Surrogacy Stories: What Lies Behind the Gushing Stories?

Marriage-Alliance-Australia-Surrogacy-Gushing.jpgMany same-sex couples have produced children via surrogacy, declaring that it makes the couple happy to have their own children. However, they do so at the expense of the children’s emotional wellbeing.

The story of the Hastings couple’s surrogate babies was delivered in the typical fashion: the Chicago Tribune gushed over the happiness the two men found when they “had” their twin baby girls (now 11 months old) who were both conceived via an egg donor, and carried by a surrogate. As with most stories of this kind, the emotional wellbeing of the children was completely left out of the decision-making, and the published story.

Katy Faust, writing in The Federalist, decides to retell the same story, told from the perspective of one of the Hastings daughters, later into the future.  Herself the daughter of lesbian parents, Faust has written and spoken extensively on the topic of same-sex parenting, including appearances on Lateline and Q&A. 

Using her own story and using the published stories of many other children of same-sex couples to create the story, Faust writes:

My dads shopped for me and my sister.  They selected my genetic mother based on her race, skin color, eye color and made sure she was highly educated, athletic, and had no physical disabilities. They bought my mother’s eggs—lots of them—so they could pick the best embryos. They rented another woman’s womb for 9 months. Well, 8 months: we were premature and underweight. My dad’s decided that each of them would get one genetic child—so I’m a half-sister with my own twin, which is strange. While my two dads felt it was important to have a biological connection to their children, they didn’t seem to think that I would want a relationship with my biological mother. 

When I was little, I hated Mother’s DayI watched all my friends celebrate their moms and wished I had one tooI always wondered where my mother was that day. Did she think of me as much as I thought about her? But then, I wasn’t sure who to think of as my mom: the one that I get my nose from, or the one that gave me my taste for spicy food? My dads told me to make cards for my grandma instead. It was confusing because women mattered enough to celebrate my grandma but not enough for me to have a mother. I wanted a mom like my friends but I didn’t want to talk about it because I didn’t want to hurt my dad’s feelings. It’s hard to talk with your dads about missing your mom when they are responsible for you not having one. How do you sit someone down and essentially tell them that they are not enough of a “family” for youThere were times I felt so sad and angry with my mom for not being there for meand then times I felt angry with myself for even wanting a mom to begin with. But I didAnd I do.

Growing up, I loved staying at my friend’s house who had a mom. Sometimes her mom would get out her wedding dress so we could be princesses, and I would feel jealous of my friend because I wished there was a wedding dress in the attic at my house. In elementary school, I had some “adjustment issues,” and they started me on Ritalin for ADHD in fourth grade. I was pretty connected to my genetic dad, but not so much to my other father and I felt guilty about thatI struggled with identity issues. 

As a teenager, I spent a lot of time online looking for my other half-siblings out there. I can’t access records about my egg donor mom because of the Cryobank policies. I’ve seen pictures of my surrogate, but she doesn’t look anything like me. I have adopted friends who are searching for their birth moms, but I don’t really have a birth mom. I have a donor and a surrogate. So I can’t even fantasize about finding that one woman that I long for.

On the rare occasion that I dared to voice my desire for a mother, the response from adults was “you’re so wanted” or “you should feel lucky to have two parents who love you” or that I “should grateful to be alive.” There was this sense that “we paid for you, you’re our kid, you’re not supposed to go out and seek anyone else.” But something inside of me desperately wants to know that other half of my DNA.  I lost sleep over it. I do love my dads, but the more they told me about my conception, the more uncomfortable it felt that they spent so much money to make me. And I wondered what would have happened if I had the wrong physical characteristics or had a disability. Would they have “chosen” me or disposed of me? I’m 25 now and my twin sister, who never seemed phased by any of this before, was just diagnosed with depression and has started taking antidepressants. Sometimes I just feel lost.

Faust had some “harsh but fair” criticism for the Hastings fathers.  She wrote:

These two men had a deep-seated urge to be fathers. How wonderful is that? However, fathers are supposed to be self-sacrificing and these men, motivated by their feelings alone, chose to sacrifice the need those girls have for a mother instead of facing the biological truth of their life choices. In other words, instead of dealing with their feelings of loss, they have ensured a lifetime of it for their children.

She also had some tough words for those who she believes have their sympathies in the wrong order:

Stories about intentional motherlessness and fatherlessness will always depict the adults as victims, and children as something owed to them.  Don’t be duped. When it comes to surrogacy and third-party reproduction, it’s not the adults to whom we owe our sympathy, it is the children.

No matter how we look at it, there is no justification for allowing the desires of adults to sit in priority over the rights and needs of children.  When marriage is stripped of its unique one man, one woman model, we see the desires of adults being elevated while the rights and wellbeing of children are being sold.

Make no mistake: this is a direct consequence of destroying the foundational institution of marriage. As rights, freedoms, and equality are all being thrown into the arguments, we must remember the children. What is best for our children, and for generations to come? The current definition of marriage that protects children’s biological, human rights, or a definition that leaves children vulnerable to be bought and sold, and their basic rights quashed?   

Read this next: Commodified Children?

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