Tuesday, June 23, 2009

MCV - “Keeping Abreast” by Andrew Shaw

In this weeks edition of MCV [Melbourne] Gay Dad James talks about wanting to establish a Breast Milk bank in Australia for Gay Dads.

A group of gay men lobbying for a breast milk bank? The times they are a-changing, reports Andrew Shaw.

Being a father isn’t easy, even when your child’s mother is on the scene. But what happens when two dads get together and decide they want a kid? The answer is a financial, emotional and medical obstacle course that requires the stamina of an Olympic athlete to endure.

A Melbourne group that first met late last year hopes to take some of the difficulty out of the 1001 decisions that need to be made on the way to dual fatherhood. The Meeting Place is where gay dads who have, want to have, or have had kids can find information about parenting. You don’t have to have a newborn, you may have brought up yours already and want to pass on your knowledge. You don’t even have to have a child – just the desire to be a gay dad.

James and his partner Steve are poster boys for Australian gay dads, and they’re determined to share what they’ve learnt from their experiences.

“I’ve created my family through co-parenting,” James says. “First a son, then a boy and a girl through surrogacy, and we want to have a co-parenting relationship with a woman who’s now pregnant with twins. We’ll have five children in the end.

“It’s been tricky with my partner at times. I have a 13-year relationship and the act of creating through surrogacy creates financial pressure and you have to navigate how you raise these children. It’s just us two and we don’t have the traditional roles. You have to work out the difference in how you parent a child. There’s no manual.”

The next meeting of the group in Carlton will be attended by anything from 10 to 25 men, James says, and everyone goes out for an informal dinner in the area afterwards. Guest speakers are a maternal health and child nurse who’ll talk about the medical and early developmental milestones for children, and a hospital representative who’s setting up a breast milk bank.

“A major hospital is setting up a breast milk bank,” James explains, “and is keen to talk to gay dads who have children through surrogacy and have newborns that need breast milk. I know there are a lot of Victorian men who have surrogate children through India and the US and the opportunity to use breast milk is good, if you can get it.”

In James’s case, the US surro-mum – as he calls the surrogate – came back to Australia and breast fed his children for two weeks. “Then we went to formula. But breast milk is supposed to be better for immunities.”

James believes it’s a man’s right, gay or straight, to have kids. “It doesn’t matter if you are into leather or [you’re] a bear – you’re a father as well. Children teach you a lot about how to enjoy life, and I’m learning through their experiences. You don’t get that through a gym membership or a dog.”

The Meeting Place’s next event is at the Drummond Street Relationship Centre, 193 Drummond St, Carlton at 6pm on July 14, 2009. Details: James 0410 548 613 or join the email group viagaydadsvic-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Photo: James feeds one of his children, photo by the surro-mum.

[Link: Original Article]

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