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I'm a law professor who works on gender, sexuality, and culture in the international and comparative context. That's my head working. In "real" life, my partner, Howard, and I have been engaged in having a baby together for several years, a project that came to fruition with the birth of our daughter Melina. Of course, such a project evokes intensely complex feelings and thoughts. Beyond a simple transposition of the personal onto the political, I feel so fortunate to have engaged in myriad conversations with a variety of friends and colleagues who think much more carefully about the family and different aspects of race, class, gender, and sexuality than I do. Fascinating conversations also arose with people who work in the less clearly related fields of administrative law, law and economics, public international law, international commercial law, and law and psychology. These conversations have reshaped my understanding of the boundaries among self, family, and society, and have given me a faith in our profession that, despite the hierarchies and occasional pettiness, we law professors are a warm and supportive bunch. As Howard and I awaited the birth of our child, I wrote down some of my thoughts on these conversations to memorialize them so that others could share them. Scholarship abounds on parenting and families: surrogacy, in-vitro fertilization and other reproductive technologies, gay parenting, the economics of families, and so on-studies which can and did inform our process. I wrote this short essay in the middle of our gestational surrogate's pregnancy to remind myself of the many amazing theoretical discussions I've had over the past couple of years as my partner and I worked to become parents. At first, I was far too reluctant to attach to the fetus as if it were our baby, so much so that we referred to it as "Cletus the Fetus," and then, at the suggestion of a friend (who noted that "Cletus" was a boy's name), as "Cledith or Cletus" during the pregnancy. Now that I'm sitting five feet from our daughter "M", I feel safer opening this chapter of our lives to others.


Family Law | Law | Law and Gender