Dear Dr. J,
What do I say to a same-sex married lesbian niece whose mother (my sister-in-law) just left a phone message saying they “are expecting twins”? Congratulations just doesn’t seem right but it’s not the children’s faults. It doesn’t seem right to create a family rift over this but neither can I be happy about it. I have no idea who the father is, which of the females in the relationship is carrying the children, whose eggs were used, etc. Nor do I know if I will ever be told because the family knows I do not believe in gay ‘marriage’. I can’t just ignore this, but do I say nothing? What do I say when the children are born? Any kind of congratulatory words would come out as fake, & they would be falsely said.
Your problem is becoming increasingly common. We are all figuring this out on the fly. So, let me offer a few suggestions for you to consider.
- You cannot give people the impression that you approve. It sounds as if you have that covered.
- Your instinct that it is not the children’s fault is a sound instinct. Remember that God loves these children. He wills their existence, even if He does not will the circumstances of their birth. Pray for these kids, starting right now.
- You can, and should rejoice that new life is coming into the world. There is nothing immoral or wrong about you sending them a card, or a gift that the children would enjoy, or that they would enjoy. They are going to have problems, that is for sure. You don’t necessarily need to pile on. Reality will exact its own punishment.
- Pray for wisdom to find an opening to be good friends to the adults, and eventually, to the children. A time will come when they will need friendship. But don’t push it. It may take years for this situation to unravel sufficiently that they see the need for friendship.
- In the meantime, pray to have all the sting of your disapproval removed from your relationship with these adults. They are beyond the point where you can talk them out of or into anything. They have chosen their path. You may be their only connection with Jesus. Don’t let that connection be soured. (No pressure!)
- Don’t ask questions about the identity of the father/mother at this point. Your niece will interpret that as a hostile act. When the children are older, they may want to know. You may be one of the few people in their lives who will honor the fact that they want to know. You may be their best source of support for the kids.
- Check out Anonymous Us. Read the stories there. I think the pain that the kids feel in these situations will become more real to you. You may also see stories from mothers who used donor sperm. You can see their thought process. All this will prepare you to be an empathetic friend when the time comes.
In general: keep your powder dry. Save it for when you really need it. There is absolutely nothing you can do right now to prevent this situation from unfolding. A time will come when you may be able to make a truly unique and valuable contribution. Prepare yourself for that time, through prayer and charity. Who knows? Maybe your preparation will allow you to help someone outside your family.
PS: We have a couple of pamphlets that might be helpful to you (don’t even think about giving them to this couple.) Children and Same Sex Parenting, and Children and Donor Conception.
Do you have a question for me? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.