Exploitation

I’m reading this morning about the surrogacy baby factories in India in the current issue of Time magazine. I personally know of more than one family who has acquired their child using surrogacy. I’m not a fan. Learning about the in utero mother baby bond has done it for me. Separating the baby from its gestational mother creates trauma in the child.

Both India and Africa are hot beds in the trade of women’s bodies to create babies for their intended families. There is also surrogacy in the United States. Always it is a matter of poverty and money.

One poor woman writes – she went to the clinic to live out her pregnancy because she was worried that being pregnant while divorced would subject her to malicious rumors. “If I tell anyone, they think that I am going to give away my own child. They don’t understand that I am simply giving my womb on rent.” Still, as far as that baby in her womb is concerned – it IS her own child.

I do have sympathy and compassion for the poor women who turn to surrogacy as their only method of creating revenue. This is a difficult situation. Without a doubt, commercial surrogacy takes advantage of low income women. I do not believe that making only Altruistic Surrogacy legal is the answer as it does not address the poverty that drives woman to provide their wombs in service to prospective parents. It will likely only drive the practice underground. A 9 month long commitment is a huge demand on any woman’s life.

Legal protection is needed – for both the surrogates and the intended parents. There needs to be medical insurance for the surrogates and a minimum amount of compensation for the time they are devoting. Don’t get me wrong – I still do not favor surrogacy. However, I am being realistic about the financial circumstances that drive a woman to agree to this. Banning the procedure will not work any better than it has worked for banning alcohol or illicit drugs. One needs to look at the source of what is motivating the behavior – poverty and desperation.

Sital Kalantry is a clinical professor at Cornell Law School and has written extensively about surrogacy. She worries about the lack of informed consent and notes that many of the women are unable to read the contracts, which are written in English, and they sign them using a thumbprint. The clinic highlighted in the Time magazine article has a C-Section rate of 70%. It probably is safer for the fetus than a vaginal birth but it is definitely more convenient for the doctor (your blog author raises her hand that she has had 2 C-Sections – these were said to avoid transmission of the hepC virus she co-exists with). And it is more convenient for the intended parents because they know when to pick up their baby.

A ban on commercial surrogacy in India will only send the practice underground. The conditions for the surrogates will be worse and it will still be in effect unregulated. Underground the surrogates will have no protections whatsoever. An example is China – despite commercial surrogacy being banned there – it is estimated that more than 10,000 children a year are still being born through that process.

You can read the entire Time magazine article here – India’s Ban on Commercial Surrogacy.

Unrealistic Expectations

I am really short on time today. I will tell the story without the comments. When my own daughter was a toddler, my childcare choice of a private home modeling themselves on a family structure went from my daughter LOVING to go to being tearful at being left there. It troubled me so much, I left work and went back only to see a larger boy bullying her through the window in the half door. I removed her that very moment. I found a woman with one daughter who was seeking a “companion” for that daughter. Never did my daughter get better care, rested and well fed and happy when I picked her up each day.

Here’s the story from a jealous adoptive mother without additional comments today due to time constraints.

“Those of you who have adopted and are working moms, I need input. We found a great person to do childcare for us. She lives nearby and doesn’t charge a lot. She is a great mom to her kids and loves our little girl.

The problem that we are struggling with is that our little girl loves her a little too much. She is so excited to see her and gives her BIG hugs that we do not typically receive…

I know this sounds like jealousy, but being adoptive parents, it is so hard to see this affection given to others when you do not get the same in return. She is only 9 months old and has been with us since she was 2 weeks old, so we have no doubt she cares for us and knows we are her parents, but we are debating on her going to another friend who is more of a grandmother figure than a mother figure.

We know that this other person would care for her very well and she would be just as loved there. I would just blow this off as being ridiculous, but my husband feels the same way. He wants her to go with this other person even though it is further for us to drive and more of a hassle.

What would you do? Are we being ridiculously selfish and we should just be happy that she loves her childcare person so much? I thought that here I would at least get some understanding, my heart is hurting.”

OK – just one comment in response with which I agree (I also had several “mom” friends with twins who had nannies when their children were preschool).

She needs to be grateful that her daughter loves who takes care of her. My crew loves our nanny of seven years. She like family. I’m glad my kids have such a strong bond with someone else.