Surrogacy: the Gift of Life

Author: Gamaliel Isaac
May 4, 2018

 

An unusual alliance has been formed between parties that generally oppose one other, Catholic conservatives, left wing feminists and anarchists.  The issues that they agree on is surrogacy and adoption.  Marina Terragni a feminist writer who authored the anti-surrogacy book Temporary Mother explained:

There are many positions from which to oppose surrogacy.  We see it as a struggle against the patriarchy, the Catholics see it as a struggle to preserve the traditional family, and some anarchists see it as a struggle against capitalism.

 

This is ironic because feminists who are for the right to choose when it comes to abortion are against the right to choose when it comes to giving life to a child via surrogacy.  It is also ironic because by opposing surrogacy Catholics are opposing the creation of a family when they ostensibly are pro-family.  Those who oppose it because they see it as capitalist exploitation of poor women don’t offer an alternative toward enriching those women.

 

One of the arguments against surrogacy is that there are a lot of foster children available for adoption.  Unfortunately there are many more parents who want to adopt than healthy infants available for adoption and intrusive social workers and lawyers take advantage of the high demand to make the process very expensive and regulations make the process difficult.  Older children and teenagers are easier to adopt but it is risky to do so.  Just how risky became public knowledge when Nancy Hansen of Shelbyville Tennessee sent her daughter’s adopted son back to Russia with a letter that said:

 

This child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues.

I was lied to and misled by the Russian Orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and other issues.  After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends, and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child.

Nancy told the Associated Press that:

He drew a picture of our house burning down and he’d tell anybody that he’s going to burn our house down with us in it. It got to be where you feared for your safety. It was terrible.

Instead of taking responsibility the Russian press and government blamed the American parent and passed laws against Americans adopting children from Russia.

 

My wife and I investigated adopting older children despite the fact that relatives had done so and found that they had made a big mistake.  We went to a program held to find homes for foster teens and I recognized the place where many of the teens at the program came from.  It was called Leake and Watts.  I used to pass by there on the way to college and teens from there used to throw rocks at me. Adoption is not the panacea that surrogacy opponents would have us believe.

 

The option of surrogacy in the United States is illegal in many states.  That may change. A bill to make surrogacy legal passed in the state of Washington and a bill to make surrogacy legal in New York is currently being considered by a judiciary committee.  Jennifer Lahl, an opponent of surrogacy wrote that  the “bill to legalize surrogacy in New York is

 

A proposal to enter the dark ages on surrogacy, returning us to a Handmaid’s Tale era of female enslavement, and creating a paid breeding class… It’s a big business that exploits, uses, abuses, preys on, and commodifies women. It turns children into products to be designed, selected, and purchased, while it profits handsomely.  

Ms. Lahl wrote that this “exploitation” is marketed in the United States, as the “loving, giving act of an angel.”

My wife and I were a couple who gave up on creating our own family until a surrogate from India named Trupti and a doctor named Nayna Patel transformed us into one.  Trupti transformed our lives and we transformed hers.  Instead of a shack in Anand India she and her family can now live in a house.  Her children can now go to a better school and have plenty of food to eat.  It is 10 years since I first met Trupti and she has become a dear family friend. 

 

I remember reading an interview with an Indian surrogate who angrily reacted to the suggestion that she was being exploited.  She explained that surrogacy was her choice and that before surrogacy she worked all day, 7 days a week in a glass cutting factory in India for a salary that was insignificant to the amount she received as a surrogate. 

 

The argument Ms. Lahl made that surrogacy is slavery is wrong.  Surrogacy is a choice, slavery is not.  Surrogates freely weigh the sacrifice involved in becoming a surrogate against the money they will make, and the benefit to their own families of that sacrifice.  

 

Ms. Lahl wrote that surrogacy turns children into products or commodities.  Our children are the most precious part of our lives.  Trupti gave them the gift of life.  Our children, my wife and I are just one of many thousands if not hundreds of thousands of couples whose lives have been enriched by surrogacy.                       

 

Ms. Lahl wrote that “surrogacy is marketed as the loving, giving act of an “angel.”  Trupti is our angel.  Surrogates choose to make the sacrifice they make to help their families but they also are aware that they will be making a family for someone else and that plays a part in their decision.  One surrogate explained that:

 

To know that I was a part of helping others have a family, the most important thing in my own life, was the ultimate reward. There is no greater gift I could ever hope to share.

 

There are surrogate horror stories in which women were deceived and forced against their will into becoming surrogates.  There are similar stories of women being forced to become pregnant and give up children for adoption.  The way to prevent these horror stories from happening again is not to throw the baby out with the bath water and make surrogacy and adoption illegal but instead to make and enforce laws that prevent such crimes from being committed.  We should not let the bad crimes of a few lead us to prevent couples from becoming families.  There is no question that the sacrifices surrogates make is a big one and that giving up a child is painful.  On the other hand they give life to beautiful children and to new families. 

 

Many of those who condemn the status quo do so without offering a better alternative.  You don’t see condemners of surrogacy, like Jennifer Lahl mortgaging their homes to enrich impoverished Indian women.  Instead surrogacy opponents take away the choice from impoverished women to enrich themselves and the lives of others.