Conversations about what makes a baby with Carter took a bit of a turn one day. I’ve always felt that you need to be open and honest with kids but to really make sure you are just answering the questions they ask rather than tying in all the little things that are over their head. I felt like What Makes a Baby was pretty good about giving the right amount of information and giving those great opportunities to give more information when appropriate. We didn’t add in too much information at first. One day when reading we got to the part “Some bodies have eggs, some bodies do not” and Carter exclaimed “I HAVE AN EGG!!!”. I said to him that no, he doesn’t have an egg. I told him that me and mama and even baby Dylan have eggs but he does not. He was more upset about this than I was expecting. He cried out “but I do! I do have an egg!!!!!” Finally when he calmed down we talked about the fact that he has sperm while the rest of us have eggs and then moved on.
A week or so later when the book was requested again we got to the part about “who helped bring together the sperm and the egg that made you?” and Carter thought about it for a second and said “Mommy and Mama have eggs, who has sperm?”
I told him that our friends helped us get sperm thinking it would end the conversation but he persisted asking if they had sperm. “No, they don’t have sperm but they brought it to us from their friend who does.”
“BUT WHO HAS SPERM?!?!?!”
And then we coined the name Donor Dude. Donor Dude has sperm and shared it with us because we didn’t have any and we wanted to make a baby.
This should be sufficient for a 2 year old right? Not.
Questions persisted for days. “Who is Donor Dude?” “Why does Donor Dude have Sperm” “Did the sperm take a streetcar?”
Some questions we could answer easily some where more complicated (mostly because we just weren’t ready or prepared). Mostly this was an eye opening time where we started to realize that he understood more than we expected him to. He was putting two and two together by realizing that there is another person involved in the creation of him and his sister (though we had always been honest that it was a community effort he realized there was a sperm person and he was curious).
After a bit of discussion, and maybe a drink, Daniela and I decided to send Donor Dude an email and ask him if he was interested in meeting us and the kids. He had said he was open to it throughout the process but I guess we had thought it would happen further down the road. (there is more to this that isn’t worth getting into right now)
We emailed him on Friday night and then we waited. I was first excited, then nervous, then a bit sick to my stomach that we had crossed a line with him and I didn’t want to taint what had been a perfect experience for us thus far.
Monday morning I woke up to a response that couldn’t have made me happier. He seemed happy (and maybe excited) by the idea of meeting us and the kids. He suggested a date that worked for us and we suggested a location and then there it was in our calendar.
Roughly two weeks later we headed to Riverdale Farm which is a park in the city that Carter adores because of the
animals tractors. We got their early and had lunch and the kids played in the splash pad and then Andrew walked over to us. Introductions were made. We told Carter that Andrew was Donor Dude and then we went to get the kids dried off and ready to head into the actual farm. Dylan, still in a swimsuit and somehow covered in mud walked over and demanded to be picked up by Andrew and much to her delight he obliged. Dylan is generally pretty outgoing and interested in people but even this caught me off guard a bit.
We walked over to the farm and checked out the chickens and the turkeys and the pigs. Carter was in a particularly silly mood and was singing songs about pigs and asking Donor Dude (DD) to go from one animal to the next quickly. I mostly just watched as my normally shy child seemed to warm up to a stranger so quickly and Dylan toddled around as she always does. I looked for similarities and differences between the kids and him as I would assume is only natural. Mostly I was amazed at how comfortable DD seemed in a relatively bizarre situation with total strangers.
We chatted. I was probably far too nosy. The kids snacked and talked and fought for attention. It was a surreal experience. I was nervous about how Daniela might be feeling but much to my happiness she seemed comfortable and happy that we had made this decision which was probably much harder for her than me. After a couple hours it was evident Dylan needed a nap and it was time to go home. Carter chose not to give him a hug good by but as soon as DD had headed on his way there was a bit of a melt down that Carter did in fact want to give him a hug but it was too late for that day.
This experience seems to have answered Carter’s questions about who Donor Dude is. He hasn’t asked more about it and when he does ask anything he is now content with the answer “Andrew”.
The experience was strange for me but overall good. I’m glad he is cool, I’m glad I like him, and I’m glad he seems like a guy I want in my kid’s life. I think the hardest part is knowing how to work him (if he wants) into our lives in a way that makes sense and keeps everyone comfortable. Its not the type of relationship that can happen organically but I also don’t want it to feel strategic. I feel so fortunate to be in this situation and to have a now open donor that my kids can get to know as closely as they want but I feel grossly underprepared for this. I’m not sure where my comfort is, I’m not sure where I should push my comfort in the interest of what is best for the kids, I’m not sure what is my kids curiosity and what is mine and I guess I don’t know what is normal.
I think the other problem is the “dad” word. Carter asks about dads a lot. There have been times when he has called and insisted that Daniela is daddy. We think this is probably coming from other people having Mommies and Daddies and I am Mommy so she must be Daddy. I always want to say that my kids do not have a dad and my feelings are that they should never think of DD as their Dad. Period. As someone who is adopted though, Daniela thinks it is unfair to deprive the kids of the easiest label there is for DD. I think if they call him anything other than Andrew it should just be DD. I suppose these are all conversations you have with people before embarking on an open donation but when you evolve into an open donation after the fact there are a lot more feelings involved.
ETA: When Andrew first responded to “the email” he asked if we had heard of What Makes a Baby. How awesome is he?