by PFP Board Member David D’Amico
Our adoption journey began in the Spring of 2013. We were working with a private agency and could not have been happier with the services they provide to prospective parents and birth families.They helped us feel so energized and excited to raise a child. We soaked up every minute of our adoption journey, attending workshops, practicing swaddles and other techniques, and talking with every parent and prospective parent we met along the way. We asked many questions and read everything we could on adoption, including all the horror stories. We were focused and there was no turning back.
We went through the usual background checks and home studies, which turned out to be more bark than bite. We fully expected someone to walk through our house wearing white gloves checking for dirt, but that wasn’t the case. Our adoption coordinator was so friendly that our meetings often felt like old friends getting together to catch up. At least our house got a much-needed cleaning!
Compiling our profile book, on the other hand, was quite a daunting task. This was our first opportunity to make an impression on potential birth moms, and as far as we were concerned, a great first impression was everything. Luckily, we had just attended a week-long family reunion and had come home with a ton of great pictures with my large family, including lots of pictures with the kids.
Once our book was finished, which included pictures and autobiographies, we entered the pool of prospective parents. This was where the real challenge began – the agonizing wait. We had no choice but to give up our ability to control the process and put our blind faith in the Universe. As time moved on it was nearly impossible to not think about where we were in our adoption journey.
Had our profile been shown yet?
Had we been passed over by any birth moms?
How was our profile being interpreted?
Did we include the right pictures?
A million things ran through our minds and there was no stopping it. But, we were advised to keep busy, so we did. We went out on date nights, slept in, went on spontaneous adventures around the city and did all the selfish things a new parent can no longer do (or at the very least, can only do very infrequently).
Four months of patient waiting had passed when suddenly, we got “the call.” Our adoption coordinator told us that we had been picked! We could not believe it, but deep down I felt that this was truly meant to be and that we were finally going to become dads. During the next two months we built a solid foundation with the woman who picked us. It was truly magical. We instantly clicked with her, and all the pieces seemed to be coming together.
In late March, our son was born as healthy as could be. He has been an absolute miracle in our family. Each day is filled with new learning experiences and challenges, but we are rising to the occasion and doing the best job that we know we can do.
I used to think I knew what busy looked like — and then I became a parent. Each day goes by faster than the one before, and the only thing we can do is try to soak up every minute of every day that we get to spend with our beautiful son. It’s incredible to experience the love that a child brings into your life. It’s truly indescribable but it is real and it grows exponentially. It can make you overcome obstacles and bring you to tears. The night before we took our son home from the hospital, I bawled my eyes out, uncontrollably.
Suddenly, it hit me: I am a dad.
by Robin Matthews
I can tell, just by the amount of time that my kid spends playing Lego, that there is little he prefers doing. Sure, he likes watching Netflix (he’s thankfully backed off the Barney in favor of Clifford, finally) and he’s always up for a rousing game of “Firefighters Rescue”, but given a choice, it’s Lego. Hours and hours and hours of Lego. And I don’t know about your Lego collection, but ours is taking over. He went from a small box of random pieces to nearly every major Lego “City” set sold in stores practically overnight. His Thanksgiving-week birthday following immediately by eight nights of Hanukkah, combined with being an only child yielded an impressive, if overwhelming amount of tiny, nubby plastic bricks swarming our modest little rowhouse.You’d think this would be enough for one little 5-year-old. Alas, it turns out that the only thing he likes more than playing with his own Legos, is playing with someone else’s. The sheer delight in discovering “specialty pieces” that he’s never seen before is matched only by the excitement of recognizing pieces in someone else’s collection that he has in his own. So, imagine his delight in finding out that our local library hosts a monthly “Lego Club” wherein kids are invited to just hang out for a couple of hours with their enormous, donated, hodge-podge Lego collection. Tables lined up in a row, just strewn haphazardly with bricks and minifigures and plates and half-pins and wheels and axles and tiles and…and…and…
Lego Club. Its advent is genius to this mother. Bring your kid somewhere on a weekend where he will sit quietly and play independently (or, occasionally collaboratively with a fellow builder) for two hours? Yes, please. (And — I can’t lie. I kinda love building, too. In fact, we’ve been working on a 6-story free-form Lego structure at our house for weeks and I find myself looking forward to adding to it.)
And what’s better than Lego Club? Why, Queer Lego Club, of course! And thus was born the PFP Lego Club. The Lego table is always a hit at big PFP events like the New Year’s Brunch and the Valentine’s Day Party, so it seemed like a no-brainer. And with the William Way Center generously partnering with us and offering the space, it’s a win-win. Our first PFP Lego Club was last month and we’ll be continuing it on the first Saturday of every month, from 12-2pm. This month, we’ll even be adding board games because — who knew? — April 5th is Table-Top Day. (Really?)
Bring yourself, bring your kids, bring your neighbors and friends. The build is on for April 5th at the William Way (and every first-Saturday thereafter) from 12-2pm. I already know it will be the highlight of our month!
What is the Donor Sibling Registry?
My son Ryan and I founded the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) in 2000 to assist individuals conceived as a result of sperm, egg or embryo donation that are seeking to make mutually desired contact with others with whom they share genetic ties.
The DSR has provided support and connection to families which have been developed via donor conception, advocated for the rights of the donor-conceived, and educated the general public through research, national media interviews and appearances about the issues, challenges and rights of the donor-conceived community.
Why is it important to connect children with their biological half-siblings and egg or sperm donor?
The DSR’s core value is honesty, with the conviction that people have the fundamental right to information about their biological origins and identities. The donor conception industry is largely a for-profit enterprise, and after the “product” has been purchased, most doctors, clinics, egg donation agencies and cryobanks do not engage in discussions and activities which acknowledge the humanity and rights of the donor-conceived. It is our mission to bring these concepts to the public arena for discussion.
Parents are sometimes not prepared for their children’s curiosity and desire to know more about their genetic background. In order to move out of the secrecy and shame that has for so long shrouded donor conception, the DSR continues to educate parents and the general public on the importance of honoring and supporting their children’s natural drive to know more about their identity.
How many connections have been made through your web site?
We now have more than 40,500 donors, parents and donor-conceived people on the site, and have helped more than 10,450 people (in 40 countries) match with their half-siblings and/or their donors!
Do LGBT parents make up a large part of your membership?
Yes! Around one third of Donor Sibling Registry families are LGBT!
Tell us about your new book!
It’s called “Finding Our Families: A First-of-Its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families” and as the subtitle says, is the first comprehensive book for children born through donor conception and their families.
Finding Our Families provides additional support for the growing DSR community and those just embarking on the journey of forming their families through donor insemination.
We draw on the extensive research that we’ve conducted, along with the 13 years of advising and listening to people’s stories to address situations families face throughout a donor-conceived child’s development, including curiosity about one’s genetic origins, the search for a biological parent or half-sibling, and how to forge a healthy self-image.
The book comes out on December 3 and is available for pre-order now.
And there’s a new docuseries TV show, too?
Yes! It’s called Generation Cryo and will air on MTV starting on November 25. The show is intense: it deals with a 17 year-old donor-conceived girl with two moms meeting many of her 15 (known) half siblings, and also searching for her donor. Her feelings, those of her half siblings and the parents are raw, emotional, varied, and very enlightening. A must see for all donor families.
For more about the DSR, check out their web site atwww.donorsiblingregistry.com.
by Sandra Telep
I don’t remember how I found out about Cory’s book, but I do remember when because it was the day before the Kickstarter campaign ended. I was one of the last contributors — one of the last lucky bunch to be able to be a financial part of the publishing of this book, to get an advance copy, to receive updates on its progress in my inbox. It must have been a Facebook link to the campaign; that seems to be the only way I hear about anything these days.
The details, though, are kind of irrelevant because, thankfully, this sort of abstract idea of a maybe-book became — quite suddenly, it seemed — a tangible purple, amazing thing in our hands. On our bookshelf, even.
I remember when my son was born, one of the gifts we received was a boxed set of old-school Little Golden Books (the disturbingly outdated/sexist/ableist/sizeist Good Humor Man among them, but that’s another post entirely.) And tucked into the box was a completely blank Little Golden Book. White cover and all white pages. A create-your-own! I slid the create-your-own out of the box and put it in a special place at the top of the closet, vowing to write a book for my child that would represent our family and how it came to be: a butch mom, a femme mom, a kid conceived through donor insemination — all living out our homosexual agenda peacefully with our cats. As it should be. I thought, I am a writer! This is perfect! I could have written a book at any time, of course. Sites like cafepress make it easy to self-publish and even a good ole stack of paper and a stapler would have been enough, but somehow the idea of a pre-fab book, just waiting for my story made it that much more appealing.
Fast forward four years and parenting/teaching/living all took a spot in the line ahead of writing a book and that all-white Little Golden is still in the top of my son’s closet, now floating around amongst the outgrown clothes, the yet-to-grow-into clothes, the accumulation of stuffed animals, and the stacks of drawings and scribbles that I am determined to save forever. We have collected many books over the course of the last several years and several of them have been about two-mom families or ways that babies come to be. I am, fortunately, quite good at changing stories as I read them, so I’ve been able to adapt what we have to fit our family for the most part either by skipping pages or making something up, but I have always wondered what would happen when my son learned to read and could see that I was changing words and skipping around.
Enter: What Makes a Baby. This book, I swear to you, has changed my life. Dramatic? A little. But also true.
What Cory does (and I am such a fangirl that I feel comfortable just using his first name here) is tell a story without actually telling it. He gives parents a framework within which we can create and tell our own stories — and he does it so seamlessly and gracefully that we almost don’t know it’s happening. I read the book to my then-3-year-old son and he started asking questions about whether he had a uterus or not and whether his mommy (not me) gave us the sperm we used to make him. Which opened the door for us to explain, in age-appropriate terms, where he came from. How he was made. Lines such as “Not all bodies have sperm in them. Some do and some do not,” gave us the opportunity to explain that while we needed sperm to make him, we didn’t happen to have it ourselves.
Not all bodies have eggs in them. Some do and some do not.
The page that says, “Whichever way the baby comes out, it’s a pretty big deal for the baby. It’s also a pretty big deal for the people who waited and waited and WAITED for the baby to be born,” allowed us to explain the way in which he was delivered, while also allowing room for us to explain the way his cousins, for example, were delivered. That’s what makes What Makes a Baby so unique. And so treasured. And so needed. Among a field of books that talk about “when two adults love each other very much…” or “when you were in your mommy’s tummy…” or “when your mommy and daddy…” there comes this book that respects and honors and creates space for all families and all experiences.
Our family needed this book. Your family needs this book. In fact, I can’t think of a family that doesn’t need this book. Luckily (and at long last) we can all have it.
Cory Silverberg is the keynote speaker at PFP’s Family Matters Conference, which will be held at the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia on October 19, 2013. You can meet Cory, buy the book, get it signed, and live happily ever after. Register here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2013familymattersconference
1. Cory Silverberg – Cory’s book “What Makes a Baby” has touched families of all kinds and we are excited to welcome him. His keynote address is titled: All in the Telling: Making Space for Stories We Can’t Even Imagine Who wouldn’t want to hear that?
2. William Way Center – We’ve teamed up with with the William Way LGBT Community Center to bring this conference to the heart of Philadelphia and the Gayborhood. Easily accessible by public transportation and near many LGBT owned small businesses like Woody’s, Tavern on Camac and Giovanni’s Room!
3. Camp Highlight – Once again PFP will be offering childcare for children 3-11 yrs. old, but this year it will be run by the good folks from Camp Highlight, an overnight camp for kids with LGBT parents.
4. Food – Your registration includes breakfast and lunch! Vegan and gluten-free options available.
5. Workshops – There is something for everyone in the wide range of workshop topics. Prospective parents, trans* parents, new parents and seasoned parents will all find helpful resources!
6. Lip Balm – Maybe this is a silly thing to be excited about, but there will be PFP-labeled lip balm in the conference bags. How neat is that?Can you guess what flavor we chose?
7. Sponsors – We’ve got a great list of sponsors that are helping make all this available to the community at a low price! ($25/person for PFP members and $35/person for non-members) If this is out of your reach, scholarships are available. Please register!
8. Experts – There will be reproductive, legal, and mental health experts sharing their knowledge and advice. Hear directly from leaders in the field and challenge them with your excellent questions.
9. Peer-to-Peer Networking – There will be parents who have/are going/gone through a similar journey to yours. Swap stories and create community! (Same is true for the kids in the kids zone, too!)
10. Socialize! – After all that learning and making new friends there will be an informal gathering at a nearby restaurant (Westbury Bar & Restaurant). Exchange information with other families and keep these new relationships going!
by Robin Matthews
(Sung to the tune of “My Favorite Things”):
Play dates at playgrounds, the conference in Philly;
A summertime picnic and New Year’s brunch when it’s chilly;
Camping with Pride and the fun that that brings --
These are my P-F-P favorite things.
Apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein. My son has a little love affair going on with The Sound of Music so I kind of couldn’t help myself. But it is true – these are my PFP favorite things (well, except for the camping trip because I have never been on one, though I really want to and know that I would love it. You would too. Promise.)
When I joined Philadelphia Family Pride in 2008, the calendar was kind of spare. Frankly, there wasn’t much going on but I joined because as a pregnant queer mom who was sort of new to the area, it seemed like the thing to do. I have to be honest, though: I wasn’t very hopeful about the community I’d be able to build. I never imagined that five years later I’d find myself on the board with a dynamic group of people I’d call friends, planning an annual conference, a hugely well-attended annual summer picnic, repeated and successful play dates at Smith Playground, dinners out with other parents, ice skating outings, pottery-painting meet-ups, fall and spring hikes, mom and dad potlucks, trolley-riding in the Pride parade, and a zillion other exciting and fun outings.
PFP is where it’s at, you guys. And I’m not just saying that because of my current involvement. I’m saying it because it’s true and it surprised and delighted me. I have made good, close friends through PFP and can truly say that my life has been enriched because of it.
I’m excited to begin blogging for PFP in order to add to the sense of family and community I have seen grow around me in this organization. I expect this to be a space not only where we can relive the fun of events we’ve been at together, but also where we can talk openly about being queer families, raising (or wanting to raise) kids in Philadelphia. If you’d like to guest post on the blog and/or have an idea for a topic, please contact me at email@example.com. And in the meantime, stay tuned to this space. I’ve got lots to say.