In The South

OPINION: A patchwork family by Michael Steinhage

Michael Steinhage February 9, 2018

“So Mike, being gay, did you do it?” 

Desmond at work is one of those butter knife blunt people, somewhere on the high-functioning spectrum many say, but I’ve always found him refreshingly direct and honest.

A valid question, is it not? Most people want to ask. Most people are too polite to. But most people want to know whether I had sex with a lesbian to make a baby.

Now the funny thing is, they could just ask because I’m not at all shy about the answer, so I tell Desmond: “Of course not, don’t be gross! We used plastic containers, as it should be!”.

So how do you make a family? My parents, they met in high school. They started ‘going out’. When my dad was in the army for two years, his picture was on the bedside table, bar a handful of times when, I’m told, it was put in the drawer for an hour or two.

They got married and then had my sister and me. Their family. A traditional family, if you want to call it that.

My own family started roughly a decade ago. The lesbians said they wanted to have my baby, and I looked at them and told them they were crazy. We’d long been the best of friends, and periodically, the topic would crop up again. And before long, I didn’t find it so crazy anymore. I’ve always liked children, I’ve always wanted children. In fact, arguably inspired by my parents and their journey, I always saw myself finding a boyfriend, getting engaged and married, buying a house with a garden and all the trimmings and then, at some point, adopting one or two.

My life was not going to turn out like that, but it offered me an alternative. Before long, I started thinking: “So what if? What if I had a kid with these two?” Outsource having children to lesbians you might say. Could be kinda cool. Plus who would be more equipped to bring up a new human than them? Leave better kids for the planet and all that.

So I said yes. The next time we spoke, I said yes and they ordered the kit, on Amazon. (Plus they’d said if I wasn’t going to do it then they’d ask Gavin. Who’s Gavin? Exactly. What kind of a kid would they have gotten from Gavin!).

And so that’s how we made our family. At the second attempt I proudly add. A man is a man after all, modern family or not. Yes, we’re often called a ‘Modern Family’, but I don’t think that’s what we are. My parents use the word ‘Patchwork’, and that’s how it makes sense to them. They love their patchwork family fiercely. Two mummies, a daddy, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and a whole lot of Godmothers, fairy and otherwise. And in the middle of it all, a very special little boy. To me, we’re just a family, nothing more, nothing less.