I live in Berlin, the capital city of Germany. It’s a city rich full of culture, politics, media and science, and I love it. Berlin is a place where history meets the modern world in such a cool and diverse way, making it a sought-after living and holiday destination for many in the LGBTQ+ community. This past vs. present discord complements the city and is one of the reasons that drew my wife and I to live here; however trying to start a family in this big cosmopolitan has its difficulties and is certainly testing my ability to live in a bureaucratic society.
Over a year ago, my wife and I decided to make this baby thing real. We booked an appointment at one of the bilingual fertility clinics in Berlin Mitte to talk about our options and the process of how two women can make a baby. Now, we’re not stupid, and we know that science hasn’t progressed far enough for two women to make a baby without the help of a man yet (I’m not-so-secretly waiting for that day to hurry up and happen though!), but we just wanted to hear about intrauterine insemination from a professional, rather than read through the copious amounts of literature that is available on the Internet. Sometimes, there can be an excessive amount of information that it is simply too overwhelming to digest.
At the appointment, the doctor explained the process of insemination and how to proceed from here, but before anything could begin, there were a number of hurdles we had to overcome to get to that point. Germany can be very bureaucratic at the best of times, but finding out that we had to be married before we could begin insemination really slowed the process down and got me thinking about the many things the LGBTQ+ community have to overcome to just live their lives as normal citizens of the world. Straight couples don’t need to prove that they are married before they try to conceive a baby. Heck, it happens by accident a lot of the time! Why should we, two women in a committed relationship, be asked to sign a paper so that our relationship is formally and legally recognised by the government before we have a baby? At the time of our initial appointment, my wife and I weren’t married, but we had discussed getting married in a couple of years or so. This was something we wanted to do on our terms though, not because it was an “obstacle” in the way to starting a family.
Of course there may be legal disputes and issues should two people of the same sex who aren’t married and who have a baby split up, but is it really any different to two people of the opposite sex doing the same thing? Aren’t there just as many difficulties? Although our future child may not have my DNA, of course I am going to love him or her just as much as my wife, who will be biologically related to them, will.
If two people who are committed to one another bring up and nurture a child from birth, or at any age for that matter, even if they aren’t the biological parents, isn’t that all that matters? As a parent, you take on one of the toughest jobs in the world. You are responsible for another human being 24/7 until the day you die, and it’s essentially unpaid, but at the end of the day there is this earth-shattering and all-consuming love that makes it all worthwhile. Should two people in a relationship decide to part ways, I would hope that as human beings, we are compassionate enough to realise that love trumps biology, no matter how hard the separation might be on the two adults. It isn’t a piece of paper and marriage that defines parenting and love!
Despite this, my wife and I decided to tie the knot shortly after this revelation, but in a very discrete and low key way, with just the two of us, a celebrant and a translator (because my German is still shocking despite the fact that I am now married to one). We still want to have a celebration and a wedding one day, but we didn’t want this piece of paper to stop us from trying to start a family.
It dawns on me now that governments, and even everyday people, don’t realise the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community very well, and that often we have to go through a very obsolete process for the sake of being able to carry out something that appears to be menial and basic to others. I hope that equality comes in the form of something more than same-sex marriage soon, because it simply isn’t enough.