Summary List Placement
Despite that Tan France is a gay man having a baby through a surrogate, most people have assumed that France and his husband, Rob, would feed their baby with breast milk, he said Wednesday on Instagram.
“Ever since we announced that we were having a baby, people asked, ‘Where will you get your donor milk?’ ‘Will the surrogate donate her milk?'” France said in an Instagram video made as part of a partnership with the formula company Bobbie. “It’s such a strange thing that nobody at any point has talked about formula.”
France posted the video during Breastfeeding Month, something he acknowledged in the video’s caption.
“It’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, where one type of feeding is put on a social pedestal and those who can not or chose not to are made to feel second best for formula feeding,” France wrote.
France announced earlier this week that he and Rob had become parents. Their son, Ismail, was born to a surrogate on July 10, but had spent time in the neonatal intensive-care unit because he was seven weeks premature. The Frances just brought Ismail home this week.
In the video, filmed before Ismail was home, France talked about how the decision to formula feed was a no-brainer.
“My mom had five children,” he said. “She had two jobs. She couldn’t possibly breastfeed me. My husband is a formula baby. My surrogate isn’t able to pump, so we plan to feed our baby via formula because it is what makes sense for our life.”
The video elicited a lot of commentary, including from friends and family who France didn’t realize had felt shame about formula feeding.
“I’ve had so many messages from friends I didn’t know struggled to breastfeed, or who balanced breastfeeding with formula,” he said in a follow-up conversation on an Instagram live.
In that discussion, France emphasized that he’s not shaming anyone who breastfeeds; he’s pointing out that formula is an acceptable way of feeding a newborn, too.
“To any of those women who are watching this, I’m not saying breastfeeding is bad,” he said. “We’re not judging you for breastfeeding. It’s wonderful that you have the luxury and the privilege to be able to feed your baby with your breasts. I can’t. I physically can’t. And therefore I need formula. We’re not saying that it’s better. We’re just saying it’s a great option. It’s an option for people who can’t or who are unable to breastfeed.”
France said that the way to bridge the gap between formula and breastfeeding is through sharing stories.
“There should be no guilt on either side and no shame on either side, as long as there are respectful questions and conversation that come from a place and intention of wanting to understand,” he said. “People sharing their stories is the thing that is going to help bridge that divide and feel less shame.”