Lesbian mother Stav Ziv had to fight the Israeli healthcare system in order to be registered as a parent of her daughter. Despite the difficult bureaucracy, mostly because she’s not the mother who gave birth, she received a sympathetic ear from an unexpected source: an Arab doctor of her baby.
And so the story goes: Shortly after the birth of our daughter, during the first visit to the pediatrician, I decided I was going to stand up for myself and not leave until they somehow registered me as a mother in the documents of the healthcare system, simply because it would be a bureaucratic nightmare to get treatment for her if I wasn’t registered. Especially in emergencies. And I’m an organized person.
I thought about the countless explanations and words, and my heart was beating faster, but when we got there the doctor came toward me pretty quickly and within seconds enrolled me as a father, because you still can’t have two mothers in the system. At least not in the Clalit health maintenance organization.
I left satisfied (sort of, right?!) but with a lot of energy to discharge because I really arrived there ready to fight for my right for my name to be filled in a box!
However, yesterday, an eye infection brought us to Dr. Jabal (I think). Many people will recognize, and rightly, that he is an Arab. But more importantly to me – he’s a doctor. And it turned out he was even a sensitive and humane doctor.
He checked, petted, smiled, and obviously we showed him all the features of a year old baby, which, among other things include ‘How does a dog sound?” and ‘Wave bye bye.’ He smiled some more and then went to the computer to start typing into the system, which always seems endless and takes place in a completely different time sphere in relation to the quick review.
Then the baby started crying, and her mother went out with her and left me, ‘the father,’ alone with Dr. Jabal to get the prescription. In between his typing I was trying to explain to him that I needed sick days because I was the one who stayed with the baby. And then everything got complicated. Of course.
-“Who is the mother?”
-“Both of us.”
-“But who is the mother?”
-“What does this mean? She gave birth but I’m also her mother, only here, at Clalit HMO, I’m her father.”
-“What is this thing?”
-“Tell me about it.”
Then, he wondered a bit, scratched his scalp. “I know what to do.”
I rubbed my hands in delight and said to myself that we had managed to beat the system.
He typed: ‘Requires home care and supervision by the father.’
“What is this?” he said again.
“Yes, it’s not pleasant to me either to be listed as the father.”
“But it’s not going to change, it’s becoming more and more extreme here,” he added to me, but I felt he was saying that first of all to himself.
And for one moment, in a small room in Kiryat Shmona, brotherhood of the oppressed, a mother-father and the Arab doctor.
“Well, thanks,” I said, and I asked, “Where’s the prescription?”
“It’s waiting for you in the computer. Shalom.”
What progress, I thought to myself.
And we parted ways with a smile.