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Some Friends Couldn’t Understand Why We Would Prefer Diapers Over Clubbing

by Sara Coster in Lifestyle & Fashion , 28 november 2014


Itamar (49) and David (50) are the proud fathers of Aron (11) and Esther (9) in co-parenthood with a lesbian couple. Early on, the Israeli Itamar wanted to have children. He always had a spare girlfriend ready under the motto “if you do not get married, I want to have a child with you.”

When the woman concerned did get married, Itamar labeled another woman the backup option in fulfilling his desire to have a child. At the age of twenty-three he met David from The Netherlands, and they both knew instantly: “This is for eternity.” It took Itamar fifteen years to convince David to become a father.

They did not want to adopt or use a surrogate mother, so they placed an ad in the “Nieuw Israëlitisch Weekblad” and in “Opzij”: “2 Jewish men seeking a woman or women for co-parenting.”
“Jewish men apparently are popular, as we got a lot of response.” Several women were not suitable, as they did not share the same views on co-parenting. These women wanted to decide everything themselves, and the children would only occasionally be allowed to stay with the men. They met with sixteen women and lesbian couples. “I hate to say this, but we really had to deal with all the clichés, sometimes including the overalls and the banging of the fists on the table.” In the end, there was no one they felt the right click with to proceed.

Until six months after the ad the men heard an incoming email: “Sorry for the late response...”
They hit it off immediately, and from the first moment it seemed that they shared similar views on co-parenting. They put the interests of the child first, and the men also had confidence that they would stick to their word. They decided to get to know each other over a one-year period to arrange legal matters. And because it may take a year for them to get pregnant, they decided to start “practicing insemination” to use the waiting time to get to know each other. Two weeks later, the men got a text message: “it is blue.”

David’s parents responded: “Don’t you think for one second that Itamar’s child can call us gran and gramps.” David responded: “The second will be biologically mine, and we don’t distinguish between them. So if the oldest can’t call you gran and gramps, the youngest one can’t call you that either.” Fortunately, David’s parents quickly changed their minds.

Aron was born, and the four parents (including all the grandfathers and grandmothers) were over the moon. Slowly they got used to the agreed routine. After ten weeks, Aron had a first sleepover at the house of his two fathers, accompanied by bottles with expressed milk. Initially, the mothers understandably had a hard time, and often called. The fathers did see the point of breast-feeding, but will not deny that it was a hassle. The bottle-warmer (mother’s milk cannot be microwaved), teats from different brands that did not fit all of the bottles, and exploding stock bottles in the freezer. They secretly did warm up the milk in the o-so forbidden microwave.

Two years later it was David’s turn with the same biological mother, as Gaby couldn’t get pregnant for medical reasons.
Daughter Esther made the family complete.

To keep things orderly for schools and other organizations, the children were given the surname of Clarine, and Gaby also took her surname. Both children have three given names, in which each parent could use some element from his or her family.

Everything was going great. Itamar: “We only got positive reactions, also from the Jewish community. We did lose some friends from the social scene because they couldn’t understand why we would prefer changing diapers over clubbing.”

But soon things changed. When Aron was three, one of his mothers discovered an abscess in his neck. It was found to be cancer. The boy would have to spend six months in hospital, undergoing several courses of chemotherapy. The four parents had three full-time jobs and a daughter of two. Every moment of the day and at night, one parent was at Aron’s side. And can you get to know each other any better in a situation like that? Everyone did his thing and dealt with the grief and the enormous fear in his or her own way. One parent would not talk, while the other wanted to do precisely that, and another started organizing and making schedules.

After six months, the bald Aron could come home cancer free. The worries and cares were over, but they all collapsed. Aron was bullied at school with his bald head and face without eyebrows. He tried to get attention by saying: “But I had cancer!”

Sister Esther thought her fathers no longer loved her, only when she was a baby. So she decided to start acting like a baby again, including an annoying baby voice. “Those were ‘issues’ we had to deal with. How do you handle these thinks as a parent? As a team, we managed to see it through.”

The children soon knew who their biological parents are. Itamar: “It’s best to be honest about it from the start.” Aron once told Ester: “You’re only my half-sister.” Esther started to cry and said: “No, I’m your full sister.”

There are different rules in both houses, and the children have no problem with that. Both couples do not mess with the rules of the other couple, and do not contradict each other in front of the children. David: “The children’s interests are paramount, and more important than our own issues.”

The children have different clothes in both houses. At the mothers, the clothes are purchased by the women, and the fathers allow Esther and Aron to pick out what they like, from glitter dresses to dark, tough boys clothing.
Esther has long hair. Brushing it often hurts with the mothers, but the fathers are better at it. According to Esther, dad David does the best braids, as he parts it well. The women are a bit more thorough when it comes to brushing teeth. The fathers, in general, are a lot stricter than the mothers, for example at the dinner table.

Gaby is caring, clean, well-organized, cooks healthy, and takes the children to school on the bicycle. The mothers walk a lot with the children, at the fathers they watch a lot of television, play more computer games, and eat out more often. Often, friends come over for dinner, it is always open house. The fathers bring the children to school by car.

When the children come from their mothers, they change clothes immediately at their fathers’ house. The “mother clothes” are then washed by the men and worn again when they go back on Sunday afternoon. Itamar: “Here, Esther has a beauty-case, but we will get rid of the acetone that is in it. Apparently it is very bad for your nails.”

They divide the holidays. The mothers go camping, while the fathers prefer a five star hotel. Esther likes camping, but David thinks “it is a lot of hassle with the toilet paper.”

Itamar: “I’d prefer that both children turn out to be straight. Being gay is harder; you have to experience things that straight people don’t have to experience. Rather be part of the ninety percent than the ten percent. They are Jewish as well (emotionally, not according to Jewish law), so I’d rather see them go with the crowd than that they are special.”

David: “People often ask us who the biological parent is, but we don’t think it is important. They also often ask us ‘how did you do it? Did you sleep with her?’”

David: “If we would have to do it all over again, we would choose the same mothers. They are very good for the children, they are happy, and their interests come first with all four of us. I would like to see a somewhat different schedule. We would like to have the children an extra day of the week. That would be a more stable situation, also for the children.”

Itamar (smiling): “Esther is a lot like David. I’ve known David for twenty-five years, so I know exactly how to raise Esther to make sure she won’t take after her father!”



* From September 2012 to April 2013 NBC aired the sitcom ‘The New Normal,’ which follows wealthy gay couple Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha), who decide to have a child with a surrogate mother, Goldie Clemmons (Georgia King), who moves into their home with her nine-year-old daughter Shania (Bebe Wood)  



 







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