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A beautiful essay. I'm old enough to remember the devastation of the AIDS epidemic in the 80's and 90's. So glad you made it, Ralph.

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I am going to be honest: I remain unconvinced that gay couples are equal to heterosexual couples when it comes to raising emotionally healthy children. I think kids ideally have 1) a female mother in their lives; 2) a biological father in their lives, both of whom care for them, model how to live for them, protect them, and teach them right from wrong.

Two women bother me much less than two men. Children need a mother, first and foremost, and two mothers is probably not a bad thing. But two fathers, neither of whom is particularly masculine in any traditional sense, is to my mind not healthy. I thought the movie Birdcage was hilarious, but it also seemed obvious that one of their reasons their son wanted to marry so young was his profound confusion about nearly everything.

Granted, MOST families in this country are screwed up. Not one kid in ten, as far as I can tell, gets what they need, and yes two loving men are better than two indifferent parents who are male and female.

But my goodness these things are worthy of discussion. Or is the de facto motto we all need to hew to "to hell with any children too young to speak for themselves"?

There is a lot of awfulness in this story. A lot of pain. I get that. But one person speaking of their pain does not automatically become incapable of rendering it to others. We all need to remember that the world is large, broad pictures include more, and what we can't discuss cannot be improved.

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This story has a messy end for me and its normalizing surrogacy. I know these tend to be well thought out planned scenario where there is payment for services. For me the payment doesn’t erase the need for scrutiny. Here women are once again being commodified for someone else’s pleasure. I know the reasoning suggests that both sides benefit. But for me this is not a logical extension of the gay lifestyle or even feminism . I am happy that they are able to have a good relationship with their kids. But i am not satisfied that this is a uniquely normalizing experience. Being well off cures a lot of ills and can be a blessing but at what price to women’s spaces. Is this all that far from transgendered athletes in women’s locker rooms. I am not saying this to upset anyone. It’s just how did we get here and is it a particularly benevolently way to live..as is suggested..by escaping our biology at the expense of women.

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Dec 1, 2023·edited Dec 1, 2023

I have such mixed feelings about this article. On one hand I’m thrilled that the author survived being HIV positive and found redemption and deep love through parenthood. Parenthood is a thoroughly transformative experience and it sounds like he’s a great, nurturing father. On the other hand, I am developing strong issues against surrogacy. I’ve known people on both sides and it went very well, but I can’t shake the feeling that women’s bodies should never ever be commodified. Donating an egg is extremely hard a woman’s body. In vitro fertilization is VERY hard on a woman’s body. The high risks and side effects for women are rarely discussed. Slowly, slowly, slowly, I’m coming to the view that surrogacy should never be used. Period. As wonderful and transformative the experience of parenting is, I don’t think anyone has the “right” to be a parent.

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Dec 1, 2023Liked by Suzy Weiss

Congratulation on fatherhood. We should have more children in this world. I live in an older neighborhood where home prices are comparatively lower and thus there are a lot more younger families than other pricey areas. There are always children riding bike on the street, shooting hoops, and sometime experiment with their limits. I also think neighborhoods with younger children seems to be more alive than the manicured ritzy neighborhoods that you never see anyone out about in the middle of the day.

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“and my personal rule of needing to know the names of any sexual partners cast me as almost a prude.”

———————————————-

This reminds me of how Democrats assert that everything good and decent, like working hard and delaying gratification, is ‘White Supremacy’. It’s an astonishingly racist claim.

It’s almost like they are possessed by Satan and trying to destroy people because this makes them more powerful. And by ‘almost’ I mean precisely.

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I'll get my negativity out of the way first - I have major ethical objections to surrogacy. You paid women to literally risk death so you could be the father to a baby, and I don't think that's something one can pay enough money for. Reading about Julia's C-section really struck hard with me, because I've had two. If Julia has another baby of her own and needs a C-section because she can't get a doctor to do a VBAC, are you going to pay for that? Did you pay for her to get help at a gym restrengthening her abdominal muscles? (Does she get so much as a nickel every time something presses hard against her incision and it hurts? Mine is five years old and it still happens.) I doubt that Julia, age 24 with two children, had a lot of money in the bank; I suspect that if she'd been expected to be a surrogate for free, she would have been gone in the blink of an eye.

Your daughter spent her time in the womb hearing Julia's voice and listening to Julia's heartbeat. Then you paid up and took her away from the person to whom she was most intimately bonded. All babies are a blessing, but not every way to create a baby is ethical.

Having said that, I was touched by your description of living "in the valley of the shadow of death" with HIV. My heart hurt for Terry - what a horrible family situation. I'm glad your health is about as good as it can be, and I wish you many happy years with your husband and children.

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The absolute love of Life that Ralph has chosen to embrace made my day. Thank you.

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Dec 1, 2023Liked by Suzy Weiss

Thank you for this magnificent story

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Wonderful piece, Ralph. It moved me greatly.

This reminds me of a friends of mine in high school (early 70s) -- Duff P. -- who was openly gay at a time when doing so was not very popular. But Duff wasn't fazed. I didn't care. He was a good guy, a good friend, and I liked him immensely.

It was sad to learn in the early 80s that Duff had contracted HIV, and fought a good fight before he succumbed. I believe I might have been the only high school friend at his funeral.

Anyway, Ralph ... children need good fathers. Sounds like you're a great father.

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Dec 1, 2023Liked by Suzy Weiss

Children are a blessing

and a gift from the Lord.

-Psalm 127:3

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Two things can be equally true: TRUE: This is a beautiful story, and most readers I suspect are touched by the warmth of Ralph's zeal for life, and love for his children. He sounds like a great father and person. Also TRUE: All things being equal, it’s critically important for a child to be raised by a man and women. To ignore the benefits of having a male and female figure in one’s life, while growing up, is to deny the obvious.

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What a sweet, heartfelt story. Thank you for sharing this.

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"Redemption" is such an odd word here. Usually it involves an acknowledgement of past failings, and a determination to change - being redeemed or saved from evil, making the best of a terrible situation. But the author doesn't actually seem to have any regrets of his hedonistic past, and has continued in his self-centered ways, buying women's eggs and bodies, creating children to fulfill HIS need to have a biological connection to his offspring, while ignoring THEIR far greater need to have a biological mother. How can he not see how cruel it is to intentionally create a child who will endure that kind of loss? Lots of kids are born into less-than-ideal circumstances, but to go out of your way to ensure it via surrogacy seems to me a profoundly selfish act.

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Dec 1, 2023Liked by Suzy Weiss

A very beautiful story! I am happy for you and your family!

It amazes me, how far we/I have come in this regard from growing up in the fifties and sixties. Maybe seventies, eighties and nineties? Please excuse my reference to illustrate my point. Recess in elementary school oftentimes included playing "smear the queer". How wrong we were!

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Dec 1, 2023Liked by Suzy Weiss

This story brought a tear to my eye x

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