Children conceived via surrogate mothers think the time has come for the world to hear the other side of the story about surrogacy and other forms of assisted reproductive technology that are all about the parents and not concerned enough about the feelings of the children who are conceived through these unnatural means.
The New York Post is reporting on the story of Jessica Kern, 30, of Culpepper, Virginia who was born via surrogacy and is joining with others like her who want to see tighter controls and more laws governing assisted reproduction in the U.S.
“You can’t sell your kidney for profit but you can purchase an egg or sell a child,” she says. “There needs to be more checks and balances. . . . Most of the consideration within surrogacy is toward the adults and what they want. Often, it’s not in the best interests of the children.”
On her blog entitled, I Am a Product of Surrogacy, she writes about how devastated she was to find her medical records at the age of 17 which detailed the surrogacy arrangement made for her birth.
“My biological mother was paid $10,000 for her services,” she says. “I was devastated.”
Kern gave evidence to lawmakers in Washington DC last summer in which she opposed the legalization of surrogacy in the district. During the proceedings, she was asked why she wasn't grateful for the surrogacy procedure that gave her life.
“The question was so simple and dismissive,” she recalls. “Like I would choose this for myself? When the only reason you’re in this world is a big fat paycheck, it’s degrading.”
Surrogacy is when a woman carries the biological child of another couple, then gives the child to the couple after it is born.
There are two primary forms of surrogacy. The traditional practice involves inseminating the surrogate with donated sperm, in which case the surrogate mother is also the biological mother of the child.
Gestational surrogacy occurs when the biological parents donate both sperm and egg which is fertilized and then implanted in the surrogate's womb. This type allows a couple to be biologically related to their child and the surrogate to be nothing more than a "hired womb" in the process.
Because of a lack of regulation in the U.S., the number of infants born through surrogacy every year is not known, although the practice is becoming more and more popular. The Council for Responsible Genetics approximates that between 2004 and 2008, about 5,000 children were born via surrogacy in the U.S. Another estimate says that an average of nine children per year are born to surrogates in each state.
Kern believes that in order to keep children safe, the country needs to embrace a higher moral standard when it comes to surrogacy.
"This is not at all to say that I don't empathize with the parents who are struggling to start their family," Kern writes on her blog.
"But as I've stated many times in my blog, please look to traditional adoption, or being a foster parent. Children are not a right, they are a blessing. When we put the message out there that we are entitled to have children, we are demeaning the rights of the people who are conceived this way to know their biology. One person's right should not outweigh another."
These high moral grounds are precisely where Church teaching about surrogacy can be found. Catholics believe human life is sacred, as is the means by which human life comes into existence. Because of this, the Church also believes that every child "has the right to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up within marriage" (Donum Vitae, 1987).
Surrogacy violates all of these most essentials rules of life.
And no one knows this better than the children who are being conceived through these means.
"It looks to me like I was bought and sold," writes Brian C. on his Son of a Surrogate blog. "You can dress it up with as many pretty words as you want. You can wrap it up in a silk . . . scarf. You can pretend these are not your children. You can say it is a gift or you donated your egg . . . . But the fact is that someone has contracted you to make a child, give up your parental rights and hand over your flesh and blood child. I don't care if you think I am not your child, what about what I think? Maybe I know I am your child. When you exchange something for money it is called a commodity."
These children believe they are more than just a "commodity" and are signaling to our society that the time has come to stop pretending that the desire of a parent to have a child is all that matters when it comes to assisted reproductive technologies. We need to put the brakes on these practices until we are willing to seriously address the needs of all persons involved - including children like Jessica Kern and Brian C. who deserve to have their voices heard!
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