This last week I packed my to-go Bon Bon cooler and jetted off to SoCal in order to attend the inaugural conference of the International Children’s Right’s Institute (ICRI). The topics were third party reproduction, divorce, and adoption. Divorce and adoption are pretty old news. But in case you have been dwelling in a cave for the past decade or so, I should tell you that surrogacy and egg/sperm donation has become a highly lucrative, commercialized and glamorous way to make babies.
The conference featured speakers that were learned experts in their fields. In the audience, for the most part, were your standard issue Cali college kids. They obviously knew the subject matter on the docket prior to their arrival but most were expecting the typical “adults can and should take whatever actions necessary to produce they family they desire” shtick. They were not prepared for the flip side of the coin.
I was heartened by the slack-jawed stares from some of these students as the experts shared the statistics revealing how children conceived by sperm-donation have increased incidences of delinquency, substance abuse, and depression. There was one horrified co-ed who has decidedly changed her mind about donating her eggs to pay for tuition next year after hearing, for the first time mind you, the unglamorous reality of potential risks arising from egg donation. Super fun things like sterility, cancer, and stroke. The speakers shared study after study that found the risks to a child’s well-being were far greater when they were raised in homes with a non-biological parent. The overwhelming message from each presenter: Adults must consider how they will ensure that children have a strong relationship with both their mother and father. I could feel the sea change as I watched some of the students begin to nod in agreement.
The tensest moment, however, surrounded the topic of surrogacy.
“If there is no surrogacy, then how do two gay men become parents?”
“Well”, the speaker patiently responded, “I recommend that they do so in a way that allows the child to have a full relationship with her mother.”
“But, you can’t ask a gay man to have sex with a woman just to have a child?! It is against his nature!”
That pesky nature thing again.
So, dear readers, please explain if you would care to share your thoughts. How on earth has it become our practice to expect the child to fit into the adult’s concept of family? Why is it the teen who has to bounce between mom’s and dad’s house after a divorce instead of the parents, whose decisions and actions brought about the fracture, moving in and out every week? Why does the baby have to be killed because the mother wouldn’t want to have a kid with “that guy.” Why should a child have to endure daddy’s girlfriend-of-the-month and call her “mommy” just to have her tender young heart broken when he’s over that one and on to the next? And finally, why is it that the infant has to lose her mother so that a man doesn’t have to “go against his nature”? You know, the “nature” that made his ability to have a natural family nonexistent?
If you want to base things on nature, then here ya go: kids have a mom and dad, and it’s just about the only indisputable fact in this whole ding-dang marriage and family discussion. And yet, that’s exactly the point that advocates of any “alternative” family arrangement seeks to deny.
There is only one party that should be sacrificing their rights, wants and desires when children are involved and it is not the infant, the tenderhearted young girl, or the teenager.
It is the adults.