Archives: Motherhood

New Story at Anonymous Us: “Getting A Life”

01.07.2013 3:02 PM

A story from an Adoptee, courtesy of AnonymousUs.org:

Out of the farmland, black and peaty
Among the cows, and rough grass-tufts.
A woman left her home to find
A different life in a new land.
In the city where nobody knew her
Free, alone and unrestrained,
Catherine, daughter of Edward found
Her place in tiny bedsit comfort.
Making few friends for she found peace
In metropolitan solitude.
She stayed inside her room and read
Stories of life as it might be
A husband, children, dog and home
That dream of nowhere else to go.

Tall and dark, he entered her room.
The dream was made real, inside her growing
But No! This landing was not safe,
Too many footsteps, other rooms.
The child inside her belly fed
And willed its own growth, struggling.
Ignoring it she went about
Her business, working, existing,
Eating for both, resentful-feeling
Growing, growing, ever feeding
It sucked dry her dreams and choices
Leaving only the withering toil.

Large in belly, hidden under clothes
The shame was real and nobody saw
Though maybe manners played their part.
Her body denied it, ever growing
Refusing to accept her choice that evening
Her will rose up, to own her life.
Still, as she grew she felt the judgement
The guilt and shame swelled within
She ached to get it over and done
The child’s father tried to assist
She hated him for causing this harm
Denied him any place at all
In her life or that of his child
He could not know the shame he caused
She would not change her life for this

The time came near and still she hid
From family and those she knew.
She worked until the week before
The aching in her belly burgeoned
With her denial, unwelcome guest,
Until she could no more deny
The life, the will, emerging soon.
For six weeks she kept her child
In convent walls , a harsh reminder
Of the shame. She signed the papers.
Gave him away. Free from consequence
of that choice, she returned to life
As though he never had existed.


New Story from Anonymous Us: “Product of embryo selling and renting a woman’s womb”

12.20.2012 7:39 AM

Primal luv: from a book wright

From the eyes of a donored baby:

“I’m told to be thankful for my donors because they gave me life, but this life is not merely a kidney transplant, this life is 50% of who I am genetically and biologically: my heredity, the fundamental principal of my existence: a sperm and a egg . I’m told my true parents are not the ones who gave me life, and who carried me inside them, any one can do that, my true parents are the ones who feed me and give me a home (the same logic applies to caring for a pet) if that is the case, I suppose my adoptive family are not my family, truly. Since genetics don’t count in the rearing of children, I can move into a complete stranger’s home and simply start calling them mom and dad, and they are my true parents, now. Right? I can erase my adoptive parents family
tree and put theirs right on it, simply because they gave me a home and some food? What a lucky dog I must be!

Perhaps this sort of patronage applies to orphaned children who were naturally given anonymous mothers and fathers for parents, but for a child like me? Where I was bought from a test tube for 30 grand, and given to complete strangers, like a baby doll purposely?

If genetics isn’t a big deal, why do so many women and men buy sperm and eggs from banks so they can have a biological child? Why are there DNA tests on close friends or family member to figure out whom fathered whom? Why do people flood libraries and centers looking up their background and history? Why by the natural order of things genetic matching eggs accumulate in the ovaries of the mother and genetic matching sperm accumulate in the bodies of the fathers, why don’t parents carry sperm from anonymous people, why do they carry their own DNA?

It’s patronage and mind conditioning to keep up a 3 billion dollar industry. If you’re a child born into the world by two people, you are told to be grateful for them, they carried you for nine months, gave you life and raised you, but when you are made by human commodification you are told to be thankful for whom you are sold to; these strangers are your parents, their paycheck gave you life, and if they never bought the embryo you wouldn’t have been here. How ever they want to sweet talk it to support the fat cat’s pay, however they want to force on the unimportance of knowing who you were suppose to naturally grow inside, however they want to push the sob stories of moms who cannot conceive for public pity and talk about the moms’ wonderful stories about how they bought kids from other mothers and fathers so they can be parents now, its corrupted. It’s so funny, how THOSE stories make headlines, while mine makes a website not many will read.

Are we forgetting that there is a third party in these arrangements? Or are ‘mindless’ ‘stupid’ babies who do form connections with their womb carriers, do undergo mother-baby separation that causes them stress and who eventually grow up and realize how they got here, do not count for people?

Changing the name from mother + father to donor, doesn’t excuse that man or that woman from being 50% of the recipient’s DNA, and doesn’t excuse the reality that mother had children with another man and not her partner and vise versa, and she is carrying down the ‘donor’s’ linage instead. A contract and words doesn’t change biology. Not amount of mind conditioning or delusion can stop that fact for being true. We are not bulls or horses or livestock, anonymous parents don’t work!

Unless the government changes the system for ALL children and ALL children are bought, sold and made unnaturally in test tubes, kept from their heritage, fathers and mothers, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents and siblings too, the system is not being far to children like us who don’t know who we look like when facing that mirror, don’t know who’s genes made what, don’t know our family tree, don’t know our medical history and don’t know who who’s bodies we were once apart of in those ovaries and testies before traded off for 75 dollars.

To be raised by two persons who you were once cells of, by a woman who you bonded with when growing in her tummy, to be birthed into the world to both these creators and be made not from cash but from mutual love from all parties, and to be able to look into the mirror and have your daddy’s eyes, Mommy’s nose, and a compromised height. To have playmates to grow up with who look like you and share your creators, and be loved in a family where genetics and affection unit us together and seperates us from the rest of the world– to be loved by the two who created you and not from the strangers who bought you, is natural and beautiful. But I was denied this primal family structure to support a business and a unfamilar infertile couple.”

–Product of embryo selling and renting a woman’s womb.


Why Women Still Can’t Have It All

12.14.2012 4:05 PM

Two days ago I went to a speaking event with guest Anne-Marie Slaughter, who was interviewed by Rebecca Traister of Big Girls Don’t Cry‘. Slaughter wrote a famous piece for The Atlantic titled ‘Why Women Still Can’t Have It All’, which is one of the most shared articles in the publications history at 209,000 facebook shares alone.

It was a free discussion, with about 40 women in attendance, nestled in a cosmopolitan private screening room at The Core Club off Park Ave. There was swank lighting, comfy seats, and delicious mini sandwiches so beautiful one felt real pressure to use the embellished silver tongs provided, despite clear finger food status. Almost all the women in attendance were white. From my seat in the middle back I couldn’t help but notice how shiny everyone’s hair was- yes indeed these women were groomed. I fidgeted in my head-to-toe thrift store get up, but reassured myself that my hair looked just as good as these women’s.

I was supposed to attend the event with Stephanie Lind, but I ended up participating alone. Stephanie has two young daughters. When I invited her to the event she asked if we should get a babysitter. I said “No way! If there is one discussion topic where they’ll welcome women and their children, this is it.” I was supposed to bring my 8-month-old, but she was acting fussy. Luckily, I am in the luxurious position of having an amazing husband who works from home and happens to love spending time with his daughter. I meet Stephanie and immediately upon arrival we’re informed that children are not welcome. We stumble and stutter for a minute about what to do. “Should we just leave and go get coffee somewhere together?” I ask. “No, no, no! You are going to this discussion. We will not take No for an answer. Please, go enjoy yourself.” she responds. We agree that she and the girls will find something else to do for 2 hours and then we’ll meet up afterwards.

The discussion was what you’d expect.  One woman wanted affordable daycare. Another woman wanted equal pay. One young woman my age asked “When is a good age to have kids?” and specifically mentioned  fertility treatments. She also wrote about the event here. Anne-Marie Slaughter brought up how Harvard is now offering their female grad students subsidized egg freezing.

Slaughter described the moment she told her administration and colleagues that she was resigning from her position so she could spend time at home and be a more present mother with her two teenage sons. She said “I could see them devaluing me right before my very eyes.” I myself experienced that when I told my contacts in the music industry I was pregnant. Society as a whole needs to be more welcoming towards mothers!” they cried. “Yes! Yes!” We all shouted. Slaughter and Traister then took questions.

I quickly raised my hand in response and was thrilled to be selected. “You know, it’s funny you should say society should be more welcoming of mothers,” I began. “I was supposed to come here with another young woman, a mother. She has two young daughters. We discussed if we should get babysitters so we could come here, but we’re both of modest means, paying down big student loans and I said ‘No’, out of all the topics we should be welcomed to bring our kids to, this is it. But when she tried to get in, she was turned away because kids aren’t allowed. My friend is a brilliant person, a conservative, there are lots of young conservative women like us who are choosing to have our kids at age 23, 24, 25… How are we supposed to participate in the conversation if we can’t even get in the door?”

I think that comment caused a bit of a stir. It’s not really fair to have a conversation about women, motherhood, and labor when the only women that are in the room are rich enough for nannies or don’t yet have children. Traister responded to me, “I know that seems unfair, but actually all of the policies that we’re suggesting here would actually benefit conservative women! So you don’t have to worry!”

I know what she meant and I appreciate the sentiment. Five years ago I remember myself saying the same thing. But this is how I responded, “I appreciate what you’re saying Rebecca, but those kinds of propositions conflict with conservative sacred truths. They violate our conscience.” Because the truth is, it doesn’t matter if liberals perceive free contraception as a way to improve all women’s lives, including conservative women’s. It doesn’t matter if liberals perceive universal daycare as a way to improve all women’s lives, including conservative women’s. If we believe separating sex from childbearing is wrong, and forcing us to pay for things we don’t want (like others’ contraception) is wrong, then it’s not actually improving our lives. And if we’re not comfortable hiring strangers to raise our kids, and we don’t want to spend our own money on taxes that pay so other people can hire strangers to raise their kids, then its not actually improving our lives.

The way I see it, the conservative women I know are doing very creative things in order to get their children raised and live comfortable lives simultaneously. And the best part is they’re not stealing or burdening other people to get there. They’re having children at reasonably young ages so they don’t have to prey upon poor women in the future (for eggs and wombs). They frequently stay at home to raise their own kids, avoiding the awkward race/class issues (I just went to the library and more than half the white babies I saw were accompanied by black nannies- you never see the opposite). They delegate income generation to their husbands who are quite fit for steady work anyways since they never have to worry about morning sickness, labor and delivery recovery, or nursing- which btw I think delegation is a marked characteristic of great leadership, is it not?

Another reason I thought of about why there weren’t more (any?) conservative women at the discussion is the fact that most truly conservative people find it obnoxious to pay astronomical rent, such as the large sums we pay in New York City, and thus are left out of influential circles by simple proximity issues. One strategy for having a comfortable life and raising a family is living in more affordable places (shout out to the Lapps- newest residents of Maytown, OH!).

The truth is, with marriage women have totally equal access to material wealth as men. And men have almost total equality in access to their children. With it we live in the same homes, eat the same foods, have access to the same bank accounts, vacations, etc…

But it’s not about equality in material, familial, or spiritual pursuits. It’s about equal glory. Women want the same amount of glory, fame, respect and recognition that men receive. That’s what having it all really means.

In conclusion…

I would love to give you a great conclusion but my kid is crying and I have to go tend to her needs.

 


Why is the family so important for a person with a disability?

12.12.2012 10:13 AM

Many of you have heard that family relationships are important for a person with a disability. But you may wonder why families are so important?

I invited my dear friend, teacher and colleague Leonor Cordoba, who has extensive experience in family-related issues and disabilities, to join with me in writing this post. We’ll share a personal story to give our answer to the above question.

We had the opportunity to meet and to talk with John.  John is 43 years old, has a slim physique, and enjoys music and celebrity related news. He is shy and respectful in demeanor.  He experiences mild cognitive deficits associated with obsessive compulsive disorder which severely limit his ability to live at a functional level, and especially limits his intrapersonal interactions both in his work and social environments, particularly interactions with the opposite gender.

With deep love, but very firmly, his family supported his efforts to achieve his goals and to make important decisions in his life. For example, they supported him and challenged him to get his high school degree despite his age.  They also encouraged and supported him as he applied for a job.  Even now they help support him as he copes with anxieties that have long existed surrounding the risks of not being accepted and fears that if he is assessed through work or school related psychological tests that his “limitations” will be exposed.

Only John’s family is able to understand when he brushes his teeth 5 times in an hour, or used all the soap during a bath. Also, when he responds with completely different ideas when someone ask him about something important, or events that require his participation in problem solving or decision making. Only his family gives him daily words of encouragement to face difficulties at work when he does not meet the expectations of his bosses, or when he doesn’t understand the instructions. All things considered, it is important to clarify that people with disabilities can struggle with seemingly simple activities, like making a choice, performing daily activities or understanding simple instructions. It could become a stressful situation that causes anxiety and confusion to them.

The stories of John help us to confirm something that scientific papers support (Heller & Factor, 2008; Taggart, Taylor & Mccrum-Gardner, 2010) about families of people with disabilities in general, but particularly with intellectual disabilities: “family is at the center of support for people with disabilities”.

Thus, one of the main challenges professionals have in psycho-social care for those with disabilities is to provide other family members the support required to be personally and collectively strengthened, and to develop resilient strategies for their family and loved one in a society that often still remains exclusive.


¿Por qué es importante la familia para una persona con discapacidad?

12.12.2012 10:07 AM

Muchos de ustedes habrán escuchado que la familia es importante para una persona con discapacidad. Sin embargo, se preguntarán ¿cuál es la razón de esta importancia?

He invitado a mi querida amiga, maestra y colega Leonor Córdoba, quien tiene una amplia experiencia en temas relacionados con la familia y la discapacidad, a escribir en esta ocasión conmigo en Family Scholars. Les compartimos en este post una historia personal:

Tuvimos la oportunidad de conocer y conversar con Juan de 43 años, de contextura física delgada, especial gusto por la música y las noticias relacionadas con la farándula, una persona respetuosa y algo tímida. Un hombre con un déficit cognitivo leve asociado a un trastorno obsesivo compulsivo, que lo limita mucho a nivel funcional, y especialmente, en la interacción tanto en su ambiente laboral, como social, particularmente, en las relaciones con el otro género.

En medio de lágrimas nos contó sobre los repetidos fracasos amorosos que había tenido, en un intento “obsesivo” por llevar una vida de pareja “normal”, y cómo esos repetidos fracasos, cada vez lo llevaban a pensar en que lo único firme que tenía en su vida era su familia, constituida por mamá y hermana. Sólo ellas, según él nos narraba, entendían que a pesar de sus limitaciones y obsesiones, era un hombre capaz de amar, sufrir, gozar, sonreír, capaz de ser.

Con amor profundo, pero con mucha firmeza, su familia, lo apoyaba para lograr sus metas y para tomar decisiones trascendentales en su vida, como la de terminar su bachillerato a pesar de la edad, o aplicar a un trabajo, en el que existía mucho riesgo de no ser aceptado, si lo evaluaban a través de pruebas psicotécnicas, porque en ellas se pondrían en evidencia sus “limitaciones”.

Solo la familia de Juan, era capaz de entenderlo cuando se cepillaba hasta 5 veces los dientes en una hora,  o se acababa una pasta de jabón, durante un baño. También cuando respondía con ideas completamente diferentes al preguntarle sobre algo importante, o con eventos en los que se requería de su participación frente a la solución de problemas o toma de decisiones. Solo su familia diariamente le daba una voz de aliento frente a las dificultades en el trabajo, porque no cumplía con las expectativas de sus jefes, o simplemente, porque no entendía las instrucciones. De acuerdo con lo expuesto, es importante aclarar que las personas con discapacidad pueden enfrentarse a grandes dificultades frente a situaciones sencillas, como por ejemplo tomar una decisión, realizar actividades diarias o comprender instrucciones sencillas. Podrían convertirse en situaciones estresantes que causan ansiedad y confusión para ellos.

Los relatos de Juan, nos llevaron a comprobar algo que  los artículos científicos sustentan (Turnbull, Turnbull, Kyzar, 2009; Córdoba, Mora, Bedoya y Verdugo, 2007)  en torno a las familias de las personas con discapacidad en general, pero, particularmente, con discapacidad intelectual, “constituyen el centro de la vida de las personas ” ; y siendo así, uno de los principales retos que como profesionales en la atención psicosocial a la discapacidad tenemos, es el de brindar a esos otros integrantes de la familia, los apoyos requeridos, para que se fortalezcan personal y colectivamente, y desarrollen estrategias resilientes, no solo frente a la discapacidad, sino primordialmente, frente a una sociedad que aún es excluyente.


Fertility Industry Fundraiser

11.16.2012 3:37 PM

I’m attending a fertility industry fundraiser in New York next month. I know many of you would never consider attending such an event. However, since I will be there, and will have the chance to talk with some top fertility clinic doctors and managers, as well as surrogacy agency directors, I thought I’d solicit your input on what’s worth talking about with them.

I’m taking a chance, because I’m asking you to put yourself in my shoes for a moment. I’m someone who has had a positive experience with donation/surrogacy, and believe that the two practices can operate ethically. However, I understand many of the problems of third-party reproduction, and how serious they are.

I have a deeper question, too, for those of you opposed to these practices. Suppose changes could be made in the processes of third party reproduction that improved the lives of donor-conceived children, surrogates, and donors themselves. A sample of these might be: 1) restrictions on or end of anonymous sperm/egg donation, 2) longitudinal studies of egg donor health issues, or 3) regulations for advertisement, education, and consent of donors and surrogates.

If there were significant benefits that resulted from these changes, how would you feel about the increase in acceptance of donation/surrogacy they might encourage? Would the improvements be worth it to you?


Meet Me at the Moon, Maybe

11.11.2012 5:40 PM

Books like this make me want to sob…and to do anything I can to prevent such books being seemingly necessary in the first place.

Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You, by Nancy Tillman

Magic pours from these pages, reassuring our children that no matter where they go or what they might do, our love will accompany them like a constant stream of nourishing, sparkling light that is always there…’And if you’re feeling lonely, or someday you’re sad…just lift up your face, feel the wind in your hair, That’s me, my sweet baby, my love is right there.’…Because it is so encompassing and universal in its message, it could be a great book to give a child who is losing someone through divorce or death.

And,

Meet Me at the Moon, by Gianna Marino

…This oh, so lovely book honors the sweet bonds of closeness a mother and child can have together, even if the mother has to go away. It also celebrates how, no matter how far a mother has to go, the earth and elements can carry messages back through the web of life to a waiting child…’I don’t want you to go…what if I can’t hear or see you? What if you can’t find me? cries a baby elephant when his mother leaves to seek rain. ‘Listen for my sound on the wind…feel my love when you feel the warmth of the sun. Call for me, and meet me where the sky meets the earth…meet me at the moon.’

Notable, too, is the animism such books resort to when institutional structures such as family are weakened and religious metaphors are not wanted.


Women are not easy bake ovens

11.09.2012 3:17 PM

BREAKING:

A Harris County judge has reached a decision in an unusual custody battle involving a surrogate and two Houston men. The judge has determined the woman who gave birth is, in fact, a mother.

For background, see Jennifer Lahl and I writing about the case in HuffPost,  ”Are Women Easy Bake Ovens?”


Invitando a personas que ofrezcan apoyo a la familia y a la persona con discapacidad

11.05.2012 3:01 PM

A continuación expongo algunas ideas prácticas para las familias y las personas con discapacidad que les pueden resultar útiles a la hora de invitar a personas a que les ofrezcan apoyo:

  1. Identifica qué personas le han brindado apoyo a tu familia y a tu familiar con discapacidad en el pasado. Incluir familia nuclear, familia extensa, amigos, vecinos, personas del trabajo y profesores.
  2. Los apoyos no necesariamente son materiales como por ejemplo el dinero. Es importante incluir otros tipos de apoyo como por ejemplo ayudas para transportarse, para reducir el estrés, para acompañarlo a citas médicas, para darle información que puede resultar pertinente, para escucharlo o para darle una sonrisa.
  3. En ocasiones las personas pueden también brindar además de apoyos directos, apoyos indirectos, es decir, apoyos que le ayuden a la familia y a la persona con discapacidad a crear nuevos contactos y que a su vez, fortalecen y amplían sus redes de apoyo. Frente a este aspecto, una pregunta que puede guiar esta búsqueda puede ser por ejemplo ¿Qué personas identifican que les pueden ayudar a crear nuevos contactos?

Espero que estas ideas prácticas les resulten útiles y prácticas a la hora de invitar a otros para ofrecer apoyo a la familia y a la persona con discapacidad.


A Question for My Fellow Travelers

11.02.2012 3:45 PM

When you were looking/do look for a person to commit to for better or worse, for richer or poorer, until death do you part – did you/do you clearly think about your choice as a decision to pick a father or mother?

A young woman that my wife interviewed for the Love and Marriage in Middle America project told her that,“Even though at the time I really hadn’t picked him [her now husband] as a father, he just kind of became the father. Now looking at things, he would be the type of person I’d pick to father my kids.”

It got me to thinking back to my courting years, and the degree to which that question was clearly on my mind.

It’s all kind of fuzzy, but I think I mostly thought about it as choosing a spouse with whom I would enjoy the rest of my days. I remember when I learned that Amber was looking forward to be a mother, and how much of a positive impression that made on me (that she wanted to raise a family was something important for me).

But mostly, I think, what was on the forefront of my mind was Amber as she appeared to me in 2008, how beautiful she was, her character, and how much I hoped to marry her. I don’t think I was clearly thinking about my decision as “picking a mother” for any future children that should come. Or if I did, I never articulated those words to myself.

You?


How does it feel to have two biological mothers, and possibly other mothers as well?

10.24.2012 7:49 PM

Comments on a recent blog post have brought to my mind again this question that is burning inside me: how does it feel to have more than one mother?

I believe children born of an egg donor and a surrogate mother have two biological mothers. In some cases these children also have a third legal mother.

I also believe that children raised by lesbian couples in which the non-biologically related parent has adopted the child have two mothers (and they have a biological father). In open adoption, as well, a child may have a known biological mother and a legal mother.

It’s only been possible to have two biological mothers since about the mid-1980s. And it’s only been likely that a child might openly have two or more legal or social mothers in recent decades as well.

What does it feel like to have multiple biological, legal, or social mothers? How does one make sense of what “mother” means? How might such an experience as a child shape your own attitudes and practices when it comes to being a mother or father to your own children?

I’m dying to ask this question. Are you, too? What do you think?


Yokes? continued:

10.23.2012 12:25 PM

I’ve really been enjoying the conversation on ART that developed on John’s post from yesterday.  Because many commenters have reached their three comment limit, and that post is precariously close to its 30 comment limit – I thought I’d open a new thread here.

To give us continued structure – I’m particularly interested in continuing to delve into how we might better regulate ART practices – I’d love to hear suggestions that folks have?

It might also be interesting to further explore why anonymous donation has become such a prevalent practice – and why potential parents and donors choose it over other ART pathways.

Also feel free to continue commenting on John’s post here, as that has been an all around good conversation.

 

Thanks all, as always be civil, rigorous, and charitable to each other!

Matt

 


The New Sexual Predators- Addressing Some Misunderstandings

10.10.2012 8:39 AM

The New Sexual Predators article I wrote fro Public Discourse has gotten some new attention, here at Huffington Post, and here at LGBTQ Nation.

From reading the articles and the comments there seems to be some misunderstandings about the piece. People are focusing on the “often violent form of third party reproduction” and they are misreading the term “predator” as if I’m making a direct comparison to rape. I did not mean to directly compare those who use surrogates and egg donors to rapists- I brought up rape as proof of how heterosexual men have used “alternative gene promotion strategies” to reproduce when consensual sex with fertile females is impossible for them.

I did however directly compare those who use surrogates and egg donors to Johns. The vast majority of egg donors and surrogates would not be selling their unborn children and renting our their wombs if it were not for the money. Similarly, prostitutes would not be having sex with the vast majority of their clientele, if it were not for the money.

And the reason I say “often violent” form of 3PR, is because women still risk their lives to give birth. Surrogates have died. Egg donors have died- and many more have been plagued by resulting health complications after their eggs or babies have been harvested.

You can argue with me about the legality and legitimacy of women exploiting themselves for economic gain, but you can not tell me that they are not being targeted, pursued, and seduced with large amounts of money, for something that has always been highly risky for women- so much so it is the basis for all of Feminism and Women’s Health initiatives.

Also, many of the commenters assume that I am Christian and that my whole opinion comes from The Bible. It does not. I am not religious and my view point comes from being donor-conceived, being a former egg donor, being a former volunteer for NARAL, a Women’s Studies major, and having google-alerts for the words “egg donor” and “surrogate” for over three years, devouring everything I can on the topic.


At BioEdge, Michael Cook “gets” Alana

10.07.2012 12:26 PM

He writes:

They say that history is written by the winners. A new twist on this maxim is that bioethics is written by the powerful. But what if bioethics were written by the powerless?

Alana Newman, founder of the Anonymous Us Project, a support group for the children of anonymous sperm donors, has written a introductory chapter in the on-line journal Public Discourse. In a scathing analysis of sperm and egg donation, she argues that young women are threatened by “the new sexual predators” – older women and gay men who seek their eggs.

Historically, she says, women have been taught to be on their guard against predatory men.

“But now there are new predators on the scene, for whom we do not have a script. There are new characters eager to exploit our daughters’ bodies, who enjoy unsullied reputations, passing detection even as they blatantly hunt for eggs and wombs with checkbooks in hand. And historically they have been the people women should fear the least. These new players vying for access to young women’s bodies are older or infertile women, and gay men—quite often our friends and members of our family.”

Ms Newman looks at egg donation and surrogate motherhood from a completely different standpoint from conventional discourse about autonomy and altruism. Older women have squandered their fertility through contraception, abortion and postponing maternity. Now, she says, they want to take advantage of a younger generation:

“Older women with more power and resources put their interests ahead of younger women’s and make up for their past mistakes or misfortunes by risking the health and well-being of their successors. The attack comes from close range—dressed in words of altruism and generosity.

“The women who seek other women’s children often carried the torch for gender equality, women’s rights, and so many other wins for their side in the gender wars. Out of respect for their ambition and challenge to the glass ceiling, younger women feel pressured to give their children to older women as gestures of appreciation for their life trajectories.”

Similarly, gay men – “the only men in the world we thought we could trust because they weren’t interested in our bodies” – also want young women’s eggs and wombs.

Ms Newman’s subversive critique rattles the complacent image of donor conception as life-affirming. Unsurprisingly, it was immediately attacked by Leia Picard, of Canadian Fertility Consultants, a surrogacy agency, as “homophobic nonsense” and “phony fear-mongering”. A gay rights blog, Equality Matters, indignantly repudiated her argument: “Same-sex couples that go through the difficult process of surrogacy deserve to be commended for their commitment to raising children — not called sexual predators.”

These comments may fail to capture the originality of Ms Newman’s perspective. She writes not as a culture warrior but as a disempowered creation of the assisted reproduction industry. The number of voices supporting her point of view is sure to grow.

It is interesting to me that here at FamilyScholars when Alana originally linked to her piece, all the sturm and drang in the comments was about gay this and gay that. Nobody stuck up for, or spoke from the perspective of, older women charged with squandering their fertile years and now hoping to take advantage of young women’s fertility. Anyone want to leap in on that?

In the meantime, I think Michael Cook nails it when he says Alana is doing bioethics from the point of view of the powerless. No wonder everybody goes ape you-know-what. (Reminds me of that character played by Barbara Hershey in a Woody Allen movie who dramatically intones, whenever things get uncomfortable, “DON’T speak. Don’t speak. Don’t SPEAK.”)


The Truth About Adoption

08.23.2012 3:12 PM

A dear friend of mine who is the mother to an adopted child posted this on Facebook earlier this week.  As someone who has not experienced adoption first hand but cares deeply about friends who have, I really enjoyed reading this first-hand account about the first year of adoption.  Her story helps me know better how I can offer support and encouragement to those adopting.  Very humbling.


The “Who’s Your Daddy’’ truck

08.17.2012 9:51 AM

A “Who’s Your Daddy” truck is cruising the streets of New York City selling DNA tests to people who want to confirm their child’s paternity or find out whether their parents are biologically related to them. Jared Rosenthal, who owns the RV and operates it for Health Street:

It’s heartbreak hotel. It’s really, really tough sometimes. It’s just drama, a lot of drama. You see a man come in with a baby. You see them together and you just hope that he’s the father.

One man had to take a DNA test while going through a divorce to confirm that his 5-year-old boy was really his son, but learned that the child, who’s face he had tattooed on his chest (!), was not his.

For two or three weeks after, he’d call me asking, ‘What should I do? I don’t want to tell anyone. I can’t tell my family.’

Women are also frequent customers.

I had one woman get six kids DNA tested once.

Read more here.


‘Single motherhood is all about Katie Roiphe’

08.15.2012 2:46 PM

Though for somewhat (but not entirely) different reasons than David Blankenhorn, Jill at the blog Feministe doesn’t much like her piece, either:

Maybe start supporting all kinds of families — and not just the ones who are Bohemian and charming enough to make it into the New York Times.

 


The Devastating Underdog

08.11.2012 7:53 PM

The last two weeks I’ve been following the Olympics in London with intense passion. I especially love to root for the underdogs. My favorite during this games was 19-year-old Kirani James, from Grenada, who took the gold in the 400-meter dash. Grenada is the 17th-smallest country in the world with a population of only 104,000 people.

I started to ask myself, what is it that makes us almost wired to root for underdogs? I think it all starts with every individual’s raw existence- that we managed to beat crazy odds just by showing up in this world. Out of trillions of sperm, we made it to our mother’s egg. And then during our infancy and childhood we are helpless and vulnerable in an environment where practically everybody holds more power.

I would also argue that Americans embrace the David against Goliath story even more than most other nationalities due to history and culture. Two hundred and fifty years ago you fought and won against the mightiest power the world had ever seen – The British Empire. You wouldn’t have won your independence if you wouldn’t have persevered and tried to beat the impossible odds.

In modern times this spirit, some would say the very core of the American dream, is often successfully captured in commercials, documentaries and movies. This is why hundreds of thousands of aspiring immigrants are standing in line to come and build a better future in the US – the belief that in this country anything really is possible.

Unfortunately there is a fine line between wanting to become a new Muhammed Ali and actually ending up like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber. This is something that I’m struck by almost every day when I follow two very important patterns in Americans’ modern lives: your financial decisions, and family building strategies.

According to the Consumer Federation of America, more than 1 in 5 Americans believe the best way to achieve long-term financial security is to play the lottery. In 2006 Americans lost $91 billion trying to beat fixed odds and approximately 7.5 million have some form of gambling problem. These problems lead to everything from personal bankruptcies and divorces to crime and even suicide. Even a vast majority of people who have won the jackpot, keep on playing. Nothing is as sweet as winning, even if you have to pay the highest price.

Parallel to a growing fertility industry, there are a generation of women and couples that are postponing childbearing. Since we nowadays can live until we’re 100 years and maintain a healthy lifestyle while doing so, we can feel younger for a longer time. Unfortunately there are many people that don’t understand or accept that even if they feel like 25 way in to their 40′s, the quality of their ovum is not the same. The window for when you have a decent chance as a woman to naturally conceive is closing quickly after 35 and after 40 is practically shut.

In an episode of Dr. Oz I witnessed a 43-year old woman that had been told she probably would not be able to have a child due to her age. The doctor said that IVF could increase her chances but the odds for a potential baby to survive the first trimester were slim. They tried it but miscarried in the beginning of the second trimester. Obviously a very traumatic experience for her and her husband. She cried retelling what they had been through. But then she said, since they had beaten the doctors prediction, they would now take a second mortgage on their house to finance another IVF attempt. The audience in the studio, that almost entirely consisted of women, gave her a supportive and massive applause. In the same show a woman said that she had given birth in her 50s, and got a standing ovation from the crowd. And another woman, single in her early 40s, said that she was convinced that she could have a baby once she found the right man, because she “was feeling great”.

Hope is a powerful thing and exceptions can make our world shine brighter, but it isn’t smart to make huge life decisions based on rare occurrences and stories of heroic and lucky underdogs. And it is not helpful to encourage people to make those decisions. I would like people to have the courage to say No to their friends and family even if it spoils a good dinner. A No that comes from a caring place can often be worth much more  than a Yes.


Thoughts on Care

08.08.2012 4:09 PM

What is care? I often think about this word’s various dimensions and representations—about how my parents cared for me as a child and still continue to as a young adult, how my grandparents were cared for by their children before they passed on. About how and why we innately care for (or desire to care for) our own friends and family members, or more generally, for humanity as a whole.  Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul somehow landed in my hands and I’ve found one of the most beautiful ways of describing care I’ve read as of yet.

The word care implies a way of responding to expressions of the soul that is not heroic and muscular.  Care is what a nurse does, and “nurse” happens to be one of the early meanings of the Greek word therapeia, or therapy. … Cura, the Latin word used originally in “care of the soul,” means several things: attention, devotion, husbandry, adorning the body, healing, managing, being anxious for, and worshiping the gods. It might be a good idea to keep all these meanings in mind as we try to see as concretely as possible how we might make the shift from psychotherapy as we know it today to care of the soul.

Personally, I very much like the spiritual dimension he adds to psychotherapy, and the homeopathic way in which he is approaching life’s challenges.  Moore writes about observing and listening to our difficulties and learning from them before neatly extricating them, and that perhaps this neatness that would be simple and convenient doesn’t actually exist.  This is novel in a culture steeped in instantaneousness.   There is something deeply and quietly human and ennobling about this kind of care.  Here, care is used as a lead into a wider discussion on psychotherapy—it’s not an exhaustive definition, but being interested in therapy and psychology, it is fascinating to examine and meditate on this particularly rich facet of care.

What words come to mind when you think about care? Do you like the excerpted definition?


Gay Marriage and The Test Tube Tidal Wave

08.02.2012 10:43 AM

First Things published an article of mine today- a response to David Blankenhorn’s recent change of heart on same-sex marriage.

My biggest fear is that the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples will strip children of the right to be raised by their natural parents, because law and culture will demand that we celebrate all the means by which same-sex couples become parents.

The piece was written in less than 900 words. It is by no means a comprehensive argument on the dangers and risks when people procure children in any way they want.