If I had never learned about the trauma of separating a mother from the baby she has carried in her womb, I would have more support for surrogacy. Because I have learned about this (as part of my own journey coming to terms with all of the adoptions that are part of my immediate family’s experiences) I cannot condone it.
A woman recently posted a very compelling op-ed to The Washington Post about why surrogacy became necessary for her. First of all, she does have a child. She writes that she is a genetic carrier of HY-restricting HLA class II alleles and goes on to explain that this means her son’s Y chromosome lingers and attacks all subsequent pregnancies. In essence, she had this small genetic component and she gave birth to a boy. From then on, her odds of successfully carrying another child became slim to none. Her husband and she found they could create an embryo, but her body could not carry it. So the couple started down the rabbit hole of surrogacy.
My own sister-in-law did eventually become a parent by surrogacy. I am happy for my brother-in-law that he has a son. I also know there is a deep subconscious issue that they are unlikely aware of. In our family, we were not supportive of this couple becoming parents because the woman always was a basketcase full of all kinds of psychotropic drugs. They also acted as though creating a child was simply creating another possession and intended to have a nanny after the baby was born. And they did but she didn’t last long and my brother-in-law has ended up the primary caregiver for this young boy.
A developing fetus is constantly bonding with the mother in who’s womb the infant is growing. That bonding process continues after birth for months/years into the young child’s life. The case described in this op-ed is of a surrogate who is carrying twins for this couple. There is a definite bond between twins and multiples. Maybe that will help but will not entirely remove the wounds of losing their gestational mother.
One can argue that genes matter and I know this. I assume the soon to be parents do have a genetic connection to these twins based on other details in the op-ed. However, there is more to this situation than genes alone.
I do not wish any child to be stigmatized because of the details of their conception. I have a lot of personal compassion for that issue. This woman admits that surrogacy is more political than she realized but I know she still doesn’t realize the full import of their choice. She admits to knowing that there is an array of advocates trying to end surrogacy on a national level. I understand why.
I have said this before but it bears saying this again. Giving up one’s child to adoption is not a walk away and all is well process. Most natural mothers who’s child has been removed from them – whether by choice or coercion – will spend the remainder of their lives regretting the loss.
We are so deeply attached at a genetic and spiritual level to those persons who gave us the gift of life, that there is no true sundering of that bond. To pretend otherwise, diminishes the pain and suffering that both natural parents and adoptees will carry with them their entire lives. The relationships that should have been but never will be cannot be recovered down the road. One can only begin where they find themselves if a reunion occurs and develop whatever relationships they can going forward.
For an adoptee, it can be said that the woman who raises them is their mom. The woman who created them, is the one who made their life possible. It is possible and indeed the reality for many people, that there are two true mothers in their life.
Even so, it is not true – that in giving up her child, it was like she took out the trash and never gave it a second thought. As though that were even possible for any mom to feel that way. I do not believe it. Many women who surrendered a child were very young when they did that. They felt they had no choice in the matter.
Today, there are adoptee groups reaching out to unwed pregnant mothers to encourage them to go slow, before giving up their child, and seek a way to work through the circumstances without causing a separation. I’m on their side in this perspective.
Since I believe reality is never wrong, I know that my parents conception, birth, adoption, marriage, parenting was all just as it was meant to be. No one escapes this Life without wounds and some are more wounded than others but we were not promised a rose garden when we agreed to spend some time incarnated upon this planet.
So the romantic relationships and/or marriages that conceived my parents were not wrong. I do believe my grandparents all loved one another. The Great Depression and a lack of social safety nets certainly played it’s role in separating my grandparents and in separating their children from them.
In learning about my true, genetic roots, one of my joys has been to discover that every one of my grandparents eventually found a lasting love with someone else. Every one of them remarried and stayed married until death.
So in a bizarre paradoxical way, I accept that all the sadness and grief were somehow necessary for me to be conceived. It was also necessary for the souls of my grandparents to learn and grow into better people who could find love and stay married after their early failures.
Love. It is what we are here to do.
Yesterday, sitting in the waiting room of our auto mechanic with an elderly woman, somehow the subject of our children came up. She seemed shocked to hear I gave birth to my youngest son at the age of 50. Honesty demands that I always admit that I needed medical assistance to do that and rarely do I feel that it is anyone else’s business as to exactly what that admission means.
Yet, as I contemplated writing my essay for today, I felt that I needed to be honest about the fact that my sons are donor assisted conceptions. We have faced the issue directly this year with 23 and Me DNA kits for each of our teenage sons. I knew that our egg donor had hers done and it is remarkable how close we are at the genetic level – as to cultural heritage and our maternal haplogroup – without actually being related at all.
I also gifted my husband with a 23 and Me kit over a year ago and then, knowing that the honest truth must be admitted to (though we have never hidden the unique details of our sons’ conception from them and told them their story at a level they could understand at a young age, as well as have taken them to meet their donor on more than one occasion) my sons were finally old enough and mature enough to get a more detailed understanding of what makes them special.
It is difficult for me as the woman who carried these boys in my womb and nursed them at my breast for over a year to see another woman listed as their genetic mother but that is the truth of the situation at a genetic level. It was my OB, who first made us aware of the possibility of conceiving the children my husband decided he wanted after 10 years of marriage, and we had tried and we even failed to jumpstart my very last egg with a hormonal injection, who then said – “there is another way.” It was either end a good marriage so my husband could marry a younger woman or take a leap and do something slightly unconventional.
My older son has not expressed what his feelings are about the situation. He was contacted by a relative of the donor at 23 and Me. I advised him to tell her to ask the donor about it. My younger son seemed disappointed to learn that he doesn’t have any of my DNA. My OB once explained to me, how much the gestating mother contributes to the development of the fetus – turning on or off genes and contributing to the nutritional preferences and emotional environment.
At the time my husband and I made this choice, I didn’t know anything about the issues all adoptees contend with nor about what a separation of mother and child does to an infant. Yet, given the reality that these fine young men would not exist in any other way, I think we did the best we could to fulfill their father’s desire to have children of his own and limit any deep wounding for our sons. I am the only mother they have ever known since their procreation started. And I do have a daughter and grandchildren that are genetically, as well as biologically, related to me and so, I do understand what it was that my husband was yearning for.
One can be human and do really bad/evil things. This is a sad truth of reality and society. There is a sickness in men, sadly. It is as old as humankind and it takes what it wants whether the object of its passion is willing or not. We give that behavior names, rape, incest.
It becomes complicated when that bad behavior results in the conception of a child. In abortion language there is often an exception for this situation that allows a women to take away the physical memory embodied as a fetus and go on with her life. Of course, she will never forget regardless.
Some of these “results” end up being adopted. Some adoptees have such an unfortunate experience that they wish they had been aborted but not all adoptees feel that way. In fact, there is no one size fits all when it comes to adoption experiences.
Perpetrators are real people with real problems who do something that healthy people cannot justify. They may have stressors in their life. These may cause them to act out in inappropriate and inexcusable ways. Pretending that men who commit rape are born broken and inhuman takes away the responsibility they should still bear for their actions.
Anyone conceived in rape or incest must embrace their own inherent self-worth and insist upon their human rights. Know this – what any ancestor did whenever they did that whether it is directly related to a subsequent person or not – this is not who we are individually.
At one time, such an event would have labeled the result a bad seed with flawed genes. While it is true, we inherit much from our genetic foundation, we also have the free will to make of our own selves what we will.
The #MeToo movement is an effort to bring sexual violence out into the light of awareness so that we can begin to understand how such things happen and why such behavior is wrong and how all of us can do better.
This is not a blog for or against abortion. It is a plea to give all people, including adoptees regardless of their origin story, human rights – dignity, heritage, truth.
Though adoption and other custody related separations tore my family apart, I know that each of us was conceived in an act of love between a man and a woman.
Today is Valentine’s Day and this day I celebrate that LOVE created each of us. I was born a Hart – I was once told by a psychic I chose to be born in that family as a constant reminder to myself.
When my husband and I chose to conceive our sons at an advanced age, we also cared about genealogy and so gave both of our sons the Hart name as the middle name.
Though becoming parents was a bit unconventional for us, I don’t regret our doing so. Our sons may not have us for as many years as my husband and myself had our parents but they get all the love we have to give each and every day. Every child should be loved. In our family, even the children who couldn’t be raised within the family they were born of, were loved even so.
I have heard from my newly discovered cousins that my parents who were taken away by adoption, were yet remembered and yearned for in their original families. I believe that is because they were first conceived in love.