I know I am terribly far behind in comments and I do promise to get to them soon. I just seem to be hopelessly pressed for time. In any event, I found this little tidbit and I hope it might appease some of you while I get myself back on track.
I’m a big fan of the NYT weddings/celebrations section which appears every Sunday in the Style section. This past week there was this entry. Steven Fuchs and Brian Lancaster were to be married this past Sunday afternoon. (I hope it all went off without a hitch.) They’ve been together 26 years. Here’s the detail that caught my eye:
And now Mr. Lancaster and Mr. Fuchs have two children of their own, 6-year-old Anna and 4-year-old William, who are to attend the wedding along with their surrogate mothers.
Obviously the surrogate mothers play significant social roles in the life of this family. (The wedding is in the family’s home, so it’s probably not enormous.) Equally obviously, there are no secrets here.
There’s much that interests me about this. I think the most common vision of surrogacy is one where the surrogate performs her function and then moves on. She doesn’t play a role in the family’s life once the child is born. Indeed, I’ve read that her presence can create friction with an intended parent mother who might feel more threatened by the surrogate. (I’m not saying this is the most common experience, only that it is the prevalent image.) Certainly in globalized surrogacy, where there never is much of a relationship between surrogate and intended parent, there is no vision of an ongoing family life that include all parties.
The erasure of the surrogate is something that bothers me, although I don’t think I’ve focused on it much recently. There’s much discussion here on the blog of the importance of knowing the identify of and/or maintaining contact with a gamete donor. How could you not say the same for the surrogate, be she genetically related (a “traditional surrogate”) or not (a gestational surrogate”)?
I know the answer to that–for some the surrogate is little more than a baby-sitter and, just as baby-sitters come and go, so it is with surrogates. But this has always troubled me–the equation of nine months of pregnancy with baby-sitting.
I find myself thinking, too, of the recent post about contracts and control. As I noted there, it’s not hard to see that some IPs at least might want to exert quite a bit of control over their surrogates. While this strikes me as problematic (and I’m still working on that thread, and I know there are comments waiting for me to read them), it also seems to me indicative of the importance of the surrogate’s role. If she were akin to a babysitter, would we care what she ate? Whether she put henna in her hair? Or what sports she participated in?
Given all this complexity it seems a wonderful thing that the surrogate mother’s were there for the Fuchs/Lancaster wedding. It speaks of the place they have within the family and it makes me appreciate the flexibility and forthrightness of this household. Mazel tov to all concerned!