Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Talk: Circumcision (or not)

  Early 2011, Higgins Bathroom, Bathtime:
Zeke: Blake! What's wrong with your wee-wee?!
E: Ya, Blake-ee, it looks weird!
Blake: (looking sideways at me) I donno, Mom?
Me: (totally unprepared, stammering) Blake is circumcised.  They did it at the hospital when he came out of me.  It isn't necessary, some people do it.  The doctor just clipped a bit of skin off the end.
Blake: You let someone cut my wee-wee?!?!?
E: I'm sorry, Blake-ee.
Blake: How could you, Mom?

     Circumcision is a totally normal conversation for me; one that I have on a regular basis with my families as they prepare for their babies arrivals.  I work with a very diverse population, so there are many, many alternating viewpoints on this topic.  For many cultures, it is offensive and unheard.  For white, middle America, not circumcising is rare.  So if you have a trans racial family, like ours, having boys that play "sword fight" in the bathroom means that this is absolutely going to come up time and time again.
     Religiously speaking, circumcision was once a sort of ratification between God and Abraham (Gen 17) but with the New Testament and time, Christians no longer view the physical act as an element of faith.  Culturally, many living in developing nations are very unfamiliar with circumcision because it is not practiced.  The cost as well as the high rate for complications (infection, scarring) make this procedure one in which the risks outweigh the benefits.
     Speaking of benefits....as of 1/28/2013 the American Academy of Pediatrics does endorse circumcision.  With an asterisk.  That asterisk will say that it is important for individuals to consider their family values and culture when making this decision for their infant.  Research supports a slightly lower risk for UTIs as well as HIV rates in gay males that are circumcised.  So there's that.  If your child is not circumcised, there is more maintenance and occasionally there may be issues.  But that's the healthcare provider in me talking...PM if you wanna talk that.
     The adoption the parenting question is what to do about the argument of "I want my son to look like his father." Ha!  Let's point out the obvious.  Ryan is white.  E and Zeke are  black.  For our family, we never gave to circumcise or not another thought because we clearly don't care if we "look" alike.  But I totally, totally appreciate that for some folks, this matters.  That's cool.  Every family is different.
     I tell my patients that by the time their children are in the locker rooms checking each other out (do boys really do that?!?) I believe that the population will be pretty equal.  Did you know that there are actually support groups for those that have been "foreskin challenged?" I kid you not. Google it.
     So are there other families that have their kids accusing them of horrendous crimes?  Did you choose to circumcise your older, newly adopted kiddo?  Do you know someone mourning their loss? Kidding, kidding.
Here was last night's discussion bathroom talk:
Etienne: Blake-ee, we should pray about getting your wee-wee to look like mine.  God can fix it.
Blake: Ya, we could do that. I didn't cut it myself,right? You let a doctor do that?! (sigh)
Ryan: (hollering from the stairs) If it is God's will, boys.

P.S.  Etienne is more than awesome.  I am in tears at the miracle in my house.  If we wake up tomorrow morning after a sleepless night and wet beds, with fighting, tears, crashing and destruction, I will be okay.  I am rejoicing, full of joy, at the glimpse-now more of a taste-of my son. Take that, Kylie!  Love wins.


  1. Haha! Your boys are hilarious. Our son does not have any brothers (yet) and though he knows what circumcision is all about he totally doesn't care at all that he's not. I studied public health before we adopted, and learned that in our city, the university hospital where most babies are born, doesn't even offer circumcision- parents have to ask for it. My professors estimated that only about half of boys born here are circumcised...and the only reason that number is so high is because we have a large Jewish population. So deciding not to circumcise an 11-month old was really a no-brainer for us.

    I've loved reading your last few posts- love wins, amen to that!

  2. Where do you live? I would guess that in the past 3 yrs, only about 25% of my patients do circumcise.

  3. I'm in Ann Arbor, Michigan :)

    By the way- I so love that you're in a midwife. One of my favorite professors was a midwife and I now think midwives are the coolest ever. I don't know if biological children are in our future, but I DO know that if they are, I want a midwife to deliver that those babies!