Part 1: Can You Believe They Said That?
Creating a family is tough enough. The last thing you need is to hear insensitive, uninformed, even ignorant comments about what you’re trying so hard to do.
Unfortunately, you may. Ask any same sex parent-to-be about their process, and they’ll likely mention the surprising questions they've had to field, and the hurtful comments they've endured.
It’s good to know you’re not alone. And it’s helpful to learn how others deal with people who really should know better. A Facebook post on the subject elicited dozens of responses. Some were heart-breaking; others rage-inducing. All were eye-opening.
Many people want to know “how are you doing it?” They ask about doctors, donors, eggs, the most intimate procedures, and of course how much it costs. One woman even had someone offer up her husband as a donor – in front of him. We can chalk that up to ignorance – but we wonder whether straight couples get the same questions.
The best way to handle these questions is by courteously deflecting them. “That’s pretty personal, don’t you think?” you might say. Or, “Do you really want to know?!”
Many people ask “who is the mom?” (Or “the dad.”)
The answer, of course, is “we both are!” The follow-up question may be, “No, I mean the ‘real’ mom.” You can turn that right around, asking, “What do you mean by ‘real’?” This is a great way to educate others about proper terminology, such as “birth mother.”
One of the most common comments is a variation of, “Well, this isn’t really your (or your partner’s) child.” We know that’s not true. Both partners are there every step of the way. They rejoice together, agonize together, make difficult decisions together. One suggested response: “Of course it is. We’ve been through so much already, and now we can’t wait to raise our child together!”
A variation of this is, “what you’re doing isn’t really natural.” Come on! All babies are natural! They are also wonderful. The process of conception might not be the same for gay couples as for heterosexual ones – well, not all. Some straight people, of course, have babies through the same means as gay couples. And all love their children just as much.
One woman offered this advice: “Don’t take any of those comments to heart. It’s not easy, but let it go. Be strong in your partnership and love. Enjoy an amazing family full of love, joy, laughter and peace.”
Some people want to move beyond birth questions – well, sort of. They wonder how two women or two men can bring a child into the world, “knowing what people will say.”
The best response? Turn the question around. “What will you say?” you might ask.
If they stutter and stammer, help them out. Tell them, “You should say ‘Congratulations!’”
Stay tuned for Part 2: What TO Say To a Same-Sex Couple Building a Family
Dan Woog is a writer, educator and LGBT activist. He has written 17 books. Subjects include LGBT issues in gay education and the workplace, gay male athletes, and the importance of straight allies. He is also a co-founder of OutSpoken, Fairfield County’s support group for LGBT youth.