several times. Is that right?
David: Yeah. It’s almost like if you–usually they tell you during the ovulation period that you should definitely have sex once everyday of the three day ovulation period if you’re trying to have a child. And it’s the same thing with the artificial insemination. The at-home artificial insemination you have to try three times; once each day.
Frank: Got you. Dana, there was something you were weighing in on.
Dana: Oh, I was saying people, friends were asking questions and other people in same-sex relationships that were interested in the process and we shared up until a point, obviously. But my personal opinion, I wouldn’t suggest it for–like I have a friend who has a one year old that did it on her own and this process is definitely supportive of the type of family unit we’re creating but I can’t see doing this if it was just going to be my wife and I doing this separate and alone from someone else. I definitely would’ve wanted to go through a process and go wherever you go to shop; the sperm bank or somewhere.
Dr. Gayle: Now, what makes you say that, Dana?
Dana: Because what we’ve created is built out of a trusting relationship and if it was just going to be my wife and I and we decided that we wanted to have a child and we didn’t have personal sperm sources that we knew and that we were directing our desires towards. So, if you were just an arbitrary couple and you just want to do it on your own and you don’t want to co-parent–that’s the other thing, if you don’t want to co-parent, you really need to be clear about–I don’t see that this scenario is best for everybody. You have to–
Frank: When you say co-parent, you mean co-parent with another couple?
Frank: Got you.
Dana: Yeah. Like David is very specific about us parenting together as opposed to you’re just going to make-provide a specimen and then we’ll see. So, that’s not our scenario. But for some people they want that–now, don’t get me wrong, I thought that. I went through this process and we thought about, like, now you have to ask two other people. It’s enough for two parents to agree, so now you’ve got to them and work it all out. And I’m willing to do that but I did have to consider that. But if somebody doesn’t want to do that, me thinking about raising a child with my spouse and my two older children, that’s a lot if you don’t want to choose to do that. You should really take into consideration how you are creating that life and who with. And you may want to just go through a clinical process of just paying the money, badda boom, badda bing, and *(inaudible) 23:16.
Dr. Gayle: So Dana, are you saying this because–you said choose it this way, because you don’t have to deal with the other people thoughts or ideas? Or maybe they could come back and change their mind and say, “Hey, I do want to co-parent,” whereas if you go to a sperm bank or the hospital or doctor or wherever you go–
Dr. Gayle: Okay, it’s just closed off and it’s just you and your partner and you don’t have to deal with the other people.
Dr. Gayle: Okay.
Frank: Dana, okay there’s a few things. You have two children and the oldest lives with her father.
Dana: Her father. Uh-huh.
Frank: So, correct me if I’m wrong. It’s clear to me that you and dad are not together any longer.
Frank: You’re not together any longer. So, you have a unique insight. You clearly have been through the co-parenting process in the past–
Frank: You’ve clearly been–well, it’s not so clear, but I assume you’ve been through the break-up process in the past–
Frank: And so, you have a degree of expertise out of the four of you all that the others don’t. If you were put in the same situation or the same scenario came, what are some of the things that you guys have put in place or some of the things that you’ve brought to the conversation, knowing what you know and having experienced what you’ve experienced for the future of Zuri and raising Zuri with a co-parenting couple?
Dana: Sure, my experience with my daughter’s father has always been that we would discuss everything and no matter what we felt about each other. And there’s been rough times with, “I really don’t like you right now, don’t talk to me,” and we don’t have a lot of things in legal writing. Our divorce decree literally says, “I know you, you know me, we had kids and we’re not together.” So, every process–
Frank: I love it.
Dana: For the past 12 or so years, we’ve had to talk and we’ve not always agreed. And so I did bring that up in the family meeting that there are going to be spaces where we don’t agree. Three people might feel one way and another person might feel another or two and two, who knows, and we’re going to have to discuss those? But I’m not really an advocate of trying to write out a plan of every particular thing that you think you want to happen, because per my experience you have no idea once you get to that point.
I couldn’t have written on paper that my daughter would be living with her father at age 16. I wouldn’t have thought that was possible where I’d be willing to let her go, but in practicing what was necessary at that moment, it was the best thing for her, the best thing for her father and it was the best thing for our family as a unit, for her to do that. And she’s started thriving because of that.
So, same thing for Zuri, we’ll be able to–and I’ve shared this knowledge and experience with the rest of the family is we’re not going to always agree and we’re going to have to come to terms with what this is really about, which is what’s best for her. What’s best for the whole family, actually, because the cool thing about my cool dads is that I’ve also asked them to step in and take on, in the physical sense, connecting and supporting with my daughter that’s here. They’re like, “Yeah, sure, we knew that already.” They had already talked about it. So, I thought I was saying some momentous request. They were like, “No, we’re on that.”
Dr. Gayle: Now, does your daughter that’s living there, does she have the same father as your ex-husband?
Dana: She does. Uh-huh.
Dr. Gayle: Okay. Okay.
Dana: Yeah, she does.
Frank: Gentlemen, do you have anything to add to what Dana just said? How do you feel about the decision-making process in the future? And are you as open as she is?
David: At first it was hard to take that in, because your initial thought is–I guess, especially as a man when you find out you’re having a baby with someone and you’re not really married and in the same household is, “Oh, protect yourself.” Like legally making sure, “Oh, we’ve got to have something, some document saying that everything’s okay and we’ve got to go all the way down to crossing the ‘t’s’ and dotting the ‘i’s’ and everything,” and then you take a step back.
After she was saying, “You can’t plan out your child’s life like this, this isn’t something you should do. It makes things like business when really we’re a family,” and at that moment I stepped back from myself and thought about things and I was just like, “You know that’s right and a lot of this stems from the fact that I’m going back into that mode of not trusting.” And I realized I was in the wrong place. And I brought myself back and you think more about it and that is actually the best way, because in the future also, there is going to be making decisions on how she wants her life to be and we really have to become in alignment with what she wants. And that happens fairly quickly with kids from what I’ve seen.
Frank: I can attest. Yes, it does. I want to reveal one of my biases and then weigh-in on what you’ve said. I am a person that really believes in agreements. In particular, written agreements that outline what you guys are going to do in the future before you either get married or have children. However, I got to say, I have a great deal of appreciation for what Dana said about her previous divorce decree. And the appreciation, it has to do with a nakedness. It’s one thing to have a bunch of assumptions or–she could have and many break-ups there are situations where one person said, “I was done wrong,” or “I’m the better parent.” One person thinks this and functions from that stand, but the way it sounds is with her break-up, she agreed and he agreed to essentially just be naked as though there were no– “Look, we were together. We had children,” and I didn’t hear her say there were any problems that we’re going to harp on. We’re going to move forward. That’s a beautiful level of vulnerability and it, to some degree, it is in spirit what I like to see happen. So, any thoughts on what I just said Dana or gentlemen?
Dana: It’s been 12 years, so it’s definitely been a process but I reap so many benefits from having an understanding of what David was saying about that child’s choices. And what took me into alignment to allow my daughter to leave was realizing what she wanted and I was trying to instill in her what I wanted for her and the moment that I stepped back and realized what she wanted or needed for her life, I couldn’t hear her 16 year old voice saying, “I need my father.” I only heard her complaining or something else. As soon as I took that away, my own perspective away and was willing to listen to hers and not say, “Oh, you’re just complaining, you’re just being a teenager,” or any of those things, it really sends you back to what’s important; not being right, not using the children as leverage. I did go through this scenario, thinking I was the better or I could provide better and all that good stuff. I had to get that ego out of the way and deal with that.
So, I think what you said is best. It’s really naked. It’s a very vulnerable, naked place of not knowing what’s next but trusting that what you’ve intended for your life, which is happiness and wholeness and love and connection and family is going to be created and just trusting that. And that you don’t have to micro-manage it and tell the kids what to do and tell–I wanted to tell the ex-husband, “This is how you raise a child.” And when I was doing that it was not working.
And now, the rule is what you do at your house is your business. Of course I’m going to still be engaged and call and see what’s going on. What I do at my house, when the kids are here, is my business but the alignment is that the children will have a healthy–it will look different but it’s a healthy and loving experience and that we trust each other. And when I get off the phone with my ex-husband, I say, “Bye, love you, talk to you later,” because he’s my friend.
Dr. Gayle: That’s good.
Dana: We ain’t like, “Homey.” We don’t hang out. We don’t go to the movies together or nothing. He’s in a different state but I really love him. I had a choice to make this child with this person. Nobody threw him on me and through that choice-and still that choice to continue to make healthy decisions. And it’s so much better for the kids to see us aligned and in connection. And I’m looking forward to having that same togetherness in a more intentional way with David and Michael.
Dr. Gayle: And is he and your other–this is for all of you guys. Dana is your ex-husband and I guess it’s important for him to be supportive because you do co-parent with your 16 year old and your 12 year old. But Michael and David are you guys’ families, do they support your decision to co-parent?
David: At first it seemed like nobody was really into it until they realized the baby is definitely coming and it’s like you saw this change happen through everyone, except for some people. I have to say my was just like, “I can’t wrap my head around it,” and then I basically had to baby-step her and say, “Hey, you remember how we were raised. Our parents split up after the two of us were born and we lived between two households. Then later they got married and it was four parents that we were basically living with and we were between two households–”
Dr. Gayle: That’s a good way to think of it.
David: I was like, “Now it’s just–”
Frank: Right. Very similar situation.
David: I was like–yeah. Yeah, and I guess we had talked to my grandmother about it. It was funny, we were at a dinner session with my dad’s side of the family and my husband goes up. He’s like, “Oh, I’m going to tell your grandma.” We hadn’t really announced that the baby coming to her yet, because we thought the wedding alone probably was enough for her.
Dr. Gayle: I was just thinking, “They had to get over the wedding and now–”
David: He decides, “Whatever, she’s my grandma-in-law now and I’m going to go tell her and she’s going to hear it,” and he goes over and I didn’t realize he got up to go talk to her. And I see everyone’s face in the restaurant look up and look over at them and I’m like, “What just happened?” And I turn around and she was like laying into him and quoting Bible verses. And I’m like, “Oh, I can’t believe this.” So, I hurry up and I go over and I’m like, “Hi, grandma.”
Frank: “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?”
David: But the first thing out of her mouth is like, “How in the ‘H’ are you all going to have a baby? Who’s carrying the baby anyway? What’s going on?”
Dr. Gayle: Right.
David: And I’m like, “You think one of us is carrying the baby?” And she was like, “Yeah, which one of you?” And I’m like, “Oh, grandma, things haven’t changed that much yet. We can’t do this. I was saying we’re co-parenting with another family.” So she was fine once she found out that there was a woman that was actually carrying the baby and not a man.
But then she was asking more about like saying that it’s not right and quoting a bunch of Bible versus and I was like, “Grandma, at the end of the day you’ve got to think everybody interprets the Word differently. That’s why we have multiple churches. It’s not just one church. It’s not just one way of thinking. So, you have to respect the fact that I can read the Bible and I can see what God’s telling me in a different light, because He’s meaning to give me that lesson, that way of thinking. But for you, what you hear and what you learn from the Bible, I’m not saying that’s wrong but one thing I will say is right is the last thing that Jesus said as He was going into Heaven was for us to love each other like He loved the world and I’d like for everyone to be fine or to accept the fact that I’m loving everyone; like I love my husband, I love the world for the way it is and I’d expect you to do the same thing.” And she was like, “You know, I never thought of it that way but I get it. I understand.”
Frank: Nice. So, you brought grandma around.
Frank: That’s special.
David: This is our vision.
Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships–
Dana: I think we’re a little bit more gangster from our side though. That’s what I enjoy about the four of us because it’s just the fine balance, qualities and things to contribute and value and the way that we think. Everybody has their piece to contribute and we all have these great differences too. We have lots of assets. Some are better cookers and cleaners and advisors and some are better with money and it’s just so fun to watch. But yeah, I think we’re a little bit more gangster. I know I’m a little bit more gangster about it over here. I’m just like, “Whatever.” David’s sweet and he’ll have that conversation with his grandmother and I’m just like–I’m just in your face. Not in your face, so much like, “You have to accept this.” It just doesn’t matter to me. You know what I’m saying? You don’t have a choice.
Frank: I got it.
Dr. Gayle: You’re all about self-happiness. “This is what I want for my life–”
Dana: Right, right, right.
Dr. Gayle: “And this is what makes me happy.”
Dana: That’s it.
Dr. Gayle: Okay.
Dana: And I don’t have–I guess the word is “pretense,” is I’m looking for. So, if I approach somebody to tell them that I’m having a baby or when I used to say, “My girlfriend,” or when we got married and I said, “My wife.” I’m like, “Well, you’re at work talking about your people and I’m at work talking about my people.” So, I never approached it in anticipation of any kickback. I never approached it like, “Let me tell them that I’m bringing my girlfriend to the funeral in case anybody’s going to be uncomfortable so they can make preparations to not act the fool.”
Dr. Gayle: Right.
Dana: This is my life and this is my life. And my wife is showing up at the event and I don’t think it’s weird what we’re doing.
David: Love is love.
Dana: It’s like a step-parent situation on purpose. I think it’s totally awesome and abundant to have four people co-parenting children on purpose like you couldn’t get anymore help than that.
Dr. Gayle: But you don’t guys don’t have to wait. Usually with the step-parent situation, you have to wait awhile until people can get to like each other and love each other. Now you’re going into it all with love.
Dana: Yeah. To be honest, there have been people with opinions and we’ve talked about it in private and intimate setting about those opinions and we laugh about it and we have funny stories like David, about what they think.
Okay, so let me be honest, it saddens you but we do recognize that we don’t have to control this thing. It’s sad. I get sad, because I feel like you’re missing out. While you’re ponticificating all of this drama in your head about this beautiful life we’ve chosen to create or how it gets here or what you think it should like, you’re missing out; everything.
Michael: We had a hard time wrapping their head around the idea that there are two dads and two moms.
Frank: Got you.
You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with the parents of baby Zuri. They’re two same-sex couples that have merged to bring baby girl into the world.
Okay, as we were saying.
Dr. Gayle: I think it’s great, Dana, what you’re saying: “This is what we do. This is my life and no one else,” and you’re not seeking approval for anyone else. But do you guys wonder when Zuri grows up and she goes to school and pre-school and she has her own friend, how this will impact her life?
Dana: So, that’s a good question. In a humanistic way, we’ve brought that up and then in the very loving and collective way that we live our life, we squashed it back to–instead of being reactive to what could happen, like “What are the possibilities in terms of how we get to support her moving forward,” because it could be anything. It doesn’t have to be–for instance, with my children, one of their issues was that her parents were divorced. I figured that was a stigma for her. It was a big deal. She was attracted to other kids with divorced parents and the father’s here and the mother’s here and it was a very negative stigma-type thing for her. So, if you think about it, all children are going to have that thing and similarly to what we’ve started talking earlier, we’re going to deal with that when–we’re going to provide her with a good foundation from the beginning and then whatever she has to deal with–I don’t want to specify what she’s going to have to deal with, because if I say then it’s definitely going to be that. If I say, “People are going to be ragging on her, because she’s got four parents. Why do you have four parents at the dag on basketball game?”
Dr. Gayle: Right.
Dana: We might as well write a script on how to deal with that. So, I just leave your playground open for–life isn’t going to be perfect for her, but our job is going to be here to support her in whatever challenge that she reaches. I don’t know what I’m going to say. In that moment I’ll figure it out, definitely.
Frank: Okay. You guys talked about the meetings. The early meetings, the dates that you went on to get to know each other. I’m going to direct this question towards Douglas. Any hiccups, any extended conversations that you guys had to iron out that required an extra bit of attention?
David: I would say one of them was the question of, “Are you sure about doing this?” Basically, we had to weigh out the why we didn’t want to just, as our own selves, our own couples, go out and try to have a child instead of bringing it together with the four of us and the way that we ironed it out is because we felt like we didn’t want our child to grow up with knowing just their fathers. Or they didn’t want their child to grow up with just knowing their mothers. But we felt as though those two–and like I said, I don’t like to use the word roles often–but those two roles were very important to our unborn child.
I wouldn’t want to rob my child in the future of not knowing mom. And the same with them and that’s how we were able to move forward from there. Another one was the co-parenting agreement situation, where we decided it was best to just leave it open, because like we were talking about earlier that if you think it, then you create it. If you prepare for something to happen, then that something’s going to happen. Like don’t prepare for the worst, because really you’re creating the worst. You’re making it happen. If you think of it, it’s going to happen.
Frank: Got you.
Dr. Gayle: How did you guys choose Douglas over Michael? Or who made that determination?
Dana: You’re asking me?
Michael: Well, we talked about it. We talked about it and I didn’t know if I was ready to do that part; the physical part of that.
Frank: That’s Michael speaking?
Michael: So, it really didn’t matter who was the sperm donor. We just felt like our daughter’s our daughter. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who’s the biological father.
Frank: Nice. As we go back a little bit. A couple of historical matters I want to check out. How long have you guys been married?
David: We’ve been married, one, two, three–since 2010, so that’s–
Michael: But we’ve been together overall six years.
Frank: / Okay.
Dr. Gayle: / Okay.
Frank: And Dana, you and Michelle?
Dana: We’ve been together five years and we’ve been married, going on two years.
Dr. Gayle: Okay.
Frank: And a little other ignorance that I want to reveal. How did you find when the ovulation period was? I got to tell you, I’m just a guy and I–
Dr. Gayle: You track it on your cell phone, duh.
Dana: Absolutely, correct. Cell phone apps.
Dr. Gayle: You have an app for that.
Frank: I remember something about this in biology class, but I could not tell you when a woman’s ovulation period is. Well, I’ve heard seven days after the cycle and seven days before. But I’m just running my mouth. I don’t know.
David: See, that’s only if the woman tends to have that perfectly scientific body of every, what is it, 20-some days of everything happening?
Dr. Gayle: Every 28 days.
David: Yeah, 28 days. Like you have to get the kit or the app, which–I don’t know, it has its own formula for figuring out–
Frank: There’s really an app?
David: When the days are.
Dr. Gayle: Yes.
Dr. Gayle: I can show you mine.
David: Yeah, there’s apps.
Dana I have one on my phone as well.
David: And there’s very expensive kits that you can buy from the stores.
Dr. Gayle: I have two on mine, just in case.
Dana: *(inaudible) 47:25 cycle and it has little shaded boxes that tell you these are your heightened days of ovulation and it’s more precise. If you use it for six months, then it really knows better. If you just it the first month, it may not have a rhythm to what your ovulation period is, but we did everything by the book. We did the ovulation period, we did the *(inaudible) 47:54, what that was and the time of day, everything. And 100 percent, bam, first time. Now, here’s the interesting that that you didn’t ask that I think that is important.
David: And there’s even stuff you’ve got to know too when you’re a guy.
Dr. Gayle: What’s that, Dana?
Dana: Is, because I’ve had people come and say they’re trying and they want to–I’m a strong advocate that you get to be energetically aligned to having a child also at that time. If it’s not for you and your life is not aligned to it then you’re not. And my wife is very aligned and our family was very aligned to this experience. Now, it’s been three years in the background organically happening for three years and now is the time that we were aligned to do it. Because like you said, when we had this first discussion, it was a joke. It was just like, “Ya’ll make some good baby daddies,” and that seed was planted and that just kept growing and they were doing their things and the energy lined up for this to happen, so–
Dr. Gayle: So, what about them?
Dana: Forget the apps.
Dr. Gayle: Dana, what about Michael and Douglas made you and Michelle say, “Hey, they would be great dads and vice versa?”
Dana: This may be a disappointing answer but we just knew. We really just knew, because when we discussed the, “It’s time,” and we called them and everything and we went out to dinner together to have the discussion fast forwarding from the first idea about it to three years after that. I said, “Well, what if they say, ‘No’ then who else is there?” And we didn’t even have an answer. It was just like there’s no–I don’t even know if we would’ve had a kid if they would’ve said, “No.” I can’t even think what the alternative–there was never an alternative plan, because it was just like, “They’re the parents.”
David: Yeah, it’s like a feeling. It’s almost like when you meet the love of your life, you know then. You just like, “Oh, I love this person. This is the person that I’m going to be with.”
David: It was like we met and over time in the back of your head you’re thinking, “These are the mothers to our children. We know this.” It just gradually over time just happened. There wasn’t any mulling over it or whichever. It was just a feeling.
Michael: And not only that, Dana and Michelle, they’re just very beautiful, beautiful women and they have a great energy. And they’re going to be great mothers.
Dana: Oh, thank you.
Dr. Gayle: Whose name is going to be on the birth certificate?
Frank: Particularly the last name.
Michael: Well, the baby will have our last name. It’s a hyphenated name.
Frank: Okay. So, that was one of those details you–
Dana: And it will have–oh, go ahead, I’m sorry.
Frank: Well, that was one of those details you clearly worked out.
Frank: And you were about to say, “And it will have,” what?
Dana: And David and Michelle will be on the birth certificate.
Frank: Got you. I’m curious, we have the honor of having two same-sex couples with us right now. Are there any stereotypes or beliefs that either of you would say you would love to say to the population at whole, isn’t the case. Or anything that you’d like to put out there to say, “Hey, give this some more thought.”
Michael: I’d like to say that a lot of times when they think of same-sex couples, the first thing they think about is the sexual aspect of a relationship and we’re really not any different than a heterosexual couple. We’re like people that come together to love each other. And I don’t think it was a choice; like being gay is not really a choice for me. This is how I was born. This is who I am.
David: Definitely, and it’s like a lot of people when they meet, their immediate thought is directly towards sex and sexual roles and it’s like, “Why are you thinking this way? When I meet you, if you’re a straight couple, I immediately think, ‘Oh, that’s a beautiful couple. How did you guys meet?” Not, “How do you have sex?” Why go there? I don’t go there for you, but there are some relationships also that they do have gender roles, like a person that’s more masculine, a person that’s more feminine but in our relationship, it’s very like we see each other very equally. There’s no more masculine or more feminine or there’s no wife or husband like in our marriage. We’re just both husbands and we both share the fullness of responsibility of being a couple together. And that’s I see things as responsibilities, not as roles; things that have to be done. It’s not just one has to do it or the other. That’s, I guess, my–
Michael: Well, people always ask who’s the man and who’s the woman and I hate that question.
Dana: That’s what I was going to say. Yeah.
Michael: We’re both men, obviously.
Dana: And I can second that. We’re both girls. They’re like, “Who’s the guy, who’s the husband, who’s the wife?” I’m like, “I’m married to a woman, we’re both ‘woman.'” I have a house husband next door and I call him to come carry stuff upstairs sometimes and he’s okay with that. I don’t want to do that.
Frank: Do you all consider that question insulting?
Dana It’s more irritating. It’s just so irritating.
David: It’s like me asking you all like, “I understand you’re the husband, you’re the wife but really who’s the man and who’s the woman?” It’s like me saying that to you. And you’re like, “Whoa.”
Dana: Or even take it back. “Who wears the pants in the house?” Yeah.
Frank: Got you.
David: It’s like, “How rude, how dare you say that?”
Dr. Gayle: I must say that I did come across an article where it did find that children growing up in same-sex parents, they don’t necessarily find differences in self-esteem or gender identity or emotional problems, so that’s a plus. But I will commend because from a psychological background and standpoint, I do think that it’s important to have both the masculine and a feminine or point of view growing up with a child. There are certain things that we learn from our parents–I’m sorry, from our fathers and there are certain things that we learn from our mothers; how to emotionally mature, so to speak. So, I think that it’s great that there will both genders present in Zuri’s life. I think that’s great, wherein if there were just a single parent or a single mom, she wouldn’t get that. She would just have the mom and the mom would be trying to play both the role of the father and the mother. So, I think that’s good.
David: Thank you.
Dana: Yeah, I got that feedback as well with my oldest child who was in counseling at some point and the counselor suggested that children–like if they’re going to be separated, that up to the age of 12, they stay with the same-sex parent and then from 12 on they could move with the–because there’s important development going on–
Dr. Gayle: Exactly.
Dana: With identifying with being a girl. In this case, with her being with her mom and then she’d be fine to move on. And which is what happened. We did it a little later, but part of her development would be better accommodated with the transition. But the fact that we don’t have to have that conversation, because we have an abundance of masculine and feminine and everything is just so exciting.
Frank: Are you all familiar with the show Modern Family?
Frank: Any thoughts on it? You like it?
Michael: I think that our relationship is more like the show that came out. It’s called The New Normal. Have you heard of that one?
Dr. Gayle: I’ve heard it. That’s the one that NeNe Leakes is on, correct?
David: Because Modern Family’s more comedic and The New Normal, it’s comedic but it touches a little more on our lives in the way that we live our lives, our relationships and things.
Dr. Gayle: How so?
Michael: Well, it’s been a wonderful experience when we found out that Michelle was pregnant. We’ve been very active in the process. We’ve been going to the doctors and stuff with her.
Dr. Gayle: Okay.
Michael: And we went to the doctor this past Friday and I was able to hear Zuri’s heartbeat.
Dr. Gayle: Okay.
Michael: It was like the most beautiful music I ever heard in my life.
Dr. Gayle: Oh, so excit–now, who’s going to be in the room when she gives birth?
David: We’re all going to be there.
Frank: I could’ve told you that.
Dr. Gayle: Okay.
Frank: Now, in sharp contrast, me and my wife, my youngest two, I wasn’t in the room for either one of their births. I didn’t want to be there and she didn’t want me there. She said, “Where’s my mama,” and her mama was there and I was at home.
Dana: Uh-huh. Right.
Frank: And so, it’s different for everyone. I appreciate it
Michael: Dana and Michelle have been trying to make sure that I’m going to be ready for that part of the process, because I’m normally squeamish.
Dana: He’ll pass out.
Michael: And they’re like, “Are you ready? Are you ready?”
Dr. Gayle: You got to be ready.
Frank: You better be ready or sitting down.
You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we have been talking with the parents of Zuri; two same-sex couples that merged to bring a baby girl into the world. Along today’s journey we’ve discussed conception, how they identified each other as partnering parents and how they plan to raise Zuri. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had talking with Zuri’s parents about conceiving and plans to raise her.
As always, it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that will help you create a relationship that’s as loving and accepting as possible. Let us know what you thought of today’s show at facebook/relationshipflove, on twitter at @mrfranklove or at franklove.com. Until next time, keep rising, This is Frank Love.