Me & wanting a future as a parent, an update

This post was written for the April 2017 Carnival of Aces, which is themed around Asexuality, Aromanticism and Parenthood. The call for submissions was here – and please check out the round up post containing all of the submitted entries! http://abnormaldiversity.blogspot.com/2017/05/aromanticism-asexuality-and-parenthood.html


Over on Asexual Activities, back in January (2017, so only a few months ago), 34 different people (including me) answered the theme on Having Children, plus one person replied to another person’s thought that being single meant they couldn’t adopt/foster and encouraged them to consider that that may not be true where they live. About 11 to 16 of the responses seemed to be “I don’t want children”, depending on how you count the “maybe one day” sentiments, meaning it actually is approximately 50/50. See all the different themes here: http://www.asexualactivities.com/tags, and click through to find the answers on asexual people’s perspectives on kids.  Which submission is mine should be pretty obvious if you read my blog regularly, or even if you just read to the end of this blog post.

About a year ago, in May 2016, aceadmiral started a conversation on tumblr also related to aces and having children, and there are two (– I think only two? Not 100% sure) different branches of the reblog chain/thread that are worth reading. If you’re interested in the topic of this Carnival, I highly recommend you click the “Read More” links, read the other linked things within the responses, there is so much that is interesting over there.

  1. https://aceadmiral.tumblr.com/post/144126451728/christian-ace-nerd-aceadmiral
  2. https://aceadmiral.tumblr.com/post/144128006058/tristifere-aceadmiral-luvtheheaven (yes I myself talked quite a bit in this one)

I have so many thoughts on this topic, honestly, but it’s hard for me to currently talk about. Nothing has really changed about what I desire since a-year-and-a-half ago when I wrote on Being an Aro Ace and Desiring (Foster and/or Adoptive) Parenthood, but also so much has changed since then in my life and in how feasible this desire seems!

First of all… I think my sex-repulsion (which I prefer to call sex-aversion, actually) is directly tied to my asexuality and lack-of-arousability. I also think my kissing-aversion is related to that, and all my existing drives and desires, if you could call them drives/desires, are “pan” (gender is irrelevant) to such a point that I feel more aro-spectrum than anything. I can’t imagine that my aro-spectrum-ness isn’t also there because of my asexuality – it feels like my asexuality is connected to all of that!

The fact that I don’t enjoy drinking alcohol nor experience feelings of chemical-induced/drug-induced “high”s, and mainly only feel the negative effects combined with an anxiety around losing control, seems like it could be related to my asexuality, or it could just be a coincidence. I don’t really know. I know it seems to be a significant trend among people I’ve met at my local asexual meetup group and among some asexual bloggers to feel similar to me about alcohol, but we could be a self-selecting group – people who enjoy alcohol aren’t different from the norm and don’t have much to say on the matter. And it’s certainly not a complete 100% thing – I’ve met some asexuals who have had binge-drinking habits, and people who enjoy alcohol in moderation, etc. Still this is one of those things that I’ll never really know if they’re connected.

Similarly, I don’t think I’ll ever know if my strong desire to be an adoptive parent rather than a biological one is connected to me being asexual (and a flavor of asexual where I literally can’t imagine myself engaging in sexual intercourse, at that), or not. I know I learned sex led to babies and almost nothing else about sex when I was 11 and in 5th grade sex-ed in my elementary school. When I was around 13 and in 7th Grade, after my second experience with a sex-ed class was over, I finally (on my own) figured out what sex (intercourse itself) was and was internally pretty horrified, I think, but I tried to push aside any of those feelings. And I believe being around age 13 or 14 was when I started also realizing my mom was abusing me, for sure, but I was watching idealistic/dramatized TV series like 7th Heaven and Judging Amy then too. And all the while I was beginning to understand of course I could have it so much worse, and realizing that being a foster parent is an important job that not enough good, kind, putting-their-full-effort-into-it adults do. At least I had my dad, and my grandmother, etc.

To my frustration, what my mom was doing wasn’t “bad enough” to warrant me being rescued, as much as I already deeply desired it, and I would think: “what about the kids who actually end up in foster care?” Obviously they had it so much worse. I really really wanted to help them when I grew up, and I always knew being a parent would be a rewarding experience for me.

I knew I wanted to be a parent badly enough that when I first learned about the concept of abortion, I heavily considered that if by some very unlikely twist of fate I ended up pregnant unintentionally, I still wouldn’t abort personally, even if I was pro-choice in general, thought it was a valid decision for other people. This was around when I was 16 years old maybe, I started reading up about this stuff online and learning both sides of the debate. I hadn’t fully escaped the anti-abortion cultural attitudes around me, probably, and I probably thought I’d be morally superior or something. I feel I’ve learned since then, and a lot has changed in my thought processes, and I am very sure I would have an abortion if I found myself unintentionally pregnant, but now that is compounded by the fact that my life plans include, (as far as intercourse is concerned,) 13 years from now being a happy 40-year-old virgin. So it’s irrelevant as far as I can imagine.

In fact, if I found a person who wanted to be my queerplatonic partner and wanted to create future biological children (as opposed to already having them in their life) I basically decided that would be a dealbreaker for our entire relationship! I could be close friends with them, but I want a partnership with someone who has the same desire to NOT have biological children that I have. Finding a co-parent is the #1 reason I want a queerplatonic partner, and the #1 thing I don’t want to negotiate on when it comes to the parenting thing isn’t even just me not being pregnant, I wouldn’t be happy with it if it were them being pregnant either — the #1 thing is that the type of parenthood I want is specific, it’s foster and/or adoptive. And the age of the kids I’m not decided on, if it’s one or more than one, if we’ll have a pet, any of those things I could negotiate on. But… like I can vicariously see tons of people around me have the magic of creating a genetically similar to them person, friends and family and co-workers. For my own life plan, I’m determined to have non-biological kids.

One of the earliest things that led me to feeling compatible as a queerplatonic partner with my current partner, Robert, is that he also always one day pictured being a parent via adoption. One of the big things he was thinking about when he broke up with me was that he didn’t think he saw those dreams for his future anymore, combined with a few other things. He had 5.5 months to think about it though, and changed his mind. He wanted to get back together, and I made it very clear before I agreed to get back together that I needed him to want this future with kids for “us” to once again be on the table for me.

We talked and he said honestly he does really want to foster and/or adopt, he had just been second-guessing himself there.

We talked about what he finds so nerve wracking/intimidating about it, and I agreed about how daunting it is to me too, how it is a huge thing to take on, but I feel like someone has to do it and I don’t really think I would be worse than other people at the job, and he agreed about himself.

He’s been making significant money while on his third Civilian Contractor’s Deployment to the middle east (although the first since I’ve met him) – after having been in the workforce with steady paychecks from a good job and a frugal lifestyle for quite a few years, and now he’s been looking at homes to buy – specifically in areas with good schools.

I finally am employed somewhere for the first real time in my life. I’m 27 years old and I’ve had a previous paying job for 1 month and various volunteer type positions, but this is a job I’ve been at for 6 months. When I was first hired, near the end of 2016, I wasn’t with Robert, we were broken up, and with excitement when I glanced at my benefits I saw how if I adopted or fostered a child I would be granted parental leave, and of course I would, a full-time job without that benefit would be lacking something pretty huge, but still, I began to think about it then as something… REAL and possible for my life in the near future instead of the ridiculously far off future. I couldn’t help that kind of excitement just creeping in.

I turned 27 years old in January 2017, and my parents were both 27 years old when I was born. And the reality of that makes me feel some things!

If I were to build this life with Robert, living in the location he’s been thinking of purchasing a house in… I’d probably have to leave my job because of location. It’s not that far but just far enough for that to be a thing to think about. But it’s… it’s really on the horizon and it’s real and my job was never very permanent, it’s just my first full-time job doing something fairly tedious for… not a high enough paycheck to support the life I hope to one day live, complete with a kid or whatever. In fact I’m employed through a contract myself so… the job itself could stop existing if the government decided not to renew my contract next year anyway.

However, a huge thing is, I don’t really know what’s going to happen with me and Robert. Our queerplatonic relationship is exciting and still really quite new. We have been a pretty big part of each other’s lives since we met. We met in July 2015, which is less than 2 years ago and already not that much time. But we only were an official “partnership” for four months about a year ago, February-June 2016, and then again long-distance partners for five months from December 2016 through the present.  He isn’t back from Afghanistan yet, and I can’t be sure at this stage of our relationship how things are going to go. We need to… reacquaint ourselves, in-person, and figure out what our relationship, take 2, is going to look like. We need to probably try living together first before we can take any other huge steps.

If he and I don’t work out, I will be devastated I’m sure, but at least I know more than ever what I really want in my life and in my future. And I’m cautiously optimistic… actually wildly optimistic… that my life with Robert will work out amazingly well for both of us.

Being asexual but in a partnership with a cis man (as a cis woman myself), I feel a lot of solidarity for bisexual folks who find themselves in similar straight-passing life situations. I really am uncomfortable with people perceiving me as straight, and if people around me don’t know I’m ace they probably will start to wonder why the two of us are choosing an unconventional way to bring children into our lives, which is an added confusing part of the heteronormativity, because a big part of why it’s not even on the table at all for me and Robert to conceive biological children the typical “straight” way with sex, is that we both are very much not straight. People assuming we have sex is always gonna be a part of our life, and it’s always gonna be frustratingly so inaccurate.

I am going to be hosting the Carnival of Aces next month, and one of the discussion prompts will be about bed-sharing. I certainly don’t intend to share a bed with Robert, but will that kind of thing be something that we’re judged by when our fitness to take a child into our homes is evaluated? I worry a little. I imagine us being atheists might be one axis upon which we could be discriminated, and being asexual could be another, and while we could be lucky it’s a frustrating thing to navigate, probably trying to remain closeted – if possible – “just in case” about both issues. But I’m not sure how possible it really is. It’s something we’ll have to deal with when the time comes.

And one day, will we come out to our children? I assume eventually, but when? and how? And it could be irrelevant, I guess, to our role as parents. But I just don’t know.

There are no narratives for me to latch onto about how aces have handled these situations. I need to read about parents who have come out as ace to their kids and how that went. I met a woman at a local meetup who learned she was asexual because of her daughter being pansexual and dating a trans person. She looked into those identities to be a supportive parent, and ended up discovering why she was unhappy in her sexual marriage. So coming out as asexual to her daughter was certainly a thing that happened, but that’s one really unique set of circumstances and not directly applicable to my life.

And I don’t really have role models where I know asexual people exist, knowing they’re asexual, and then choosing to become parents as they progress into their lives. I’ve seen a few different aces beginning to foray into parenthood and few different aces do parenthood and then begin to foray into asexuality, but it’s all the beginning, it’s not the outcome, it makes me feel like I’m really going into uncharted territory. Which makes sense. Asexuality is only just now, in my generation, really a thing at all. Despite how much I wish I could’ve been born into a world where there were already famous asexual celebrities with kids and asexuals blogging about parenthood and all of that, instead… I live during a time when those of us who want to embrace parenthood while knowing we’re ace have to “be the first” group to do so, pretty much.

I will say being asexual and meeting so many aces both in person and online, and meeting so many other queer folks by nature of where I hang out in fandom, has led me to appreciate the childfree perspective so much more than I think I would’ve had I not been ace. So many heterosexual people fall into wanting the traditional ideals, including kids, or decide to have kids because their partner desires kids. It seems like if you look among LGBTQ+ folks, we have a much larger chance of wanting to be childfree, so much so that the culture can be actively anti-parenthood, because for once it’s a space where you won’t be weird for not wanting kids, and people really embrace that.

I’ve been thinking about the kind of fictional representation of aces I have been craving lately, and one thing I want, even if it’s just in fanfiction, but which seems pretty much impossible to find, is an asexual and/or aromantic person dealing with becoming a parent. It could be an allosexual aro and I’d still love to see that explored.

Parenting never seemed like something only romantic couples could do for me, since I grew up raised by divorced parents who never re-entered romantic relationships at all in my childhood, and did the parenting thing individually. But fiction acknowledging that you can choose to be a parent while being nonamorous (not interested in partnering) or while being sex-repulsed even if in a relationship would be very validating. And it would also be nice for there to be a story about a character who “happens to be asexual” and it even does affect their life in some ways, but the character is a parent and the story is not all about their asexuality. That kind of thing is never represented, and while we will always need to represent the 50% or so of aces who are decidedly permanently childfree by choice, or whatever percentage it turns out to be if people ever survey a group of aces on that question, we need a little more balance here, in my opinion. I think this kind of representation would help make it feel like a possible choice that isn’t out of reach for so many aces who need that.

I’ve been hanging around asexual spaces for almost 4 years now, and I think when I first was here in 2013 it was much harder to find any aces who seemed like they wanted kids. You’d occasionally get the ignorant tumblr ask from a non-ace person saying “Can aces have kids?” and people responding in the vague hypothetical that their bodies still work for that, so yes of course, or the people explaining as almost a number 1 reason an ace might have sex would be to procreate (which… is almost certainly inaccurate lol). But people talking about themselves would much more often bring up “knowing they never wanted to get married nor have kids” as proof they were always aro than bringing up wanting kids.

Maybe because enough of us have gotten a little older, have gotten closer to a stage of our life where we know for sure that we do want kids, or even know that we “probably” do… I’ve seen in the past year or maybe two more asexual people embracing that their future will include a kid, or even already does, and in my opinion, that is just wonderful. I am so glad there is a space for aces who are interested in parenthood to talk about it and not be alone.

I don’t expect to be a parent for a few years at the earliest, but…

..it feels within reach. And that is such a happy feeling.

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6 thoughts on “Me & wanting a future as a parent, an update

  1. This is a very interesting article. I’m so glad you are getting to a point in your life with so many possibilities. I personally don’t want kids, and it’s not something I think I could compromise on, though I think my QPP has some vague notions of wanting kids (she’s not ace). However, I’ve always been interested in what it would look like if an ace went ahead with adoption. Since I do like fiction writing, I might have to include some ace parents now, because it sounds like something interesting to explore even if I personally don’t want kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The only work of ace fiction I know of which explores being ace and a parent (as opposed to merely mentioning that a character is both ace and a parent) is All the Wrong Places by Ann Gallagher. One of the ace characters is a single dad (I thought the story of how he became a biological father to be highly implausible, but whatever), and the other ace character might turn into a step-parent (because the story is an ace/ace romance) and has a lot of interaction with the kid.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s really awesome. I mean,
    not that how he became a dad seems implausible, thanks for the warning there… but in general lol. Especially since it’s ace/ace I’m pretty excited to see parenthood featured. Actually now that you mention it, I did remember that single dad part of the premise of that and it was one of the very first ace fiction books I’ve been planning to read anyway, after being inspired by your reviews and thinking it would be to my taste for all sorts of reasons. And I checked and this one is actually in my local library system, 7 copies in the county!! I can’t believe I already forgot the single dad part of that story’s premise as an enticing thing when I was writing up this blog post. Thank you for the reminder.

    Like

    1. If you do read All the Wrong Places, I hope you will share your thoughts.

      I also finished today A Promise Broken by Lynn E. O’Connaught which may be a *borderline* example of an ace-in-parenting role. Basically, there is a character who is a Word of God ace, and there are also hints in the novel itself that he is ace, but it’s so thin that I cannot recommend it to readers looking specifically for ace content. His sister dies, so his niece (four years old) becomes an orphan, and even though he never wanted to become a parent, he has to take in his niece anyway because he’s her closest living relative, and a lot of the novel is about him looking out for her in various ways.

      I read the ‘published’ version of the A Promise Broken (which costs money), but it was originally a web serial and the original version is still available for free (and supposedly is full of typos and is much less polished than the ‘published’ version, but since I haven’t read the free version I don’t know). The free version can be found here: http://www.leoconnacht.com/wp/promise-broken-serial-index/

      Liked by 1 person

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