The Incubator

I’ve made my feelings about gestational surrogacy clear before and so this blog should come as no surprise to anyone. My main objection is the bonding that takes place in utero and how the infant is then taken from the mother that the baby identifies itself with at birth. The photo is blatantly clear.

The paternal grandmother’s post about this reads –

“My son and his wife were trying to have children only to find out that she could not bear children or she could possibly die during childbirth. They looked into surrogacy and, through a friend, they found Joy. She already has two boys of her own and wanted to do something special for someone else. And special it was.

My son froze five sperm and his wife froze five eggs that were genetically tested to make sure there were no defects. They had to go through a surrogacy company and found Joy to be a perfect match – low and behold she only lived an hour away!

Joy gave us our beautiful granddaughter. Since she was already a perfect match, she agreed to become pregnant, yet again, and just recently gave them another precious gift – our grandson. She also pumped breast milk for months for each baby!

Her name says it all – JOY. She is truly a JOY to our family!”

I will give Joy credit for going above and beyond reasonable expectations and I understand the joy that becoming a family offers. I’m not dismissing the value and importance of any of this. Never-the-less, I am still NOT a fan of gestational surrogacy.

One Story For Today

New Orleans – 2005 – Katrina

Quick take – from an adoptee of a closed adoption: This is complicated. It’s painful, it’s bittersweet. I am thankful for the outcome of a very shitty situations. I am NOT thankful all 3 parties involved suffered in various was. I AM thankful for a good childhood and for love. It DOESN’T remove the grief and pain.

BACKSTORY/ CONTEXT: I was adopted at 2 weeks old, in a closed adoption. My family never hid it. We would have a small cake every year. They would ALWAYS tell me how much my birth mother loved me. They would tell me how thankful they are to have me as a daughter. They never made me feel bad for asking questions they couldn’t always answer or verbalizing thoughts about her and her situation. which I did, ALOT. Lol Our extended family didn’t treat me differently. Of course, my parents and I had our very rough moments. No one’s perfect.

I still had emotional problems, which I found out later in life were related to adoption trauma. It was hard. It had permeated every aspect of my existence. Its confusing and painful, It still hurts.

Katrina hit 8-9 months before I could legally search for her. I was distraught for the people but for personal reasons too… The hospital I was born in, the agency. The city, my only tangible connection to her was UTTERLY DESTROYED. Were my files lost?? Did she still live there? Was she ok? Was she trapped on a roof? Is she dead? It was maddening to know answers may have been swept away in raging flood waters. I had waited my Whole Life for them.

I’ve since reconnected my my birth mom and learned the circumstances that lead to her giving me up. And OMG it tears me up inside knowing what she went through, why she didn’t keep me. All the pain and trauma she experienced. SO MUCH TRAUMA. It breaks my heart. I have ALOT OF ANGER about her treatment by many people.

Knowing that my adopted parents struggled to start a family and for 15 years they watched their siblings and friends have So Many Kids makes me sad.

I grieve the loss of biological connection. So much about how I am now makes much more sense. I talk like my birth mom. Have similar random things in life that we and my birth family share. Mu adoptive parents tried their best but didn’t really have the understanding or tools to deal with the sad things.

It is true that some adoptive parents are utter nightmares and should never have been parents.

I am thankful for WHO I ended up with. That my birth mom’s huge gamble of relinquishing her daughter for a better life worked just like she hoped. I am SO appreciative to have 3 parents who love me.

A lot of adoptive parents play the saint, throw it in their kid’s face. Feel entitled to being what THEY willingly and actively went in search of becoming. That behavior is NOT ok.

Blogger’s note – I feel guilty for lucking out (that I didn’t end up adopted when my unwed, teenage mother turned up pregnant because in my family adoption was so very normal – both parents were adoptees, so their parents were all adoptive parents). At this point in my own adoption discovery journey, I never really hope to hear that other adoptees had good experiences but I am thankful when they have had a good experience. But that’s not why I am here. I’m mostly here to deal with the hard topics and help reform continue to emerge. When the story I come across is a happy story, I’m glad to not be only a downer.

As humans, we ALL seek validation. It’s natural. With that said, tread carefully when you learn someone was adopted. Maybe let them give you THEIR perspective first before you ask what could be uncomfortable questions.

It Will Take A Lot

I often wonder if I will ever run out of things related to adoption to write about here but everyday I seem to find something and so, until I can’t seem to do that anymore, I suppose I’ll persist. Today’s inspiration comes from this admission from an adoptive mother –

After adopting our daughter and experiencing some pretty clear effects of her being separated from her mom, I have changed my mindset on adoption. While I know realistically that there will always be a need of some sort for a program to care for relinquished children, I don’t believe in the current system and think it needs a complete overhaul.

She admits – I did not do enough research before we went through the process and relied too heavily on the agency to provide me information. Now I realize their bias, pursuit of financial gain, etc. I did everything wrong – did a gender reveal, had a baby shower, did a GoFundMe, ick ick ick. After placement, I could just FEEL that my baby needed more than I was giving.

I also know that a woman who is struggling with fertility issues that desperately wants to start a family is going to be mighty difficult to dissuade – the flood of savior stories and toxic positivity that is shoved in hopeful adoptive parents’ faces is overwhelming. And despite all of the very valid points that have been made by those who know repeatedly, it will take a lot of education and dedication to overcome the propaganda and the emotional response a woman experiences in order to make a decision that is best for the child and not for her own desires.

So what to share with a woman who is struggling with fertility issues, who desperately wants to start a family ? I often see the very first suggestion is therapy to reconcile her infertility issues and realize that adoption is never a replacement for a natural born child.

Read The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier. I have read it myself and I still see it turn up recommended as the very best possible perspective into adoption trauma from a woman who is both an adoptive and a biological mother as well as a therapist to adoptees and their families. She has tons of insight about all of it.

It is very important to listen to adoptee voices. Here is an analogy – We would never do open heart surgery without an expert surgeon who performs that surgery every day. While a patient (adoptive parent) is part of that process, they are not the ones (adoptees) who know what it feels like to walk in those shoes. A hopeful adoptive parent is inherently biased against hearing any truth about the pitfalls of adoption. They often only listen to the voices of other adoptive parents who have benefitted from adopting. You will rarely hear these discussing the risks, only the positive aspects of adopting a child into their life.

It is important to explain what a for profit enterprise adoption is. The coercion of birth mothers, our society’s lack of focus on family preservation, the option of being a foster parent who strives for family reunification over fostering simply to adopt, explain the guardianship option, share the loss of identity and anything else that a mature adoptee knows about it all.

Remaining connected to those genetic mirrors that the child’s original family is of vital importance. There is occasionally a need for long term care, when the parents could not or would not parent their child(ren), and the extended family members were unwilling or unable to be a placement resource for those children. Adoption is much more nuanced than most people realize and many adoptees feel negatively about their adoptions. Many who choose to be foster parents are actually trying to help and actively trying to support families in crisis to reunify. That said, the training and support is abysmal. 

Passing On One’s Genes

I distinctly remember when my husband first told me he wanted children. I came by today’s blog in a round-about way looking at infertility and narcissism (and see one of my own blogs showing up in a google search, oh my). Yet then I found this – I believe there is no good reason – other than vanity and narcissism – that an infertile couple should opt for IVF over adoption. Please CMV. (Change my view) by LINK> Javier Mosquera at Penn State.

This got my attention as both the choice to pursue IVF and issues of adoption matter to me. We briefly considered adoption and quickly ruled it out. Over 20 years ago, I didn’t know everything about adoption that I know today. I am very glad we didn’t go that route. But for the grace . . .

So Javier writes, “Today’s topic for my Passion Blog post comes from the subreddit LINK>‘changemyview.’ The complete prompt can be found there” at the link. Javier notes that “I will be following the subreddit’s Submission Rules for comments, to keep order and structure to my posts.”

[1] We live in a world where there are orphans in need of adoption to loving homes, and where loving couples cannot naturally conceive.

While this is true, it makes the assumption that the couples unable to conceive would provide the same love and support that parents of a functional home (whose first choice was adoption) could provide. Why risk letting a couple who obviously wanted their own offspring in the first place (and pursued adoption only after being unable to conceive) adopt a child who already may feel unwanted, only to continue the cycle? Such a child may grow up to harbor serious emotional problems, and live an unhappy life. Adoption should be left for those who genuinely want it, rather than for those who feel discouraged due to infertility.

[2] IVF is insanely expensive. And why force nature’s hand when there are simpler alternatives? And from what I understand, it’s not a 100% guarantee it would even work on top of that.

[3] Studies have shown that couples love their adopted child the same as their own “flesh-and-blood” child. Adoption even exists in the animal kingdom among some species. So I don’t buy the “but some people want to have ‘their own flesh and blood child’” argument, because all I hear from that is that you’re incredibly vain.

Here I will challenge two of your points, and while l concede with you, you must remember that it is our biological desire to put our DNA back into the gene pool. This is a product of evolution, with the purpose of keeping the human population alive. People want their own offspring, and furthermore, by doing so it is the best guarantee of leaving a contribution to mankind. Releasing one’s genes back into the playing field directly affects future generations. Indirectly, you may have gifted the world with the next Thomas Jefferson or Socrates. Your argument regarding expense would be valid for low-income families, but if one has the money, I don’t see any problem with someone attempting to pursue fostering children that has their own genetic code.

My young sons, maybe about the same age as Javier, are fans of Reddit (I don’t go there). My oldest who is now 21 claims he is never going to have children. I’m certainly not going to argue that with him. Though recently we did point out that my husband was 35 before he decided that he did want to have children after all. This is because my son is encouraging us to get rid of all this “kid stuff” that we have been saving for the day when our sons have children of their own. This son has always known from a very young age, his own mind, and has not been wrong any time he as asserted anything so important. I have to take him at his word.

All In One

Mom via adoption, IVF and surrogacy

Infertility is a difficult path for any woman. For many of us the expectation is that we will have children at some point in our life. The Atluri family now has 7 children but it took every trick in the assisted reproduction toolkit to get them to this outcome. Josephine is one of the 1 in 8 women requiring fertility assistance, and also one of the 1 in 4 women who have experienced a miscarriage or pregnancy loss.

My blog today comes thanks to an article in LINK> The Huffington Post by Josephine Atluri. The family also had decisions to make regarding their frozen embryos, a situation in light of the uncertainties brought about by the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade and the rush to close and lock doors in many Republican controlled states. Not that this was a factor in the Atluri family’s calculations but it has become a factor for many couples who have used IVF now.

The first child added to this family came by way of adoption. During the 3 years they attempted to create their family with assisted reproduction through IVF, she experienced chemical pregnancies, miscarriages and flat-out failed cycles. After losing a twin pregnancy at 17 weeks, she realized that she could no longer handle the physical, mental and emotional toll of another IVF cycle. Thus, half a year after the loss of their twins, they pivoted in their approach to parenthood and pursued an international adoption. They adopted a 10-month-old boy who became the physical manifestation of their hopes to have a family.

After a year of joyful parenthood, their sense of optimism had renewed enough to try one more IVF cycle at a new fertility center in Denver. Thankfully, they succeeded, becoming pregnant with twins again and this time the pregnancy went to term. They became the parents of healthy boy and girl twins.

The happy ending did not erase the pain experienced from infertility, miscarriage or pregnancy loss for Josephine. This eventually manifested in a fight to control her body as untreated mental health issues snowballed into bulimia. During the healing process, she discovered that she felt the need to “control” her body through her eating disorder partly because it was uncooperative reproductively. 

Every year after the birth of their twins, they received a letter from the storage facility that safeguarded the many embryos from their last IVF procedure. For four years they decided to keep them frozen. On the fifth year, her husband said, “I think it’s time we give these embryos a chance.” After a drawn-out moment, she expressed another truth she had confronted during her healing journey. “I can’t. I just can’t do it again. I’m so sorry.”

It was at this point they decided to pursue surrogacy. She says, “At every step of the process, an unthinkable level of trust, vulnerability, collaboration and communication was required.” Without complications, their surrogate gave birth to their twin boys. Even so, they continued to receive annual reminders regarding their remaining frozen embryos, They tried surrogacy again and two decades after their first IVF cycle, they are now the proud parents of seven children: a 15-year-old son, 13-year-old boy/girl twins, 6-year-old twin boys and 1-year-old twin girls.

She thinks of herself as a warrior in a 17 year long war against infertility. Thanks to the support of online community, she was able to find strength in her story and voice. She speaks up about women’s physical and mental health issues in an effort to destigmatize and normalize these important conversations. She has become a fertility, pregnancy and parenting mindfulness coach.

The Problem With Surrogacy

The question was posed – I have a friend who cannot carry a baby to term. She produces eggs just fine, and a friend of ours who is like a sister to her offered to be a surrogate for free for her. There is no power dynamic at play and they’ve been non biological “sisters” their entire lives. Is this still problematic and should I try to talk them both out of it?

The answer is simple. Ever since I came to understand about in-utero bonding and mother child separation trauma, I have been against surrogacy. I know that there are many couples who chose this. In fact, among my in-laws, this was chosen for similar reasons.

A few more thoughts – from a mother – I grew my children in my body. I didn’t grow them to give them to someone else. Yes, I work, but at the end of the day, they know who mom is. Not some confusing arrangement of mom and “not really mom but kind of mom.” My children did not suffer separation trauma at birth. THAT is the difference.

Follow-up question – I know a lot of working mothers who aren’t constantly around their children, may I ask how is this different? Answer – Take some time to research the primal wound (there is a good book on this by Nancy Newton Verrier). It is not about being around a child constantly. It is that in those moments where we, as a species, reach out to our mother for comfort and nurture, we know on a primal level who that is, and it is the person who carried us and birthed us. That’s why separation after birth trauma exists for adoptees, children who were put into the system at birth and orphans. They may have a mother figure, but it is not who birthed them.

Read up on why surrogacy contracts exist and the numbers of people whose relationships break apart because of surrogacy and jealousy. Even sisters. Then what? The baby is away from who the baby thinks is mother.

The best we can do is chose not to incubate babies for other people as this will traumatize them. A fact proven by MRI is that babies separated from their mothers due to the need for them to be placed in the NICU, as well as in adoption and in surrogacy, will suffer brain changes. The difference with the NICU example, is that the parents aren’t deliberately causing that brain change. It is due to a medical necessity.

Clueless response – Every one gets separated from the body in which they grew, so I’m not understanding. Answer – Technically yes, when you are born, you are no longer physically connected to the body of person who carried while you grew. But then that person doesn’t generally go away – except in cases like adoption, surrogacy, etc.

Argument continues because the two women in question are “like sisters.” Response – They are “like sisters”, not actual family. You can be like whatever. Doesn’t change blood. That said, the child deserves their mother – ACTUAL mother. Who would be on the birth certificate? The egg donor or the birth parent? A child deserves to know their biology and this is just messy.

Another thing to consider is that their “inseparable” relationship may change drastically after the baby is born. It’s pretty common for infertile APs (or infertile people who use surrogates) to develop an awful case of fragility once they have that baby in their arms. It’s in fact the main reason that the vast majority of “open adoptions” close within the first 5 years.

One last point because this has a lot of comments but I think this is worth sharing – How would your friend feel is this pregnancy killed her “sister”? Or if her “sister” had to terminate to keep herself alive? What if her “sister” carries to term, but has lifelong affects on her health that diminish her quality of life? No one should be using another person’s body like this. Pregnancy is not some magical, easy thing. It can be incredibly hard on a person’s body. It can kill people or leave them disabled for life.

Finally, just some background on why the question was asked – The “sister” is insisting. She says her experience being pregnant was “magical” and that she would be pregnant all the time if she could (but she’s also done growing her family, as she doesn’t want to raise any more of her own kids). She said it would “be an honor” to be able to be the person to help her sister grow her family, too. They’re both in their early 30s. I know they’ve spoke about her health being #1 priority during pregnancy and they’re both pro-choice.

We hang out as a group often and I am simply an observer in their conversations about it, as I do not want to speak on things of which I’m ill informed. I asked this question because I want to have some valuable knowledge about the subject the next time we get together, instead of just sitting there listening to something go down that could possible end up being catastrophic. So far, they’re completely on the same page. We all love each other very much and wouldn’t want anything negative to happen to the others. If that means an abortion needs to happen, then she is okay with that.

One last thought – You cannot make life long promises that the “sister” will remain in this child’s life. I had a family member who did this with her best friend. After a lifetime of friendship, they have not spoken since the baby was born. And if their friendship ends, the child will always wonder why they were handed off, like it was nothing. I suggest that you not support your “friends” baby swap. Traumatizing an infant should outweigh any of their selfish wants. Advise to your friend who can’t carry to term to get therapy and deal with it.

>Link< worth reading – “I was an altruistic surrogate and am now against ALL surrogacy.”

Short And To The Point

I wanted to make a point that I did not in yesterday’s blog – Conveying Personhood to Embryos. Who is motivated to adopt babies in the United States ? Infertile couples. Due to the overturning of Roe v Wade, there is now much more uncertainty now upon the best path to parenthood for such couples – that is – using IVF and having children with one or both of the parental inputs donated. If this avenue becomes inaccessible (as abortion already had in much of these United States, even though federally protected), more of these infertile couples will be seeking to adopt any available baby.

My husband and I considered adoption to build our family but decided against the uncertainties of taking on someone else’s baby. That was even before I knew my own adoptee parents’ origin stories. In the 5 years since I started uncovering that story and along the way learning so much more about the trauma associated with separating a child from its biological parents, I have turned against adoption for the most part, even though I owe my very existence to that method of creating a family on the parts of my adoptive grandparents.

We know that increasing the supply of domestic infants available for adoption factored into several of the Supreme Court Justices thinking, I have to wonder if they considered further pressure on that supply if assisted reproduction becomes more expensive and/or inaccessible.

CODE PINK

I once read a book titled The Foundling. It is the true story of a man who discovered that he had been kidnapped as a baby. Yet, his quest to find out who he really is shook up the genealogy industry, his own family and set in motion the second longest cold case in US history. It started in 1964, when a woman pretending to be a nurse kidnapped an infant boy named Paul Fronczak from a Chicago hospital.

Two years later, police found a boy abandoned outside a variety store in New Jersey. The FBI tracked down Dora Fronczak, the kidnapped infant’s mother, and she identified the abandoned boy as her son. The family spent the next fifty years believing they were whole again. Paul had long suspected however that he was not that infant.

So, not too long ago, Paul took a DNA test after the birth of his first child, Emma Faith. The test revealed that he definitely was not Paul Fronczak. From that moment on, Paul wanted to find the man whose life he had been living, as well as discover who abandoned him and why.

Now in 2022, hospitals take the situation very seriously and have drills and procedures known as Code Pink.

Recently Jesenea Miron, who is 23 years old, walked into the Riverside University Health System – Medical Center in California. She was allegedly posing as a newly-hired nurse. Miron was able to gain access to a medical unit where newborn infants were present. She then entered a patient’s room and identified herself as a nurse. The Code Pink procedures worked and she is now in custody.

There was a case in 1998, when Gloria Williams walked into a Florida hospital dressed as a nurse. She walked out with a newborn named was Kamiyah Mobley. Williams raised Mobley for 18 years as her own daughter in South Carolina after renaming her Alexis Kelli Manigo.

In the event of a suspected or actual abduction, “Code Pink” is announced loudly over the hospital system if the infant is less than 12 months of age. As more information is developed, up-dated announcements are made. When an infant is suspected or confirmed to be missing, the employee who made the discovery notifies the hospital’s Security Control Center by calling 911.

Out of 325 cases of infant abduction over the past five decades, nearly all of the cases involve a female abductor. In analyzing those abductions, not only do many abductors use similar tactics to steal babies, like dressing as a nurse. Nearly all abductors fit a similar profile. Many women who steal babies do so in a desperate attempt to keep a boyfriend or husband they fear may leave them, if they don’t have a child to bind them together. They are usually of child-bearing age and some may already have children at home. They may pretend to be pregnant, they may have recently lost a baby due to a miscarriage or they suffer from infertility which prevents them from becoming pregnant themselves.

A Strong Urge to Parent and Infertility

Like I believe all Coen Brothers films, this one is quirky. Holly Hunter is excellent as a fierce mom. Her infertility coincides with the birth of quintuplets to a local business owner. Like many infertile women, the fact that some people have many children (including her husband Hi’s supervisor at work) while some are denied the joys of parenthood seems very unfair. She concludes that the Arizona (their last name and the state where this takes place) family has more children than they can handle (due to fertility drugs) and she hatches a plan to take one of the quintuplets as the child they want in their life.

Not only is Hunter’s character, Ed, infertile but they cannot adopt due to Hi’s criminal record. And actually, that is a bright spot as far as anyone who would like to see less adoptions is concerned. The kidnapping scene is hilarious as the babies go every which way and Hi tries to corral them, sometimes carrying one under each arm. Quite a few of the characters are exaggerated and not meant to be taken seriously – from Hi, to 2 escaped former convicts who force their way into the couple’s lives to the crazed bounty hunter like something from a Mad Max or similar movie. Also funny also is his supervisor’s large and unruly family who visit the couple causing chaos everywhere.

In the end, Hunter’s character only wants to make things right again and returns the baby as well as turning down the $25,000 reward. But I did fall in love with the fierceness of her mothering instinct to protect the baby against all threats. That was beautiful to behold.

Holly Hunter w Nathan Jr

A God Given Right To Parent

Sharing the words of one adoptee, Mary Constance Mansfield, for today’s blog –

It’s exhausting. People just refuse to connect the dots. Adoption agencies and private adoption attorneys make no money if they don’t encourage and often time coerce a young woman to place their infant for adoption.

There’s a whole group of women who struggle with infertility and are praying a newborn experience the trauma of being abandoned by their mother, because they deserve to be a parent.

They are quite sure that their almighty, always right, god, chose this other woman’s child to actually be their child and they are sure their love will heal whatever trauma the infant might experience. And they will address it when and if the child brings it up. Because they believe they have a god given right to be a parent.

I would disagree….

Well many of us don’t actually come out from the innate Stockholm syndrome that the adoption industry thrives on until our last adoptive parent dies and that ghost kingdom we kept hidden for so long begins to scream at us.

The American Academy of Pediatrician’s official statement about an adopted child is “It should be assumed, ALL adopted children have suffered an irreversible trauma” and they recommend early recognition and appropriate treatment. They know that the child doesn’t have the vocabulary to bring it up. The earlier the recognition the better the chance for recovery.

With the influx of the “domestic supply of infants” that’s expected from the overturning of Roe vs Wade, it’s imperative that those who end up adopting do their due diligence and actually help the child talk about what they feel.

Yes it will hurt when you hear they think about their bio mother and wonder if they have siblings, among other things any child would ask if they knew they were living with strangers but had a history before they were adopted. But that pain you feel is for you to deal with. It’s not so you can convince a child they don’t need to know anything truthful about life before adoption. The reality is you should’ve already grieved the biological child you can’t have and done your homework in regards to the trauma of never seeing your mother this side of the womb causes, so you can be aware of the symptoms when you see them.

And for the sake of keeping it real. Most private adoption agencies are affiliated with a church or a denomination. And private adoption attorneys? Well they are just that…. they get paid only if they find a womb wet infant for the 30 to 50 people in line for one. They have absolutely no monetary reason to give natural mother’s the info regarding resources available if she should want to parent.