March 12, 2008

DI children are speaking - are infertile people listening?

DI-conceived Mywfany Walker recently said it very well in an interview for The Australian. She says of the DI-child which does not know its genetic father: "The child does not really know who they are". She also says of her genetic father (whom she eventually found), whose name is Michael:
"I know lots of facts about Michael, but I can't really 'know' him until I have a relationship with him."
Even though eventually she did find her father and now has a relationship with him, she says: "But there was a massive amount of loss there for me," she says. "There were 20 years I could never reclaim, coupled with the realisation that I could never have the genetic relationship with my own dad."

Here is what she says about gamete donation in general:

"Basically my problem is with the ethics of the practice. It doesn't protect the rights of the child. Once people understand the issues they probably wouldn't choose to conceive via donor. And also once the Government is aware of the issues I think they will inevitably either legislate against it or strictly govern its practice, that is, treat it as an adoption....It should be a question of whether it's in the interests of the child," she says. "You can't negate that, you really can't."

10 comments:

Tara said...

I'm confused about why you have my blog listed as one of your "Stops Along the Baby Trade." Do you have a discussion of gestational surrogacy anywhere on your blog? I've read a bit here and there and it seems to be mostly focused on donor gametes which is not our situation. Thanks--you can either leave a comment back here or email me at toplanb@gmail.com.

Veronica Thomas said...

Hi Tara, thanks for your comment. I've been neglecting my blog a bit lately so I do have to come back to it again soon.

As far as your question, you're right that I end up talking mostly about gamete donation and even traditional surrogacy, not so much gestational surrogacy. Perhaps I should talk more about gestational surrogacy as well, since I do consider it part of the "baby trade."

I do not mean to accuse you of having intentionally done something wrong, as gestational surrogacy is becoming quite popular today and is often viewed as a win-win solution: compassionate/ charitable on the part of the surrogates, and of course a source of great blessing for the intended parents. Also, certainly from the perspective of the child itself, gestational surrogacy is better than traditional surrogacy in the sense that the child still grows up being raised by its own biological parents.

However, I do believe that there are some things seriously wrong with gestational surrogacy. Here is a brief run-down:

-- it treats the child as an object that can be manipulated at will, rather than as a person with rights. It disregards the child's right to safety throughout this fragile time, and the right to be formed within the womb of its natural mother. The child becomes something that its "owners" (the bio parents) can hand off to any random stranger they choose, to "incubate" for them.

-- It results in added stress upon the child, who is arguably affected after birth as if it had been given up for adoption - the mother it has come to bond with subconsciously, the mother who is deeply familiar to it (not just through sounds, but also through smells and movements) and under whose heart it was formed, is not the woman that it goes home with. Who knows what subconscious effects (insecurities, psychological problems) this has upon the child throughout its life? There are not yet any reported studies of such long-term consequences.

-- because it uses IVF, it exposes the embryonic human being to increased danger of death (due to handling and stress caused by the different procedures);

-- also because it uses IVF, it often results in wastage of human life through freezing or discarding of embryonic human beings who are viewed as "excess"

-- importantly, also treats the gestational surrogate as an object. No matter how nicely the matter is dressed up, the gestational surrogate in effect becomes a piece of equipment: a womb. This is true even if the surrogate volunteers for this position. Whether she volunteers or whether she is paid for it, she has basically sold or given away her own body, not unlike a prostitute, or even a slave - even if she did it for a good motive, she has entered her own body into voluntary bondage.

This becomes especially apparent when we look at all the gestational surrogates now being "farmed out" at gestational surrogacy "farms" in India. For a fraction of the price, wealthy Westerners can get an Indian woman to carry their baby for them. The industry defends this practice by saying that everyone wins- the women get the needed cash, the parents get the baby. However, there is certainly something very disturbing about this practice. It is the fact a "trade" in the bodies of the women themselves - they are selling their own wombs. There is something very UNfeminist about this. The women are being exposed to all the dangers that go with pregnancy, including (though small) a chance of possible death. In my opinion, no human being should be allowed to sell OR give away certain things, and one of these is their bodies, because such an action violates their human dignity.

--Another way that this practice violates the human dignity of women is that it asks of them a totally unnatural act - to NOT bond with the baby within their womb. Most women only experience pregnancy a handful of times in life - it is a major and memorable life event, the body changes and the emotions well up in ways she has not experienced before. Everything in a pregnant woman gears her for the deepest love for the child within her. And yet, these women are asked to choke back their most natural urges and to refuse to love and bond with the child within them. It is stressful and hard on the woman; and has anyone ever proven that the woman's artificial emotional hardness to the child has no effects on the growing baby inside of her?

Tara said...

Thanks for answering, Veronica. I disagree with most of your opinions about gestational surrogacy, but appreciate the time you took to answer the question I had.

Sam said...

Thanks for the list of stops along the baby trade. It gives me a great list of where to go to talk to a bunch of wonderful, caring people that are trying to become or are parents.

Anonymous said...

For every "donor created" child who laments their existence, there are thousands who are loved beyond words and grow up to be happy, healthy, wonderful people.

Anonymous said...

So you have opinions about people who are infertile and want to become parents, and adoption or surrogacy is the only way they can? good for you, except no one cares. apparently only you and YOUR way of having children is ok and moral. too bad no one really cares, except other pro-life nutjobs who think that a frozen bunch of cells is the same thing as a baby and has more rights than people an animals who are already here and clearly sentient.

Kay Bailey said...

If you'd like to hear the other side, about how we hope IVF will bring a (lucky) child into our lives, for us to love forever, I'd invite you to read my blog. I'm at www.achievingconceiving.com.

hanalia said...

I find your opinions very ill informed and blown totally out pf proportion. I am the mother two two wonderful little girls, as well as the egg donor for 4 other also beautiful girls. They may have a genetic connection, but they are not my children. They were carried, nurtured, and loved IMMEASURABLY by their MOTHER. And that is not me.

I was part of a miracle that created a family. But it is someting that is outside of me and mine. I acknowledge the genetic connection and require only a known donation so that should those little girls want to meet me some day in the future to find out more about themselves they can do that. I will welcome them with open arms and share witht hem what they want to know, but I am not their mother. they have someone who has known them all their lives, who carried them and cared for them. That is one connection I can not claim, and I wouldn't want to.

Veronica Thomas said...

Hi Hanalia,

Thanks for your comment.

You can certainly try to escape the obvious by twisting the definition of "mother" to suit your situation. However, the clear biological fact remains that because those four girls were created using your eggs, you *are* their mother, whether or not you choose to acknowledge that. There is absolutely no difference in your actual biological relationship to those four girls and to the two that you decided to "keep" and to raise yourself.

The only difference is, you basically gave up those four girls for adoption before they were ever created - you signed away your rights to your own biological children and handed over the eggs that would be used to make them.

A lot of people these days live with the confused perception that it is a compassionate and charitable thing to give away their own children to poor infertile couples "in need". Well, compassion is certainly a noble thing, and so is charity. But there is a big difference between giving away objects and money, and giving away people, namely your own children. Giving away children has turned out to be not such a good, compassionate deed after all. Among other things, such an act completely ignores the rights and the needs of such children to their own biological parents.

Yes, we all have eggs and sperm, and these belong to us. However, they are not the same thing as blood platelets, and egg and sperm donation are not the same thing as blood donation. What we do with our own eggs and sperm is limited by a special consideration that is not there when we think about blood donation. Our eggs and sperm result in the formation of babies that are biologically our own offspring. Because they are our offspring, we have a natural responsibility to these children to care for them - and in fact, they have a right and a need to be cared for by us, their own biological parents.

Simply re-defining the term "mother" won't do the trick, because you can never fool the biology. While you may claim that these four girls are not really your children, do you have any guarantee that they will agree with you? It is very possible indeed that they will one day ring your doorbell and say, "Mom, why did you give us away?" Because when they look in your face and see their own face, they know very well whose children they are, regardless of which good stranger they were given to as a consolation prize for infertility.

Veronica Thomas said...

Hanalia,

One more thing. You mention that the four girls created with your eggs have a different mother who loves them immesurably. You seem to be implying that this immesurable love by the other woman makes it clear that she can be considered their mother.

Nice try. However, love does not create biological relationships such as family relationships. Even if a biologically unrelated person loves you immesurably, it doesn't mean they have become your family. In fact, no relationship at all is established just because someone unrelated loves you. So what? Who says you will even want their love, or choose to love them back?

Just because some random woman has decided to love me and consider me her child does NOT mean that I become her child! I might not even want her love. I might want my real mother!! There is nothing "automatic" about one-sided love establishing a relationship or connection.

Whenever someone unrelated loves you, you first have to choose to accept their love, and to love that person back, if any relationship is to be established.

The problem is, your four children did not have that choice. No one asked them if they wanted to be raised by a stranger (even if the stranger loves them, so what? Who says they want her love? Who says they would actually have chosen that love? Who says they wouldn't have wanted you instead?). You chose for them, as did this other woman who is now claiming to be their mother. You both decided that love = family. Well, that's just plain silly and can clearly be proven wrong. Love doesn't make me anything to anyone, especially without the other person's agreement!