What you need to know
'We have an unquestionable obligation to our children to do all we can to ensure they can grow up in an environment where they are not going to be discriminated against and looked down upon just because they come from a gay household. That burden is on us.'
Two days before 2016 ended, my twins reached the six-months-old milestone and as a dutiful parent I took them to the hospital to get their vaccination shots. I filled out the hospital form and submitted it to the nurse, who then looked at the form and then asked me in public to fill out the blank space under “Mother.” I nodded and took the form back because it was early in the morning and I was not in the mood for coming out again as a gay dad and giving her my spiel of how I had the twins through an American surrogate and therefore there is no name to fill in under “Mother.” It was just too early in the morning, and other patients in the waiting ward were looking on with muted intrigue.
I stared at the form again and absorbed the reality that this scenario will repeat itself thousands of times until the boys are adults, perhaps even beyond then. With the pen in my hand, I crossed out the blank space and submitted the form back to the nurse. My partner stood by my side carrying one baby and politely told her, "there is no mom." He also informed her that we have been to the hospital before and so if she could look up our records.
She looked at the form, looked at me again and the babies, and gave me an understanding smile before returning back to her busy paperwork. She later helped the doctor with the shots and helped comfort the babies. I think from here on out we will get along just fine with the nurse.
According to a survey conducted by the Williams Institute of UCLA Law School, currently 646,500 same-sex couples reside in the U.S. An estimated 3 million LGBT Americans have had a child and as many as 6 million American children have an LGBT parent. More than 125,000 same-sex households (19%) include nearly 220,000 children under 18 years old.
This is only the U.S., which only fully recognized gay marriage nationwide through a Supreme Court hearing in 2015. There are 21 other countries who have preceded the U.S. to the road of marriage equality, and although the population of these countries is small compared to that of U.S., I would assume that the percentages would be similar, if not higher.
This is what keeps me optimistic and hopeful that Taiwan will eventually get there because there are already millions of happy gay families in the world. This is nothing new.
On the journey to becoming a gay dad, I have had to do a lot of medical, legal, financial research on both sides of the Pacific; such as IVF clinics, egg and surrogacy agencies, insurance options and so on. (Surrogacy is not legal in Taiwan and so my twins were born in Southern California where it is legal.) I vividly remember flying to San Francisco from Taipei just to attend a conference called, “Men Having Babies.” I was expecting a quaint gathering of hoping-to-be gay-dads sitting in a small circle to share information. I didn’t imagine that I would open the doors and consequently meet hundreds of gay men of all races, ethnicities and age groups hoping to find a way to become dads.
In Taiwan, I am now pleasantly surprised to be in a gay parents group with over 100 gay families — both gay men and women — who have taken our own unique, brave, and extraordinary paths to becoming proud parents. Many of them I now count as dear friends and allies in life.
Despite the rigors of juggling work and child-rearing, many of us made efforts to organize and support various legislative lobbying and marriage equality rallies that have been held over the past few months. The fight for marriage equality and acceptance is no longer just about us, but about our next generation. We have an unquestionable obligation to our children to do all we can to ensure they can grow up in an environment where they are not going to be discriminated against and looked down upon just because they come from a gay household. That burden is on us. We brought them into this world not to suffer because of us, but to love them in the protected confines of our homes and help them develop their full personalities and attributes so they can one day contribute to the fabric of society and progress of humanity.
I believe most parents, gay or straight, must hold the same beliefs. Some of those who summarily reject gay parents as being de facto “unfit” or “unnatural” parents must be people who have not actually met one of us yet. They would find that we are all the same as parents — we love our children unconditionally. We only want a safe and healthy environment for our children to grow up in. The only difference is that sometimes when we take our children to the hospital, we have to politely cross out certain blanks. But hopefully in the near future, instead of crossing out, I can fill in the blank with the name of the other parent, who just happens to be a dad, too.
Until that day comes, I will continue to do my gay dad "spiel," for those comforting smiles mean a lot to me.
Editor: Olivia Yang