So much of my life has been affected by a brain tumor that I had roughly between the ages of ten and twenty-one. Because the tumor—a chromophobe adenoma—controlled my sex hormones, I was potent, but quite sterile. I did not discover until some ten years ago that it was theoretically possible for me to have children’ but by then I was sixty-five years old, and I was in a relationship with Martine, who did not want to bear children for reasons of her own. (In fact, she made me get tested to verify that I could not impregnate her.) So I just resolved to accept my childlessness without complaint.
My friends and acquaintances would always use the same four-word phrase, telling me, “You could always adopt.” I have friends who have done this, but it is not always an easy road. My answer to this suggestion sometimes turned people off: “I don’t want to be responsible for other people’s mistakes.” When I said that to one cute co-worker named Alexis, she hung up on me in exasperation.
I know that raising a child is a long term commitment; but I also know myself, that I would not necessarily be willing to make the sacrifice if the child were not of my blood. If that makes me a bad person, then I must reluctantly admit that I am a terrible person. Better that, sometimes, than making my life and that of my partner possibly a living hell. Sure, the reward can be great, but I have seen cases where it wasn’t.
There was another factor: At times I have a savage temper like my father did. Since I was childless for so many years, I am sometimes not patient with the behavior of children who misbehave. I suspect I might behave as my father did—by swatting the child. In these times, that is considered child abuse.