True Nature: Sometimes adults shouldn’t get what they want.

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.

All images: google

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.

You know.

Nature.

Natural.

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.

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14 thoughts on “True Nature: Sometimes adults shouldn’t get what they want.

  1. That was really well said. Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t starting to view kids as a kind of accessory, something you shop for to complete an outfit.

    There’s a divorced family nearby that I really admire, especially the dads. They’re all remarried and have blended families. So the mom’s new husband and her ex husband, the father of the children, actually go Christmas shopping together for these kids, pick them up and drop them off at sporting events, have mutual celebrations together, things like that. What’s kind of sweet to watch is how they set aside their adult issues and simply focus on what’s best for the kids. I imagine having an ex wife or an ex husband is pretty difficult and trying to have a relationship with a new spouse for the sake of the kids, is probably really challenging. Somehow they’ve all managed to do it, and their focus on the kids rather than themselves is kind of incredible to watch.

    • Thank you adding that example. There definitely has been a commodification of children; the attitude that you can get rid of them if they are unwanted, and if that is the case, the right to have one when you want them regardless of your circumstances. There is brokenness in this life. And there are adults who are valiantly striving to pick up the pieces after difficult situations. It is the willful and casual breaking of the parent/child bond for the desire of the adults that I am speaking against here. And we can hold up the ideal of the married mother/father household *while simultaneously* helping the family who finds themselves in a very different place.

  2. Because might makes right. Because adults CAN force children to bounce between parents, because they CAN force children to live with Mommy and Mommy or Daddy and Daddy or just Mommy or just Daddy. Because adults CAN say to children “I’m going to rip your world apart because, sweetie, Mommy/Daddy comes first.”

    When you link your life to someone else, whether you become a spouse, a parent, the caretaker of an aging parent, etc you give up your right to be first when someone else NEEDS to be first instead of you.

    • Amen. SO well said, friend. Dr. Morse below had a quote on her FB page: “Divorce is when the adults take their crosses and hand it to their children.”. The same could be said of any decision that the adult willfully makes which lines up with what they want but where the child has the bear the brunt of the consequences.

    • Okay, that’s naively simplistic. The inherent flaw with your argument is that you assume mommy and daddy can get along, that he isn’t a meth addict, and/or doesn’t beat her and the kids, for instance.

      When people get divorced, it’s a good thing for the children. Children don’t need to be in a home with constant fighting between their parents. What people should do, but never will, is make sure they can be a successful married couple BEFORE they ever start having children.

  3. Hi Askme! So great to meet you! Thanks for this write-up about our efforts to keep kids connected to their parents! Dr Morse

    • Thanks! While divorce might be “old news” to most of us, I learned A LOT about the impact that no-fault divorce on our culture at large during your presentation. Thanks for all you do!

  4. “experts shared the statistics revealing how children conceived by sperm-donation have increased incidences of delinquency, substance abuse, and depression”

    I wonder if those studies were of the same quality as Regnerus study of children in same sex relationships.

    • Check out “My Daddy’s Name is Donor.” Here’s the author of the study in an NPR interview:

      Ms. MARQUARDT: It is. In our recent study that we released, “My Daddy’s Name is Donor,” two-thirds of young adults conceived in this way say my sperm donor is half of who I am. About half are disturbed about the circumstances of their conception. More than 40 percent are concerned that money was involved in their conception. Overall, compared to those who are raised by their biological parents, they’re more likely to struggle with mental illness or substance abuse or depression.

      MARTIN: But it is something to have to do with divorce being part of a scenario or…

      Ms. MARQUARDT: Well, it is interesting. In our study of 485 adults who are conceived this way, their parents were more likely to divorce than, for example, those who were adopted. So family instability, whether it’s divorce or, you know, you’re conceived to a single mother and she maybe marries and goes through divorce. Family instability and family transitions were definitely more common among those conceived through sperm donation. I think it’s very hard on a family to build a family this way.
      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129233185

  5. While children and their feelings need to be thought of a narrow minded view of what family is encourages intolerance of others who are different. Who is family to each of us is something that needs to be respected. Family isn’t something that we should feel obligated because of blood only to but people we have a bond with.

  6. And as for this: “children conceived by sperm-donation have increased incidences of delinquency, substance abuse, and depression..” I call bulls**t on that. Who did this study? Some Catholic funded group?

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