Hopeful LGBT Parent-To-Be


    A woman planning to have a baby with her same-sex partner wonders how she should respond when family and friends act entitled to very personal details about the process. 


    Dear Miriam,

    I’m a Jewish woman who is happily married to another Jewish woman. We live in Brooklyn, where the social climate is very accepting, and there are plenty of same-sex couples all around us. We recently started thinking about having a child, but when we share our plans with family and friends, everyone suddenly becomes very nosy. People want to know who will carry the child, whether we will use a Jewish donor and even how we envision our parental roles. How should we proceed when others act entitled to this information? And — perhaps more importantly — what should we do when people seem deeply uncomfortable with, or openly criticize, our choices?

    Hopeful LGBT Parent-to-be 

    Dear Hopeful,

    Despite the particulars of your situation, my answer will be very similar to what I advise in other situations regarding personal choice and parenting: Find a few stock answers and use them politely and confidently. No one is entitled to know anything about you and your family that you don't want to share. If you are so generous as to share any such information, no one has a right to criticize your decisions. 

    When someone asks a question that you don't want to answer, try something like, "I'm sure you'll understand that this is a private matter," or, "When things move forward, we'll have more to share." If someone asks directly about who is going to carry the child, you can say, "When one of us is pregnant, we'll be sure to let you know." 

    In terms of the deep discomfort you describe, I think the above, "I'm sure you'll understand that this is a private matter," should do nicely to stop any further criticism. Saying something like, "We're excited to share our plans with you as long as you can be excited with us," communicates your expectations for how others interact with whatever information you choose to share and also lets them know that you are prepared to stop sharing at any time.

    Given the initial reactions you've gotten and how those have made you feel, maybe it's time to reassess who you're talking to and what you're saying. While it may make sense to have a few close friends or family members in the know, getting pregnant is a personal matter — regardless of how anyone does it.

    Once the pregnancy is visible, of course, everyone thinks it's their business. But even then, they're wrong.

    Unfortunately, you can't expect the awkward questions to end once you actually have a baby. By that point, though, you may be too sleep-deprived to notice, plus you'll have the advantage of being able to distract people with the cuteness of your child.

    Since you're surrounded by other couples who have gone down this or similar paths before, I wonder if there are any role models in your community you can talk to. Perhaps another family could share how they handled such questions, or, at the very least, you can hear from another couple who survived other people's intrusiveness.

    You may also find some support from Jewish organizations such as Keshet, which has resources to connect LGBTQ families with each other. While their events are primarily in Massachusetts, Colorado and the Bay Area, they might still have some helpful suggestions. You may also enjoy browsing the Kveller blog's LGBT-themed posts to read reflections from other same-sex parents.

    In the meantime, consider putting a hold on sharing anything else until there's something else to share. 

    Be well,