I didn’t put it together until Thursday night that the IVP gathering was happening over Father’s Day weekend. For those who have not been reading since the beginning of the beginning, the IVP is the Internet Vagina Posse and is composed mostly of families I met on the donor sperm board on a fertility website in 2005. These are people who have seen me through every imaginable disaster and every unexpected triumph.
Over the years there have been many gatherings all over the country from weddings in Iowa to picnics in Brooklyn. I was thrilled to have some time to make it to the gathering that happened this weekend as there have been many I was not able to attend.
What makes the get-togethers so important for me now are the kids. Oh there will always be a huge and significant bond between the adults as we have traveled the planet of chaos to become parents, but our kids, when they are together, experience something they never get to experience anywhere else. Conception normality. Our children were created with assisted reproduction methods that included the need for donor sperm.
The concept of “Father” is talked about in terms of the moniker for a male parent. Our children do not have fathers, they had donors. I won’t speak for any of my friends, but when I talk to W about Fathers it always goes kind of like this:
“My parent name is Mama. If you become a parent when you are a grownup your parent name could be Father or Daddy or …..etc”
I speak of Fathers in the highest regard because I want W to aspire to be a wonderful parent. My Grandfather was a fantastic father figure in my life. I try to have many positive people influences in W’s life. While many families have Fatherhood and conception stories interwoven, as in, “Your Father and I conceived you”, W does not.
My new favorite book for talking to W about conception is Cory Silverberg’s What Makes a Baby. When I wrote about my need for better books for kids to explain where babies come from my friend Robin told me about Cory’s book. This book is not just for children conceived in unique and creative ways. (I mean, aren’t ALL kids?!) It’s a totally, 100%, just the facts, explanation presented in a way that can work for every family with a kid – regardless of how the family was created.
From the What Makes a Baby’s website: “Geared to readers from pre-school to about 8 years old, it teaches curious kids about conception, gestation, and birth in a way that works regardless of whether or not the kid in question was adopted, conceived using reproductive technologies at home or in a clinic, through surrogacy, or the old fashioned way (you know, with two people and some sexual intercourse), and regardless of how many people were involved, their orientation, gender and other identity, or family composition.”
There are two key elements that I adore about this book that I have found especially helpful in how I talk about conception to W:
• I absolutely love how the concept of DNA is introduced. The way Cory talks about what the sperm and egg each contain sparked some good conversation.
• The book touches upon the idea of miscarriage or an attempt at pregnancy that fails. As someone who spent most of 2012 trying to have a 2nd child and then mourning two losses, it was helpful to have some age appropriate language to talk about it with W.
The illustrations by Fiona Smyth are bold, vibrant, whimsical, and inclusive. She has the same welcoming love in her art that Todd Parr brings to his celebrated children’s books.
This book is a conversation starter as there are many pages with great questions that allow you to bring in your own narrative to the story. “Who was waiting for you to be born?” I can not tell you how much I LOVE that question as a parent who has chronicled the conception, pregnancy, birth, and childhood raising experience online. It allows me to talk about how I started my blog, why I started my blog, the huge desire I had to parent and how it took five years for it to finally happen.
I think about my friends who were waiting for the phone to ring to find out if a birth mother had chosen them, friends waiting to find out if there were viable embryos, friends waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting. So you see how powerful such a simple question can be for a family.
On this Father’s Day I thank the members of the IVP who helped me become a Mom, my best friends who married great men who became great Fathers, my Mom (who this year got the preschool Father’s day gifts from W!), and Mr. Cory Silverberg for writing the book I so desperately needed.