Kate & Adam & Tracy
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