Posted by: thatjen | July 18, 2005

Sister of the Bride?

Or, The Trouble with Babies is They Grow Up

[Side note: I didn’t ovulate while we were out of town, so we did a home IUI tonight with the help of our amazing neighbor. It’s awesome to be here in my own bed having just done an IUI!!]

Sunday morning, as we were finishing packing and I was trying to touch base with all the volunteers taking over my various community obligations, my cell phone rang. It was Cait’s ex-stepmom (let’s call her Complicated), weirdly enough — and what was even more odd is that she wanted to talk to me, not Cait. To my astonishment, she said she was calling because Cait’s little sister (20 years old) suddenly wants to marry her boyfriend. He’s from Taiwan, and Complicated was worried that LittleSis was being taken advantage of for the green card. She wanted to enlist my help — particularly if I knew any immigration lawyers who could explain to LittleSis what the ramifications might be — but she did not want me to tall Cait what was going on because she wanted Cait to hear it directly from LittleSis. Complicated and LittleSis were coming to the funeral, so the Complicated plan was to have a family conference following the service (though they might bring it up before the service – she wasn’t sure).

This meant that for the entire five hour drive I was consumed by the secret I was keeping from Cait, as well as by my shock, confusion and concern for LittleSis. Keeping the secret on the drive wasn’t that hard, as we spent most of the time discussing myriad options for future cycles should this one be a bust too — and let me tell you, no holds were barred. We talked meds, adoption, known donors, IVF, multiple insems, baby-napping*, you name it. Just about the only thing we did not discuss was finding some random guy to sleep with. Oh wait, Cait did suggest that but I vetoed it immediately. But I digress. Anyway, if you don’t know me in person, you may not know that keeping secrets (or having secrets kept from me) is not on my Top Ten List. I suck at it and it drives me crazy. Once we got to Pittsburgh, the agony progressed. Eventually LittleSis and Complicated arrived. I was on tenterhooks – when was she going to spill the beans? How hellacious would the hell that broke loose be? Would Cait kill me for keeping a secret?

In the end, LittleSis decided not to tell the rest of the family, but rode home with us and told us what was going on. Interestingly, her side of the story was VERY different from Complicated’s. Though she wouldn’t be thinking of marrying him at this point if the circumstances were different, they are in a serious, committed relationship. She’s not particularly enamored of marriage as an institution, so she doesn’t think this will ruin any romantic dreams, and she hasn’t got any money to worry about, so she doesn’t think she’s being taken advantage of. And from her perspective, she’s got more to gain from the marriage than from not getting married. If his visa expires, he has to leave, and he would have to do several years of military service. If they get married, he doesn’t have to leave and their relationship can continue. She’s aware that it’s a big decision, and she’s not sure what she wants to do. But she is outraged at her mom’s heavy handed approach.

Though it’s been tense and upsetting, it’s also been really interesting to look at this from where we stand right now as a lesbian couple who CAN’T legally get married but who are desperately trying to have a child. On the marriage front, I found it almost schizophrenic to be trying to help LittleSis understand all the benefits that marriage would convey whether or not she wanted them, while Cait and I are trying to jump through thousands of legal hurdles to set up just SOME of the rights she can get in a half hour at the courthouse. And then on the parenting front, it was fascinating to see the drama unfold between LittleSis and her mom, as I could so excruciatingly feel BOTH of their positions: the mom scared for her child and trying so hard to help protect her (but pissing her kid off in the process) and the daughter trying to forge her way into adulthoood and relationships while re-negotiating her connection to her mom.

I don’t know what the right course of action is for LittleSis and her boyfriend, and I don’t envy her the decision. My gut says marriage probably isn’t the best choice, but it’s a miserable situation all around. Somehow, all of this makes choices about diapers and co-sleeping seem so trivial… but still I hope we get to start making them soon!

*I should not have to say this but you never know in blogland. WE ARE NOT SERIOUS ABOUT BABY-NAPPING. It just sounds nice sometimes.


  1. Wow- LittleSis has some big decisions to make. Its really a difficult situation she is in. Good lucks to her……..

    As for you and your baby…… I so-know it will happen.

  2. Argh – I can’t imagine… I have a sister the same age, but fortunately she likes girls. I mean, not fortunate for her on the marriage rights angle but.. oh, you know what I mean.

    Fascinating, though… it’s always nice to read about other people’s crazy families.

  3. I, too, dream of baby-napping, but would never actually do it.

    But what if the parents are mean, jerky or neglectful, slapping the kid and yelling at it in the Target? Then, it should be ok, right? No?


  4. Ok, I’m commenting under my infant niece’s blog-identity instead of my own. I’m truly sad.

  5. LOL! Loved the disclaimer about babynapping… I admit that at times those insane babynapping women in the news seem to me to be less insane than originally thought. 😀 All the time I inseminated people kept saying “have you considered adopting” since the pregnancy thing was so complicated and not working. And now when I discuss the complicated matter of adopting, people are saying “have you ever considered inseminating?” hah! Hope it goes well for you even if you aren’t waiting til fall (re conservative dr.) Loved the tank in the stroller photo. btw I’m here via um, sareesa, and butch something or other.

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