Saturday, July 14, 2001

Hobart Mercury - "I want to be a great dad Croome plans baby with lesbian friend" by Martine Haley

TASMANIAN gay activist Rodney Croome hopes to be a great dad to a baby he plans for next year.

Mr Croome plans to father the baby with a lesbian friend within the next 18 months.

And the man who spearheaded the Tasmanian gay law reform struggle in the 1990s said yesterday they intended raising the child jointly.

He said the mother-to-be, who wants to remain anonymous, asked him more than 12 months ago if he would consider fathering a child with her.

``She made it clear she wasn't talking about a simple, anonymous sperm donor, but a full-on, full-time dad,'' Mr Croome said.

``I panicked a bit. My first thoughts were I haven't got enough money, I haven't got enough time, it would be too stressful and I like my sleep.

``And then I thought everyone at some stage is in that situation and if I was to wait for the right time, that time might not come.''

Although they have been friends for several years, the pair decided it was important they get to know each other even better before having a child.

``If we have a child together, we're going to be in a kind of relationship really, even though not romantic, for up to 20 years,'' Mr Croome said.

``So we felt it was important to get to know each other better, to

become a bit more a part of each other's lives and to see if, after having done that, we still thought it a good idea.

``We still do.'' He said it was likely the pair would ``start the process of conception'' soon.

``We won't be doing this the conventional way,'' he said.

``But we are not using IVF. There will be no doctors, no clinics.

``There is more than one way to skin a rabbit.''

Mr Croome, who lives with his gay partner in Hobart, was yesterday bemused by interest in his fatherhood plans.

``I guess I can understand the interest, especially in light of the current debate about fertility,'' he said.

He and the baby's mother -- who also has a partner -- were considering living together during the early stages of the baby's life.

``We are still talking about that. It's a possibility,'' he said.

``The optimum situation is we share the parenting equally but, of course, when it is a baby, that's not really possible unless we live together.

``We haven't finalised that yet because it involves a lot of issues like our partners, the dogs and cats.''

He said he would use his parents as role models for raising his child.

``My parents have given me much more than I can ever give them in return,'' he said.

``That is always the thing with parents and I feel the only way I can ever repay that debt is to give the same to someone else, my own child.''

``If I can repay that debt, just a portion of that debt that I owe my parents, with a child myself, then I will be happy.''

Before making the decision to have a child, he had extensive talks with a wide range of gay and lesbian couples and their children, he said.

He was pleasantly surprised that none of the children had experienced discrimination or felt they had ever been harassed because their parents were gay.

``If there is still discrimination against children of gays and lesbians, it's up to society as a whole to deal with that and try to remove that discrimination,'' he said.

Having a child meant producing ``something that goes beyond me''.

``I'm not doing it as a statement. That would be a ridiculous thing to do,'' he said.

``Obviously it brings up issues and I'm happy to address them as an activist. But in the end it is just our business.''

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