While I’m playing catch-up, here are a couple of recent surrogacy related items–one fact and one fiction.
There’s this story from The Today Show. Robyn and Jason Wright used their own gametes and a surrogate in India. It’s sort of a standard globalized surrogacy story with a small but notable couple of twists. First, the surrogate actually has a name–Usha. And consistent with that, the Wrights recognize her as an important player in their child’s life. Indeed, there’s this striking quote:
“She’s ultimately his mother too. I truly feel that way: that he has two moms,” says Robyn. “My goal is to get him to understand that she cares for him as much as we do.”
I think that is a relatively unusual attitude for heterosexual couples using surrogacy and I find it quite encouraging. Apparently it is at least the Wright’s plan to stay in some sort of contact with Usha. (They plan to bring Jake back to India when he is older.) The distance (both physical and cultural) between the two families doubtless makes this more difficult, but I truly hope it comes to pass.
The rest of the story is about the topic of surrogacy in India more generally. Some if it is a little chilling. There’s something about the quote “So many American citizens growing here” that makes it sound a little too much like baby-farming for my tastes. And there’s reference to pending legislation, but as far as I can tell, there have been similar references to possible regulation of surrogacy in India for as long as I’ve been paying attention. This is one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it” things.
Then there is surrogacy in fiction. NBC plans a new sit-com about a gay male couple and their surrogate. It’s called “The New Normal” and the tag line is “A post-modern family.”
As the title itself suggests, the appearance of surrogacy as a setting for a prime-time sitcom does say something about normalization. I think when new social practices appear they’re more likely to hit TV as the stuff of dramatizations–because that’s where we expect to see issues that are ripped from the headlines, as it were. When you hit sitcoms, it’s normal. Thus, the arrival of Will and Grace signified something about the normalization of gay people in a way that the inclusion of the occasional gay character in Law and Order didn’t.
It’s interesting to me that the setting is a gay couple with a surrogate rather than a straight couple. More potential for comedy? Less underlying tensions to manage? Or is gay just in these days? Hard to say, but it probably is (for me, at least) TV worth watching, even if only once just to see what they are up to.