In the mid-1980s, my mother Terry decided—as lots of women do—that she wanted to have children. At the time, she was a single, lesbian woman living in a small midwestern town of about 20,00 people. (She has been with my other mom Jackie, now her wife, since 1996.)

Like any good parent should, she had a lot of doubts and asked a lot of questions before deciding to try to start her family. She conferred with her younger cousins about the potential stigma a kid growing up with a lesbian mother might face. They assured her it “wasn’t that big a deal these days.”

Not everyone agreed, including her own parents. Calls to various state and the regional fertility clinics ended in a lot of hang-ups and no thank you’s. “We don’t do illegitimate children,” she was told on more than one occasion. Finally, she found a clinic in San Francisco and a cryobank in Fairfax, Virginia that would help her.

I was a long shot—an improbable pregnancy that succeeded via artificial insemination despite one failed IVF cycle and my mother’s scarred fallopian tubes. My sister was a little more conventional, conceived with a successful IVF cycle, but she arrived so dangerously early that I nearly became an orphan at age 3.

My sister and I were told these stories, with more embellishment of course, over and over as we grew up. In fact I don’t remember a time when I didn’t understand essentially how it was I came to be. I understood, too, that though we had a biological father, my sister and I did not have a dad in our lives—we were a two-mom family. I understood that we were different, and I understood that that was okay.

There were, after all, lots of men in and around my life: uncles and cousins, male teachers, the dads of my best friends, leaders at church and in the Boy Scouts. But of course I still felt the absence of a father figure. I remember listening to “Cat’s Cradle,” the ballad about an absent father by Harry Chapin, and feeling a connection to the song’s lyrics. (Both of my mom were understandably uncomfortable with this fact, but being mature parents bought me the CD anyway.) Just a few years ago, I found a card I drew for Father’s Day in elementary school, telling my donor that I wanted him to come live with us.

Applause before the storm.
Applause before the storm.
Image: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

It is impossible, now, to remember exactly where those feelings came from. I’m sure that part of my desire for a father figure came from the fact that my friends had dads who were awesome. And I’m sure that other parts came from some innate desire to connect with a parent who shared my gender.

But as I grew older, the desire to conform lessened, and I built strong, close relationships with other young men. Whatever absence there may have been in my life was seamlessly filled by the love, camaraderie, and support of my friends and family. My experiences have convinced me that while not all arguments against same-sex parenting are themselves homophobic, they are all simply incorrect.

And although I did not have a dad in my life growing up, I would like to be one. Like so many others, I hope to one day have children of my own, to raise them with someone I love in a home that is happy and healthy.

Is my desire for children or to be a father a selfish one? Is that desire separate from my biology? Does its validity or morality—or its legality—hinge on the gender of the person I love and with whom I want to build this family? Does the sincere desire to raise children become insincere if some aspect of my situation is suboptimal for raising children?

If only all parents were asked such questions.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis publicly declared, “The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished.” Though I can’t quite bring myself to share the Pope’s conclusions about selfishness, my own parents have repeatedly echoed his observations about the myriad ways parenthood has enriched their lives. And though I appreciate the concerns of Dolce and Gabanna and the conservatives with whom they have unwittingly aligned, their worry is thankfully misplaced.

Children are a gift to parents who deserve and love and who, in some cases, fight like hell to bring them into the world. And there shouldn’t be anything controversial about that.

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