Last week, the Toronto Star featured an article about Rennick, a 35-year-old man who wants to be a dad. He feels ready, at this point in his life, to be a father. He hasn't met Ms Right yet -- but he's decided not to let fact that get in the way, and take matters into his own hands.
Rennick is seeking a partner to bear and help raise his child. He's not looking for a romantic relationship, but a co-parenting arrangement -- facilitated by a website called Modamily.com. The woman would agree (via legal contract) to conceive a baby with him through IUI or IVF, and then share the responsibility of raising the child.
I'll admit, when I first read the story, I thought it sounded a little... clinical. And I still think that the proposed arrangement might not be as cut & dried as it sounds. This is still a pretty new way to parent, and there will likely be consequences that nobody has yet realized or complicating factors that haven't been taken into consideration. When you're dealing with human beings, you have to factor in emotion. We don't always act in rational ways.
But I also found myself thinking: how much different is this from some of the other relatively new ways that we are building families today with the help of reproductive technology? I've read about parenting arrangements in the gay community where a lesbian gets pregnant using sperm from a gay friend to get pregnant, and involves him in the child's life. Is it any different (or any worse) than couples who get married, have a child, then divorce and share custody?
We all like to think that every child will be conceived and born the old-fashioned way, to a set of parents who love each other. But things aren't always that simple. And, as those of us in the ALI community know all too well, sometimes the desire to have a child leads us to places we never in a million years thought we'd go.
Rennick is back in the Star today. The reaction to the first story will sound somewhat familar to any of us who have dared to try to become a parent by anything other than the conventional way:
"...he received a torrent of feedback from Star readers, suggesting he get everything from a puppy to a life. In comments posted on thestar.com, almost 200 of them, he was labelled frequently as selfish, told his quest was “creepy” and lambasted as an “emotionally immature knucklehead.”
(Of course, if he stayed childless (and especially unmarried and childless), he'd probably be labelled "selfish" & "emotionally immature" too, right?)
"In all honesty, I thought there’d be a stronger response in my favour,” Rennick told the Star, sounding somewhat bewildered. “There was a huge uproar. I thought it would be more accepted.” (I felt a bit sorry for him and his naievity (sp?). As I said, welcome to our world, Carson...!)
"A lot of people seem to think I’m selfish,” Rennick says. “But I’m as selfish, I guess, as the readers’ parents, your parents or my parents for having us.
“This isn’t the death of our society. Oh my God, guys, c’mon, I just want to have a child.”
The Star plans to check in with Rennick on his quest to become a (co)parent. Should be interesting...!