Lane knew her whole life she would be a mom. At 22 years old Lane divorced her husband. Six months later she came out. Nine years later she and her wife Melissa are raising their one and a half year old daughter.
Here is a bit of her story.
What were your general concerns of having a baby?
The number one concern was financial, which I think it is for most couples. Also, we were really asking ourselves, ‘Do we want to bring a baby into this crazy world?’ I think we struggled with the basic question every couple struggles with, ‘Is it feasible and should we do it?’
Does part of this equation have to do with being a family of two moms?
It was part of it. We talked about why we would subject our child to possible discrimination or bullying or things that are completely out of their control just because of who their parents are. That was not something I spent a lot of time on.
What was the first thing you did in selecting a donor? Is that even what you call it, a ‘donor’?
Yes, you would call it a donor. We went down the road for awhile trying to choose a known donor. Melissa has a cousin that would be the perfect candidate. We asked his parents and they thought it was a great idea. We asked him and he was excited. But about three weeks later we got a call from his mom. She told us that she changed her mind. She said that after a lot of conversations with him that she thought he was not mature enough to understand the gravity of the decision he was making. She also said that she could not imagine that her first grandchild would not actually be her grandchild. There were, of course, no hard feelings.
Did you go for an anonymous donor after that?
Yes, we picked a sperm bank in Georgia that showed adult photos of the donors, which not all of them do. I wanted to look into their eyes. The process of picking a donor online is kind of like looking for a house online. You go in and enter your search criteria and you are returned search results. You can look at their photos and their bios. The staff at the sperm bank will write down their impressions of these people. The donors also write essays on why they want to become donors. Most of the donors motives are financial at first, but we narrowed done the list to people who actually wanted to help families who could not have children.
What are the things you are looking for when you are looking through different donors?
From a physical perspective we wanted him to be similar to Melissa – blonde hair, blue eyes and curly hair if possible. We also wanted a donor that had similar values to the way we live our life. We were looking for a good soul as much as you can tell that by reading a bio, but there were some bios that we read and just instantly thought, ‘the guy was an ass’.
Is that terrifying to finally say, ‘Ok, HIM!’
You know it was really a relief. Once we decided, we decided.
You have sperm FedEx’d to you?
How much does all of this cost?
We were on a tight budget. We just inseminated once during each of the three cycles it took to get pregnant. It is really funny because we spent $3000 on six vials of sperm. [For that price], I was expecting a gallon of this stuff. But, when I saw it the first time my heart sunk. It is literally like half a teaspoon.
How does the insemination work?
I would take the ovulation predictor kit twice a day and as soon as the test goes positive I called the doctor to schedule an appointment for 12 – 24 hours later.
During these three months you are trying to get pregnant how do you feel? Panicked? Calm?
I was a disaster. The first time it did not work I was devastated. The second time I was more methodical. I had an ultrasound before I had the second insemination to make sure I had not ovulated. The third time, I ovulated early and Melissa was out of town so my two best friends who were both pregnant came with me to my appointment.
Two weeks after the third insemination I was terrified to take the test. But I take it, take a shower, get ready and I am not even thinking about it and I come out of the bathroom and I look at the counter and the damn thing is positive. I lost my mind. I came out of the bathroom and I am holding the stick and Melissa starts backing up from me like it is on fire. We had a baby on the way. It was amazing.
When you are a gay pregnant woman is there any extra explanation you have to provide people?
With my company I come across many strangers. It was really interesting because before I was pregnant I would always have to decide with new clients how, if and when I would tell them I was gay. But when I was pregnant nobody would ask. They just assumed I was straight. I never had to have the awkward conversation. Unless they asked I would never say anything about it.
That you have to plan when and if to tell a client you are gay is tragically sad to me. Do you think it matters to your clients?
No, I don’t. I haven’t ever worked with anyone that if it mattered to them they have ever said anything to me. I have had some clients where they don’t ask and I don’t tell. Now it is really interesting because I talk about how my mother-in-law lives with us and everyone assumes I am straight. I have to correct them.
What do you say when you correct them?
It kind of depends. If I haven’t mentioned any pronouns and they just assume I have a husband or a boyfriend, I actually say, ‘I have a wife.’ That usually just stops that right there. I never really make it a big deal. The last thing I want is somebody to feel uncomfortable that they did not know anything. I do not ever press the point. I just kind of float it out there and continue to talk about whatever we were talking about in the conversation. Nobody has ever made a big deal out of it.
There was a Move On video with a very well spoken young man testifying about how well he was raised by two women. It was the most watched Move On video in 2011. Why do you think that was?
I think it was so refreshing to hear someone be so articulate about the subject. When you hear people talk about it, it is usually politicians talking about why we should not have gay marriage. What you mostly hear is very negative. This was a positive message coming from a heterosexual guy raised by two moms. Walking down the street nobody would know that about him and I just think most people don’t care. They want us to have equal rights. It doesn’t affect their life for us to have equal rights. To have that positive message out there is what people were really responding to it.
Does Caroline call you both mom?
How will you talk to her about living in a family with two moms?
There are a lot of good resources about how to talk to your children about this. But mostly it is about calling a spade a spade. Some families have a daddy. Some don’t. But as she gets older she will know that there was a man that gave us a very nice gift. We have a very diverse group of friends. Some of the kids in this group have a mom and a dad or just a dad or just a mom or two moms or two dads. She has already been exposed to every type of family there is.
What would you say to someone who is opposed to gay couples having families?
The longest running survey of lesbian families is now in its 24th year. This study shows there is a 0% occurrence of sexual and physical abuse in lesbian families. In the population in general 24% of families have shown occurrences of sexual or physical abuse. And then there are politicians like Rick Santorum who say a child is better off with a parent in prison than with a family that has two moms or two dads. With gay families we want our families so bad we need to go out there and create them. There are no accidents and I think that is a very profound point. Our families are so intentional. It took an incredible amount of love and resources to get our child here. Our entire world revolves around making her world as perfect as it can be.
Do you have to raise a child differently as a family with two moms?
We make a very concerted effort to make sure she is around her uncles and her granddad. We get her around her relatives that are guys and we have plenty of positive male role models for her. Who is going to teach her how to change a tire? Her mama Melissa. Who is going to teach her how to make a loaf of bread and cook? I am. When you function as a family everyone has their own roles. We gender specify them because that is what people are comfortable with.
Do you believe she will have to deal with any extra social stresses?
Probably, but I think it will be short lived. In our circle of friends there were 15 children born within 3 months of each other and half of them were born into gay families. She is not going to be the only one in her school with two mommys or two daddys.
In what ways do you not feel equal?
When I pay my taxes I do not feel like I am equal at all. It costs me 10’s of 1000’s of dollars annually because we cannot file jointly. The other side of that is the legitimacy and legality of a family. When you marry in Colorado you are afforded over 1100 rights and responsibilities. We do not have any. Our family does not have any legal recognition. We had to pay about $10,000 to go through a full second parent adoption for Melissa to adopt Caroline. The financial discrimination is staggering. There are no legal rights in our situation and that to me is very sad.
What would it mean to you if gay marriage was legal in the United States?
To me that would mean that I could go down to the courthouse and we would claim those 1100 rights and responsibilities that are afforded to everyone else. It would take such a weight off of my mind. If I get in a car accident there is no guarantee that Melissa can even get in the hospital room. She is not a relative and not directly my family. It is little things like that. We would have to spend several thousand more dollars on attorneys and wills and living wills and the wills [for gay couples] are far more extended than normal just to specify what our intent is. Then it would still be subjected to whatever the court thinks is right.
Is the process of coming out terrifying?
It wasn’t for me. The most terrifying process was telling my parents. I started telling people I was gay before I had ever even kissed a woman or was in a relationship. I just knew. It was something that I decided I would honor and explore within myself.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about being gay?
That we are all a bunch of sex-crazed rainbow wearing maniacs. If people only knew how incredibly boring most of us are.
What is the one thing people could do to help the gay community, you and/or gay families?
Vote for civil unions and marriage with full equal rights on federal level so our families will be recognized and protected under the law.
I think heterosexual people want to learn more about the gay community, but they are so afraid of saying the wrong thing, they don’t say anything. Any advice for them?
Honestly, I think they should talk to us the same way you would talk to a straight person. If you’re just getting to know someone you may say, ‘So are you married?’ That is a perfectly acceptable question to ask. Just talk to us like you would talk to anyone else. It’s okay to ask questions and you’re not going to embarrass or offend us with those questions. No one is going to be the first to ask and it’s not something we did not ask ourselves during our coming out process. I embrace people who want to know about what it’s like to be me. It shows they care. This is how I try to treat people so I would expect the same. Just don’t ever say any like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMhjP2yVmu8
What are your thoughts about people who vote against gay rights?
I think the majority of people do not care whether someone is gay or not, but there is so much shame with being gay that if you are supportive of gay people then that must mean that you are gay too. Even if somebody does not recognize this completely it may affect the way the vote.
Any time there is ignorance there is fear. I can tell you that my own parents in 2008 voted that they wanted the gay community to have more rights, but they also voted in the same election that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. They wanted to protect the sanctity of marriage.
How do you process that your parents voted that way?
It is a growth process. At the time of course I was furious. They wouldn’t vote that way now. Now that we have a family. I think at that point they thought it was just a phase.
How long had this ‘phase’ been going on for?
Melissa and I have been together for 7 years, but I was married to a man before. I did not come out until I was 22. It took them a long time to get used to it. They consider Melissa their daughter-in-law now. The more people see us the more they see that we are like every other family. Gay couples have the same struggles. The same concerns. We have the same financial problems. We have the same problems with fidelity. The same problems with everything. We are all just people. And I think if people voted with that frame of mind – it would be a non-issue.
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