October 15, 2013

The Pain of Those Affected Is Too Much to Bear

Have you ever read Dear Hiccup's Journal? It is an online journal from a surro mom to her son, whom she gave up shortly after his birth. I have never read a more heart-rendering account than this. All surrogates, especially you traditional ones, read this and weep! This will be you if you don't turn back now. The woman who keeps this journal has been at it for 8 years. And each year her entries have been just as heartbreaking. Here is a piece of her latest post:
8 years ago, in these hours, like tonight.. I was asking myself "How in the world will I live without this boy in my life every day?" Those hours after you were born were some of the best and worst of my entire life. I loved you so fiercely. I felt so protective over you. I needed you. I wanted you. I needed you.. But.. I knew I had to let you go. I knew that my heart was going to break, my soul was going to be hundreds and hundreds of miles away.. 

...I don't know what you like, what you don't like. I don't know what you love, or what you are afraid of. I don't know your touch, or your voice, or your smell.. Oh, but how I know you. I know the feel of your soft hair against my cheek. I know the feel of your limbs when you were tiny, thumping against my heart. I know the sound of your newborn whimpers.. and the feel of your bum beneath my hand, your heart against my heart. Is this enough? It has to be, for me.

...I love you so fiercely.. today. Just as much as I did as you grew in my belly.. and you emerged from my body into my arms, into my life. I'll love you this way, and even more and more.. as the day goes by. May your 8th year be as amazing as the short few before.
She started the journal a month before he was born, while her unborn baby was still hiccuping merrily in her pregnant belly. Her love for him was already evident; she obviously fell for her unborn baby, as any mother naturally does and should, while he was still hidden from the rest of the world.

She doesn't ever spell out her circumstances, but I strongly suspect that she was a traditional surrogate, and that the baby was her own biological son - at one point she refers to the fact that on photographs, he inherited her lips and her smile - clearly a genetic connection:
I got a picture of your smile. My gosh, you have a beautiful smile. I can't help but look at your mouth and notice we share the same lips. My lips have always been my favorite characteristic of myself and I am very proud to pass them on to you. My aunt always used to tell me that I should go into lipstick modeling. I guess you're lucky!
It also seems from some of her references that the father of the baby was, as is typical, the commissioning Dad (she most likely conceived either through sperm injection or IVF).

Further, some of her early posts mention the fact that this surro already has two of her own sons, one of whom was 8 years old about the time when the baby was born.  Interesting, because surrogate providers tend to look for women with children to be potential surrogates (often, having existing children is a requirement for would-be surrogates). Perhaps this is because of the fear that surrogates would bond too strongly with first-time babies, and the expectation that their bond with later babies may be weaker due to the fact that they already have their own babies at home. Well, this blog obviously shatters that view, doesn't it?

It's evident that as her due date approached, this poor woman felt a great love for her unborn son swelling up within her. She struggled with her feelings, and a big part of her wanted to keep him. And yet, the ball that had been set in motion by this awkward and painful situation proved to be too heavy for her to stop, and despite her mountain of doubts she couldn't stop herself from proceeding with the plan to give him up to the commissioning couple.

Surely, a big part of the problem was the fact that the newborn son's commissioning father was in fact his biodad, who was married to the commissioning Mother, and with whom the surrogate had no relationship. The surrogate's memory of the moment she gave away her son after his birth is almost too much to bear:
I thought about sitting on the bed with you while your mommy and daddy waited for me to come out of that room. I was remembering the words I told you.. the words I whispered in your ear that evening. I said "I love you, baby. I love you so much. I'm sorry that I brought you into this mess and I hope you forgive me." Then I said.. "We did it, sweetheart. I know it was hard, but we did it." Then I kissed your soft little forehead and stood up.. as ready as I could ever be to give you up.

I was thinking, last night, about opening that door.. and how your mommy and daddy's hearts must have jumped in their chests. I was thinking about the tears streaming down my face and the sobs filling my body as I hugged your mommy first, still holding you to my heart.. I told your mommy and daddy that they weren't sad tears I was crying, but they were happy. I lied. They were tears so full of sadness and emotion that no words could ever describe them. I cried for you, I cried for me, and I cried for our family.

I hugged your daddy and he cried against my shoulder, feeling you to his heart at the same time I felt you to mine. We shared a connection there that will never be forgotten. Then I handed you to him. I put thought into who I would give you to when I walked away.

I decided to place you in your daddy's arms because as much as I love your mommy, I brought you into the world for him, for your daddy. The gift I gave was to him. Together, you and I... we made his dreams come true.

I hope he does the same some day and allows you to come back to me.

Another part of the problem was evidently the brainwashing she had undergone, whereby she believed in the need to be altruistic and help a needy infertile couple by surrendering her own child to them, because after all, they had wanted a baby for so long, they had gone this far, and this baby would not exist if it weren't for their commissioning it. She writes:
Today is supposed to be the day that you and I become legally separated, but I know it's not going to happen today, but has been put off for a short time.

...It's something that I would love to fight and remain your mother forever, but I'm so confused as to if it's the right thing to do or not. Do I fight the termination and allow you to remain there with Daddy and Mommy Jo or do I try to keep my rights so I am forever your mommy?


...But, sweet love, I don't want you to hate me when you grow older. I don't want you to feel like I sold you or gave you away for money or that money was more important to me than my son. Such is not the case. If it would work, I would give them every penny back and bring you home with me, but that is not the right thing to do.
Yet another part of the problem was probably her fear of the fury that would be unleashed were she to buck the anticipated course of events.

She obviously felt bad about the whole arrangement even as she was in the process of giving up her son, writing:
"I'm so angry with myself, little boy. I'm so mad that I put us into this situation and set us.. or myself.. up for so much pain."
What a terrible agony crying all the way up to heaven! A mother groaning for her son, whom she gave up in a moment of misguided altruism to infertile strangers. The poor woman! The poor son!

For one thing, she had no right to give him up. She didn't know that of course. She didn't do it with bad intent; on the contrary. Nonetheless the fact remains that she had no right. He wasn't hers to give up!

Belonging is not a one-way street. Her son belonged to her, just as much as she belonged to him! She has a right to be his mother. He has a right to be her son. Even if she signed away her right to be his mother, he still has a right to be her son! He has not consented to being given away!

His rights were violated in all this, and he is as much of a loser as his tragic mother. She moans and weeps for her lost son, she can't move on with her life because she misses him and feels incomplete. Well, how is he supposed to feel, having been robbed of his own mother?

Once again I am reminded of the blog post I once came across by Serra at umbilicly challenged. I reproduced it on my blog, which was a good thing because it has since disappeared from cyberspace. But here it is, as found in my old post:

A Grief not allowed

I am very sad today, with a grief that is not talked about. It is not allowed. Because I had two loving parents. I am not granted asylum. I am not allowed reprieve. Well...what the fuck are you complainin' about ?? You got everything you wanted. You had so many presents at Christmas and your birthday that it was supposed to buy your happiness. You were supposed to forget about your mother. You had everything. Why would you want more? WE GAVE YOU EVERYTHING.

I had everything....everything but my mother. You just can't fix that. Sorry.
Words are not enough, are they. There is so much pain and grief here on both sides of the equation. The mother's cries rise to the skies with unrelenting agony. The child is left with a deep-seated grief that it is not supposed to feel, that is not allowed to be manifested in its happy life with benevolent strangers.

Never, ever,
never, ever,
never, ever
give your own child away.  

September 17, 2013

Thanks Olivia! The End of Anonymous Sperm Donation in British Columbia

While this blog was sleeping, on May 19, 2011, the ground shook in British Columbia. Not literally, though there is a risk of earthquakes there. This time the earthquake came in the form of a judgement by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, striking down the provincial legislation that had protected donor anonymity.

The lawsuit had been brought by Olivia Pratten, about whom I have written here before - a young Canadian woman who had long sought in vain to find her anonymous sperm donor father. Olivia went to NYU and got a law degree, and she came back to Canada with the torch ablaze, ready to torch our antiquated laws through her luminous lawsuit. Thankfully the judge heard and listened, and agreed. Here is the wonderful, detailed verdict.

The verdict lists mounds of research, expert testimony and personal stories, all of which build a very convincing case against anonymous donor conception. To any person who is considering anonymous donor conception to build their family: please read the verdict above and consider the evidence!

In fact, if you read between the lines, this verdict makes a very convincing case for ending donor conception altogether.

August 30, 2013

Let's Roll! The Blog is Back

Dear Readers,

Thank you for your patience. This blog has received thousands of visits over the last four years of inaction, and the comments have continued to trickle in. And now, after a four-year pause this blog is ready to roll again!

I am back from my "mat leave" of sorts, and ready to continue our discussion about everything Repro Tech related and the rights of the child. Over the last four years, things in the the area of reproductive technologies have gone still further downhill and there is so much to comment on.

Over the next few weeks and months I will also be reviewing, updating and editing/adding the links on this blog, many of which are now dated. I will also be performing other changes to the blog to bring it up to speed. Please bear with me as this blog undergoes a needed renovation and updating. 

Keep an eye out for upcoming posts!

November 07, 2009

Blog Update

For the time being, this blog is on hiatus, as I am not able to devote much time to it at present. I am still very interested in the issues, and expect to return to this blog in the future. Thank you for visiting!

February 18, 2009

IVF Children are a Living Experiment

An article in the New York Times on Monday admits that children conceived with IVF are basically living human experiments. Scientists suspect that embryos that have developed in petri dishes are slightly different in some ways from embryos that develop in the womb, but they are still working out the specifics. They have some indications that IVF embryos are more likely to have certain genetic diseases and developmental problems. but they still need more data. The article says:
"following babies born after IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection is not easy. And if problems emerge from epigenetic changes, they may not be apparent until adulthood or middle or old age."
In other words, if you're an IVF child, then you are a walking human experiment. Scientists are waiting to see what will happen to you as you get older, so that they can complete their data collections on the effects of IVF on people.

Sounds really ethical, doesn't it?
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February 11, 2009

Somerville says that Adoption and Donor Conception Are Two Birds of a Feather

A great article by Margaret Somerville in today's Ottawa Citizen, the daily newspaper of Canada's capital city.

One of my favorite parts of the article is when she writes:

First, we need to distinguish between natural conception and conception where there is reliance on technology. It is one matter, ethically, not to interfere with a person's decisions regarding conceiving a child when that is a purely personal and private decision as it is with natural conception; it's quite another when society provides its resources to facilitate that outcome and the institution of medicine is involved.

With rare exceptions, such as the prohibition on incest or under-age sexual relations, when natural conception unassisted by technology is involved, personal autonomy and personal and family privacy must be given priority. In short, as Pierre Trudeau famously said, "The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation."

When technology is involved in conceiving a child, we are, however, not in the bedrooms of the nation, but the laboratories, hospitals and clinics of the nation. And the creation of new human life is not an outcome of private love-making, but of actions undertaken by health-care professionals using research and facilities paid for with taxpayers' money. That means the state has ethical obligations, in particular, to ensure the protection and wellbeing of the future children who will result from those activities.
I like the distinction that Somerville makes between natural conception and ART conception. Of course, infertile couples and others who "need" ART will gripe here - it's "not fair" that they should be singled out in this way for more government regulation in their so-called "private" childbearing decisions, when all those fertile bunnies get the government to turn a blind eye to their often irresponsible childbearing behavior. Treating donor-gamete childbearing like adoption may seem like yet another slap in the face for the long-suffering infertile couples, yet another indignity to be borne simply because they can't reproduce naturally.

That kind of objection makes some sense, admittedly, on an emotional level - no, it's not entirely "fair" that the fertile and infertile should be treated differently in terms of childbearing. But unfortunately, life is rarely fair (to begin with, it's not fair that some people should be fertile and others not). And infertile people are treated differently when it comes to adoption too - fertile couples who reproduce naturally don't have to prove to the government that they will be good parents, while infertile couples who try for children through adoption have to undergo home studies, etc., and prove that they will be good parents. Is it really "fair"? Maybe not, but who will argue that it should be otherwise? Who will argue that those who apply for adoption should be given the green light without any kind of investigation into their fitness as parents? It's obvious that focusing only on the fairness aspect is very limiting, inadequate and self-centered. After all, isn't the main point supposed to be, as Somerville points out, the "best interests" of the child?

Somerville is entirely right to point out the glaring similarities between adoption and donor-gamete conception (which is, in effect, a form of adoption). This is why she writes:
At the least, especially when the future child will not be genetically related to one or both parents, as happens when donated gametes are used, the conditions for having access to reproductive technologies should not be any less demanding than those for adoption.
I can't say I entirely agree with Somerville, only to the extent that I think donor conception should be outlawed entirely. In my opinion, despite the similarities between adoption and donor conception, there's a very big and fundamental difference between there two which Somerville has chosen to leave out of her analysis, at least for the time being. This is the central issue of INTENTIONALITY.

It's one thing for the state to allow adoption as a way to help a child that is already existing and in need. It's a completely different thing for the state to allow the creation of a child who will be permanently separated from one or both genetic parents. The former is an ethically good thing, but the latter is in my opinion a very unethical enterprise - in effect, the state is allowing the manufacture of adoptees - children who will face lifelong struggles due to the fact of their separation from biological parent(s) - merely to satisfy the market demand of childless adults. THAT is where the similarities to adoption come to a screeching halt and frankly, drive right off the cliff.
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February 02, 2009

Octuplets Mother - Single and Obsessed with Babies

As the glitter begins to settle around the supposedly wonderful story of a California mother named Nadya Suleman delivering octuplets, the story behind the story is beginning to emerge.

It turns out that Suleman, at 33 years old, already has 6 children who are under the age of 7. I would congratulate her for that, if she was raising these children responsibly in a marriage with their father. But it also turns out that she is still living at home, unmarried, and she depends on her mother and father to support her and her children.

And now, Suleman's own mother has been interviewed in the media and has revealed that her daughter has never wanted to get married, has always been obsessed with having children, and has had all (now 14) children via IVF using the same sperm donor. What's more, it seems that Suleman may have been paying for the IVF procedures by "donating" her eggs. Now that's a real "Single Mom By Choice"!

I find this story an absolutely appaling example of how we have completely lost our minds in this society. Our culture supports adults in becoming so narcissistic and self-centered that the results are absurd, as in this case.

For Suleman, having children seems to be similar to collecting pets - some people have a houseful of cats or dogs, but she has decided that her hobby is to breed children. And it's easier breeding children than breeding pets! No need to enter into complicated "stud" arrangements with other pet-owning families. There's no need to seek out a father anymore and enter into real human relationships - human sperm is cheap and available online.

Suleman now has 14 children with one man. He is not held responsible for these children in any way simply because he "donated" (read: sold) his sperm away. Suleman also possibly has who knows how many children with other men, the result of her own egg "donations" - and yet she is not held responsible for these other children simply because she sold her own eggs away.

Theoretically, there is no limit to Suleman's ability to have children via sperm donation. If she won the lottery tomorrow, she could hire a harem of surrogates and keep popping out her progeny via sperm donation for as long as she could produce viable eggs. Hey, if some sperm donors are known to have produced hundreds of children, why should single mothers by choice be deprived of that delight? These days, polygamy/polyamory is not required if you want to produce dozens and dozens of your own offspring. (and hey, if you can't support them all, there's always mom and dad - or at least social assistance, which Suleman will very likely be applying for very soon. Society can't wait to pay for these progressive results of unlimited "reproductive choice").

Who's the big loser here, aside from Suleman's mom and dad? Oh yeah - it's those eight cute "bundles of delight" that are currently spending several weeks in the hospital, having been born premature and fatherless - and of course, their six siblings at home.

Unbelievable.
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