"So, which one of you is their REAL dad?"
This is a guest post by Rabbi Michael Adam Latz at Shir Tikvah in Minneapolis.
My partner, Michael and I are blessed with two beautiful, precious, gregarious loving children. Neither of us imagined how fabulous daddyhood would be: Reading “The Cat in the Hat” 417 times; blowing bubbles on our patio on warm summer nights after devouring yummy treats at Liberty Custard; teaching our kids to read, to delight in their own imagination, to climb in our tree house and ride their bicycles; to watch them sleep, tender, gentle, and safe.
Who knew life could be so good?
As gay parents, we’ve become accustomed to questions about of how our family came to be. It makes logical sense: two men can’t reproduce, so how did you “get” those children?
We answer. We were blessed to find surrogates to carry our kids.
Do your children have a relationship with the surrogate?
Yes, we’re Facebook friends and we talk with them occasionally. We like them very much and are proud they are our children’s biological mothers.
Occasionally, we get questions which are amusing. At a barbeque recently, as Michael was cutting up a hot dog into small bites for our youngest and I was negotiating ketchup for our oldest, someone asked, “Which one of you is the real dad?”
“They’re both our dads,” our oldest states before either of us can reply. “This Michael is the Daddy and that Michael is the Dadda.” A long sigh. “Daddy, can I please have more ketchup?”
The kids finish eating in less than three minutes (how can they eat so quickly?) and the inquisitor, unsatisfied with the answer she received before, seeks to cross examine me. Raising her eyebrows and speaking in a low voice to make sure we know this is important, “So, which one of you is the real dad?”
I smile and take a bite of my watermelon. It is juicy, though has that “not quite ripe” tang.
“What do you mean?” I ask, as Michael hands me a napkin to wipe the watermelon juice now running down my beard. He’s a caring soul, though I secretly think he wonders if the real reason I wanted to parent was because I would be forever messy; with kids around, at least I had an excuse.
The prosecutor does not like me acting coy. She’s getting irritated. “Which one of you is the real father?” She asks, as guests around the table become increasingly uncomfortable. “You know, the biological one.”
Michael and I—battle-tested and survivors of these interrogations many times over—are non-plussed.
“We’re both the real dads,” I answer.
“Michael cooks more than I do, but we both make sure the kids eat healthy food before they get a treat.”
“We both read to them,” said Michael. “Beverly Cleary, Pinkalicious, Good Night Moon, anything with animals or Dr. Seuss.”
“Michael does more coloring. I did swimming lessons with them and cried when they both aged out of parent-child classes.”
“We both volunteer in their schools, arrange play dates, and shop for their clothes.
“We’ve both held them in the middle of the night, when they’ve had a fever or a ‘night mirror [mare].’”
“We’ve both cried with them at well-baby check-ups when they get shots.”
“We both tell them every day how much we love them.”
The interrogator looks embarrassed. “Oh,” she demurs.
“Sounds awfully radical to me,” quips one of our friends sarcastically.
“Revolutionary,” says another in between bites of potato salad.
“You guys are really shaking up the establishment laughs,” teases another.
We smile as the kids race back inside. “Daddy! Dadda!” They exclaim. “We ate all our lunch. We get dessert!”
“One brownie each,” says the real dad.