Are You the Child-Bearer?

Aden* sat in the waiting room of the sperm bank, nervously playing with his beard while his partner, G, held his hand. The waiting room was overflowing with couples yearning – just like Aden and G – to become pregnant, or so it seemed. Aden’s eyes evaded eye contact until they couldn’t any longer. “Aden,” called the front desk attendant.“Can you fill out this paper work before we take you and your girlfriend back to the examination room?” Aden sprung up to grab the paper work and quickly made his way back to G’s side. “Do you think anyone realized what just happened,” he asked. “Absolutely not,” replied G as she moved closer to kiss Aden on the cheek.

Aden’s uneasiness was understandable. Both Aden and G were anxious – they had unsuccessfully tried to get pregnant before. As they sat there, their minds wondered, “Would the in vitro fertilization (“IVF”) take this time? If the IVF didn’t take, would the couple try to adopt? Or would they just call it quits on trying to expand their family?” However, before they could go any deeper down the rabbit hole of ‘what ifs’, the doctor stepped into the waiting room and called them back.

“So, Aden and G, are we ready to give this another go?” said the doctor. With a simple nod of the head, round two of IVF had begun. After the completed treatment, the doctor asked Aden and G if they had any questions, but they knew the gist: four weeks from the second round of IVF, they would take a pregnancy test and see if the procedure was successful. Four weeks from now, Aden and G would know if they were going to be parents.

Although they tried to be patient, Aden described these four weeks as being more brutal than any other portion of the pregnancy.

“All G and I thought about was the fact that the IVF could not take and we would be in the same boat as before. We desperately wanted to have our own child, but maybe it wasn’t in our destiny. Because of how expensive IVF is, this was the last chance we had to make this work. It was really nerve-wracking for everyone. All we knew was that we wanted a baby more than anything else.”

But the four weeks passed, and good news came for the first time. After years of trying to get pregnant, Aden and G find out that a baby was finally on the way. The couple took all precautions they could to guarantee a healthy birth for their long-awaited baby. To quote Hamilton, they were not “throwing away [their] shot,” at having their family.

Any factor they could control to create a smooth pregnancy, they did. They worked with a local Decatur lawyer to ensure that their known sperm donor would be willing to renounce all parental rights and allow Aden and G to be the baby’s sole parents. Although Aden and G were not married prior to the baby’s birth (and they still are not married), their lawyer ensured that it would not create any problems legally determining who the father of the child is. Finally, everything was going as planned.

Their baby grew and made the pregnant belly more prominent each week. G and Aden could finally accept their new reality when they safely made it to the second trimester and started announcing to their close family that they were expecting. Everyone was overjoyed because of how much emotional, physical, and financial labor had gone into creating the baby that Aden and G would be the proud parents of.

And so when the water broke, and the family was on their way to the hospital, the reality sunk in. Aden would finally be a father; G a mother. The couple welcomed their son Spencer into their lives that day, and finally felt the joy of birthing their own child. Spencer, a preemie who had to stay in the NICU for a few weeks, had given them the happiness the family had sought for years. The family commemorated the entire process with beautiful pictures that were made into elaborate scrapbooks letting Spencer that he was deeply desired and loved.

The scrapbook is a “traditional” baby book with a blue exterior. It’s covered with sports memorabilia and race cars and reads the name “SPENCER” in huge letters across the front. When you open the first page, you see words that say, “place birth certificate here.” But that spot lays barren. Nothing is there for a reason. “I opened the mailbox and saw that Spencer’s birth certificate had come in,” said Aden. “I was so excited to see my name listed as Spencer’s father, but when I read the birth certificate, I realized Dekalb County made a huge mistake.” Imagine being the father of a beautiful baby named Spencer that you invested years of emotional, financial, and physical labor into… Only to get the birth certificate in the mail and see that they listed you as the mother.

“It ruined me. My dysphoria was at an all-time high, and I had finally felt inadequate as a father,” said Aden. Aden was labeled as Spencer’s mother because he gave birth as a transgender man.

During the time Aden was in labor, the nurses assumed that the cisgender, non-pregnant women in the room were giving birth despite the fact that Aden was in the hospital gown and pregnant. The hospital where Spencer was born allowed the birthing parent to fill out birth registration worksheet to complete to receive the child’s birth certificate. As mentioned above, Aden and G are not married and were guaranteed by their lawyer that their relationship status would not impact their ability to determine who Spencer’s father (and mother) are.

*The names in this post have been changed for confidentiality.

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