Inside and out: And baby makes three?

by Steve Harrison

Recently, a made-for-TV movie moment happened to us: a friend asked us to be fathers of her baby.

It happened Monday, when Anna was here putting our world back in order, something she does every couple of weeks. She approached John, wondering aloud why we’d never had children. A conversation ensued wherein John explained that when we were of an age when fatherhood was more plausible it really wasn’t even a question.

John and I have been together for 44 years, since 1978. In those days “homosexual” relations had only been legal in California for two years. It has only been legal nationwide since 2003, when marriage was still years away. During much of that time, we were busy with careers and building a life. Frankly, children were never something I thought about. It is very different for today’s LGBTQ+ people, many of whom have matured thinking they should not be denied anything, and rightly so.

I wasn’t home when John and Anna had their conversation. When I returned from visiting my mom and John began recalling it, beginning with, “I had the most extraordinary conversation today …” I had no idea what he was about to tell me. He was more than touched, and in his telling of the story, so was I.

We have had conversations over the years beginning with, “I wonder what it would have been like …,” or, “I wonder how kids of ours would have turned out?” I think John would have considered such a move once upon a time, but I never really did.

Maybe I knew I was too self-centered, or at the very least too controlling, to have to deal with all the unplanned-for events children bring home. While teaching, I would usually have a few students a year ask me if I had kids. Some were truly interested and others used it as code to figure me out. I always responded the same, saying, “Yes. I have 150 — children, students, little people that is.” It really was true. I marveled at my colleagues who would leave school and go home to families that needed as much attention as their work families did. I just didn’t think I had the stamina.

Anna’s question did stir questions and conversations. Maybe this is just the thing we needed to concentrate on. Having moved my mom into “senior living,” acknowledging the end for us all was on the horizon, maybe we needed new life. Don’t people have children for worse reasons?

Anna had been quick to add that she was quite serious, and that she thought we would make great dads. When pointing out the obvious age factor, she assured us that she would be there to take over if the need would arise. And let’s get real: when the kid turned 14, John would be 92 and I would be 80. Obviously there would be a need, a real one, and maybe tomorrow!

In mulling over the gift she was offering, we realized our time had passed. This is unfortunate because now we can financially cope with raising a child, provide him or her a legacy, and selfishly appreciate the diversion a child’s growth would provide rather than the concerns of our future demands. And wouldn’t it be great to have someone who would take care of us in our old age? But wait: that is now. And really, we can’t allow ourselves to have a second dog, with one keeping us busy enough, so a kid? That’s too much of a commitment.

As generous as Anna’s offer was, it would be much smarter for all involved if we would just adopt her. She can continue to clean up our messes, check up on us, and put our lives back together. It seems like at this stage that’s what children do for parents of a certain age.

It was an extraordinary conversation and a generous proposition. If nothing else, it shows how far we have come: this 34-year-old, married mother of two — who knows few gay people — has gotten to know us inside and out, and wants to share one of her greatest pleasures, family, with us.

Will wonders never cease?

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