Here’s a story I read recently that marks more dark news for men’s place in the family. While we decry the sperm-donor male in some corners of our culture, we seem to be working overtime to not only create more of them, but also relieve them of that minimal contribution to parenting.
Let’s look at the first story about what we might call “minimalist fatherhood facilitation.” In other words, “Hey you, guy! We really do want as little of you as possible. Thank you very much.”
This story from the UK’s Daily Telegraph tells of sweet baby Zaide who is the biological off-spring of Sabrina and Kam. Kam is a gay man and Sabrina, a lesbian. They met online because they had a common interest. He wanted to be a father, but things being what they were, had no ready access to eggs or a womb. Sabrina wanted badly to be a mother, but she faced a shortage of male baby juice. What to do, what to do?
Well, they decided to develop a partnership and become what is newly being termed co-parents. It was not that kind of partnership. These are basically two adults who work out a contractual agreement to provide what the other didn’t have and artificially conceive a child — not from their love for each other shared through the sexual embrace, as humans have been being created for millennia, but merely from their desire to acquire half-ownership in a new life. Something like a time-share, but with a kid.
As for little Zaide, he lives with Sabrina and her live-in mate, Kirsty. Daddy-Kam swings by to visit his son when he can. That is, when he is allowed.
Sabrina explains, “We agreed we would wait at least eight months before Kam takes Zaide out alone. As he gets older we’d like Kam to have more of a role so we can have child-free days with each other; I suggested we all take a holiday together once a year. I wanted to set boundaries, too, so I wrote that Kam should give us ample notice when he visits.” That’s nice. Zaide gets to slowly ease into more time with his dad, but only when the ladies want time for themselves.
As I explain in my recent book Secure Daughter, Confident Sons, infants can distinguish when daddy is interacting with them from six weeks of age. This is because daddies tend to be more physical, unpredictable and spontaneous with their infants than mothers are. Moms tend to settle babies down. Dads tend to get them riled up. And child development scholars explain that this difference between mom and dad’s interaction, and the diversity of experiences they provide the child, are helpful and necessary for healthy child development. But little Zaide will just have to wait on that until his two moms are ready for their “child-free days with each other.” At least the adults get what they need.
Such families are not uncommon among same-sex partners because the egg-womb-sperm shortage thing is a constant and nagging problem. So what you find quite often is female couples and male couples sharing the needed procreative items over the back fence so to speak and the couples either sharing parenting duties from two different homes or all living together under the same roof together. Many form either four-way or three-way adult co-parenting confabs. It is usually the mother and her partner who have primary custody and responsibility for the child’s care over the biological father, as in this case.
But this second story from babycenter.com tells how researchers in Kyoto, Japan, have successfully created lab-produced mice sperm which fertilized mouse eggs and led to the birth of mice pups who were healthy, fertile and thriving. While application to humans is still a bit off, this and other efforts are being made to produce sperm independent of men themselves. This way women who desire to become mothers, regardless of their sexual preference, will never have to bother with a man in any way.
Except to kill the spiders.
And while they might convince themselves they are fine without a man, few really believe this, and their children certainly won’t. Men are more the sperm-donors.