Here’s a light-hearted query: who raises the kid if we both die?
Well, if we can hold off for a dozen or so years, then our friend JB would be perfect. I trust his values, his parenting skills, and his integrity, so he and his wife are the top pick. No problem.
But that’s only if we don’t die for a while — if I get to raise the kid for a good chunk of time, and I leave behind a child who’s old enough to have developed a longstanding consciousness about who I am. Under those circumstances, there’d be no problem.
On the other hand, if this death scenario goes down within the next couple years, then I do have a problem:
If we aren’t genetically related, and I die shortly after giving birth, who would I be to this kid? If this baby originates from my donor and is parented by my friends, aren’t I just the middle man? A carrier? A gestational surrogate? A biological host?
Short answer: yes.
If I die when the kid is a baby, and N isn’t around either, then the child and I would have zero relationship. There’d be no fostered bond. There’d be no memories, no lasting love, and no connection that could be sustained. I’d have no more meaning to this kid than the donor would. Probably less.
And during those acne-ridden years of adolescent existentialism, staring back from that mirror would be the kid’s father and donor. Not me.
And in going out into the world, there would be a life, a culture, and an environment constructed by new parents with stories and traditions that are entirely unrelated to me. Nothing of my heritage, my native language, or the flavors of my grandparents’ foods. Nothing of my character, my personality, or my view of the world. Nothing of me.
In other words, both internally and externally, this kid would be built by Not Me. And by extension, I wouldn’t be thought of by this kid as a parent.
Why would I be? Why should I be?
Out of love? Intention? Because it’s what I would have wanted? That’s not how kids’ minds work. For children, those kinds of abstractions don’t carry weight without a few years to cultivate a connection, and if I die when the kid is a tiny baby, … seriously, … I just won’t have earned much value.
A conversational case in point:
The Kid: So, I have a genetic parent.
New Mom: The donor, yes.
The Kid: And you’re the only mom I’ve ever known.
New Mom: I suppose.
The Kid: So why does it matter who carried me?
New Mom: Because she’s the one who wanted you, who loved you before she ever knew you, and who did everything she could do finally have you and be your parent.
The Kid: But she doesn’t know me. And she isn’t my parent. And I wasn’t around for any of that. And everyone in the world wants something, so why should I care about the wants of a dead person that I never knew?
New Mom: Good point, Kid. Want to go for ice cream?
The Kid: Sure, Mom.
See what I mean?
Which is why I’m gunning for the least rational custodial choice I can possibly make: if N and I orphan an infant, then I want the kid to go to my family.
Yes, my family of crazy people. Yes, the same family who – under normal circumstances – I wouldn’t allow near my kid without a buffer. But given the choice between Real Mom and biological host, it’s clear that those crazy people are the only way for me to edge my way into this kid’s heart when I’m gone.
I want crazy people to raise my child because that’s the only way to ensure that I’ll be embedded in that kids life. Granted, there’ll be sacrifices such as the absence of intellectualism, practicality, and true compassion. But no worries, because instead there’ll be plenty of reactionary behavior, backward thinking, and emotional unsophistication.
But you know, that’s how I was raised, and all I needed was a shitload of therapy, which brings me to the second stipulation in my will: besides naming crazy people as parents, I’ll also require weekly therapy sessions. That way, the kid will be steeped in me; I’ll surely be known no matter when I die, because fucked-up role-modeling and Gestalt therapy is as Me as it gets. Problem solved.
Except for that the problem isn’t solved because my husband is never going to go for any of this, so a biological host I’ll remain.
Fingers crossed that I don’t croak too soon.
PS: I’ve disabled the comments section for this post because I’m entirely uninterested in
a lecture comments on this post.