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Charlie Condou: The three of us Two dads, one mum – one family

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October 21st, 2011, 07:39 PM
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Life & style

Charlie Condou: The three of us

Two dads, one mum – one family

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Charlie Condou
The Guardian, Friday 21 October 2011
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Charlie Condou
Catherine, Charlie Condou and Cameron. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

My partner Cam and I took Georgia, two, to the Alternative Families show, an amazing, uplifting annual event for gay and lesbian parents, as well as those who are hoping to become parents. There are seminars on everything from the legal aspects of using an American surrogate, to how to choose a gay parent-friendly school.

The first thing that strikes you at an event like this is how strange it feels to see so many male couples with kids. Obviously there were plenty of female couples too but, somehow, that doesn't stand out in quite the same way. We live in a world where seeing women, singly or in pairs or even in groups, with kids is no big deal.

Seeing a single man with children is pretty commonplace too, but seeing pairs of men with babies? It's only when you see lots of them, all together in the same place, that it really strikes you how unusual it is.

Gay issues aside, it says a lot about how we still automatically see women with kids as more "normal". So it was refreshing to be in an environment where we weren't the exception for once. Especially as we've just returned from a visit to Cam's tiny Canadian home-town where, on a visit to a playground, the local mothers had stared at us as though we had beamed in from another planet.

At one point during the show I nipped to the loo, only to find three blokes in there, each trying to change nappies on the toilet floor. It's a major frustration that you still almost never find baby-changing facilities in men's toilets.

I've lost count of the times I've been quietly ushered into the ladies loos by an embarrassed shop assistant to change Georgia.

Again, never mind the gay issue, we really need to do more to support all men in parenting. Babies don't magically stop crapping just because they're with their dad.

It was interesting that so many other gay parents assumed that Cam and I had used a surrogate. Strangely, people often find it hard to get their heads around us co-parenting with a friend. People assume that Catherine, Georgia's mum, used a sperm donor. For me, co-parenting was always the most obvious route to fatherhood, and I wonder that so few people even consider it. Indeed only today I read a magazine aimed at gay parents and the subject of co-parenting wasn't even mentioned.

Cam and I were approached by one couple who proudly told us that a surrogate was pregnant with their twins. They also commented that, on hearing their news, the first question that everyone asked was "which one of you is the father?"

This, of course, is a familiar question for same-sex parents where, naturally, there will always be a biological and a non-biological parent. It's a weird question, with its implication that bio is somehow more "real" than non-bio parenting (tell that to an adopted child).

Why is it so important to everyone? No one who sees us as a family could ever think that Cam was less of a father to Georgia than I am, or that he loves her less than I do.

The biological link is far from the most important aspect of being a parent. Indeed, with a lesbian couple we know who have split up, residence is with their non-bio mother as she has always been their main carer. So we stood around together, chatting about the absurdity and irrelevance of the "biological question" and then one of them turns to me and says: "Anyway, it doesn't matter in our case because we've fathered one twin each." I think we still have some way to go.

• Follow Charlie Condou on Twitter @charliecondou
Charlie Condou: The three of us | Life and style | The Guardian
Mommy to Damon TS to Kyle 10/07 GS for E and R--WE ARE PREGNANT!!
Try 1--Sept 2010 negative Try 2--Jan 2011 negative
Try 3--May 2011-miscarried at 5 weeks
Transfer 4---PREGNANT!!! BFP @ 5.5dp3dt Beta at 11dp3dt was 164.6

Ultrasound showed TWO BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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