Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Ironies of Adoption

The Ironies of Adoption

By Mirah Riben

AAC Decree, Spring 2011, Vol. 28, No 1, p. 6-7

An estimated 10 percent of Americans experience difficulties conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term and seek the assistance of fertility specialists. But Americans are not alone.

Neil and Monique, 46, Ward, spent around £100,000 and 25 years trying desperately for children of their own, and now that they have twins conceived using donor eggs and sperm after a total of 17 attempts at in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other infertility treatments and delivered by cesarean section, the British couple have no regrets at the astronomical expense.  One can only speculate how much Celine Dion has spent to become pregnant after undergoing six in vitro fertilizations and acupuncture.

There is no end to what many people will do - in terms of pain and expense. Many are willing to pay thousands of dollars to try to have a child who is biologically connected to them. The total spent in the U.S. annually is estimated by some to be $4 billion.

"We live in an age when the obsession with having a child has reached a fever pitch. Single men and women, and couples gay and straight, have more options than ever before—and they're taking advantage of every single one of them," says Doree Shafrir, writing on the Daily Beast.

Women have allowed strangers and even their aged mothers to risk their lives to carry a child as a surrogate. Jaci Dalenberg, 56, of Ohio made international headlines in 2008 when she delivered triplets for her daughter.

Eggsplotation: Trading on the Female Body is a documentary produced by the Center for Bioethics and Culture about trading on the Female Body, more precisely eggs, and the profits being raked in. It features stories of women who got involved in egg trafficking.

    Young women all over the world are solicited by ads — via college campus bulletin boards, social media, online classifieds — offering up to $100,000 for their “donated” eggs, to “help make someone’s dream come true.” But who is this egg donor? Is she treated justly? What are the short and long-term risks to her health? The answers to these questions will disturb you . . .

After "The Bridge Center", a London fertility clinic offered to raffle off a free IVF cycle, complete with "donor" egg from America, University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Jonathan Moreno, who edits the on-line Science Progress at the Center for American Progress, raised the social justice objection to paying women for their eggs:

    If you commodify body parts, including reproductive materials, who's going to be selling them? It's going to be the poor. And who's going to be buying them? It's going to be rich people.

    You're gradually going down a slippery slope that not only undermines respect for certain body parts but eventually whole bodies of, say, people who are very old or very sick or very poor.
But perhaps one of the most bizarre stories that points to the importance placed on becoming a biological parent was the case of two-year-old Violet Lee of Brooklyn, New York.  The toddler suffers from suffers from a serious autoimmune disorder that requires she undergo chemotherapy.

At this stressful time, while her toddler is going through so much, her mother was concerned about her daughter’s future ability to conceive. That concern has led the tiny tot's mom to opt to have her baby undergo surgery making her the youngest person ever to undergo an experimental "fertility preservation" procedure, during which a doctor will remove and freeze one of her ovaries.

Her tiny organ will be put on ice and be ready for re-implantation if Violet decides to have kids when she grows up without knowing if they survive being frozen for that length of time.

Kutluk Oktay, the doctor doing the procedure on Violet, has already performed the surgery on about 40 girls under the age of 18 (the youngest was 3). But while ovary transplants have shown some success in women, it's unclear whether they will have the same success in little girls since their ovaries will have to be frozen for many more years -- even decades.

"It was important that I found a way to allow her to have children," said her mom, Tikesha Lee, 32. "It was hard enough to find out your baby needs to go through chemotherapy, but to hear your daughter will be sterile after the treatment — that one thing gets healed, but another destroyed — I felt someone punched me in the stomach," her mom said.

That speaks volumes of the importance put on being able to bear offspring that are genetically connected to their parents.

Yet...when all efforts at fertility treatments fail, these same people who put so much effort into the quest for children "of their own" often turn to adoption.

When they do, the vast majority opt to sever the genetic ties of the child they adopt. Those once obsessed with a genetic connection are so ironically willing to ignore it when the quest does not lead back to them.

True, ongoing, fully open adoptions represent a small minority of all adoptions.  Many children are adopted tansnationally and others are adopted in classic closed adoption, which deny them any knowledge of their genetic heritage that was considered to be so very important by those who adopted them, once.

Adopted persons are expected to forfeit all knowledge of their medical history, ever looking into the face of anyone related to them, and in some cases are never even told that they are adopted, a fact that is up to their adoptive family to reveal or not as their birth certificates look like anyone else's and falsely list their adopters as their "parent of birth." These so-called 'amended" birth certificates also can falsify the adopted person's date and place of birth and in at least one case, the person's race.

While millions of people are preoccupied with finding ancestors back many generations...adoptees report being called "ungrateful" if they seek to know their mother or father.
Adoption practices requires the total suspension of everything that makes sense in all other circumstances.


Robin said...

This is such a great article. Yes, it always seems that while PAPs may try infertility treatments because they want a genetic child, somehow when they turn to adoption the adopted child is supposed to have no interest in or feel any connection to his/her biological roots. Just shows that adoption really isn't all about the child after all.

*Peach* said...

Excellent article! Thanks for writing it!

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