By Jonathan Schwartz
Adoption and sperm donations were a few of the primary topics addressed by proud parents sharing how they brought a child into their family in a non-traditional way in “The Neo-Family: a TCNJ Panel” on Wednesday March 17.
Ellen Friedman, professor of women and gender studies and English, moderated the discussion which was held by women and gender studies and English faculty members Mark Kiselica, Michele Tarter and Juda Bennett. The panel members shared the often painful, but miraculous experiences with bringing a child or another child into their family unit.
Kiselica, a father of two sons, spoke about his desire to adopt a girl. He said it was his wife’s dream of having a daughter that propelled him to think about adoption.
“God, whatever child you send us … that is going to be my daughter,” Kiselica said.
Kiselica’s journey took him through Kazakhstan to a daycare where he found Sasha, his soon-to-be-adopted daughter.
“You don’t have a child because you need love,” he said. “You have a child because you have love to give.”
Tarter told the story of how she was looked for a sperm donor.
“It’s like you’re shopping … it’s bizarre,” Tarter said, explaining what she went through when looking for donors on an internet site. She said she was looking for what would essentially be her baby’s biological father.
Life for her was no longer about searching for a spouse to have a child with, but wanting to experience the joy of motherhood all the same, she said. She said her continued fight to get her child took her seven years, but it made her feel “liberated as a woman.” However, Tarter said the journey was not without stumbling blocks. She faced opposition from many of those close to her, and made the decision to change doctors far into it.
“It was a miracle story … he told me to never give up, never give up hope,” Tarter said about her doctor. “This is a story about believing in possibilities.”
Bennett introduced his personal experience when he said his son has “two dads who love him dearly.” Bennett later showed the audience pictures of his son, and discussed how finding a surrogate mother as an egg donor proved to be a challenging experience.
“We have real families,” Bennett said. “We have real love.”