Sunday, November 30, 2008

Her Body, My Baby and another Intended Mother’s Feelings

"Her Body, My Baby" ran in the New York Times on Sunday. Again, I am reminded of the ignorance that we are up against in educating people about the special way that our child will come into the world. We are by no means wealthy, paying for surrogacy means sacrificing as it does for many others. We are not doing this so that we can have a child that looks like us; we are using an egg donor so the child will not look anything like me. We do not look at our surrogate as a commodity, she will be a very special part of our family. I have no issues with not giving birth to my child, my mother did not give birth to me but she is no less my mother.

We are doing this because it was the best option for us. We want to be mommy and daddy from day one. As an adopted child, I know that I would not be able to deal with an open adoption arrangement. I have thoroughly researched open adoption, not just a few personal stories, I went to the Psychology and Social Work Journals, I talked to professionals who deal with adopted children, and I did a lot of soul searching. In the end, I learned that open adoption is not what I thought it was and that my preconceived notions were wrong, but I also knew that it was not something that was right for my family.

I do not begrudge Alex and her husband their feelings on surrogacy, and I would never want to minimize the pain that someone feels going through this journey. For me it was important to work through the years of pain and heal the wounds left by infertility before I went into this process. Educating myself in every way possible was really important. I want to go into this journey with my eyes, heart and mind open and clear, because everyone involved in this process deserves that from me. Sure there are going to be moments when all this fails, but at least for now I know that I will be able to handle what will come up in this journey. In my opinion, it is something that many women do not do and it can lead to panic and heartache for everyone. My main problem is that she has chosen to word her journey and chosen to show pictures that convey the stereotypes that I am trying so hard to dispel, the same stereotypes that both our children are going to come up against if they ever choose to share how they came into the world. I will be the first to admit that I too thought that most surrogates were women who needed the money, but after a tiny bit of research (and I do not have the power of the New York Times), it was obvious that this was not the case. The altruism in surrogacy, which Alex dismisses, is a real thing there are women who do this for free, the ones who do not are not desperate and they would be offended to hear someone say that their motives were purely financial. Compensation is difficult but the feelings we have about it need to be dealt with before this journey begins.

Reading the comments bothered me more than the actual article, which is usually the case. "Why not adopt a child with special needs?" Parents who have children with special needs are my heroes; it is a job that takes so much commitment and an incredible amount of fortitude. Choosing surrogacy left us open to having a child with special needs in a way that adoption would not have. What bothers me about that comment is that people just assume because we could not conceive on our own that we would be appropriate parents for a special needs child. If we have a special needs child, it is something that we can handle, but not a situation that we find ourselves equipped to handle well enough that we should actively pursue. Maybe it makes us bad people in some peoples' minds, and I am okay with letting them think that. To us it would be worse to take in a child that we were unable to care for.

"Maybe this is the universes way of telling you that you should not be parents." "Darwin's theory dictates that your genetics should not be passed on." "People like you should not have children." It is true that some people are not fit to be parents, but that determination has nothing to do with fertility status. No one asks to be infertile. A person's fertility status has nothing to do with their character or the type of person that they are. These comments are the worst, in my opinion, because they add insult to so much injury. When I found out that I was infertile, it made me question my status as a woman and defining myself as a woman again has taken a lot of work. I am still amazes me how much of our identity as men and women is tied up in our fertility. Our lives are so much more than our ability to produce children.

Overall, I am happy that Alex and her husband have their child. I know that the journey is difficult. I am happy that she was able to write about it for the world. I just wish that she had found a way to express some parts of it differently. Most of all I wish that the pictures had been different, why did they feel the need to use those pictures, so many people are not going to read the words and those pictures tell a very untrue story. I hope that Alex and her family are happy for many years to come. Like I said the part that really bothered me was reading all the comments, which I know hurt her just as deeply as they hurt all of us chasing baby dreams.

10 comments:

IIDLYYCKMA said...

You did a great job:)Well said:)

Yolanda (the callipygian chronicle) said...

I knew you'd have a response to that article. I read it a few days ago, and didn't even look at the photos until the first five comments mentioned them. The editors made a deliberate and highly biased choice to pair those images with that story. A choice that is in stark contrast to the story the author writes.

Yes, one definitely gets the impression that surrogacy is an option she could pursue because she has the ample financial means to do so. And, no, not everyone will be able to afford the same option. Fine. There are people for whom a legal adoption would be financially prohibitive, too. I see no reason to begrudge someone because they have money to do things, that would be out of reach for me.

But that's just the point. What I resent about the way this article is presented, is that it turns the discussion into one of race, class, and privilege. When really the only true objection people have to the concept of surrogacy is a moral one. The author's comparison to organ transplant is a good one. I wish she had spent more time arguing that point, rather than bragging about her trips to the Super Bowl during the eighth month of pregnancy.

I wish the couple had both been first time parents (not the twice-divorced, wealthy father of six, and mother of none). I wish the infertility issue could have been more clear in this case, and not simply a matter of age. Because all of these factors detract away from some compelling reasons as to why we should all support surrogacy as a childbirth choice. And instead frames the argument around class, race, and privilege. So much for the "liberal" NY Times.

MrsSpock said...

Great response to the article!

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