Welcome the Clayby!

August 13, 2008

Clay Aiken is a father! His son Parker Foster Aiken was born on 8/8/08 at 8:08 (very neat). When the pregnancy was announced, some gossip sites and blogs referred to the unborn child as the Clayby (combo of Clay and baby). My husband thinks that is the dumbest name ever. I think it’s funny.

This isn’t your standard “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the Clayby in the baby carriage” story. Every article announcing the pregnancy and many articles announcing the birth have felt the need to mention several facts:

  • Clay and the mother, Jaymes Foster, are close friends but not romantically involved
  • Clay is 29 years old; Jaymes is 50
  • The baby was conceived using artificial insemination

I do not have the patience to read the thousands of message board postings about the birth, but luckily Vote for the Worst has identified some highlights.

The news coverage that I read when the pregnancy was announced (mostly gossipy Hollywood sites) indicated that many people are weirded out by the fact that the baby was conceived via artificial insemination. There is an implication, sometimes tacit, sometimes more explicit, that the AI was necessary because Clay is gay and therefore would not be willing to conceive via heterosexual sex. But no website that I have seen has even hinted that AI may not have been the only intervention, given that the mother, Jaymes Foster, is 50 years old.

It really seems to freak people out that two people would have a child together even though they are not a couple — even my non-judgmental husband found it strange when I told him. Partly, I think people find it weird that a woman would be inseminated by sperm from a man she is not having sex with, and partly that two people who are not romantically involved could stand to spend enough time together to coparent. In addition, many people are displaying their ignorance and confusion about artificial insemination as compared to other fertility treatments like IVF.

Would the gossip-mongers (and general public) find it equally weird to think that many of us are getting artificially inseminated all the time? That some of us are inseminated by the sperm of men with whom we do not have sex and with whom we are not romantically involved and perhaps whom we have never met? Does that make us less legitimate as families than everyone else?

I have to speculate, based on the odds for 50-year-old women, that Jaymes used donor eggs. I wonder how much weirder everyone would have found it if they had chosen a surrogate instead of carrying the child herself. Could the public possibly deem them less of family than they already do?

There is also an overtone that “sperm donors” like Clay may not be real fathers:

“We’re told Foster was artificially inseminated. But Clay is a lot more than sperm — we’re told he will have an active role in raising the child.” (from TMZ)

This story is not being covered as an infertility-related story at all, but I wonder how the discussions might differ if the AI was seen as medically necessary rather than just a confirmation of Clay’s homosexuality.

I guarantee you that 10 years from now, there is a better chance of Clay and Jaymes both being involved in the child’s life than more “traditional” families like Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz, or Jamie Lynn Spears and Casey Aldridge.

A few weeks ago I talked about some gifts that IF has given me (some sarcastic, some real). I have another genuine gift to add to my list:

Infertility has made me more respectful of the full diversity of families, no matter how the children are conceived or brought into the family, no matter the relationship between the parents. If a child is so wanted and loved that the parent or parents are willing to put up with all manner of pain, trouble, waiting, criticism, and even international gossip, I am rooting for them. Parker has obviously been deeply wanted since before he was conceived, and he is tremendously loved now. Plus, he has thousands of crazed Claymates knitting him little booties.


One Response to “Welcome the Clayby!”

  1. Marie Says:

    I say “Go Clay”. Maybe he was ready to be a parent and does not give a crap what society says. If he is resposible and loves the baby then who cares how it was concieved.

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