I read this article about “Desperate Canadians” who choose surrogates in India to give birth to their children. The article examines the lack of options that infertile women have in Canada and also the ethical dilemmas of Third World women looking for a way out of grinding poverty by becoming surrogates for North Americans.
“What bothers me so much is that we’re totally commercializing, de-personalizing and de-humanizing the most intimate of human relationships, that of parents and children,” says Margaret Somerville, founding director of Montreal’s McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law.
It’s a fair statement. But let’s face it, infertility forces your mind into all kinds of places.
I remember during our first course of treatment, how excited I was. I was optimistic. I had a personal trainer for a couple of month, I had lost weight, I had acupuncture, drank all sorts of disgusting concoctions, I was taking all the right supplements and seeing a naturopathic doctor. I had quit caffeine and drinking and I had picked out names. So what if I had to inject hormones, grit my teeth during egg retrieval – it was all going to be part of my victorious struggle. Really, it was all quite humorous – the rush to the lab with the paper bag, the visits to the dirty ole man room, the dildocam! HILARIOUS! I had proven just how focused I was, how worthy I was! Hell, even after the negative result, and shocked disbelief, all I had to was try again. I wasn’t so cocky the 2nd time around. And it wasn’t so exciting anymore. There was no intimacy, no joy, no private moments. There was schedules, protocol, and doubt. There was yelling and tears and arguments about money. I witnessed burgeoning bellies all around me and felt invisible, stuck on a rollercoaster of hope and despair.
I remember when we had that brief conversation with our fertility doctor about donor eggs. My options were my sister (who was already over 35) and my nieces (both in their early twenties). I didn’t happen to have a friend with the appropriate matching DNA that would give me her eggs. (As an aside, years later I met a personal trainer who heard about my story and offered to give me her eggs. She didn’t even know my last name.) The other option about going to the States for donor eggs was equally distasteful. I was aghast. I mean, who did that? Hubby didn’t want half him, half Little Miss #3105. That idea was just a term on a pamphlet and a pat on a back, buh-bye. After all, we could always adopt, right? How hard could that be?
Surrogacy was for rich people. Movie stars. Other people who didn’t live in a one bedroom apartment with Ikea furniture. It seemed like a very expensive gamble. And of course, where would we find a surrogate anyway? It’s illegal in Canada – unless of course, someone”volunteers” to do it.
Years later, while waiting in adoption purgatory, I saw a show on Oprah about a clinic in India where they had women carrying babies for Europeans and North Americans. They sat around keeping each other company until their delivery dates. They earned about $5000 which was an amount that could feed their families for a year or buy them or house or something. I pretended to not be interested because we were already on a course of action to building our family. But in my heart, I was disturbed by the thought that had I known about that years earlier, if someone had say, hey, you could always do this – I just might have looked into it. All in the quest to have a biological child.
Seems like a crazy thought now. I would have never known the Precious. Unthinkable.
Do you know why most people have their own children as opposed to adopting (or choosing to remain childless)? I’m going to hazard a guess here. Cause it’s easier. It’s less complicated. Less of a gamble. Pick an adjective: normal, natural, go forth and multiply, sacred, fill in the blank. You get to have your private, intimate moment with your spouse, you get the 3D ultrasound, you even get the varicose veins and morning sickness. If all goes well (and I know that it doesn’t always go well) but if it does, you go home with a kid, stitches, presents and flowers. There are no homestudy reports, no fundraisers, no reference letters testifying to your worthiness, no hospital bills (at least here), no social workers, no lawyers, no sudden plane trips, hotel bills, unforeseen expenses, no weeping birth mothers, no separation anxiety, no primal wound. You don’t have to wait for papers to be signed before you exhale. You don’t have to wonder if the birth parents will remain in your life or if they will demand more than you are willing to give.
So you pay for your ticket and you travel halfway across the globe to get a good deal on bringing your progeny into the world.
By the way, if you’re a little short in the good looking genes (and if you really want to vomit) read this.