What is “REAL”??

I just read an article on a surrogacy custody battle in another country. There are a billion issues with rich countries’ citizens going to poorer countries to pay women for the use of their bodies. But that’s not what I wanted to post about over here, so I’m not going to link to a specific article.

The arguments lawyers are making against the surrogate repeat, over and over, that the surrogate has no “biological connection” to the child. I think that’s a failure of semantics; we in adoption conversations know how important “mere” words can be. This woman has no GENETIC connection to the child (she was not the egg donor). But is there anything more biological than gestation? The infant studies that show that newborns “recognize” their mothers — that’s really not about genetics, is it? It’s about familiarity with the body you came from, right? Given that it seems to be scent and heartbeat  that a child recognizes, it’s not the genetic mirroring that seems to be so important in life.

We really need to get past – WAY past — this model of “ideal nuclear family.” It’s hard enough for me to wrap my head around “normal” adoption — with just two sets of parents. What is it going to be like for children with gamete donors (maybe on both sides!) they won’t ever meet, with surrogates who carried them, and then on top of it with two parents they might not be genetically or biologically related to? Can’t we make room for ALL the parents in that kind of story, so that they are all real enough to make the child feel real without denying parts of herself?

If the sperm donor isn’t real, half your child isn’t. If the egg donor isn’t real, how can your child be? If the surrogate isn’t real, you have cells, but not a person. Now that we can, via scientific “advances” separate these functions, shouldn’t we be able to recognize the humanity that offers these cells or this womb? If we can’t, I don’t think that we, as a society, are ready to create whole human beings that way. Because among the things we all deserve as people, don’t we deserve to be real?


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