February 21, 2008

Responses VI: 12-13

(12) "Children being put up for adoption are most times very much wanted by their biological parents! Adoption plans are made not because firstparents don't "want" the child but because they feel they cannot give the best care."

This refers to my saying that I would not adopt a child whose biological parents did want to raise that child - in other words, I would not want to take a child from parents who are willing to raise it!

If parents are giving up their child, whom they love and want to raise, only because they "feel they cannot give the best care," then we need to look at why they feel that way. Is it because they don't have the money? Because they don't know how to parent? Because they are too focused on their own lives?

Lots of people feel overwhelmed by the needs of a baby. That's not enough reason to give a baby away. There are programs to help parents to feel less overwhelmed - and there should be more of such programs. There are programs to help people with low incomes to be able to raise their children - and there should be more of those programs.

Our society should not take children away from their parents marely because the parents are scared of the new responsibility ahead of them. If the fears can be resolved with some concrete assistance, then we should offer the assistance, not take the child away. We should do all we can to help parents raise their own children, because adoption remains in my mind a true second and less perfect solution.

There might be a lot less babies up for adoption if we help biological parents in these ways - and in my opinion that is a good thing. Obviously not good for the infertile couples who want to adopt, but again, this is not about them - this is about the children, and what is best for those.

(13) "You presume that ART (repro tech) children are hurt by definition. I don't agree with that view. They exist, whereas they wouldn't have otherwise....I'm sure you could find a Jack or Jill out there who IS happy, though conceived through donor sperm...Happiness or unhappiness is not predetermined by the manner of conception alone. "

True, I'm sure lots of DI children are fairly "happy." After all, they are usually loved, "wanted," and given everything they could ever want (except their own biological families). Nonetheless, I do belive that underneath their happiness there is often a deep sadness...a loneliness and a longing to know something they may never be able to know - who they really are. Moreover, a "snapshot" of their happiness at any one point in their lives does not tell the whole story, since the gravity and reality of it "hits" people at different times in their lives, and the same DI-conceived people who are laughing today might be dealing with many DI-related issues tomorrow.

More than anything else, though, the happiness that they may experience witnesses to the indestructability of the human spirit and character. Human beings have an incredible ability to bounce back after being beaten down and damaged, don't they? For example, people who survived concentration camps sometimes went on to do great things in their lives - though some also spent the rest of their lives in the shadows, unable to get past the trauma.

Ultimately, even if some children/adults are seemingly unaffected by having been born of repro technologies, this does not speak to the ethics of those technologies. We make the best of whatever situation we are given. Children play in the streets even in war-torn countries, and life goes on even in the midst of tragedy. However, that does not mean this is not a tragedy, that it is an injustice, that it is a suffering and a trauma.

9 comments:

Tom said...

Veronica, you are very insightful for someone who is not donor-conceived herself. Indeed there is a deep sadness within me, even when I am happy, and I'm beginning to fear it's one that will never go away. Nothing can make up for the ability to know and connect with both one's parents.

Veronica Thomas said...

Hi Tom,

Yes. Perhaps it's true that your sadness never will go away. Losing a parent in this way is a deep wound, a deep grief, and the scar of this grief likely stays on the heart heart forever, ocassionally hurting more, ocassionally less.

Knowing one's parents is indeed something so fundamental to our knowledge of ourselves. For instance, I have inherited a lot of things from my father's side, including my appearance - people say I am a copy of my paternal grandmother. I've also inherited many of my father's health problems, and even a lot of his personality and interests.

On the other hand, I don't look anything like my mother, her sister, or my cousins on her side of the family. I don't share much of her personality or her health ailments...Of course I do love her, but she has not been able to explain my own self to me in nearly the same way my father has.

If my mother had used my father merely as a sperm donor, and if I had never known my father and his family, I definitely would have felt like much more of an alien in the world! Nothing can replace that contact with my father and his family.

Well, I am not conceived with repro tech. However, I too have suffering in my life. My greatest suffering is that we have not been able to have children! That too is a deep grief, a deep mourning. That too is a wound that likely stays for life - whenever you see a happy family, the incompletely healed scar on the heart may pang a bit, in sorrow for what could have been - what should have been.

And yet - I do believe that the human spirit has the potential to rise out of the ashes, like the proverbial Phoenix. We may not choose to be thrown into the flames. But through courage and will, we can still conquer them.

So much depends on our will.

Reading a book about Africa recently reminded me of how much - and what a variety - of radical suffering people have in their lives. Hardly a life escapes some kind of deep pain or wound. The choice we have is usually not WHETHER, but rather, HOW to react to our suffering.

Personally, I believe that suffering is in a certain way a test of character. My own personal goal is to always act with integrity, and not to see my suffering as an "entitlement" to unethical action.

I also believe that all suffering can be transformed, through our reaction, into a force for the good. As long as we do not let it "take us down," we can use it to bring others up.

Lindsay said...

I'm with Tom on this one for sure. Everything you've said here is so completely true. I think while it is something that deep down we continually grieve for, it may not always show and we can lead happy productive lives regardless. However, despite a productive and happy life there is always something missing and an intense longing for answers which may never be found. I think as you pointed out with the adoption thoughts that the major factor that distinguishes donor conception as a worse example compared to other means of parental loss is the intentionality of that loss.

Veronica Thomas said...

Hi Lindsay, thanks for posting a comment. I'm glad to have discovered your blog. If you don't mind, I added a link to it! Thanks for speaking up about your experiences. As someone with first-hand experience on this topic, your voice is crucially important!

Anonymous said...

"Well, I am not conceived with repro tech. However, I too have suffering in my life. My greatest suffering is that we have not been able to have children! That too is a deep grief, a deep mourning. That too is a wound that likely stays for life - whenever you see a happy family, the incompletely healed scar on the heart may pang a bit, in sorrow for what could have been - what should have been."

Sincere question... Could it be that because you and your husband cannot have children together you want others to meet the same fate? It is almost like you have the "If I can't have it, no one should" attitude. Unfortunately, we live in a world that isn't fair. Other people may get the things we want and we will never understand why. I don't mean to taunt but I have read many of your posts. Is it possible that when you witness other women experiencing the joys of pregnancy and motherhood, you feel jealous? Maybe DI would not even work for you. But that doesn't mean others should be insulted because it worked for them.

I agree that DI can lead to problems for offspring, but your approach seems a bit obsessive. Please get help before your angst consumes you. I know this pain. Just because we cannot have something doesn't mean we should prevent others from receiving the very thing we long for. I guess it's true what they say. Misery truly loves company.

Curious Reader

Veronica Thomas said...

Dear Curious Reader,

Thanks for your "sincere" question.

Sometimes you just can't win, can you? When my readers do not know that I am personally struggling with infertility, some of them have told me to "mind my own business" because I can't possibly know what I am talking about until I experience the "hellish pain" that infertile couples go through. Someone who is not infertile is supposed to have no right to speak about treatments that infertile couples use.

On the other hand, when it becomes clear that I do indeed know what infertile couples go through, then it is suggested that I am a grinch, someone who simply wants everyone to suffer in childless misery just because I do not have children.

I find your supposedly "sincere" question quite malicious and insulting. It is merely an ad-hominem attack, and a low blow at that.

If you really want to defeat what I am writing about on this blog, why don't you deal with the arguments in a reasoned and logical manner, rather than taking a stab at me personally? If the best you can do, in confronting rational argumentation, is to deflect to my personal motivations, then your counter-attack is on weak ground indeed.

For your information by the way, you are completely wrong in your insinuation. Yes, we could use repro tech to have children, with high likelihood of success. We choose not to do so, because we believe it to be selfish and unethical - it would effectively mean passing on the buck, transferring our pain to the child.

Anonymous said...

"If you really want to defeat what I am writing about on this blog, why don't you deal with the arguments in a reasoned and logical manner, rather than taking a stab at me personally?"

If you feel you must go that route, your blog could be defeated by the many DI conceived adults who would disagree with the way in which you are handling this. I encourage you to speak with a broad spectrum of them. There is a rational way to handle the injustice they face.

"On the other hand, when it becomes clear that I do indeed know what infertile couples go through, then it is suggested that I am a grinch, someone who simply wants everyone to suffer in childless misery just because I do not have children."

You don't know what it is like to be DI conceived. Do you know what it is like to be fatherless? I do and I say that your blog doesn't speak for me and many others. Also, you don't know what it is like to raise a child. Therefore, you really are in no position to condemn others who are, simply because you disagree with their methods.

Honestly Ms Thomas, if you knew the joys of motherhood, you'd be a bit more rational in your approach. You would also be more likely to foster a sense of hope in the DI adults who visit this blog. Just look at your response to Tom:

Hi Tom,

Yes. Perhaps it's true that your sadness never will go away. Losing a parent in this way is a deep wound, a deep grief, and the scar of this grief likely stays on the heart heart forever, ocassionally hurting more, ocassionally less.

In an attempt to help him, you simply encouraged more sadness. The fact is, this will continue to be a wound or scar if he allows it to be. I've witnessed people who experience much worse rise above the wounds.

BTW, I feel that anonymous sperm/egg donations are unethical AND selfish. But again, there is a rational way to handle this.

Curious Reader

Veronica Thomas said...

Hi Curious Reader,

You obviously support the use of donor gametes as long as the donor is not anonymous.

As far as taking an "opinion poll" of DI-conceived adults and deciding on the ethics of repro tech based on the yay/nay of the results - that is not how morality is decided.

Moreover, I completely disagree with your unfounded assertion that a lot of DI-conceived adults are unaffected by their conception. From what I have read and heard, the exact OPPOSITE is true - most are definitely affected, just like children of adoption. I would place the burden on you. YOU are the one who is making the claim, so prove it! Why don't YOU show me just as many (or more) blogs by DI-conceived children who are happy, as there are blogs by DI-children who feel incomplete and who are searching for their donor?

Your further comments just do not make sense. For one thing, I am not commenting on parenting methods - this is about CONCEPTION not parenting, which takes place afterwards.

For another thing, just because I haven't experienced everything doesn't mean I can't comment on it! Are YOU donor-conceived? If not, then how can you have any opinion or comment on it, and claim that it is okay?

The fact is, we can comment on the world and what happens in it, without having to experience it all first. Otherwise, how could I even say that I feel bad for the poor people in China or Burma - after all, I am not one of them, so how can I really be sure that what happened to them is a tragedy?

Anonymous said...

Got something for you Veronica: The Fox and the Grapes by Aesop!