Saturday, July 19, 2008

babies and Oprah...hear me out okay?

So, last week I stayed at my mom's house while Carl was at church camp with the teens. (For those that aren't avid readers, I can't stay anywhere overnight by myself...yes I know, I'm a scared-e-cat.) Anyway, she has the bunny ears not the cable tv. No big, I watched the bunny ears for 22 years. So, I had to watch Oprah for a week. I was surprised that I actually caught two good episodes that didn't have to do with fashion or celebrities or giving away un-Godly amounts of materialist crap. However, I want to preface that the word "good" here means that it caused me to think and question and got the cogs in my head a turnin'.

Episode #1: Lisa Ling did a special report about couples who are paying women to be surrogates in India. Obviously the couples have fertility issues. One of the couples that came on the show had already spent over $100,000 in the US to several different doctors and gone through several different treatments and hadn't gotten pregnant. They had considered adoption, but wanted to have a biological child. They found out about the surrogate option in India which is roughly $6400USD. They have made 2 different trips for about 3-4 weeks at a time and will make one more for 1 month when their child is born. The amount of money the Indian women make from carrying just one child successfully (the success rate is about 60%) is enough to bring these women and their families out of poverty and change their lives. The documentary showed the house where one surrogate lived before and the home where she lived now with her family. Most women are surrogates only once. I've never been pregnant. I don't know if I have fertility issues. I also am open to adoption. Since I was in middle school I wanted to foster/adopt children. So, I just don't understand the longing, craving, obsession, and extreme lengths that some couples will go to in order to have a biological baby. I don't understand the insane amount of money they will spend to "roll the dice." But I am extremely uneasy with outsourcing a pregnancy to another country...even if it could change that woman's life.

Martha Stewart's daughter was on at the end of the show. She's 42. She spends over $28,000/month to try to get pregnant. In 2 months she could pay off my college debt.

*In Oklahoma County alone, there are over 15,000 children, ages 0-17 ready and waiting to be adopted by a warm and loving home. Adoption isn't free, but it's got to be a lot cheaper than trying for something that may not be able to happen. And yes I said county, not state. There are 76 other counties in the state, and 49 other states.

Episode #2: This episode centered around the first sperm donor babies who are now all grown up and asking lots of questions. There were several sperm donors on who were offering their view and opinion. One guy said when we was donating, he looked at it like donating blood, he just got paid for it. Um...except that donating sperm means giving the potential for human life, not just transfusions. Don't worry, the guy is only a pediatrician with 9 "donor children" as their called. He also doesn't call them his children because he didn't go through the physical act of conceiving them. Dude, you are their biological father! They have your physical characteristics! Remember your sperm? They carry your DNA. Aren't you a doctor?! Oprah interviewed 4 "donor children" and talked with them about the questions they have and why they want to know who their father's are. Most of the kids interviewed were in their 20's. They knew their dad was donor "24H" or "4Qs2"etc, but no name, no medical history, no family heritage, no nothing. All of them expressed an emptiness and a void and longing to know a side of them that they feel they can't know without knowing at least a person from that side of themselves. Some of them have been connected with a 1/2 sibling or relative in someway. Some have found their donors and been received very well, but most have no answers and have grown up an only child being loved by a single-mom.

Do you think it's selfish of these mom's to use a sperm bank to have a baby if they know the child will grow up without a father and will eventually ask questions and want answers? It sounds similar to a child that's adopted that eventually wants to know about their birth parents...not because they don't love their adopted parents or love them any less, but because they need that piece that hasn't fit for so long to fit if it can. I think it has to be similar for "donor children." There's a piece that's not fitting and they're trying to find the right piece. The only problem is, there's hardly any resources to link them to their piece. is the only one going right now. They've linked over 4,600 siblings and donors so far. It's a start.

I don't know how I feel about all this. I do know it keeps me up at night. And it doesn't keep me up at night because I'm thinking of ways to change people's minds. It keeps me up at night because our society is still treating life with disregard and keeps coming up with ways for people to get what they want without thinking of the consequences.


Jen said...

There are a lot of things in this world that are difficult to understand. I think it would be impossible to understand the extreme desire a woman has to raise a child of her own. There are just somethings in life we have to leave up to others to decide, despite our personal convicitions . You can't force the idea of adoption on a woman /couple that clearly desires to carry and raise a child of their own. That would be a severe injustice towards the vary nature of what it means to be human.

revbrunet said...

There aren't really a lot of resources to link adoptive children with their biological parents, either, from what I understand. Newer generations of adopted kids have greater advantages in that area over older/closed adoptions but it's still difficult information to come by. In that case, one might make an argument that it was 'selfish' to give those kids up for adoption, knowing that it might create an identity handicap for them later in life. (note: I am not making that argument.)

Then again, I grew up with both my biological parents and I'm not sure who I am, either. When it comes to kids, having and raising them, there's really no way to predict the future. Two parents, single parent, grand-parents, adoptive parents, you just can't know how things will turn out. That said, making sure kids are loved and safe has GOT to be the first thing to consider. I guess all we can do is the best we can with the situation presented, try to make responsible decisions and go from there.

- Reflections of a faithful blog-stalker

katie johnson said...

what upsets me the most about this is these people saying they are rescuing these indian women out of poverty to justify what they are doing. if they really cared about these women, they would send them the money or help them in some way while expecting nothing in return. or maybe they could adopt one of the many children that are orphaned here in india and help them out that way.
i have 5 adopted cousins (2 from china, 3 from south america) and they are loved the same as any other member of our family. it wasn't weird or hard to adjsut to them being there at all. there are so many children in need of a home in this world i find it ridiculous to be spending tons of money to have someone else carry my baby.
but that's just me.

Jodee said...

i don't know why, but i can relate to these women. the comment you made about episode 2 explains the question in episode 1: why do couples go to great lengths and lots of money to have a biological child instead of adopting? the answer: something will always be missing. from seeing and hanging out with pregnant friends, you bond with that child while its in your womb... there is a biologic attachment to a mother and child that, despite separation, will always be there. so from the adopted mother's standpoint, you can provide all the child NEEDS and be there for the child in every way, but that biologic connection will never be there. for some women, never having that connection but still adopting a child is worse than not having a child in the first place.

and as far as the comment made that these women should "send them the money or help them in some way while expecting nothing in return" is idealistic and nieve. i think sometimes as christians we confuse our morals with the morals the world has. yes, these women in india need help, i see that. but if you feel so strongly about that, then save 25 cents a day and send your own money to these people. YOU withhold something you think you need and send that money to some organization or whatever. you can't be the conviction of the Holy Spirit. God has blessed my husband and i in many ways, and when He tells us to give, we give. but God must tell me to give before i will. otherwise, its done in vain.

good people can give, and do give, but we can't force them or expect them to. and not to expect anything in return is silly too. again, its a conviction, given by God, to give with no strings attached. so we can't expect this from anyone but of ourselves.

Zach said...


It's a simple business transaction! They have something the couple wants and the couple has something they want! Like prostitution.

shannon paige said...

you cannot give without strings. when you give something, even if you say you don't expect anything material in return, you have just transferred power from one individual with resources to another without resources. sometimes to think you are not expecting something in return is worse than just expecting it. if you give, and the other person gives something back, you do not control the power in that situation - power has been equalized as best it can.

sometimes woman have the desire to carry a child, yes. and sometimes they don't. adopting is scary because, and i say this with sincerity, you never know what you're going to get. i would not spend $28,000 a month on baby making, but i also recognize it's because of my context that i won't. people in poverty question why we spend money on decorating homes, sporting games, hobbies. an extra $100 a year might save their child's life and we would rather have a nicer couch.

now...i say that to put it in context. i don't think the answer to the world's issues are rich people giving to poor people. i think that can be just as detrimental. instead of mission trips to africa to build an orphanage that cost thousands of dollars per person to get there, why not give those thousands of dollars to an institution fighting the reasons children are in orphanages in the first place?

but i do agree with you cara, at least these social questions are being questioned by people. that gives me more hope than anything.

Jodee said...

i think zach is onto something! haha. that was hilarious.

DG said...

I know a woman who has been a surrogate mother three times. She's provided a service for a family in need. It was a business transaction, that's it.

Gotta agree wtih Jen on this one - to each his/her own. I have a very close friend who went the sperm donor route, I have another friend who used a surrogate, and I, myself, delivered one biological son and adopted another.

Diversity, baby. That's what makes the world go round.

In the end, the most important thing is the child - is he/she loved? Are they happy? If so, nothing else matters.