I have known of two cases of surrogacy directly. Both utilized donor eggs. One was a mother who was being treated for cancer. She did die when the twins were about 2 years old and the father, who was directly their genetic father, remarried. The other one is a family member. The wife takes a lot of drugs to manage her mental health issues. They had a lot of failures but did eventually succeed and the little boy is now 5 year old and I am happy for my brother in law that he could be a father.
I didn’t question the practice at all until I began to discover my own genetic roots (both of my parents were adopted). As part of that journey, I began to learn a lot of things about infant development. No matter how you spin it, babies are being separated from the woman they’ve shared a home with for 9 months. The woman whose body nurtured and cradled them. They know her scent, her heartbeat. That’s who they know. And they are born and handed to someone who smells different, some stranger they don’t know.
There have also been cases where a surrogate mother became so bonded with the infant in her womb that it took a court case to separate them and contracts between a couple and a surrogate are much more explicit now about what is being done and for whom.
It hasn’t been all that long since The Handmaid’s Tale was making current news and the forcing of women to complete a pregnancy they don’t want for the purpose of handing their baby over to a prospective adoptive couple, often with undertones of evangelical Christianity seeking to convert the world to their philosophies, is very real even now.
One woman commenting on this situation admitted, “I seriously considered being a gestational carrier (their baby in my body, not my biological child) and when I learned about adoption trauma I knew I could never do it. How awful to take a baby from their only life connection. It’s cruel. It only serves to gratify the adults’ needs.”
What the child is missing is the security and serenity of oneness with
the person who gave birth to him – that continuum of bonding from
prenatal to postnatal life. This profound connection is one that the
adoptee will forever yearn for.
That period immediately after birth, when the infant has made the
transition from the warm, fluid, dark security of the womb to the
cold, bright, alien world of postnatal life is a crucial period.
~ The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier
Both of my parents were adoptees but they did have that advantage – they each had months of that transition time with their natural mothers, before they were handed over to strangers.
With both of my sons, they were placed immediately to my breast. This is how nature intended a fetus to become a separate person – incrementally.
The human child requires a period of a year after birth to attain a degree of maturity. The Self or core-being of the infant is not yet separate from that of the mother but psychologically contained within her.
The nature of their relationship is fluid, mother/child/world transcending time and space. The mother provides a container for the child’s developing ego, just as her womb previously provided a container for the child’s developing physical body.
It is a dual unity – the mother not only acts as the child’s Self, but actually is that Self. An uninterrupted continuum of being within the matrix of the mother is necessary in order for the infant to experience a rightness or wholeness of self from which to begin it’s separation or individuation process.
The continuity and quality of this primal relationship is crucial, and it may set the tone for all subsequent relationships.
~ from The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier
When my daughter was born in 1973, we were kept separated except for brief reunions in my room. She was in a nursery the rest of the time and fed a bottle, which damaged the effort to nurse her.
By the time my sons were born in 2001 and 2004, they were in the room with me – the first son almost all of the time and the second son in the nursery briefly each night so I could sleep but it was interesting that we would wake at the same time.
Being returned to the natural mother is better than being handed over to someone else. Any interruption in the continuum of the primal relationship with the mother can result in a lack of trust in the continuity of the goodness and rightness of the child’s environment and of their own self.