BY SUSAN ESTRICH
Born on Christmas day in California to a surrogate mother, weighing in at 7 pounds 15 ounces.
The son of proud fathers Sir Elton John and his civil partner David Furnish.
No statement as to whether or which of the two was the sperm donor.
“We are overwhelmed with happiness and joy at this very special moment,” John and Furnish said in a joint statement. “Zachary is healthy and doing really well, and we are very proud and happy parents.”
OK, I know, you can find plenty of reasons to criticize this latest example of how far “things” have gone.
Anti-gay marriage/adoption/parenting folks: You don’t need me to make that pitch. I don’t buy it, but you don’t need to hear that side, either.
Then there are the folks who will point out, rightly, that with so many unwanted babies and children in the world, why don’t celebrities set an example by adopting, rather than spending literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on a “designer” baby? The fact that John and Furnish were turned down when they sought to adopt an HIV-positive child from a Ukrainian orphanage does not necessarily mean that the only route to parenthood was through a California fertility specialist.
And, of course, there’s the matter of age. The conventional rule of thumb for adoption is that the sum of the two parents’ ages can’t exceed 100. John, 62, and Furnish, 48, are over the limit.
I’m sure there are other reasons I’m not even thinking of, such as John’s touring schedule [although he says he is retiring] and the like.
Even so, all I can say is congratulations. Welcome to the true adventure of life.
I don’t blame gay men who opt for biological children. All of us who are the biological parents of our children did the same thing; most of us just didn’t need a surrogate to do it. Wanting to see yourself in your children is about as basic a human drive as there is. It’s not the only reason, or the ultimate one, for becoming a parent. But there are surely no grounds for criticism. Adopting is wonderful. But it’s not the only wonderful way to become a parent.
As for age, I see 60-something guys [and older] having kids with women who are pushing [or past] 40 every day. I certainly didn’t hear anyone say that John Travolta and Kelly Preston were too old, although their joint ages totaled 103.
Having a first baby at 48 [much less 62] is hardly ideal, but compared to never having that baby at all? That’s a totally different question. John’s announcement of last month that he is retiring from the music business because he is too old to compete with the Lady Gagas suggests a level of wisdom and maturity that is ideal – and often missing – in parents.
Finally, as for the celebrity thing, I think if you gave most kids the choice of being the children of rich and famous celebrities or, well, you can see where this is going, and we probably should stop right there. I bet Zachary has an amazing childhood.
I certainly hope he does. And I wish his fathers the same joy and fulfillment that I have been blessed with as a parent.
Welcome to the world, Mr. Zachary. A very merry Christmas to a Christmas baby boy. And happy New Year to all.
– Susan Estrich’s columns appear regularly in The Oklahoma Observer