Surrogate Mothering Essay, Research Paper
Motherhood – Nine Months vs. A Lifetime
“You’re about ten meters dilated?it’s time to push!” You grab hold onto your husband’s hand a little tighter. Take a deep breath?and the labor process begins. This is a common everyday scenario that happens thousands of times a day in hospitals all over the world. Yet sometimes, women will never be able to go through this process, due to circumstances beyond their control. Imagine never being able to have a child. Imagine infertility. Month after month, dozens of negative pregnancy tests, hundreds of dollars, infinite heartaches. What is a couple to do? Who can they trust? What are their options?
One option that is becoming more and more popular in today’s society is surrogate motherhood. Why? Some believe it is because of the continuous decreasing numbers of adoptable infants, especially healthy Caucasian infants. The advantage of surrogacy is that the child is usually related to one of the intended parents and can be the product of both genetic parents.
Yet the reason that many Americans don’t look for this as an option first is because of the large percentage of unsuccessful cases. A majority of the negative feelings towards surrogacy is mainly due to the uncertainty of the outcome. There is not a 100% guarantee that everything will work out as planned. There are many controversial topics surrounding surrogate motherhood. One is whether or not the surrogate mother has the right to change her mind, that is, to keep the baby.
Take a look at adoption for a minute, although the two may be extremely different. In adoption the mother has usually become involuntarily pregnant, while in surrogacy, the pregnancy is voluntary. Yet whom would you consider the true mother of the child? The mother who gave birth yet, chose to give the child up, or the one who has raised him/her? To me, the answer is simple. The couple who adopted the child is the “true” mother and father, and in most cases, the adopted child would say the same.
On the other hand, who decides which woman gains the title of ?true mother? “Do we define a ?true mother? the woman who gives physical birth or a child, or the woman who spends her life shaping this baby into and individual. This question is a hard one to answer because most of the stipulations have double standards. Yet when it comes down to it, to “investigating” the circumstances a little closer, it can be stated that no matter who gives birth to the child, the one who raises it and cares for it can be called its mother.
The word “Mother” can have a lot of different meanings to different people. For some, their grandmother may be considered their mother, or maybe their aunt or close family friend. Because someone came from within a woman, it does not constitute her, nor does it automatically give her the right to be called the mother of the child. Of course they are the biological parent. Yet “mother” holds a higher meaning. If a woman has a child and then abandons it?what kind of woman is that? She’s certainly not a mother by any means.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “mother” as: a female parent; a woman in authority; an old or elderly woman. Yet, I define a mother as someone who is there for you always, someone who is up with you in the middle of the night when you don’t feel well, someone who is there to wipe the tears streaming down your face, and there to place the band-aid on your knee after you have fallen on the ground, someone who gives you advice, cares, nourishes, loves, protects, hugs, kisses, someone you can look up to and say, “that’s who I want to be when I grow up.” In other words, a role model, who if she could, would take away all your pain and unhappiness just so you wouldn’t have to suffer. A mother is someone who would lie down her life for you. There are so many descriptions of a mother that have nothing to do with biology. Yes, of course, you may look like your mother maybe even talk like your mother; but you may also look a lot alike the woman who lives across the street.
There is a proverb in the Bible about King Solomon judging the fate of a baby who had “two mothers.” Both women claimed to be the mother, so to “be fair” King Solomon said he would cut the baby in half so they could both have a “part of the baby.” The one woman begged him not to, and therefore King Solomon knew right away that she was the true mother of the baby, for she would rather endure the pain of losing her baby to the other woman, than letting her baby die. That, to me, is the true definition of a mother.
The definition of a surrogate mother, on the other hand, by no means resembles that of a mother. The encyclopedia describes a surrogate mother as a woman who agrees, usually by contract and for a fee, to bear a child for a couple who are childless. This is usually because the wife is infertile or physically incapable of carrying a developing fetus. There are two different types of surrogacy. (1)
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother is artificially inseminated with the sperm of the intended father or sperm donor. The surrogate’s own eggs are used; therefore she will be the genetic mother of the resulting child. Usually, the intended father’s name is put directly on the birth certificate and the intended mother will need to do a stepparent adoption. However laws surrounding this process vary from state to state.
In Gestational Surrogacy the surrogate mother is not genetically related to the child. Eggs are extracted from the intended mother or egg donor and mixed with sperm from the intended father in vitro. The embryos are then transferred into the surrogate’s uterus. In many areas, the intended parents may petition the court in the third trimester of pregnancy to have both their names placed directly on the birth certificate. (2)
Surrogate motherhood has raised complex ethical and legal issues, and lawsuits over custody after the child’s birth have resulted from both types of surrogacy. As one woman told her experience of being a surrogate mother, she expressed her decision this way: “I think you just have to know within yourself if you want to do it. I have a firm belief that genetics don’t make the parent. It’s about love and time. And I have never done that for my surrogate daughter and I never will. That is what doesn’t make me her mother.” (3)
Another surrogate mother responds: “Under no circumstances should a surrogate mother be allowed to keep the baby she has given birth to. I think that is disgusting and outrageous. I firmly believe that the surrogate mother should have no legal recourse.” (3)
A sample Gestational Surrogacy contract showed the numerous questions and stipulations that are taken into consideration before surrogacy begins. Everything is basically stated on paper for legal purposes such as expenses, testing, and responsibilities, naming the child, insurance, and counseling. Yet, one thing I noticed on the contract that I felt quite disturbing was a section entitled: “Child Born with Severe Birth Defects.” It stated that: “If the child is born with severe birth defects so serious that life sustaining equipment is required and physician recommends that the child not be placed on such equipment or not be resuscitated, Genetic Parents will make the decision. If Embryo Carrier disagrees then she will be responsible for the child from that time, and Genetic Parents will have no further responsibility.” (4)
Everything else in the contract relies heavily on the fact that the embryo carrier is in no way considered a mother to this child. In other words, she has no say in the child’s well being after the birth. As soon as the baby is delivered, the genetic parents are in full responsibility. Granted, the child will not survive much longer after being placed under resuscitation, the genetic parent’s decision should not be overruled. It is, after all, their child and they should have the final say in the matter. This is a great example where a “double-standard” is imposed.
The Uniform Parentage Act claims “the parent and child relationship may be established as follows: (a) Between a child and the natural mother, it may be established by proof of her having given birth to the child; (b) Between a child and the natural father; (c) Between a child and an adoptive parent, it may be established by proof of adoption.” Under no circumstances is the surrogate mother considered the true mother. (5)
There are no reliable statistics on how many children are acquired through a surrogate arrangement. There are probably about a half dozen agencies across the country not to mention the private arrangements no one keeps track of. The figures are probably between a couple of hundred and a couple of thousand a year in the USA. (6)
One of the major controversies within our society is abortion. I feel that abortion and surrogacy are somewhat related. The way we are making contracts to pass around the motherhood of a woman or childhood of a child sounds quite ridiculous. On the other hand, when a couple is unable to go through with a pregnancy, a surrogate mother is an amazing technological advantage. There are always positives and negatives to every type of controversy. The negative side to surrogacy is definitely when there is birth defects involved. The genetic mother looks to be the better of the two mothers until there is a problem with the born child and they turn their back on the baby because it wasn?t delivered to their standards. Another downside, which is obviously similar to abortion, is the idea of woman who isn?t so upper class, using surrogacy to earn money. It is a wonderful advantage to be able to help a family have a miracle such as a child, which they can?t have on their own. But, how many is too many? Even a pro-choice individual?s views quickly change toward abortion and exactly how legally available it should be when the same woman gets pregnant and aborts her child more than once. These types of advances all seem to be a good idea but they all have complications and loopholes which those of our modern society will take advantage of.
If only the world could be perfect, then women would not have to rely on others to help them accomplish something that should come naturally. If only all surrogate mothers were respectful, and follow through with an agreement, then there could be accommodating alternatives for those less fortunate. If only truth and sacrifice could ?out-do? greed and selfishness. If only the definition of a mother could be found as easily as opening the pages of Webster’s. Unfortunately its not, therefore we must be able to do all we can to help preserve the true definition of a mother, one who lasts a lifetime – guaranteed.
(All factual information was found on the following web pages)