Surrogates – Mother Infant Separation

I have wondered about this myself. A women in my all things adoption group asks the question for me and gets lots of answers.

I was adopted and I have trauma from my biological mom as well as some from the foster care system and then after getting adopted as well. I have seen a lot of people in this group mention the trauma a newborn baby automatically has when taken from the mother to be placed with a different family. I am wondering about surrogates then? If a new born baby is instantly traumatized due to the mother putting the child up for adoption, would that not be the same for a woman that is being a surrogate for another – couple or single individual ? For women who are unable to conceive, the choice seems to be either to adopt or have a surrogate. For women who can’t conceive, should they not also be allowed to be mothers ?

First response – No one dies from remaining childless. It’s selfish to intentionally create a child born into trauma. It sometimes takes as many as 3 women to make a baby. 1. One to pay for that because a woman she cares about wants a baby. 2. The biological donors and 3. The surrogate. What a boggling circumstance for the resulting child to wrap their mind around. People should just accept their infertility. The reality is that most of these women only want babies. Truth is that babies aren’t “in need” of someone else to mother them. They are in high demand and sought after by many.

Next perspective – No one is “owed” a baby or parenthood. It’s not a fatal condition if one never becomes a parent. However, if people want to be parents, there are legally free children in the foster care system. Children who need parents – though the best outcome is that they are never adopted but cared for under permanent guardianship – people to act in the role that parents would. Truth is – no one “needs” an infant.

Finally, onto the actual question – “There’s also a lot that’s ethically wrong with surrogacy beyond the babies trauma, which I think is the biggest issue. Jennifer Lahl has written and speaks out against it.” So I went looking and have linked her name to an article. She writes – “Gestational surrogacy involves impregnating a surrogate mother by implanting embryos created from the eggs of the intended mother or egg donor, and the sperm of the intended father or sperm donor. Women and newborns often do not survive gestational pregnancies, and those who do are often affected physically and psychologically.” I’m not certain about the do not survive part but that is what she wrote. You can read the rest of her article at the link in her name here.

And then a counter argument and I’m not saying this one isn’t as biased as the one above. “Couple Speaks Out Against Jennifer Lahl” courtesy of The Surrogacy Law Center. “Lahl explores the issue of third-party reproduction, focusing on several women whose experiences point to what she sees as flaws in the surrogacy process. She argues that surrogacy has become a baby-buying operation that allows wealthy couples to exploit vulnerable women, often those of lesser means.” ~ Susan Donaldson James of ABC News

Jenn and Brad Nixon of Chesterfield County in VA did their best to defeat infertility for 7 years. The Nixon’s chose to use a surrogate, or gestational carrier, after they learned Jenn’s heart problems would make it dangerous for her to get pregnant. Infertility is a disease affecting more than 7 million Americans. While Lahl highlights how affluent couples are using and exploiting surrogate services, objections to her perspective are raised by couples who have experienced infertility and are not in a wealthy income bracket.

Yet while much has been said here and maybe the answer is buried in almost 170 comments and linked responses to them, my heart already knows. Separating an infant from a gestational carrier is no different than separating an infant any time from the mother in who’s womb that baby developed. The least damaging case I know of was of a mother carrying a baby for her daughter. There will still be separation but the grandmother can be expected to remain in the baby’s life throughout at least their childhood and that might mitigate the effects significantly.

That story (which I once wrote about in this blog) is about a 51-year-old grandmother from Illinois who gave birth to her own granddaughter through surrogacy, when her daughter couldn’t conceive. Julie Loving, 51, was the gestational carrier for her daughter, Breanna Lockwood, who delivered a baby girl named Briar Juliette Lockwood. This has inspired a few other instances of grandparent surrogacy, I see.

Julie Loving with Breanna Lockwood and baby

And just adding this perspective because I think it is realistic – I don’t think the whole world must outlaw something because it creates trauma. There are traumatic things happening everywhere. BUT we can help children grow to be happier people – IF we acknowledge that trauma, respect it, be open to talking about it and hopefully maybe healing it. (And being open to the fact that it may never heal). Not all people will eventually be in touch with their trauma. Some will be and some can heal. Some will be and CAN’T heal. Life is a gamble. You will set yourself up for trouble – if you can’t even talk about it or acknowledge it exists.

Assisted Reproduction

Breanna Lockwood with mother Julie Loving

The 51-year-old woman served as the gestational carrier for her daughter and son-in-law and gave birth to her granddaughter. The newborn, named Briar Juliette Lockwood, is the first child for Lockwood and her husband, Aaron, who are the baby’s biological parents.

These kinds of stories based upon the miracles of assisted reproduction, always raise opinions. Among those who have dived deep into such issues this is considered, for the baby herself, probably one of the best possibilities that such medical capabilities produce.

I had my daughter at the age of 19 in all ways conventional. That marriage ended. I remarried and after 10 years of marriage, my husband informed me over Margaritas at a Mexican restaurant that he had changed his mind and actually did want to become a father.

It was too late for me. I sorrowed he had married such an old woman. Then, medical science made it possible for us. I carried, birthed and breastfed 2 sons thanks to the gift of another woman’s eggs. I gave birth at 47 and 50. There are times it comes fully upon me how old I’ll be (70) when my youngest is 20. However, my husband has been every bit the awesome father I thought he would be. Because of financial circumstances, my daughter did not live with me past the age of 3 but was raised by her father and step-mother. It was my second chance to prove to my own self that I wasn’t a failure as a mother.

Both of my parents were adoptees and both of my sisters gave up babies to adoption. In the short 3 years that I have been able to learn who all my original grandparents were (something my own parents died not knowing), I have been in this group and read so many books and while I do not think surrogacy is a good idea due to mother/child bonding in the womb and the separation that occurs after birth, I have known of two couples that did choose that route to becoming parents. It really isn’t my business but I do have concerns.

While our method of becoming parents is not perfect, we’ve always been honest with our sons about their conception. They are connected to the egg donor via 23 and Me and have met her more than once. She lives far away and so the relationships are not close. I am grateful I had the opportunity to parent, even so late in life.