Kate & Adam & Tracy

Toronto Life - - The 2018 Self-Care Guide -

Kate Wren, 38, so­cial worker Adam Web­ster, 39, nurs­ing stu­dent Tracy Whit­field, 43, so­cial worker and col­lege fac­ulty Ella Whit­field, 2

Kate: I al­ways wanted a baby. Be­fore I met Tracy, I had a baby bank ac­count for my fu­ture child. In my condo, which I bought pre­con­struc­tion, I added a baby room to the de­sign. By the time I was in my mid-30s, though, I re­al­ized that if it didn’t hap­pen soon, it might never. For queer cou­ples, this sort of thing ob­vi­ously has to be planned.

Tracy: I never thought I’d have a child. I have chronic health is­sues, in­clud­ing di­a­betes, so car­ry­ing a child wasn’t re­al­is­tic for me. Then, one day, when I was on the cusp of 40, Kate and I were hav­ing a bath, and she said some­thing like, “So...we’re not go­ing to have a child.” And I felt my gut sink. I thought, Oh god! I think I want to have a child. We started our re­search im­me­di­ately. We went to fer­til­ity clin­ics and looked into sperm banks, with the idea that we’d se­lect a donor.

Kate: But none of it felt right. I did some re­search on kids who grow up not know­ing one of their bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents. Later in life, they go search­ing for their lost mom or dad, who may not want any­thing to do with them.

Tracy: I’ve al­ways had a re­ally tight bond with my dad, and I wanted that for our child. So we thought about the men in our lives who might be a good fit.

Kate: We were look­ing for some­one with good moral val­ues, some­one kind, gen­tle, re­spect­ful, and with whom there was en­ergy and chem­istry. Tracy had known Adam for a few years, and we’d hung out maybe 10 times at din­ner par­ties and the like, and he seemed like a won­der­ful per­son.

Tracy: We weren’t sure if Adam wanted chil­dren, so dur­ing some of our meet-ups, Kate and I were pretty bla­tant in ask­ing him about whether he wanted to be a dad. He had no clue we were court­ing him.

Adam: In the sum­mer of 2013, Kate and Tracy in­vited me over for drinks. We were sip­ping wine in their back­yard, and they came right

out with it: would I be in­ter­ested in be­ing a fa­ther to their fu­ture child, and in be­ing a part of their lives? Hav­ing a child had al­ways been my dream, but as a gay man, I’d come to re­al­ize just how com­pli­cated that jour­ney would be. At the time, I was a banker, work­ing 10- to 12-hour days, and my mind was very much else­where. My ini­tial re­ac­tion was shock—it was a big ask—although I was hon­oured, too. I had so many ques­tions! Ul­ti­mately, I felt pos­i­tive about the idea.

Tracy: Well, thank god. Be­cause we were both ter­ri­fied of ask­ing him.

Kate: We felt so vul­ner­a­ble.

Tracy: I was scared he would think that we’d been us­ing him the whole time—that we’d been in­ter­ested in him only for his ge­netic ma­te­rial.

Adam: And we wor­ried about jeop­ar­diz­ing our friend­ship. Af­ter that night, we stayed in touch. We texted reg­u­larly and talked on the phone that sum­mer, and went out a few times to­gether. Each time, we had new ques­tions for one another.

Kate: Ev­ery­thing from, “Are you okay with your child play­ing with plas­tic toys?”...

Tracy: …to, “What’s your phi­los­o­phy on Bar­bies and TV?”

Adam: It wasn’t un­til we’d met about six more times that we knew we were go­ing to have a child to­gether.

Kate: We de­cided to cre­ate a co-par­ent­ing con­tract.

Adam: We dis­cussed what would hap­pen if any of us died.

Tracy: And we agreed that none of us would move out of the GTA, and that we’d con­trib­ute the same amount to a col­lege fund ev­ery month.

Adam: We learned a lot about each other by writ­ing that co-par­ent­ing con­tract. We re­al­ized we shared the same val­ues, which reaf­firmed our de­ci­sion.

Tracy: The first time we tried a home in­sem­i­na­tion was on Kate’s birth­day, in the spring of 2014. In to­tal les­bian style, we ate de­li­cious In­dian food, and we set up this glo­ri­ous ar­range­ment in the base­ment with flow­ers, can­dles and these fer­til­ity god­dess stat­ues, which we now have in our bath­room. Adam went up­stairs, Kate went down, and I, the sperm car­rier, waited on the main floor, where I met Adam and trans­ported the goods. Af­ter­ward, Kate put her legs up on the sofa, and the three of us sat in can­dle­light eat­ing cup­cakes.

Kate: Quite the scene. But preg­nancy didn’t hap­pen right away. I was track­ing my cy­cle, but it hap­pened to be a bit off, and we kept miss­ing the mark.

Adam: We tried in April, May, June and July. In Au­gust, we went to a fer­til­ity clinic.

Tracy: And on Septem­ber 28, 2014, it worked. Kate: Ella was born in May 2015. We were thrilled.

Tracy: A friend told us how her mother signs emails “Y.M.” for “Your Mom,” and we joked that Ella would call one of us Mommy and the other “Other Mommy.” Sud­denly, I was like, “Oh! Other Mommy is O.M.!” This friend was Bud­dhist and said that om was the seed syl­la­ble of life, so we made it “Omi,” which is what Ella now calls me. I was sen­si­tive about not be­ing bi­o­log­i­cally tied to Ella; Kate and Adam, who are both so gen­er­ous, rec­og­nized that, and we de­cided Ella would take my last name.

Kate: Tracy and I are listed on her birth cer­tifi­cate be­cause at the time, only two peo­ple could be named. The law has since changed, though, and we plan to add Adam.

Adam: It wasn’t my orig­i­nal in­ten­tion to move into Tracy and Kate’s house, but I had de­cided to quit bank­ing and go back to school. Tracy and Kate have a fourbed­room house, so they of­fered me the third floor, where there was space for an of­fice and a bed­room. In Au­gust 2014, I moved in, and we haven’t looked back.

Tracy: Kate and I have a bed­room on the sec­ond floor, where all three of us go to read Ella sto­ries at bed­time— we sit on what we af­fec­tion­ately re­fer to as “the big bed.” When Ella wakes up, she calls for all of us— “Mama, Daddy, Omi!” Com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween three par­ents is nat­u­rally more com­pli­cated than in other ar­range­ments, where two par­ents might dis­cuss some­thing be­fore turn­ing out the light. In our case, we re­play those dis­cus­sions with Adam or we wait to have them to­gether. Some­times small stuff slips through, like when we told Ella she couldn’t open another Hal­loween treat—and then we came down­stairs to find that Adam had said she could. And there was Ella, sort of flaunt­ing how she had found a loop­hole in the sys­tem.

Kate: For the most part, we’re pretty con­sis­tent with rules and the like. We try to dis­cuss ev­ery­thing be­fore we talk about it with Ella.

Adam: Be­fore Ella was born, dat­ing was just for me. Now, when I date, I’m think­ing about how this per­son would fit in my fam­ily. Is he a good role model for Ella? Would Tracy and Kate ap­prove?

Tracy: The only per­pet­ual stress we share is about Adam find­ing a part­ner and mov­ing out, since there isn’t enough space for a five-per­son fam­ily right now. We could build a coach house, add an ex­ten­sion or ren­o­vate the at­tic. Or, since we’re all prop­erty own­ers—Adam and Kate each own a condo—we could sell ev­ery­thing and buy a du­plex. Ba­si­cally, the thought of be­ing sep­a­rated makes us sick. What­ever hap­pens, though, we’ll work through it—just like we have with ev­ery­thing else that’s come our way.

Kate and Tracy mar­ried in 2011. In 2014, they asked their friend Adam if he’d be in­ter­ested in con­ceiv­ing and rais­ing a child with them. “It was a big ask,” says Adam. Today, Ella calls Kate “Mama,” Adam “Daddy” and Tracy “Omi”

Kate, Adam, Tracy and Ella share a three-storey home in Daven­port. Adam lives on the third floor. Tracy and Kate’s bed­room is on the sec­ond floor, where the en­tire fam­ily gath­ers for bed­time sto­ries. When Ella wakes up, she calls out for all three par­ents

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