Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Daddy Dilemmas

I have hesitated about writing this post. In some ways it does seem a little like airing your laundry in public - but then that's what blogging is much of the time, right? I decided to go ahead and write it partly for my own sake, to put it down in words will help me work thought it, and to hear your opinions will help too. Also, it may provide info for consideration by others thinking about becoming SMC's with a known donor.

So, as most of you know I used a known donor who we call DD. We met through a mutual friend and spent lots of time working up a legal agreement. He wanted to be known as Dad, and be a part of BB's life which I am happy with. We have a legal agreement which states that he is a donor and that I have sole responsibility for BB. Everything is at my discretion.

The thing that I was most concerned about when I started to consider DD as my donor (as opposed to an anonymous one from a sperm bank) was the impact it would have on my freedom to live where I choose. Coming back to the UK was only ever a temporary measure. I wanted to spend some time with my parents whilst I still had the chance, and I wanted my child(ren) to have the opportunity to know them too. My bond with my grandparents was very important to me - you just don't get that on Skype! However, I think growing up in Australia would be far better than in the UK. The education system is less screwed up to start with, and there is the outdoors, there is stuff for kids to do other than underage drinking. Its a much more laid back culture, more fun, more positive (I think the sun has a lot to do with it), less apathy, less crime. For me there are higher wages, my career is there, some of my best friends are there, I could provide more opportunities and a better life for BB. Also, I left my heart in the MacDonnell Ranges. It is hard to describe how I am emotionally attached to that land, but I am connected by some invisible chord that is currently calling me 'home'.

View of Mount Gillen from my regular early morning walk in Alice
One thing that I insisted went in the agreement was that I could leave the country with the child(ren) and DD would not try and stop me. A strange hormonal thing occurred though, as soon as I was pregnant. This was my child's Daddy we were talking about. How could I ever leave him behind and deprive my child of a Dad? It wasn't something I worried about a great deal either as DD is also Australian. All his family is there and he has often talked of moving home. I guess I had some kind of fairy tale going on in my head where we would all be ready to make the move together...

I am now fairly certain that wont happen. PP (DD's partner) is French and has a very low opinion of Australia as it 'lacks culture'. He also works in fashion, and feels that there is therefore no suitable work for him in Australia. He wants to live in France. DD wants to be wherever PP is, and he likes France too.

We have talked in the past about living closer to each other. They wanted me to move closer to them,  which I have seriously researched and considered, but I can't really afford to go any closer to London without getting a big mortgage and a full time, hectic job. I don't think that is in BB's best interests right now, but I would consider it in the future, if I could get a decent job. They also said that they would move north of the city to get a bit closer still. It would be nice if DD was close by and could just visit for a day or a few hours even, rather than him having to uproot himself every two weeks and me having a house guest every two weeks. I thought that was the way we were headed, but apparently not any more. Now they are seriously thinking France, and from what I can gather, the sooner the better.

France is not an option for me. My high school French wont get me far career wise. There is nothing in France that attracts me - I have family and friends here, and my heart, friends and a career in Oz. I think it's probably one of those two for me.

There is also this phenomenon that is commonly talked about regarding how men and women see children and partners. Apparently men usually see the partner as the most important person, and who they should take care of, and women focus mostly on the children. This has come up a lot for us. I remember when BB was first born and DD had to leave I cried for him each time, thinking how awful it must be to leave your child. The thing is it wasn't bad for him at all - he just wanted to get home to PP. Once he explained that to me it was fine - I stopped feeling sad for him. That same thing comes up a lot

Although DD has stopped thinking about the move back to Oz, I haven't. In fact as BB gets older and I start thinking about getting a real job again, Australia is where I focus my energy, as I can earn more there and I have a professional history and reputation - the odds here are not great right now. We had a bit of a discussion the other day and DD said I should go if I wanted, and that although he loves BB, PP is more important to him. That really hurt at first - poor BB. I (as a woman who always puts the kids first) just can't see how it is possible to even think that way when it comes to your own child. But if I try to be rational it is to be expected. He did sign up to this as a donor who was known to the child and called Dad and nothing more.

The thing is BB loves his dad. Every morning he knocks on the door of the room where DD sleeps when he visits, and calls for Dad. Every time we see a motorbike or a train, it's Dad. Things around the house that Dad did, or that are Dad's etc. and it's Dad, Dad... I think he would be devastated not to have regular contact with his Dad. I want to do what is best for BB, and I think knowing Dad is important, but how far should I go? When  DD goes to France we will see him less, but if we stayed in the UK we would see him more than if we move to Oz. Should I stay here just so that we can see him slightly more often? DD and PP will be doing what they want regardless of us - but I can I go to Oz regardless of them? What is best for BB? to grow up in Australia or the UK? with Dad in a country nearby or on the other side of the planet? If we live here, how do I explain that his dad would rather live in a different country to him? If we live in Oz, how do I justify my decision to take him to the opposite side of the planet? How do I navigate this one?

If I do manage to get pregnant we have some grace. I will stay here for the early years anyway I think - but if I don't have a second child, I am thinking it would be ideal to be settled somewhere by the time BB starts school.

Your thoughts please!




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8 comments:

  1. Hilary AlexanderJune 5, 2013 at 4:10 AM

    This is a tough one! I would be torn, too. But as one who grew up in a different country from my father and who then went on to be an SMC, I think it's obvious I think there are more important things than dad involvement - definitely, a sunnier, happier place to live with more opportunities is a great thing. It may sound kind of spiteful but if DD is making his partner a priority over his son, well - that's his priority. In an ideal world you wouldn't have to make this choice - in an ideal world we'd all have loving husbands. But it sounds like your heart is in Australia and you'd be much happier there. I'd much prefer to grow up in Australia over Britain myself. Good luck with your choice, I know this is a big one!

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  2. Thanks - yes I think I am going to have to just deal with this as if it were just me. It's not what I want to do, but coordinating everything to suit everyone is impossible. Its hard though as DD is great, so is PP. They are both great people for BB to have in his life.

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  3. Thanks Hilary, and hello! Always good to meet a new reader, or are you someone I know by a different name? It's really good to hear from someone who has experienced this as a child and a mum. Where are you living at the moment?

    I guess I should expect DD to prioritise his partner really, he is legally just a donor, but in reality he has been much more than that, up to now, particularly when PP had other priorities. He does also change his mind a lot - he was big into the Australia idea while ago, perhaps he will be again by the time we actually go. I think I just have to get on with what is best for BB and I and hope that it works out. I feel like I need to start preparing and planning for a return to work, and I would need completely different strategies for the UK v Oz - so I need to know where I am heading. I really want to keep DD in our lives though. My family are here too which is a big pull - I wish they lived in Australia too! The bonus is that DD's family live in Oz, so he would have more reasons to visit...


    The dilemmas...

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  4. Hilary! I have just tracked you down on Google+ and recognised the photo! I never knew your name before - I will stop getting all excited that there might be another SMC in Britain now, but thanks heaps for the informed comments once again. Another thing that draws me back to Alice, lots of donor babies there, it won't be odd, BB will be just one of many people from non conventional families. In my little part of Britain, to have a donor dad or a gay dad is really not heard of!

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  5. +Hilary Alexander! I have just tracked you down on Google+ and recognised the photo! I never knew your name before - I will stop getting all excited that there might be another SMC in Britain now, but thanks heaps for the informed comments once again.


    Another thing that draws me back to Alice, lots of donor babies there, it won't be odd, BB will be just one of many people from non conventional families. In my little part of Britain, to have a donor dad or a gay dad is really not heard of!

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  6. It hurt my heart for BB to read that DD said his partner is more important to him than BB. Regardless that he signed up as a donor, BB is still his son. I don't mean to sound judgemental. I just don't understand how he can feel this was.
    Based on this, I would be planning a move with BB to OZ & creating some distance now before BB becomes aware of DD's feelings. It feels inevitable that BB would be hurt by this information. Even if he comes to understand it, it will still hurt him, I'd think.

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  7. Yes I know what you mean, I have shed lots of tears on BB's behalf - I find it hard to understand too, but apparently it is a common male thing. I guess it works in a 'normal' family, mum focuses on the kids, dad looks out for mum. A bit different for us though. I do feel sad for BB but I am trying to see it as liberating. Before I was trying to plan our lives around them, but finding it hard as they keep changing their minds. I think I have come to the realisation that I need to stop doing that, but to plan to take BB away from his Daddy - I am still far from that point, though nearly everything else (except my family) is pulling us in that direction...

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  8. My opinion is to go where you can provide the most stability for BB. That sounds like Austrailia to me. DD is Dad, but in a limited sense. It's going to be quite a while before BB starts asking questions, and at that point you can lay it out in terms he can understand.
    This is one of my favorite quotes " Behind every good kid, is a mom who's sure she's screwing up". To be honest, I would leave DD out of the equation.
    Good luck figuring out your path!

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