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My partner, Peter and I are a gay couple who used an egg donor and gestational carrier to have a baby. After some discussion, we decided that we would use Peter’s sperm given that he’s younger than I am. I thought that I would be fine with it, but now that our gestational carrier is pregnant, it all seems more real. Now I’m worried that once the baby is born, Peter and the baby will bond because they are genetically related, and I won’t because we don’t share any genes. Are my worries justified? What should I do?

Written by our mental health expert, Dr. Karen Kranz, Registered Psychologist.

You and Peter are building your family in a unique and creative way. You are both learning as you take each step along this path. It is normal that worries and concerns emerge as you proceed particularly given that Peter will be biologically related to your child while you will not. In this way, you and Peter are not the same. In a family with two dads, someone may well ask, “Who is the real dad?” The reality is that you both are – given that together you chose to bring this child into the world, and together you will assume the significant responsibility of raising this little person. Together you will create a loving, warm, safe, playful, joyful, and supportive environment within which your child will flourish, you and Peter will flourish, and the relationships between each of you will deepen.

The importance of genetic connections seems to be at the heart of your concerns. The reality is that a genetic link is not necessary or sufficient in order to create loving families and parental bonds. Genetic connections do not inevitably result in strong emotional ties. Rather, loving family relationships are created through the moment-by-moment process of parenting. That means taking care of the child, meeting the child’s needs, and knowing the child’s uniqueness. It is the actions of parenting and of continuity and connection that foster a feeling of love and a sense of belonging for all family members.

I understand that you are worried that when the baby arrives you will feel left out, less connected, or less integral to the family. Perhaps you also worry that the child will not view you as his/her dad or that Peter will not see you as an equal parent. Talk with Peter. Does he have any concerns? Does he feel he is more a dad than you because of his genetic connection to the child? I encourage you to acknowledge that this child is coming into the world through the decisions you and Peter made together. As a couple, you and Peter are contributing 50% of the genetic make up of this child. I encourage you to not view your relationship with the child through the lens of biology. Think about the type of parent you want to be and how you want to contribute to your child’s development. Talk to Peter about dividing some of the parenthood responsibilities so that you each have an important role in your child’s life. There will very likely be times for both you and Peter when the child needs more connection with one of you than the other. This is the normal ebb and flow of relationships with children. Keeping your heart open, caring for your child, and knowing your child as an individual are the most significant elements needed to create wonderfully close and bonded families.

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