New Study on Children of Surrogates–Updated

[My thanks to Karen Clark who provided a link to the actual study.   (But alas, a 2011 version of the study.  Still interesting, though.)   Of course, it is an academic paper and as such is difficult for me to work through, so for the moment, all I have to add here is this link.  The remainder of the post is as before.]

There are many things we disagree about here but I think there is one thing about which there may actually be consensus:  We all agree that the well-being of children is of central importance in our discussions.   (Of course, as soon as we turn to discuss what exactly “the well-being of children means” our consensus probably shatters.)

Anyway, with that broad consensus in mind,  a recent paper written by Susan Golombok  and others should be of interest to all of us.  The paper was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.   I have not linked to the actual paper, but instead to press coverage of it because  I haven’t found a way to read the actual paper yet from my current location and so this is the best I have.

Anyway, Golombok and her team did a comparative study of children conceived via third-party gametes, children born to a surrogate and children who were the product of natural conception.   They compared the four groups of children (they actually had separate groups for those conceived with third-party gametes into those conceived with third party sperm and those conceived with third-party eggs) at ages 3, 7 and 10, focusing on how well adjusted the children were.

The reporting is frustrating because in a number of places it seems to me ambiguous.   I’ll come back to that in a few moments.   But there are some interesting findings.    The researches found that the children conceived with third-party gametes were indistinguishable from those who were the product of natural conception.   At the same time the children who were born to surrogates did seem to have more adjustment problems–“at least at age seven.”   (This cryptic comment is one of the things I’ll come back to at below.)  These results:

suggest that it’s more difficult for youngsters to deal with the idea that they grew in an unrelated woman’s womb, than with the concept that they are not biologically related to one or both parents.

There’s a way in which this makes sense for children at age seven, I think.   Seven year olds probably aren’t particularly well-versed in genetics but do know about pregnancy and birth.   Thus, surrogacy creates a difference that might be more important in their world than does use of third-party gametes.

Of course, as the press article makes clear, this can change as children grow.   Children in their teens may care more about genetics than about surrogacy, or perhaps they care about both.  (This is connected, at least in the press coverage, to the adolescent development of identity.)

As I said, I’ve found the available coverage of the story frustrating.   I’ve found multiple stories about the study on the web but they are essentially identical, containing the same ambiguities.  For instance, one striking finding–the one that generates the headline–is that children born to surrogates may have more adjustment problems–“at least at age seven.”   Now does this mean that by age 10 the problems observed at age 7 have eased?   Or does it mean they reach no conclusion at age 10?  Or something else?   I think it is the first of these, but I wouldn’t stake anything serious on that reading.

There are also seemingly contrary statements about the being honest with kdis about their origins, whatever they are.   While the article notes that experts agreeing that honesty is essential it also refers to studies that showed no harm from concealment.     I don’t think this last reference includes the Golombok study, nor do I know what studies there are.   (I assume that all the children in Golombok’s study knew about their origins, but I could be wrong about that, too.)

It’s worth nothing that Golombok’s study is small (a total of around 140 kids in the four groups).   But it is longitudinal–covering the first ten years of their lives.    And Golombok hopes to continue the study into the children’s adolescence.   There are a host of other questions I have at the moment, some of which will probably be resolved when I get the actual study, so perhaps I’ll just stop here.   More to follow.

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172 responses to “New Study on Children of Surrogates–Updated

  1. i look forward to reading this study as well as its adolescent updates. i also find your analysis very plausible

  2. I don’t know if maybe you’d agree with me on this point but I find that these studies give mixed messages about what is actually being studied.

    Many studies like this are misleading in their descriptions and the phrases they use. They are not actually studying the impact of various modes of conception at all. They are studying the emotional impact of parental abandonment by biological parents or by birth mothers on small children when the people raising the child requested that the child be abandoned by either the biological or birth parent. How do children feel about having been abandoned and how do they feel about the people raising them who wanted for them to be abandoned? Does the fact that the people raising them requested and orchestrated the abandonment build resentment.

    Do children experience emotional trauma from being taken from their birth mother and birth mother’s family if their birth mother was not biologically related to them? Do they long for their birth mother and her family despite the lack of biological relatedness? Does being wanted by their biological family erase any feelings of loss or does it build resentment against their biological family for having initiated the separation?

    Do children experience emotional trauma from being taken from their biological mother and/or biological father and their families? Do they long for their biological families?
    Does being wanted by the people raising them erase any feelings of loss or does it cause resentment against those people for having caused the separation and orchestrated it.

    • First off, it’s important to distinguish between the press coverage of a study and the study itself. The press may or may not fully understand the study and they may pick pieces out that aren’t really the stand-out parts from the perspective of the study’s author. I still have not read the study itself.

      That said, to the extent I can tell, while you might want to study the emotional impact of parental abandonment, but that’s not what the studies authors chose to do. You can critique their choices and you can critique their methodology. It appears to me they divided people into groups by mode of conception/birth. So they put donor conceived children in two different groups–one for those with donor eggs, another for those with donor sperm–and so on. To do a study on parental abandonment you’d probably set things up quite differently. You might, for example, have a group of people who are donor conceived (as you understand these to be children experiencing parental abandonment) and you might have a group of children abandoned at birth or as teenagers. And you might have groups abandoned by one or both parents. What I mean to say here is that this just isn’t the study they chose to do.

      • i think its great that they have different groups for sperm donation/ egg dontion because i don’t think its possible to extrapolate from oen to the other- separate data needed on both

      • Yes but Julie all I’m saying is that it really has nothing to do with conception does it? The issue is not how they were conceived it’s how they were raised correct? Are they truly concerned with the actual conception? No. They are concerned with the behavior of the adults involved in the conception and those would be those who conceived and those who influenced their decision to conceive and who raised the kid and who did not. It really is not about reproductive therapies and their results its about what happens when adults behave certain ways in relation to children right?

        • I don’t know that it matters but we really do disagree about this. I think it is all about how they were conceived—the were deliberately created using gametes from wherever they came from to be raised by people who planned for them but may not be the sources of the genetic material or may not have been pregnant. It’s a very specific category. These kids also fall into a larger category–those being raised by people they may not be genetically related to (or if you prefer, those not being raised those who are genetically related to them). But the bigger category includes lots of other people, too, who weren’t being studied. Adopted children and so on. This is a narrow and focused study comparing to those ordinarily conceived to children in three very specific categories.

          I think part of the definition of the people being studied does include, as you suggest, who is raising them. Thus, the people who planned the project must be the people who are raising them.

          I think if it would be different if these kids were conceived via sex. That’s just not who they chose to study. They could have. It’s not that the study you propose is impossible or irrelevant, it’s just not the one that was done.

          But I will close by saying that I’m not sure why it matters. They studied kids who were in fact donor conceived and children of surrogates. That’s as far as I think we can take any conclusions they offer. And that’s if we agree to take them that far.

  3. If they were studying the impact of various modes of conception they’d be looking at purely physiological things like Apgar scores and delayed cognative abilities. Does frozen sperm or eggs result in f-d up babies?

    • They’ve already done studies. You can search the medical journals.

      People have been frezen sperm and eggs before undergoing chemotherapy for quite a while now. People have been freezing embryos for quite a while and there have been lots of studies done.

      In terms of the other study – I don’t really understand your question. You seem to be asking if social or cultural prejudices will damage children.

      You seem to be asking, if the children find out that I think they should never have been born — how would it make them feel?

      I’m am rather confident of something. If you sat down with a 5, 7, or 10 year old and told her/his repeatedly that their parents were not their “real” parent and their actual parents had abandoned them, found them worthless, that the “real” parent didn’t love the child, that the lack of connection was a tragedy, and that they should not have ever been born…well, I predict that you would thoroughly disturb the child. If an individual or societal prejudice treats a child like his/her family is illegitimate, does that prejudice have the potential to hurt the child? If she/he is told that her adopted brother or sister is not her “real” brother or sister and that her adopted brother/sister will never love her like her real siblings…does that have the potential to hurt her?

      Of course you have the potential to hurt the child. And I’m sure if you convinced the child that her family was illegitimate and didn’t love her, that it would hurt the child.

      This blog often makes me think of the movie Lone Star when Otis Payne tells his son: “But blood only means what you let it.”

      • No Tess my point is that if they were studying the effects of donor conception or the effect of having one woman gestate another woman’s pregnancy it would make no difference who was raising the child and who was not. So they are not interested in the impact of assisted reproduction or assisted gestation on the resulting children they are interested in how various caregiving arrangements after birth are processed by the resulting child.

        Am I off base here? The focus of the study has nothing to do with reproduction or gestation it has to do with who is and is not raising the child and how the child feels about all of that. That’s more neutral. Do you like that better? No judgement on anyone in that statement other than researchers for framing it as if its about assisted reproduction because it’s not. If it were about reproduction we’d be looking at stuff like does frozen sperm produce f-d up kids and I did not just come out from under a rock I know there have been studies on that I’m using it as an example of a study that would actually be concerned with the impact of medically assisted reproduction on the resulting child.

        If the study examines who is and is not raising the child it really has nothing to do with reproduction or conception or gestation.

        • I’m sorry but I don’t understand your post.

          The study is affecting the adjustment of the children at various ages and evaluating their mental health and emotional adjustment.

          • adjustment to what?

            • I’m being simplistic, but the study is asking if the children are happy or if the children display measurable psychological distress.

              This is the title of the study: “Children born through reproductive donation: a longitudinal study of psychological adjustment.”

              “Methods: Parenting was assessed at age 3 by a standardized interview designed to assess quality of parenting and by questionnaire measures of anxiety, depression, and marital quality. Children’s adjustment was assessed at ages 3, 7, and 10 using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).”

              “Results:  Although children born through reproductive donation obtained SDQ scores within the normal range, surrogacy children showed higher levels of adjustment difficulties at age 7 than children conceived by gamete donation. Mothers who had kept their child’s origins secret showed elevated levels of distress. However, maternal distress had a more negative impact on children who were aware of their origins.”

        • I think you are off base to some degree. The study compares how children conceived in various ways fare, psychologically speaking, at various ages. I think you can also describe the families in which these children are being raised in other ways that are perhaps what you are thinking–a child being raised by a genetically related father and a not-genetically related mother, say. A child being raised by genetically related parents who was not born to the mother, maybe. But those descriptions won’t always really tell you what you need to know. For instance, a child being raised by the man genetically related to her and his wife, who he married when the child was one would fit into the first category, perhaps, but is different from a family that use a donor egg. Thus, I think there’s greater precision in what they study’s authors have done. They are not studying children generally being raised by non-genetic parents, but children who are the result of particular forms of ART. Again, I think you might prefer a different study, but it isn’t this one.

      • What do you mean social and cultural prejudices? Nobody is prejudice against people who are not raised by their biological family. Nobody truly nobody. I’m around a whole lot of people who were not raised by their parents and nobody has ever said they felt they felt the family that raised them was treated as iligitimate or second best but they’ve all said that their family that did not raise them was treated as iligitimate and referred to as second best or worse as not even their family at all to the point where its not even suppose to be perceived as a loss that they would not want to keep and raise their own offspring. Not suppose to be perceived as a loss that they’d be given away to help a childless couple who wanted to know what it would be like to be parents. Would they give the gift their house to a homeless person they never met ? Their car to someone who usually takes the bus? We are not talking about just giving up some sperm and eggs that stay sperm and eggs. Time passes with the donor as well and when their offspring are born they become parents and the only difference between their children form donated and undonated gametes is that they don’t want to raise some of them when they are born. So the fact that a person’s parents did not want to raise them is a significant matter. You cannot say that this is not the situation or they would not be being raised by other people right? You can spin it however you want but if you don’t aknowledge that they did loose a family to gain the one they ended up with it’s you that is illigitimizing them laying on the stigma. The problem is not that non-genetic families face so much stigma and prejudice for crying out loud the law is on their freaking side! They have all the legal obligations and athority, they have parental title they don’t suffer one gd little bit. Heck even without being the legal parent unrelated partners who are married to parents have tons of obligations and rights so do entire step families. Even unrelated unmarrie partners are enjoying all kinds of legal recognition. Its the genetic families of kids with estranged parents that suffer the discrimination, the prejudice the ostrascizing. Two full blooded siblings can be standing in front of an insurance company clerk with a DNA test in hand proving the relationship and they will deny one of them coverage as a relative dependent. They are treated as if they were not actually siblings like legal strangers.

        Don’t get all lofty and high and mighty about all the prejudice that nonbiological families suffer through. It’s a buyers market. The whole thing is objectifying people don’t belong to their parents that they should be donated. And if you say all they are donating is sperm and eggs then lets write that into their contracts and specifically prohibit buyers of eggs and sperm from keeping and raising the resulting children.

        • Again, perhaps I didn’t understand your point.

          Are you saying that children born of either donor sperm or donor egg should never have been born?

          Perhaps I misunderstand your point. My point is that it would be very hurtful for an adult (or another child) to tell a child that she never should have been born, that she has been objectified, and that her parents are not her real parents.

          I was thinking about the hurt experienced by the children of gay parents who have been told that their family is illegitimate and immoral. It is hurtful for any child to be told that their parents are not their “real” parents. I was saying that children who experience any sort of societal prejudice will feel hurt, of course.

          • ugh! You were thinking again about the people that want someone else’s child but your forgetting about the people that did not want that child and how it feels to be unwanted by ones own parents! The whole point of this study is to examine the impact of being separated either from the unrelated woman who gave birth or separated from ones biological parents. The trauma, if there is any is not going to come from being wanted but from being unwanted.

            Why are you so wound up with the word real? I did not use that word. The people raising them are what they are and the people not raising them are what they are.

            Having worked with any number of people whose estranged parents donated their gametes I can say for certain that the one phrase they dislike the most is would they rather never have been born. The response to that statement always needs to be that the alternative to their situation is not non existence as you would have them believe – the alternative to their plight would be for both of their biological parents to have behaved responsibly and been equally accountable for them the way that all other people with offspring are made to be. The alternative is not that they should not exist but rather that they might enjoy the same legal protections as other people upon their birth like a protected right to physical and financial support from both their biological parents and legal recognition of their kinship in both biological parents families so that they may also enjoy step kinship with their parent’s spouse the way other people do when their parents are married but not to each other. Why must they have their step parents grafted in place of their own parents why can they not have their own parent and their parent’s spouse the way that other people do? Why must their parents be so selfish and childish to put their wants needs and desires in front of what is clearly best for the child and that is not to loose half their family to gain permanent membership in their step family?

            Better never to been born that is the lamest argument. You can say that about anyone unhappy about anything. Any time someone complains that they are opressed or are suffering some injustice you can say to them well would you rather never have been born you should be grateful for your circumstances. Certainly anyone alive is grateful to be alive it does not mean they need to be grateful for being mistreated. It’s not an either or kind of thing. They don’t exist because they were abandoned. Abandonment is not essential to their existence. Who cares what motivates a person to reproduce it is irrellevant once their offspring are born. If behaving responsibly toward our offspring and being accountable for them causes some people to choose not to procreate at any given moment because they are not prepared for that responsibility we don’t cry a river for all the kids that are never born because people chose carefully when to have children. It’s like you are advocating for reckless careless reproduction by people who don’t want to raise the resulting children just so there are enough orphans to go around. Do you think that its bad to discourage teens from getting pregnant? Do you think its bad for people to use birth control when they are not prepared to raise a child at that point in their lives? Donors should be held to the same standard as anyone else donate the gamete sure but be fully accountable for raising the resulting child and if that is too much responsibility don’t donate gametes for reproduction. If that reduces the number of people willing recklessly reproduce and abandon their children then so be it.

            • I think blood means what you let it mean. I understand that some adopted children may deal with feelings of rejection because their birth mother gave birth and then gave up her legal custody rights.

              But that doesn’t mean that donor children have the same issues as adopted children. Preliminary studies suggest that they do not have the same rejection feelings, which makes sense to me. Their parents did not adopt them. They created their children and gave birth to them.

              You have strong judgements, but I’m not seeing factual evidence that the children are hurt by ART or have any feelings of rejection whatsoever. I do think these children should be born and I think it’s cruel to say that these children are illegitimate people who never should have been created.

              Your assertion that donor parents should be treated like adopted parents it silly and I reject it. It makes just as much sense to force all people to get a license and have a home study before the state allows them to procreate and give birth. And if they don’t pass the home study, the state would take the child away and put the child in home care. There are lots of people that the state would be barred from procreating if they were evaluated on parental quality. Of course that is ridiculous. People have the right to give birth and they have the right to medical attention to help them give birth. Donors are not parents. They are genetic donors.

              • Why should I be treated like an adopted parent if I succeed with donor sperm? I will be my child’s genetic AND birth mother. Why should I have to adopt my own child? And my child will not be permanently “estranged” from the biological father who has agreed to contact at age 18.

              • I agree that blood means what you let it means. It is surely interesting and I think it is foolish to deny that. I think concealing the presence or absence of a genetic relationship is a bad idea. But only when we believe it is critically important does it become critically important.

        • Actually, Marilyn, I think some of your views reflect the sort of bias that might that might matter here. (Having said that, I’m not sure bias is precisely the right word. I’ll work on that.)

          You would be happy to tell my children that I am not really their mother, wouldn’t you? (I probably shouldn’t personalize this so much, should I?)

          In any event, there are lots of people out there who are deeply convinced that families with donor-conceived children are going to be bad/lesser and/or not “real” and that’s the sort of prejudice that will take a toll, I think. In the same way, adopted kids suffered from prejudice even though no one blamed the kids.

          • Personalize all you want I’m not even done reading but personalize go ahead.

          • First off professor Shapiro the last thing I am is vindictive. I find vindictiveness to be a particularly uncivil character trait and I would never and I mean never be happy to say anything that would hurt the children you love more than anything else in the world who love you more than anything else in the world. I would and do absolutely respect the deep and very real bond that people have with their adoptive parents, their social parents and I know full well that blood relatedness has nothing to do with whether or not someone will do a good and loving job of raising a child. I’m not a monster and there is nothing about the idea of hurting anyone in your family that I would find amusing that would make me happy. In fact I find the idea of hurting their feelings or yours absolutely sickening.

            I believe that all people should be treated equally and with dignity and respect and I don’t believe that human beings should buy or sell their offspring. I have no idea who their biological parents are or who they were. Something in the back of my head says they are deceased and I would not dare to be disrespectful to them on that front. I believe that they are true and complete members of their biological families and that any attempt to exclude them from their families from full legal recognition within their families from birth forward is a crime against them and their future children. And I’m sorry they were and are not allowed to experience full legal recognition as a member of their entire family if that is the case. I have no idea if they are children of an estranged father who was a gamete donor or one who simply skipped out on them or one that simply abdicated his duty to them in a friendly but irresponsible contract – I really don’t know. But I know my heart says that you are a dedicated and devoted and loving person that has watched over them their entire lives and I would never undermine your authority or be happy to say anything to them that would hurt them. If I had the chance to say anything to them it would be to empower them to feel equal in every possible way to any children that their father may have raised himself to feel worthy and proud and equal and confident to approach any member of their biological family at any time they wanted. Not to feel ashamed, not to feel embarrassed not to feel that that they were unworthy or that their presece would cause their biological family a moment of regret. I would want them to feel 100% worthy of who they are through and through and that happens to be a member of more than one family. I would never wish your children any harm or any hurt never.

          • I’ve been commenting here a long time and I don’t know but I’ve felt like if I was in Seattle I could ring you and like grab a bite to eat shake your hand a chat for a few. I felt like you understood that I do respect you. The idea that you think I’d be happy to hurt your kids feelings is so disturbing to me. I am a Mom. I have a little girl. I am an uneducated blue collar regular joe of a person who is unqualified to step foot on your campus let alone in your classroom. I probably could not get through half a semester without dropping out the way I’ve dropped out of everything my entire life. I try to learn from you I think your a good teacher.. I’m so hurt that you think I’d be happy to say something to hurt the children you’ve raised since birth. I’m a nice person Professor. I try to be a nice person.

            I’ve met – had in my home people I met here on your blog. They’ve filmed documentaries in my home. My crappy embarrassing little apartment. I’m not mean like what you described. I’m a liberal San Francisco girl.

            • I’m sorry, then. But I recall a comment where you said you’d tell a stranger’s child about her conception even when her parents thought that it wasn’t the right time or place. That comment (which I am not looking at and perhaps I don’t remember correctly) has always haunted me. It seems to me we all have to be humble and concede that we might not be right, that we might not know the truth, and that we have to respect other people’s choices. I might think parents ought to tell their kids that they’re adopted, but I wouldn’t take it upon myself to tell the kids if the parents hadn’t, at least under ordinary circumstances.

              In any case, I apologize for attributing this directly to you. I shouldn’t have personalized it like that.

              • I would tell a friends child at age 18, iff asked.

              • No certainly I invite you to personalize it. It gives depth and insight into one another’s viewpoints. But I just want you to know that I am not at all sadistic and take no joy in the idea of telling someone “that’s not your real mom”

                On the subject of whether or not I’d tell someone that they were adopted or that they in fact had a whole other family out there, certainly I would do that. I don’t think it’s anyone’s place to keep that kind of secret from a person and I don’t think that people who adopt a child or who contract for one should think they’ve bought the right to control the truth. You are recalling a post about a child raised by her mothers husband who was unaware that he or she had a father out there fighting to see her. This I think is very wrong and I’m not sure how or under what circumstances I’d tell the child but if they were a member of my family at some point I’d tell them or if they were in my life somehow. Or if they asked and I knew I’d probably say because I can’t respect that someone would simply sequester a person from their family child or not.

                This is not the same as telling someone who knows they are adopted that their adopted parent is not real. I don’t think of it that way. I don’t think of adopted parents that way either. I think its important to let people be and what I reject is the idea that their other family is somehow less important than the family they are raised in. That is my concern its the force.

                If everyone had equal rights and equal obligations then they could feel about things however they wanted to feel. I object to the buying and selling of human beings and their liberties that’s all.

                • As to personal insight into the subject my Mother’s father died 2 weeks prior to her birth and she always thought all his family was dead which is why she did not get to know any of them. When I was 27 I set out to make her a family tree and found that she had a sister and cousins and nieces nephews a whole family she’d been locked out of because when he died my grandmother learned he had another family in Canada he’d abandoned. Her mother and aunts lied to her and took the secret to their graves. Her sister’s mother lied to her too. They were raised as only children when they were not. They were kept apart because of their parent’s shame and their desire to keep them separate. That was wrong. What they did was far worse than what my grandfather did – they separated our family for 65 years. That is how I started doing what I do. I don’t ever want any other family to be separated out of shame or ego like that. When parents want to separate their offspring from the family, that’s what’s best for them, not their kids. When strangers want to keep the children they are raising from their families and raise them as only children, that is what’s best for them not the children, not the family.

      • I’m so delighted to find another Lone Star fan! And I agree with you. A big part of what shapes our children’s lives is the messages they receive from other people. Prejudice has real effects that can be amplified or diminished. It’s quite possible that part of what gets picked up in studies like this is the effect of prejudice–of people saying “those aren’t your real parents.”

    • They might do Apgar, etc, if they were looking for various physiological effects. But that’s not what they were looking at. They were looking at psychological effects. Apgar wouldn’t tell you anything about that.

  4. I think I understand. This study is concerned with the emotional health of children who have been conceived through ART.

    The scientific question in this study is how do these forms of ART (egg donation/sperm donation/surrogacy) affect the emotional well being of these children at three different ages. Next year they will re-visit at age 14.

    This is a excerpt of the conclusion (cut & pasted from the article):  

     ”Children born through egg donation, sperm donation, and surrogacy were found to be well-adjusted, although surrogacy children showed elevated levels of adjustment difficulties at age 7.”

     ”The absence of a genetic connection to either the mother or the father is not associated with adjustment difficulties, but the lack of a gestational connection may place children at increased psychological risk.”

    Here’s a bit more discussion from the surrogacy section. Again, it’s an excerpt from the article:

    “A number of factors associated with surrogacy that are not present with gamete donation may explain the higher levels of adjustment problems among the surrogacy children (Golombok et al., 2004b). Children in surrogacy families are not only born to a third party, but also the surrogate mother may remain in contact with the family, as the child grows up (Jadva et al., 2012). This may undermine family relationships, especially where the surrogate mother is also the genetic mother of the child. It is important to point out, however, that the children in surrogacy families were generally well-adjusted, with the mean SDQ score for surrogacy children lying within the normal range and similar to the UK population mean for 7-year-old children (Green, McGinty, Meltzer, Ford, & Goodman, 2004).”

    The article suggests that children of surrogates and international adopted children have similar issues around age 7 & then resolve by age 10. Domestically adopted children seem to have adjustment issues later. The surrogate children and the international adopted children understood at a younger age their difference from naturally conceived children.

    I would be interested in a study that compares adopted and donor-conceived children. I would speculate that it is a different experience for the children.

    • Tess you are starting to get it but still my point is that being conceived through art means nothing they are not studying the impact of the method of conception they are studying the impact of being separated from either their birth mother or their biological parents. And they appear to be examining the separation as something different from how adopted people feel about being separated from their families.

      The difference between the separation in adoption and the separation in donor conception and surrogacy is typically that in adoption the adoptive parents did not want for the child to be separated from their family they did not request the separation. I say that with the exception of adoptions necessated by surrogacy agreements. Those cases of course the people raising the child also requested the separation. That is what’s being studied, the dynamic of being raised by people who separated the child from birth or biological parents who planned the separation. Again its not a judgement call its just a statement for clarity sake. ART or assisted reproductive medical therapies are not germain to what they are actually examining and that is essentially the intent of the people raising the child to separate the child from their other family

      • I’m sorry, but I still don’t understand your point in the above post. The study isn’t comparing adopted to ART children.

        But other studies have been done on adopted children. I’ve been told that psychological adjustment is harder for adopted children.

        I suspect you see similarities between adoption and donation. I do not.

        In adoption a birth mother gives birth to an infant and then gives that baby away. A donor gives away microscopic genetic material. A birth mother goes through labor and then chooses to legally give up her baby. She didn’t look at her child and decide to keep the child. She looked at her child and rejected her child. There are often profound reasons why she cannot keep her child, but she still signed the papers and gave away her baby.

        The knowledge of that rejection must be hurtful and profoundly upsetting to some children. In contrast, a child born by gamete donation understands that somebody gave up a microscopic cell in order to allow her parents to have a very wanted child. No one looks at the donor-created infant and chooses to give her up on the first day of her life in this world. Her parents, who give birth to her, fall in love with her, stares into her eyes, and generally adore her.

        I know several lovely children born as a result of gamete donation. I disagree with you that these children should not have been born. They are various ages, and they all seem happy. I’m happy for these families. I don’t think it’s morally right to believe that they should not have been born.

        • let me intervene here- tess, as i understand marilyn the point is as follows: The study is not about the method of conception. It is not about ART. If a heterosexual couple undergoes IVF and provide there own gametes for the procedure, and raises the subsequent children in their own home themselves, that is ART and the procedure is identical to any other form of IVF. those children aren’t in the study, if i understand correctly.
          The study is about children being intentionally raised by people other than those who conceived and gestated them.

          • ie it’s about using correct language so as not to obscure what we are talking about. do i get you marilynn?

          • Donor embryo/ surrogacy is also included as ART in the medical community. But, yes, I understand the study did not examine that specific other group, although the control group were children who had been conceived naturally in two parent families.

          • Would it help to say this: It isn’t about ALL forms of ART. They are looking at three specific forms–donor egg, donor sperm and gestational surrogate? It’s not all ART. It’s also not all “children not being raised by genetic parents.” It’s a limited and focused study. Can we agree on that?

          • YES! Oh thank Kisarita she can always say in three sentences what takes me 18 incredibly long comments to barely communicate. Your brevity is a gift

            • Not studying ART on kids kept by the parents only those separated from parents or the woman that gave birth – so separation is the issue of the study and how the kids process it. Not the impact of the act of conception

        • tess, the “shouldn’t have been born” argument is a misleading argument because it imputes something that we aren’t saying. it implies we are saying something against the donor conceived that we don’t want them here and that they are expendable. and no one is saying anything like that.
          to use an extreme example, i am sure you would not try to defend rape because you know someone who was conceived by rape and is happy, and well, how dare you say that she shouldn’t have been born.
          how about a less extreme example- adoption-same thing. most people agree that if you can’t take care of a child, you should really do your darnedest not to get pregnant. So, someone who was adopted, clearly was conceived when they shouldn’t have been conceived. their parent should have been using birth control or whatever and never conceived them. if i say that people who can ‘t take care of a kid shouldn’t have any, am i saying that all adoptees, or any other person who has a parent ill equipped to care for them- shouldn’t be in this world???? no we are not saying that at all.

          • People who are put up for adoption are put up for adoption because their parents are unable or unwilling to care for them. But I do not say that adoption itself it wrong. The equivalent is asserting that adoption itself is wrong and should be illegal.

            This study is helpful because it is an objective look at the mental health of these children.

            My husband just mentioned that the arguments as presented are being entirely driven by emotion and are not logical. He’s got a point. I do not make decisions based on someone else’s religious or moral opinions. I have my own religious or moral opinions that trump the opinions of strangers.

            The stranger must make a compelling argument that can persuade me differently. I have heard nothing that would persuade me otherwise in this blog. I do not know if people are reacting to personal experience, personal trauma, religious beliefs, a interest in upholding gender/sexual difference, or something else. There are a certain percentage of adults who are unhappy and have bad relationships with their family. There are a certain percentage of adults who are obsessive. I cannot trust your personal experience because it is not objective. I want facts, scientific studies, and information about the AVERAGE health of children created in this manner.

            For years people asserted that gay families were morally wrong. They firmly believed that growing up in this form of family structure would be damaging to children. Why? They just felt it strongly. They thought a child must have a mother and a father to be happy and healthy. They had examples. They had religious beliefs that supported their opinions. BUT — it turns out that they were WRONG. Objective studies have shown otherwise — these children are just as happy if not more so then children raised in “traditional” families.

            Outliers exist in human experience all the time. I want to know the average experience. If your job is to work as a private investigator find biological parents, then your sample selection is very skewed. Or if you run a blog that attracts people who are upset about their adoption, ect., your examples are not helpful because people are self-selecting. I want to know the average experience.

            People on this blog have examples, but so do I. As an example – my sister-in-law is adopted. She has never been interested in her genetic siblings, and she had the opportunity to reconnect. But, as I said, examples are not averages. If I was thinking about adoption, I would want to see a study of the average experience of adopted children to get a feel for how adoption affected the mental health of the average child. Basically, personal examples are worthless, except to demonstrate a wide range of lived experience.

            I look at the facts of the case. Should prospective parents use ART to create a child? Prospective parents want to know if their children will be happy and healthy. That is what the longitudinal study is attempting to observe.

            The question of the study is: Are the children happy? Are the children mentally healthy? Are they well-adjusted? Will this procedure hurt their child? That is the question that prospective parents want to know when considering ART.

            • Tess, my job is to build big hospitals, not reunite families. I reunite families because its fun. Yes I only communicate with people who want to be reunited with their families that’s true but I’ll tell you this in all the posting I’ve done on the internet, in all the letters I receive about my advocacy every day I’ve never once gotten a letter from an adopted person or a person whose estranged parent was a donor that said to me that they disagree with what I’m saying. I get letters all the time from people who say thank you for saying what they are not able to say publicly. They are afraid to hurt their social parent’s feelings.
              Studies are fine and good but facts are facts I agree with you there. Would you like a list of the rights that donor offspring are not allowed to exercise? Would you like to read all the things they loose because of their parent’s choice to abandon them? You are concerned with how well they adjust to the loss they experience rather than asking what the hell business is it of anyone to cause that loss. I’m thoroughly rational.

              Irrational is thinking you can become a parrent of another persons offspring by paying hem to be absent

              • I have to admit you confuse me. You seem to have good intentions, yet you are surprised that it would be hurtful to tell someone that they are not the mother of their children. You feel fairly comfortable in expressing your very strong judgement and feelings. You may want to be aware that other people reading your comments may feel hurt or offended by your opinions.

                Your sample is going to be very skewed because your opinions are so strong. My spouse mentioned today that “one thing about the internet, is that unhappy people tend to be the ones giving voice to opinions.” His point referred to fan reaction to a video game, but he also explained that people who don’t care, or who are happy, would be unlikely to go to the bother of saying anything. The people who go to the trouble of contacting you are the people who have a reason to contact you. You have very strong opinions that are quite negative in certain ways. A person born from donor eggs, for example, who is happy and well-adjusted, is unlikely to contact you. This person needs something he/she isn’t getting from his life. This causes a skewed sample. Do you see what I mean?

                RE: Children’s rights. Children have never had and will never have the right to determine the circumstances of their creation, and therefore we are all screwed. 🙂 We don’t choose our parents. Some parents are fabulous. Other are nightmares.

                “Would you like a list of the rights that donor offspring are not allowed to exercise? Would you like to read all the things they loose because of their parent’s choice to abandon them?”

                No. Definitions are not facts. I can tell from this statement that we have a fundamentally different concept of parenthood, mothers, and family. We will probably just cross-talk because we don’t agree on the definition of family.

                • “My spouse mentioned today that “one thing about the internet, is that unhappy people tend to be the ones giving voice to opinions.”

                  Well sure. Ask your spouse what he thinks would happen if Adopted people and Donor offspring were called upon to vote on whether or not they should have their genetic parents names recorded on their birth records which would be available to them starting from birth like the way everyone else does not have to wait for an accurate record and that they would be full legal kin in their genetic families. Would we here from that happy majority then? You think they’d show up to vote against getting equal rights to be legal kin in their genetic families would they show up and say that info at 18 is good enough for them? If they exist and are so happy would they fight to maintain the status quo you think? Would they all rush from their happy contented silence to defend the right of the people raising them to call themselves their parents you think?

            • “People who are put up for adoption are put up for adoption because their parents are unable or unwilling to care for them. But I do not say that adoption itself it wrong. The equivalent is asserting that adoption itself is wrong and should be illegal.”

              Ah but it is illegal to not identify yourself as the parent of your offspring and allow someone else to claim to be the parent on their birth record under the table and off the record. Called black market adoption there does not even need to be an exchange of money for it to be illegal the hallmark is that the person is not the offspring of the people named on their original birth certificate. There was no investigation into the ethics of the exchange. Any one who is not the offspring of a parent named on their certificate truly falls under the umbrella of black market adoption, it goes beyond people whose parents donated. Could be a person whose mother committed paternity fraud or whose mother and stepfather colluded to prevent their father from being named. The law prevents some people in some situations from being black market adopted but not all people in all situations. Some people have no legal recourse against the shady off-record deals made by parents and those who want to be parents. That is what is wrong here there is not equal protection for these individuals. Allowing these parents to hide the fact that they have children is a huge public health issue and is a huge violation of human rights for their children who are in many cases sold for cash money. Its legal and taxable and oh so wrong.

          • I do not think that anyone should be conceived via rape. It’s something I would hope would never occur in an ideal world. I would think that a child would carry a heavy burden knowing that his conception was a result of a violent crime.

            The people you have chatted with may not like the question: “Should donor created children have ever been born/created/conceived.” But that really IS the question: should nation-states make this procedure illegal? Should society support the practice of donor-created children. Should parents create these people? Or should these people not be created/ be banned in the future? Are these people a mistake to bring into existence?

            I say no. You seem to be saying, the ones that already exist, well they are here, so we should be nice to them. But you don’t think they should have been created.

            You can shy away from the issue, but it comes down to this: In an ideal world would this person exist? Should people like this person be banned from existing in the future? Will this person be happy and healthy and should they be brought into being?

            • Ok lets get back to the part about “well they are here so we should be nice to them” So why should we not be nice to them. I have no interest in talking about people who don’t exist that’s pretty pointless. Why should we not be nice to some people who exist? Why is that happening to them?

              I don’t want to ban anything – you have me confused with religious people. If having to be responsible for the offspring you create causes you not to have any offspring you can’t raise yourself then good. If you happen to have offspring you can’t raise yourself fine I’d never say those kids should not exist nor would I say they should have fewer rights than other people once they are here. I think its good to encourage people to be careful and not create offspring they are not prepared to raise themselves. I’m not all freaked out every time a woman pops an orthonovum 28 for birthcontrol, are you? Are you crying for the unwanted child that will never be born? If a person winds up with unwanted offspring there are people out there who are willing to adopt their child. I think we owe it to people to investigate the circumstances of their adoptions and not allow any adoption to go thru if the relinquishing parent created the child specifically to be adopted. At least not allow the adoption by the people the child was created to serve. There should be no commissioning people to create and abandon. I just think the ethics of obtaining unrelated children to raise is important to scrutinize and that all people have an equal right to that protection. The whole never should have been born thing is not relevant. Infertile women and sterile men are not reproducing with donated gametes they are not reproducing by gestating other people’s embryos. They are not even part of the conversation about reproductive rights freedoms or parental responsibility. They won’t enter the picture unless the child is abandoned by one or both parents. And then if they do enter the picture they should enter it above board on the record, not shady off line under the table because they are married to a woman that gives birth riding the coat tails of a loophole into a kind of parenthood that’s just a house of cards

            • I’ve got you completely now Tess understand your point and your question. The answer is I definately think they should be conceived I don’t think the way they were conceived is wrong I think its a wonderful thing that these beautiful children are here on this earth I don’t think the world would be as great a place had they never been born. Keep on trucking and don’t ban people from conceiving their children in this fashion. I think the people who conceived children ought to be accountable for them to the same extent without exception and that the transfer of parental obligation should always occur in court after the person actually exists in order to prevent the sale of human beings to serve as the children of unrelated individuals and to prevent the buying out of one parent’s involvement by the other.

          • “am i saying that all adoptees, or any other person who has a parent ill equipped to care for them- shouldn’t be in this world???? no we are not saying that at all.”

            But why in the world do you say that? In an ideal world, a woman would not have to deal with the question of a pregnancy that is unwanted. It would be rather traumatic, I would imagine, to undergo and make difficult decisions about an unwanted pregnancy. I would hope, that in an ideal world, unwanted conceptions would never occur and a pregnant women would never have to make difficult decisions about the pregnancy.

            • To clarify: once people are born into this world, all babies have intrinsic value and dignity as human beings.

              The question is: should these conceptions occur? People are not created via ART by mistake/oopsie/unplanned (adoption) or by a crime (rape).

              These conceptions are VERY PLANNED and well thought out. The question really is: should these conceptions never have taken place. The people who are born as a result of ART would not be alive if ART was not possible. Should they never have been born? These individuals would not exist but for ART.

              I understand you believe these people (all people) have intrinsic value once they are alive and living in this world — but that is not the question. The question which I was asking was: Should they have been conceived, gestated, and born into this world?

              • you are missing the point.
                do you approve of adultery?
                a very dear friend of mine was conceived through an extramarital affair.
                if not for adultery he would not exist, nor his son for that matter or any of his future descendants.
                yet he like most of society believes that adultery is wrong. this does not mean he thinks that he or his descendants should never have existed,
                if you were to disaprove of adultery, would you phrase your disapproval this way “you shouldnt havebeen born?” i highly doubt it..
                you are talking out of both sides of your mouth. you start out by saying that you arent questioning any ones intrinsic value but end by phrasing the question in a manner that means just that. that is an deceitful dialectic technique.
                its a fact of life that positive conequences can result from wrongful behavior. questioning the behvior. dont mix the two issues.

                • “you are talking out of both sides of your mouth. you start out by saying that you arent questioning any ones intrinsic value but end by phrasing the question in a manner that means just that. that is an deceitful dialectic technique.”

                  I have stated my position clearly. I do not think certain conceptions should ever take place, and I am happy for them to not take place. I support women who decide that conceptions caused by rape are not brought to term. But it is not my business to tell a woman what she needs to do for herself. If a woman wants to carry a child conceived of rape or adultery to term, that is her choice. Once a child is born, I believe that infant has intrinsic value, because I believe all infants have intrinsic value and dignity.

                  Conception is not Birth. A infant is not the same thing as a blastocyst.

                  In any case, ART does not involve oopsie conceptions. ART children are only conceived via ART.

                  Again the question for people who disagree with ART is the following: Do you think these children should not be conceived? These children would not exist if they were not conceived.

                  • exactly conception is not birth. so when donor offspring are born why deny them the same rights as other people? Why suggest that asking for those same rights is the same as saying they would rather not exist? Do you get it now? Ki could not be any clearer. I could not be any clearer. Don’t you see that asking donor offspring if they’d rather not exist is ridiculous? They are pissed off at the way they are treated at having been sold by their parents and bought by people who want to be parents. It’s rude. It’s uncivilized behavior. To think that paying someone to abandon their children is an act that can be equated to love is violent.

                  • “exactly conception is not birth. so when donor offspring are born why deny them the same rights as other people? Why suggest that asking for those same rights is the same as saying they would rather not exist? Do you get it now? Ki could not be any clearer. I could not be any clearer.”

                    ok- so are you saying it’s ok to create donor offspring in some situations?

                    btw – I do not agree with your definition of parent, mother or family. Thus, I believe that donor-created children have equal rights under the law as naturally created children.

                    “Don’t you see that asking donor offspring if they’d rather not exist is ridiculous?”

                    I don’t ask donor offspring anything. I was saying it sounds like you believe that they should not have been conceived. But perhaps I misunderstood.

                    “They are pissed off at the way they are treated at having been sold by their parents and bought by people who want to be parents. It’s rude. It’s uncivilized behavior. To think that paying someone to abandon their children is an act that can be equated to love is violent.”

                    That is your opinion. I do not agree. I think your assertions are hurtful and offensive.

                  • I find it hurtful too. I just did IVF with donor sperm. I’m hoping it’s a viable pregnancy, it’s a strong positive but with bleeding. I already love my baby and it’s not your place to say I don’t and can’t and won’t love my baby because of how I got pregnant.

                  • Rebecca & Tess
                    You find it hurtful? I don’t know your situations so I need to get something straight…Wanting to raise a child is a beautiful thing. Wanting them to be abandoned by one or both of their biological parents so that you can raise them without their interference is an inherently bad and destructive thing. You’re not happening upon an abandoned child and taking them in to raise as if your own. Your not tragically abandoned by a lousy guy or left behind after a torrid one night stand. Your planning, plotting angling and intending for this person to be excluded from half their relatives. It’s not healthy for them or their relatives to not know one another.

                    You’re hurt by saying that its not your place to destroy someone else’s family? They don’t have to be abandoned we don’t have to allow that. Whatever hurt you feel about what I’m saying is horribly misplaced stop thinking about yourselves and your wants and your needs and your feelings for ten seconds and realize that you have no business doing this to someone deciding that they don’t get to be part of their own families. You can’t buy someone into your family or out of someone else’s. When someone donates their gametes they don’t become yours its not the same as reproducing your selves. You get that right? The donor is the one reproducing and your taking and raising their kid. You need an orphan or half orphan to fill a void in your life so you had one made for you. You don’t get to feel hurt about that. If you feel hurt that someone does not understand your pain to the extent you should be alowed to take whatever you want from another person and say its all ok because your going to love them and raise them its just beyond words. People are not pets.

                  • Rebecca: Good luck and fingers crossed! One of my friends gave birth to her son, conceived with donor sperm, a few months ago. He is beautiful. She also recently proposed to her girlfriend. 🙂

                    Marilynn:
                    You’re not likely to change anyone’s mind or actions with your present rhetoric.

                  • It’s my biological genetic child hardly my “pet.” My child will know as much as possible about the other side of the biological family, meet any half-siblings I can arrange to meet, and have the option to contact the biological father someday. We disagree on what is harmful. I think it is acceptable for one parent to raise the child alone as long as the other parent does not object and there is honesty and the child has the option to learn about and/or meet the other biological parent someday. I support enforcement of child support in cases where it is requested or the child/single parent is on government assistance for public policy reasons – it would be a bit hard for the government to agree to collect only when custodial parent can’t afford to raise the child alone.

                  • So Rebecca I want to be clear for Tess reading that of course your child deserves to live. But once born your child is a person and deserves better than half the rights of other people.

                    Look at it from the perspective of your child, they have a mother and father no different than anyone else. Why was their father allowed to cut a private deal where he does not have to take care of them and can keep his identity private for 18 years? That kind of puts a damper on being integrated into his family during their formative years. It pretty much ensures that no bonds will be formed in early childhood. Why?

                    If it’s good enough for your kid then why not let it be good enough for all kids? Why force any biological parent to care for their child and provide support? Is parental support really based upon need? If a child has a rich mother and a poor father does it mean the father does not need to contribute to raise his child? If your child’s father goes on to raise some of his children, how will you address that with the child you are raising? How do you plan to explain why he’d keep and raise some but not all? How will you explain what makes a child valuable enough to a parent to keep and raise? Is it the fact that he did not love you and therefore the child is unlovable to him? He’ll only take care of his children if he loves their mother? That hardly seems fair.

                    People whose parents offered not to raise them as part of their reproductive service agreements are placed in a compromised position as are all the other members of their family because they will never be legally recognized as one another’s kin. I’m sure I have not convinced you to change your minds about anything but you might be more sensitive to their situation later in life, less dismissive of their concerns than you would have been had I said nothing and that would be nice. There are quite a few people raising donor offspring who are now advocates for legal changes to give them equal rights – not just access to records at 18 because that is not equal at all.

                  • Your discussion of slavery is ignorant. It’s also disrespectful to the memory of enslaved people and simplifies their profound oppression and suffering.

                    To be clear, I did not mean you were hurting me personally. To be frank, you do not have the power to hurt me, even if I find your language over-the-top. You do have relationships with other people on this blog if you’re a long-standing commenter. If you don’t care about the potential emotional impact, obviously ignore me.

                    People are more likely to get inflammatory and go over-the-top in discussions or debates about sex and reproduction. Many of the questions on this blog address the potential legal status or regulation of human reproduction. It makes some people crazy that they cannot control the sexual behaviour and reproduction of other people.

                    But inflammatory language doesn’t change opinion or behaviour. For example: people who are against abortion may, in a inflammatory and over-the-top way, call someone else a murderer. Or you may call a parent a slave-owner. Or you may call someone’s child a pet. This type of language doesn’t change minds or hearts. It’s not calm or reasoned. It’s not persuasive. It doesn’t change anything and it’s frankly useless except for the possible utility of making one feel morally superior. Maybe it’s an emotional release. I don’t know, but it’s not a useful form of discussion if you are hoping for change. In fact, by using such language you may actually harden the opinion of people you disagree with and encourage the type of behaviour which you wish to discourage.

              • OK so their conceptions were well planned out great fantastic. What does that have to do with them and the rights they have at birth? Why would they be forced to live life with falsified medical records and why are they not legally recognized as kin in their own genetic families? Terriffic their conception was planned in fact their biological parents names are in a file drawer in a doctors office somewhere so there should be no reason why it would not be on their birth record that is a vital statistic.

                Great they are planned and conceived people can conceive to their hearts content – now when the person is born they are here so as you said let’s be nice to them.

                If being responsible for their offspring causes some people not to donate gametes or embryos then that puts them in the same boat as any of the rest of us who may opt not to have a kid that we can’t take care of. It puts them on equal footing with everyone else so I hardly see the problem.

                So what if there were fewer abandoned children in the world I suppose it would reduce the supply of orphans and foundlings for people that think they need them but they don’t really need them. An orphan or a foundling is not medical treatment for infertility its an orphan or a foundling to raise that’s all.

              • Should they have been conceived. You want an answer to a question that is totally esoteric. OK fine I’m gonna go with yes absolutely I think its fantastic that everyone who ever lived was conceived and I would not change a thing. Good job everyone, well done. How’s that?

                I think that all the unwanted children who were never conceived are imaginary people they don’t exist and so there is not much more to say about that.

                We should not venture into telling people if they should or should not conceive. We should limit our laws to what we require of them once their offspring is born.

            • When donors conceive kids, they want to conceive obviously or they would not donate for reproductive purposes. They want children they just don’t want to raise them and so its their parenthood that’s unwanted that they off load along with their child that they wanted to exist but did not want to raise.
              You mentioned that donors give up a cell not a child. Does time not pass for the donor? When their offspring is born they will be a parent and they had to decide they did not want to raise all of their offspring that they’d give up some of their offspring to be raised by other people. Donor offspring have biological parents who are not raising them just like adopted people so the only difference is that their bio parents made them on purpose to give them up its harder to accept I’d imagine because there is no room for empathy. No extenuating circumstances the kid can feel sorry for.

            • I’m making an analogy, not saying any of these things about rape or adoption. The common denominator of all these analogies is that many people would criticize the circumstances in which they were conceived. That does not mean they are saying the person shouldn’t exist or shouldn’t be born.

      • I don’t agree. If they were studying what you say they’d have kids in there where the mother had sex with a man and then the man skipped town and she married someone else. They don’t because that is not what they are studying. They want people who planned to have kids and then had to obtain gametes to do so. Now it’s true that in these cases the kids are being raised by two parents only one of whom is genetically related. But it is the result of a series of conscious choices (of the gamete provider and the gamete users) and not just happenstance.

        • Yes the deliberate nature of the separation is the kicker aint it? That is the thing that undermines any hope of having a truly connected and bonded relationship with the unrelated child. To have that good relationship all you have to do is not cause the separation, not want it not think that your entitled to take away their family and replace it with another one. Yes, the deliberateness of it is the real essence of the resentment that ultimately boils over.

          • So here is another place that I think we can identify the matter that divides us. You think the deliberate nature of the separation of child from the people who provide the genetic material is a terrible thing because you think the connection between the child and the people who provide the genetic material is critical. But if you take my view instead–that the connection between those who provide the genetic material and the child is not critical–then depriving the child of that connection (intentionally or not) isn’t a big deal. I think it’s important to be honest with the kids about what you’ve chosen and why. But I don’t think that depriving them of that connection is all that big a deal. And in fact, if you leave them with the ability to track that person (of those people) down if they feel the need, then I think you’ve really deprived them of nothing terribly important.

            You don’t see it that way, I know. You see a huge and damaging hole. But this really is just because we disagree (and have for a long time) on the importance of the genetic link.

  5. My parent's donor is my father

    Julie,
    That was the wrong study. I think this is it but I can’t access it:

    Children born through reproductive donation: a longitudinal study of psychological adjustment

    Susan Golombok, Lucy Blake, Polly Casey, Gabriela Roman, Vasanti Jadva
    Article first published online: 23 NOV 2012

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23176601

  6. Julie – age 7 they are becoming logical cause and effect thinkers…but of course they are pretty much the same – they are kids…

    Did the study you were writing about get this information from the parents, or was it a combination of parent answers, child/interviewer, non parent i.e teacher report – because I think that in any outside of the norm parents will bias their answers to prove the kids are okay – whether intentional or not. Best studies will not rely solely on parent answers, or child answers questionaire they give back to parent. The MTARP longitudinal study on adoption seems to have done a good job – I talked to one of the participants on how free she was to answer.

    • A psychologist came to the family to do the testing.

      • Tess are you one of those people that daftly says ” all teenagers are upset about something” or “all teenagers say they wish they were never born or wish they had other parents”? Cause if your one of those people those cheerleader gummy bear rah rah people you have misjudged the situation completely. These people’s civil and human rights are violated and trampled upon. They are essentially born in captivity to the people who paid to own their parents bodies. They are born in captivity and are the property of the people who purchased the bodies of their parents do you get that they are owned by those who wanted them. That is nothing like parenthood it is nothng like being responsible for a life that a person creates there is no similarity between being responsible for a child you create through your own reproduction and being responsible for a child that you paid to be allowed to raise. Ethical adoptive paents have nothing to worry about because they did not cause their adopted child to be given up by their biological parents.

        • “They are born in captivity and are the property of the people who purchased the bodies of their parents do you get that they are owned by those who wanted them.”

          Are you planning to throw into the Holocaust while you’re at it?

          You are being disrespectful to the memory of enslaved people. This is the 150 year anniversary of the Civil War. You are belittling the suffering of enslaved people by comparing their profound suffering to the experience of children raised as a result of ART.

          This is the slave narrative of Olaudah Equiano. http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/equiano1/menu.html
          You should read it.

          This is the slave narrative of Harriet Jacobs
          http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/jacobs/bio.html
          You should read it.

          This is the slave narrative of Frederick Douglas.
          http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/douglass/menu.html
          You should read it.

          Think about Olaudah’s experience. He was spared the the worst on the slave ships because he was young. Many were packed like livestock in ships for months with little water. Imagine being chained for months in the hold of a stinking slave ship. And it did stink to be held captive on that ship. In Boston and New York, you could smell the slave ships before you could see them on the horizon. This is slavery.

          You should also read the other slave narratives on that site and learn that enslaved girls are regularly raped, women are worked to death, children are dragged from their screaming mothers, and people were held in chains that slowly tore into their wrists and ankles. This is slavery.

          As a slave woman your children will be born slaves: raped, whipped, your child worked until he bleeds, abused by slave masters, your daughters raped by slave masters while you are helpless to interfere.

          These abuses regularly occurred. Four million people were held in bondage through the use of extraordinary physical violence.

          • No I’m not planning to throw in the Holocaust because there is no systemic slaughter are you paying attention? We must have a break down on a fundamental level or you would be understanding me.

            People that sell their gametes for reproductive purposes sign contracts where they promise not to raise and take care of their resulting young when they are born. That part is critical – they have to agree not to take care of any children born of their reproductive service agreements or nobody would want their gametes at all. People want their children, not their gametes.

            That part is very important or you won’t understand anything else I say afterword. These donors become biological parents when their offspring are born and it’s their actions at that point, that is parental abandonment only we’ve altered the law and said they are not parents so it does not count. Those are just words though. Of course the reality is they are bio parents who are not doing what other bio parents are made to do. None of this has anything to do with people not being able to raise unrelated children of course they can and of course they can do a perfectly wonderful job of it the question is are they obtaining children to raise in an ethical way that does not violate the human rights of those children. Are they obtaining the children that they raise in a fashion that treats them as manufactured commodities or as humans who experienced a tragedy and a loss?
            You are acting like donor offspring arrive in the care of their social parents without having lost a biological family and you are acting like getting to meet them all at 18 is suppose to be some kind of consolation prize – like it’s a reasonable compromise and it is not of course. Why should they have to loose anything at all? Why can’t the adults work cooperatively so the child is not locked out of their family not excluded from one family for the benefit of another. As so many are quick to point out this is planned so why not plan it in a way that does not deprive the child of legal recognition in their biological families? Why is it OK to decide that their families don’t count or count less than the family you’d like to add them too?
            People behave as if buying sperm means they own the donor’s body, their reproductive freedom and the naming rights to their children. That they are their children because they own the parent’s body their cells their sperm or their eggs. This did happen in the slave market where they’d buy the body of an adult, breed them and then the children would be born in captivity and named after the owner. Look how many black Jackson’s there are – that is how that happened children were born into a situation where they were not free and everyone could stand around saying they had not lost any rights, they simply never had them. It does not matter how well you treat a person who is not free, they are not free and that is what counts. Your concern seems to be the potential damage done by these practices. Why are you doing something if you know it has the potential to cause harm? Why are you taking risks with someone’s emotional health if its not yourself? People that pay someone else to not raise their children are not really parents they bought that position and it sucks that they have any authority its like the fox watching the hen house.

            • Marilyn,

              “People behave as if buying sperm means they own the donor’s body,”

              Slave masters could legally force enslaved women (and boys) to have coercive sex. It was rape, but the legal system would not prosecute because the slave masters OWNED the BODY of the enslaved person.

              That is what it means to commodify and sell people? Do you get it now?

              I research and teach the history of slavery. Parental abandonment is not legal slavery. It really isn’t. I’ve read thousands of pages on the institution of slavery. And, yes, it really is not right to denigrate the historical experience of enslaved people in this way.

              This is why inflamed rhetoric causes people to talk past each other.

              • Parental abandonment is not slavery of course not. A contract with no exit clause is slavery. You can willingly enslave yourself by getting into a services contract with no exit clause. You can’t really wave your right to be free but you can get yourself into quite a pickle when people believe they own the right to control your actions. This is why courts rarely require specific performances and will instead award damages for contract disputes. Selling your gametes appears on the surface to be a property contract which would be final and without an exit clause but the problem is gametes and body parts are pieces of people and so their disposition is attached to the will of those people – what it is is a reproductive services contract and a contract for parental abandonment of their offspring at birth.
                What are people doing when they “buy eggs” or “buy sperm”? It’s a piece of a human being like my leg or my arm or my lung. Can’t I get to decide who gets to have this gift of my leg or my lung? Can’t that be up to me and can’t I decide what they get to use it for and can’t I change my mind and take it back so long as taking it back does not jepordize thier life? Say I’ve got another lung from a cadaver on the ready and I’d like my lung back and I’ll pay for the operation…could I have mine back maybe not because I can’t compell you order you to have an operation if you don’t want because you are free.. When you give up your gametes along with it goes your right to say no to reproduction. When you get married you may want to have children with that person but come to find out they are a lousy cheater and you change your mind. A donor could change their mind as many do but they don’t know where their sperm is or how to get it back. They have enslaved themselves someone thinks they own their body their right to reproduce and their resulting children. It is absolutely slavery, not custody. Custody does not involve a contractual agreement with object, time and consideration the three elements of a contract where there is an object and an exchange of goods or services for that object.If you think that an egg is the object of a contract or an embryo is the object of a contract or sperm is the object of a contract then I challenge you to go read their agreements go read their contracts and strike all the parts that deal with them agreeing not to raise their resulting offspring and not to identify themselves as being related as parents to their children etc etc. Its the bulk of the contract and its a contract for possession and control of their young as well as possession and control of their bodies and reproductive behavior

    • The researchers got information about the children by sending a child psychologist to interview the mothers and the teachers using a standardised questionnaire.

      Couples who used surrogacy were more likely to be open with their children than donor families, especially when the children were very young, so that would have made interviewing the children directly about their feelings re gestation or conception pretty difficult. All the surrogacy couples in this study had been open vs 50% of DI families.

  7. Tess said: “The question of the study is: Are the children happy? Are the children mentally healthy? Are they well-adjusted? Will this procedure hurt their child? That is the question that prospective parents want to know when considering ART.”

    Tess – do you honestly believe that a happy well adjusted child cannot grow up to have issues with how they were created or adopted? That they will never want to know their genetic roots? That they may have problems with the lack of oversight of the industry that created them, or facillitated their adoption?

    None of the indicators you are looking for will ensure that the child will not grow up and as an adult – have their own views and opinion on the subject of how they came to be raised in the family they did. Nor do those studies tell you that regardless of how that child who is now an adult feels about their beginnings can tell you that at the same time you can love your family and still have problems with the industry that guided their beginnings, or want to know where they came from. Please do not mix the two completely different subjects – one does not equal the other.

    None of those answers from a study like that can provide you with that guarantee that the well adjusted happy child will grow up and not have an opinion on something so deeply personal as their beginnings. I think it is foolish to expect a child to have the maturity and cognitive ability to see the totality of the situation – they are kids for pete’s sake.

    • “do you honestly believe that a happy well adjusted child cannot grow up to have issues with how they were created or adopted?”

      The phrase “he has issues” is often used to refer to somebody with, well, issues. Of course healthy people have mild emotional issues from time to time. It depends how many issues and for how long a duration, I suppose, that would separate an emotionally happy, well adjusted child from a damaged child.

      Intense distress is of course very different from mild curiosity. Mild curiosity sounds healthy. Intense, obsessive, on-going distress sounds like the person is emotionally unstable.

      “That they will never want to know their genetic roots?”

      Going through a stage of being curious is quite different from being obsessive. Do you see what I mean?

      Some kids go through a stage where they care a lot. Some don’t much. A curiosity stage sounds very healthy. But for it to be an on-going emotional issue that causes distress and lasts for years? — yeah, I’d say that’s an indication that someone is not emotionally healthy and well adjusted.

      “That they may have problems with the lack of oversight of the industry that created them, or facillitated their adoption?”

      I don’t know what you specifically what kind of oversight are talking about. Advocating reasonable oversight seems reasonable. But obsessiveness could suggest emotional distress and lack of adjustment.

      “Nor do those studies tell you that regardless of how that child who is now an adult feels about their beginnings can tell you that at the same time you can love your family and still have problems with the industry that guided their beginnings, or want to know where they came from.”

      Sure, it would be horrible to find out that, say, your adoption agency was unethical and trafficking babies or something like that.

      But if your birth mother did not want an open adoption, it seems to me your problem is with her decision, not with the industry.

      • What you seem to be saying here is:

        1. You are interested in seeing whether children created through donor conception are happy, well-adjusted, and at ease with their conception and separation from / lack of knowledge about their biological parent(s).

        2. If the children are not happy, well-adjusted, and at ease, and are instead very distressed and “obsessed” with finding their biological parents, then they are not emotionally healthy and we shouldn’t really pay attention to what they are saying.

        They really can’t win, can they? It’s a double bind. They can either not really mind or care OR they will be seen as “being obsessive” and emotionally unhealthy.

        “Emotional distress and lack of adjustment” could simply be a direct result of the actual situation a person has found herself in, and not some kind of personal failing. If this is not what you meant, then I don’t really believe your interest in how donor conceived children fare is genuine.

  8. Oh Tess, I am not talking about when the child is still a child – I’m talking about when they are adults. As to what is reasonable – equality is a reasonable expectation that adopted people should have the same rights as non-adopted, or that mothers should have protection against unscrupulous individuals, and revocation time frames for a life-alterting decision so soon after going through labor and delivery often with drugs and always with your emotions and hormones elevated – is very reasonable to me.

    What is reasonable to you assuming you have not been adopted, may not be reasonable to the person affected by adoption – the key is tolerance for their choices and needs. The same can be said of what is a reasonable desire to be a parent, may be seen as an obsession to another, again, tolerance for their choices and needs must be given by the one who does not see that need or desire as a necessity.

    As to your second to last paragraph – I can’t imagine anything worse than finding out that you were trafficked for adoption – except if your parents willingly participated – that would be outright betrayal of the worst kind.

    And your last paragraph – I do hope you were not implying that you think I have a problem with the industry because my mother she did not chose open adoption – there weren’t open adoptions way back in my era. My mother did what society required so her family was not shamed by their community, she went away, surrendered me, and returned home and pretended to the world that it never happened. That was the way society was back then, and it was what it was. They had no choice or say what happened.

    • I apologize for the misunderstanding and bad grammar.

      I didn’t mean “your” as in you, personally. I meant it generically. You asked me if I thought a person would be upset if “ect, ect.” And I said, sure, “You’d be upset if…” It was bad grammar. I should have said “one would of course be upset if…”.

      I wasn’t referring to you, specifically. I try to stay out of other people’s business. And I don’t have any interest in judging another adult’s emotional state.

      I’m interested in scientific studies of emotional well being, but I would not presume to evaluate someone else’s emotional health.

      I thought we were talking about donor created children in this thread.

  9. Tess – we were talking about DC in this thread and the study was on children which you stated is what you wanted to know is will it harm the child. The problem is as I noted in every response is they don’t stay children for life and it is foolish to only base success on whether or not as a child they are happy and well-adjusted. Parents who someone pointed out have intentionally chosen to create a child – would be the ones I would think would be forward thinking and concerned about the child’s entire life. They have dreams of their child growing up and becoming adults, going to university and having a good career, finding a mate, settling down, or traveling the world, and perhaps having babies. You have to think of the totality not just limit it to a very small window of time in an entire life.

    • Sure I’m interested in that.

      It would be quite interesting to learn the relative risks of emotional damage and dysfunction for children who are natural, adopted or ART. (Of couse, all children are at risk of horrible things happening to them, including death and disease. What parents want to know is the percentage of risk relative to other choices.)

      It’s a study over time. They will follow these children as they grow. They are 13 now, so we’ll have to wait to learn more.

  10. TAO:
    by “children” in my above post, I mean grown children. It would be interesting to see a study that examined which group of children, if any, (natural/adopted/ART) are more at risk of mental illness (depression or anxiety) and living as dysfunctional and emotionally damaged adults.

  11. People with incomplete or inaccurate birth records who grow up with one or both of their biological parents absent are prevented from exercising certain rights because of their absent parent’s actions and because of the actions of whoever ended up raising them. The problem for them is not that they were conceived it’s that they have been treated unfairly since they’ve been born and they need to do something about it. There are people out there that want to continue to treat them unfairly and they want to prevent them from making a case for much needed change. Those individuals are practiced at keeping the conversation focused on the actions and events that occured prior to the births of these individuals who have suffered a loss of rights. Nobody has a say in the circumstances of their conceptions; would you rather never have been born? Do you think you don’t deserve to exist? Do you think it would be better if some people were never even created? I want to see people stop that kind of debate tactic in its tracks by saying they don’t want to stop donor conception, they don’t want to prevent people from reproducing in the way that works for them, they think people should continue to be created via ART that ART is not harmful to anyone in the least. They need to say that they don’t have a problem with how they were conceived but rather how they were treated by their parents and by the law after they were born that they have a problem with, and so lets start talking about that instead.

    The next time someone wants to talk about whether ART is in the best interest of an as of yet unconceived person and would it be better if those people were never created at all we need to catch the person asking that question off guard by saying donor conception is a fantastic way to be conceived but we need to change the law so that the donor is treated the same as any other biological parent when his or her offspring are born and should be named as a parent on their birth records and should have to go through the normal court approved adoption process if they are not going to be raising their offspring and there should be a process in place to ensure that the people adopting their ofspring did not commission the biological parent to create a child specifically for them to raise. We can’t have people creating and relinquishing their offspring specifically to serve a population of people that want children to raise..

    • I think an interest in genetic purity and lineage turned into an inalienable right can be problematic, both as a possible legal and logical issue.

      For example: if there is an inalienable right to genetic and lineage knowledge, does a person who is the result of a private adoption have the right to reproduce? The person will be unable to pass down genetic knowledge & lineage from any other relatives other then himself/herself.

      Likewise, if we follow this logic to its natural conclusion, why would an abandoned person have the moral right to reproduce? The lineage, aside from the parent, has disappeared. There are no genetic grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, ect. to give any medical knowledge or family history lessons to the child.

      What is the ethical position of the abandoned adult in relation to reproduction? Is a open adoption a superior moral action? And if not, why not?

      Yes, the intention is different, but the result/harm to the child is the same. If this is an inalienable right, what are the legal consequences? What are the consequences of this logic when applied to those who people who do not have complete genetic or lineal knowledge of their heritage?

      I am very concerned about this aspect of the argument & the logical implications of the argument.

      • You wrote “does a person who —- have a right to reproduce?”
        I fear you are misunderstanding the entire point.
        EVERYONE has a right to reproduce, and no one is interfering with that.

        However, if gamete donors could be legally named as their offsprings legal parents, many of them likely the majority, would not donate. and many many buyers would drop out of the market. That would be their free choice, not because anyone prohibits them from reproducing. Those who decided to proceed would be breaking no law.

        Freedom to reproduce does not mean that we must have special laws to make a market of anonymous sperm available to you. Just as freedom to marry does not mean it’s anyone’s job to supply you with an appropriate person to marry.

        • ki sarita,

          No, that’s not my question. (Although I’d note that legally, your assertions about preventing a supply of sperm has not been tested by SCOTUS, and SCOTUS is the only literal definition of what is constitutional.)

          (I don’t know if it’s been discussed in this blog, and this doesn’t apply to the US, but in Canada the Supreme Court refused to hear Olivia Pratten’s appeal, which means that she has no constitutional right to information. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/05/30/bc-sperm-donor.html. So, the question is not, is there a right to a supply of sperm, but to what extent can the state prevent or regulate? The state can regulate for reasons of health in medical facilities. But to what other extent can the state regulate, and at what point does the constitutional right to reproduce become an issue.) In any case, I wasn’t raising a legal question, but an ethical/moral question about personal choices and best behaviour.

          But in my last statement I was not asking about the creation of a law or a legal question.

          I am asking what the ethical postion should be of someone who is the offspring of an anonymous adoption or otherwise anonymous conception.

          Does the offspring of anonymous parentage perpetuate the original harm of anonymity if he/she choses to have genetic children? She/he has no medical history beyond his own experience, no lineage, no name, no genetic information beyond his own to pass to his children and grandchildren. He/she can supply no grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins to his/her own children. The genetic line and lineage has been disappeared.

          In other words, if anonymity is a harm, should it be perpetuated down to the next generation? And if not, why not? Does the harm disappear after one generation as there is one known genetic link?

          In other words: is it moral to perpetuate the harm if it can be prevented? I’m not suggesting a legal remedy. I’m asking if there is a moral question about reproduction which ought to be considered about the children of anonymous people. And if not, why not?

          If we accept the first premise, that it is morally wrong and a harm to break a lineage and a genetic line, why is successive reproduction an ethical act?

          If the person harmed by anonymity is aware of the harm, wouldn’t that person seek to not pass that harm down to his/her children? Wouldn’t he/she be more likely to adopt in an open adoption to prevent the harm that he experienced?

          Said another way: If social parents & donors commit a harm against donor children if they create using anonymous donors, then does the donor child perpetuate the original harm against his/her own children if she/he chooses to reproduce? Does he/she have a moral obligation to adopt in an open adoption or adopt out of the foster system?

          And if not, why not? Particularly if the original harm damages future offspring?

          • ok on an ethical level;
            In general think putting lots of effort and investment into creating children to be inherently problematic and commodifying to varying degrees; the child becomes a savior child to the adult, created for the purpose of filling a role.
            Being the result of an anonymous financial transaction adds a new dimension to the commodification.
            It is hoped that once the child is born parental love will overcome whatever the parent’s original motivations was.
            As to donor conception- one can not know in advance what offspring will feel, but surely a prospective parent should be aware of the risk that the offspring will suffer. The level of risk that a parent may take on behalf of their offspring is a murky question and I don’t answer for everyone. I personally chose against it, i could not justify my very first act regarding my kid being one that was not in his/her best interests.

            Now to your main point- second generation is far removed from the first and suffering would be rather minimal. How many people do have a relationship with all 4 grandparents- hell 1 of mine was dead already before i was born, the other lived miles away and died when i was young, another was an alcoholic and i had nothing to do with him but the impact on my life was minimal, nothing like as if it would have been a parent. the loss of a grandparent is trivial compared to the loss of a parent. Not knowing all your cousins is nothing compared to not knowing your siblings. Not knowing a quarter of your roots is not significant compared to not know ing half of them. As the generations go further and further, most of us eventually have trouble keeping in touch with all their roots.

            • “Now to your main point- second generation is far removed from the first and suffering would be rather minimal. How many people do have a relationship with all 4 grandparents-”

              That is interesting. So the loss for you is defined primarily as a loss of the parent and/or half siblings, with much less emphasis on more distant relatives in the lineage.

            • A person conceived by embryo donor would not be able to bring 100% his/her heritage. No grandparents on either side of that person.

              I wonder, are we suggesting that it is a loss to the children, but not a large loss? And are the non-genetic grandparents useful at all to the grandchild, or do we see them as useless in the matter of family?

              ie: Does the person harm his children when he chooses to create? Or do we think that the adoptive kin line may be enough for the grandchild to alleviate significant harm done to the grandchild as a result of his/her birth?

            • re: Commodities & Commodification

              “In general think putting lots of effort and investment into creating children to be inherently problematic and commodifying to varying degrees; the child becomes a savior child to the adult, created for the purpose of filling a role. Being the result of an anonymous financial transaction adds a new dimension to the commodification.”

              We differ on the concept of commodities and commodification. In a capitalistic society the family is not separate from the market, investment, economic decision making and the concept of property. Time is commodified, labor is commodified, and the choices we make in terms of time spent are economic decisions. The time spend on caring for a child is the most costly aspect of child raising and family investment. In society today nothing is NOT commodified, except perhaps air. And considering how people are reacting to pollution in China, an argument can be made that even air is in the process of becoming commodified.

              I find it curious that great importance is placed on the cheapest aspect of child raising– the genetic contribution. Sperm are cheap because the genetic aspect is the least important part of the process of raising a child. Eggs are more expensive not because eggs are “more” commodified, but because specialized medical services are needed to retrieve eggs and fertilize them in a lab. It would be, in economic terms, a “value added” situation. The eggs themselves are not what is expensive.

              Further, the primacy that people are placing on genetics themselves is a commodification of people. Love or affect is not seen as the most determining factor of family, but rather the genome. Those people who nurse a child back from health and care for the child are not seen as family in this ideology because genetics are seen as determinative. That view of the genome springs and is inherent to a capitalistic understanding of family in which the genome and even children are seen as commodities.

              In fact, on this blog the way in which people talk about lineage is, I think, a commodification of kin lines. It’s seen as a piece of property owed to people who possess a specific genetic marker. Lineage and kin lines, in these comments, is not seen as something defined by something as amorphous as love and/or time invested and/or care or children and members of the line.

              True adoption into the kin line is seen as impossible by some commenters. By true adoption, I mean the concept whereby the person is truly adopted into the kin line to the extent where other members of the line and the person themselves no longer “sees” genetics as an determining factor of family heritage whatsoever. Native Americans in the 16th and 17th century held this concept of adoption. Racial categories disappeared in these adoptions as people truly were accepted as tribal and kin members. A European could truly be adopted into the tribe in this cultural understanding of kin and tribe.

              But as European definitions of race and family and “blood” became predominant in North America, this idea of adoption was influenced and altered by English legal concepts alien to the original cultures of North America.

              • What are you angry about about and fighting against?

                In what way does parental accountability for biological offspring threaten non biological family formation? Isn’t that kind of like straight people feeling their marriages are somehow jeopardized by gay people getting married? Who exactly will be prevented from reproducing if we hold everyone equally accountable for the offspring they create as parents? Whose reproductive freedom is inhibited by parental obligation? How exactly does full unobstructed access to records that identify our genetic relatives undermine socially constructed family formation?

                Equalizing the obligations of people for their offspring and equalizing the rights of every person born because they are offspring does not negatively impact the enjoyment of any other person to exercise their personal rights or personal freedoms. Live and let live Tess. None of the ideals you hold dear about family and what it means to you are in the least bit threatened by granting equal rights to adopted people or people whose parents were donors. I’m talking about correcting laws that place people in a compromised position where they are not on equal legal footing. What is your beef with that?

                • “I’m talking about correcting laws that place people in a compromised position where they are not on equal legal footing. What is your beef with that?”

                  I was not responding to this question. I was responding to Ki Sirita’s discussion about commodification.

                  This morning I became interested in the following questions (1) the definition of a commodity, gifts, markets, and the definition of exchange (2) the definition of economic decisions and the extent to which they operate in a post-modern society (3) how things we assume are “private” are actually part of the economy in a capitalist world (4) how lineage itself becomes a commodified good under capitalism; how people who give primacy to genetics and lineage are actually within and part of this ideology of commodification, (it’s part of the transformation of common land into private property, the creation of the nuclear family w/ head of household, and the transformation of a hunter gather tribe into, essentially, a households which themselves are filled with commodities and (5) how race and blood is historically constituted, and how historical transformationstrans in the definition of race and blood altered the definition of adoption into tribes between the 15th and 19th centuries in North America.

                  I do not require or request that you be interested in any of these things. However, I am happy to chat if you are interested.

                  “What are you angry about about and fighting against?”

                  Please stop engaging with me in a personal way.

                  Why don’t you (1) engage in the intellectual debate/questioning because it’s fun or (2) ignore me because you find the question boring/irrelevant/ not to your interest? I love debates, was on the debate team, ect., but I have no interest in engaging you in a personal way.

                  We’re on a blog run by a law professor who is engaging us in topics about the legal, moral, social, economic and cultural questions which surround parenthood, ART, surrogacy, adoption and custody arrangements. I like to push myself and my thinking. If you’re not interested in my thoughts, then just ignore me. It’s quite easy for you to not engage with me if you’re bored by any comments of mine.

                  I find intellectual debate fun. If you find holes in my logic, I find that fun. I like to push my thinking. But if you are perceiving this or want to engage in some sort of emotional engagement or, call me angry or suggest this is “War Propaganda” (sersly, WTF are you talking about?), well…I find that to be a really weird response that I quite frankly do not understand.

                  You ask me why I don’t simply agree that XYZ…. Quite frankly, you wouldn’t be talking to Julie if you wanted everyone to agree with you. You already know that the hostess of the blog disagrees.

                  And, come on, wouldn’t you find it boring if everyone simply agreed with you? Julie could shut down the blog, cease writing academic papers, and we would all go home. But that’s not interesting…

                  And, quite frankly, these topics are not that easy. These topics deserve the respect of some hard thinking and inquiry.

                  • I’m afraid we are talking about two different things. I am referring to the psychological importance of genetics which while not universal, is quite standard. I said nothing about land or economics.

                    I use the expression commodification in a non-literal sense, and not specifically to gamete donation, but where people have invested much effort and emotion and planning into having a child. The child is not brought intot he world for who he/she is, but to fill a need of a parent. the child becomes like a good and service to fill a parental nee. This can apply to people having their own genetic child. As I said, it is hoped that the parental love after the child is born will counteract that.

                    Non-biological families are perfectly acceptable to be sure; they are as powerful as they are because they have a biological model to be modeled after. I have no objection to non-biological families such as adoption in cases of true need.

                  • Well then Ki’s response here is excellent. To be clear the first people to be guilty of commodifying a child are his or her biological parents. If they did not view their child as an object of manufacture for sale and service then there would be no giving them away as gifts or selling them to the highest bidder or trading them for compensation or commissioned production. They would simply fulfill their obligation to raise the kids they put on the earth and that would be that and if they failed it would be good old fashioned honest neglect or abuse not at the request or commissioning of anyone else. The people that pay for or request the the abandonment of a child are for sure treating the child as an object and they want the child to serve them by playing the roll of their child but generally their intention is to pay for the child and treat them well not thinking of the child as being forced to serve as their child but thinking of them as if they actually were their child. I honestly think people that pay others or request that others abandon their offspring really begin to believe that the child has no other identity than the one they assign to them. Their act of commodification is less of an affront to the child than having been abandoned by someone who is suppose to be taking care of them. I also think the people paying or requesting for the person not to raise their kid believe that the child lost nothing because that person never played the roll of parent in their life but it does not change the reality that of course they are their parent and that person’s relatives are the child’s relatives and their heritage is the child’s heritage and that it is an insult to the child not to be respected first and formost for who they are rather than who others wish they were. It reduces the child to only being worthy of being raised if they pretend to be someone they are not and that cannot be a pleasant experience in fact I’m frequently told that it is not. But I do only hear from those who want to find their relatives. I actually hear from those who want to find their relatives that are being raised by the most vocal and active intended parents on the web that head organizations for people raising donor offspring who think their children have no interest or are only mildly interested in fact I want to say I’ve received emails from a significant number of the publicaly content ones but the really happy ones are not talking to me that is fo sure. My sample is skewed.

                  • This is what I’m thinking about today:

                    Almost all exchanges in capitalist systems are commodities, and that includes exchanges that occurs within love relationships, marriages, and families.

                    I’ve come to a surprising thought this morning:

                    Natural born children conceived within marriages are not more or less commodities then any child that is created through ART. Economic decisions infuse modern relationships and marriages to the point that I do not actually see a meaningful difference in the definition of commodity.

                    Marital relationships are economic decisions in the sense that people decide to invest time into that relationship. That is an economic decision. Likewise the decision to invest time in raising children is an economic decision. Economics so infuses a capitalist system you cannot get outside of it.

                    There’s a common belief that families exist outside of the economic market. Yet, of course they do not exist outside of markets or the economy. Of course the meaning of commodities exists throughout the nuclear household. Simply because labor is not compensated does not mean it is outside of the market. Familial decisions are also economic decisions. The decision to have children is always an economic decision, because it is all about an investment of time. And time itself is commodified in capitalist societies.

                  • Your line of thinking about commodification is a point I’ve raised with Julie many times. I agree that people do in fact think they are owed something in return for the investment they make raising children. This type of human comodification is rampant in our society it treats children and parental title and familial kinship as objects to be owned, gifted, traded sold, coveted and whathaveyou. I agree completely and I think we need to do something about it because if we embrace a free society children would not owe it to anyone to serve as their children just because they raised them and took care of them. Familial title and parental responsibility are concrete things that describe a person’s position in relation to other individuals that cannot be contracted out of because they were not contracted into. Note that contracting away parental obligation and being absent from your child’s life won’t change the fact that they are your offspring or are your parent’s grandchild or cousin to your siblings children nor will it make your child someone else’s child grandchild or cousin they will just be made to live as if they are someone else’s child, grandchild or cousin. That treats them like objects or service providers with an expectation of a roll to be filled that cannot be filled completely so long as they are recognized as being the child of the parent who walked away from them. People are suppose to take care of their offspring because it’s their responsibility not their right. The rights should legally be with the child who is entitled to have the parent perform a duty. It’s all so complicated but I agree that society really treats chilren as property that biological families do as well and I think this is inconsistent with a culture that proports to embrace freedom and rejects the idea that children should be made to work for their parents care.

          • No Tess the issue here is not to penalize people by preventing them from enjoying the same rights as other people because of things that their parents did that they have no control over. If a person is abandoned by his parents and knows nothing about his family through no fault of his own he should not experience the loss of any rights or personal freedom including the right to reproduce. Nor should he loose the right to seek out or obtain vital records of his family members just because he happens to have been abandoned by one or both of his parents and needed to be raised by someone else. Nor should he loose the right to inherit from his family or be recorded as the child of his estranged parent if they are ever identified just because his parent happened to abandon him or just because someone else wanted to raise him. These things are outside his control and should therefore not be a reason to prevent him from exercising the same rights as other people.

            Tricky question. Every argument is intended to make the request for equal rights look like a play for the ridiculous. We cannot continue to allow people to be mocked this way.

        • “Freedom to reproduce does not mean that we must have special laws to make a market of anonymous sperm available to you. Just as freedom to marry does not mean it’s anyone’s job to supply you with an appropriate person to marry.”

          fyi – I’m not sure if the “you” in the sentence is a general “public you” or if you meant me personally. But to be clear, I am not in need of a supply of sperm or a husband. 🙂

          • Point is you may not always have the ability to exercise your personal rights. We should not strip you of your rights just because of your apparent inability to exercise those rights because something might come up and it would suck if those rights had been taken away from you. Like the right to walk down the street is kind of lost on an invalid but maybe someday they’ll get a leg transplant and if they do they should not be prevented from walking. Nobody owes them their legs. If someone makes them a set of prosthetics it should not take them out of the running so to speak if its possible to get their own legs working again – if their own legs do start working it would be unfair to force them to stay seated.

            Hey imagine having a right to your father’s support and then imagine him not showing up to identify himself and then imagine your mother having her husband adopt you and then you loose your rights to your father’s support. How lame when her husband could have just functioned as your step father leaving all your rights intact. Then imagine you get a call one day from your father who was at war when you were born and he says he loves you and your mother never told him about you and he wants to see you and take care of you and introduce you to your family and he thanks your step father for all his help raising you – graciously but now wants to do the right thing for you. You have lost your right to be legally recognized as his child. Your legs are working but you’re not allowed to walk. Why did you loose your rights just because you were not able to exercise them?

        • Little clarity here cause Kisarita totally gets it – freedom to reproduce should not mean anyone ever has the freedom to abandon or neglect or hide from their children without consequence. Freedom to reproduce should never come with the freedom to offload one’s parental obligations outside of a court of law. If it were to be allowed for anyone then it should be allowed for everyone.

          • in theory yes, but in practice i am not sure it is in the childs best interest to have a court unearth a totally anonymous person.

            • Well you don’t need the court to unearth an anonymous person – you just need the truth to be acknowledged and not to be tied to a non-biological parent as if they were your biological parent. Adoption is how unrelated people need to gain their parent-like control and there should be no adoptions allowed when a parent is unable to be identified because there is no consent to the adoption obtained. I’ve helped many veterans find their children who lost their children either through having their children stepped on (where their pregnant girlfriend married someone else and that man’s name is on their child’s birth record as father) or by step parent or full adoption. They were at war in an Asian jungle getting shot at.

              If nobody’s name is entered on the blank for father and he is someday found or if they find a sibling on FTDNA or one calls them out of the blue one day they can have full legal recognition of their kinship relationships. If someone lies and puts their name in that blank as father on either an original or ammended certificate the person looses everything and has to live a permanent lie a false identity.

      • You are responding to things I did not say as a way of putting words in my mouth. That is one of the debate tactics from that list of wartime propaganda techniques I was reading. You don’t get to do that and have me play along.

        I specifically said that we are not going to talk about stopping people from reproducing anymore. People should freely reproduce in any manner they see fit without government interference. We should ban together to protect procreative liberties and reproductive freedom and to keep government out of the lives of private families. Totally on board. On your side. We are like peas in a pod you and me.

        Lets talk about why it is OK for the law to require some people to be accountable on the record for their offspring while others don’t have to be accountable on the record for their offspring. There are always going to be instances where people break the law and don’t take care of their kids or who have no idea they even have kids, but at least the offspring who relied on them to comply and the state and local government (if they’ve aided financially) have some legal recourse or at the very least the dignity of having it be known that they are still entitled to something they have not received so that if their estranged parent is ever identified it’s clear that they have an unmet obligation to their offspring to deal with. It should never be that failure to comply with the law absolves you from having to comply with the law or failure to pay a debt relieves you of having to pay the debt. That is an insult an an affront to the entire idea of justice. What is the point of law if some people who break the law are then relieved of their duty to comply with those laws. If nothing else it is incredibly rude to people whose parents were not around to claim responsibility for them regardless of the reason.

        Should adopted people have the right to reproduce…Tess you need to quit. Your up here talking about genetic purity and all kinds of crazy sht that has nothing to do with the compromised position that people are placed in when they have false, misleading and incomplete information about who their parents are entered on their birth records because one or both of their parents did not show up and do their damn job the way that everyone else is expected to. People are more thoughtful and careful than ever before in history about who they sleep with; abortion is legal and birth control is plentiful and sex education is taught in public schools and condoms are available in candy dishes at nightclubs and street fairs and the UPA now treats children of unmarried parents equal to those of married parents an paternity suits are won with surgical precision thanks to DNA testing. The American family unit has never been stronger and fathers have never been more responsible or more involved in the lives of their children than they are today so what is a person to do when they want a child who does not have a father? How can you get a childs father to abandon them in this hyper responsible atmosphere? We have made abandonment easy and punishment free for some parents and that is a problem for their children because they are not being treated the same as children whose parents are not allowed to just walk away anonymously and unpunished.

        Bring reproduction up again, seriously Tess. How is talking about equalizing parental obligations a threat to anyone’s procreative liberties. It’s not. So that resolves all your concerns. I hope you see that as a victory and now we can talk about making changes so people whose parents donated gametes and people whose parents gave them up for adoption or whose parents are just absent for whatever reason can finally get treated the same as people whose parents did the right thing and took responsibility for them.

        • “You are responding to things I did not say as a way of putting words in my mouth. That is one of the debate tactics from that list of wartime propaganda techniques I was reading. You don’t get to do that and have me play along.”

          Are you speaking of me?

          My comment does not address you in a personal way. I find your personalized response disturbing.

          I am intrigued with the intellectual debate and an ethical question.

          I am “playing” with these ideas in my head. I post a comment to hear if others have thought of something that I have not yet considered.

          It is something I do to push my own arguments. I like to consider interesting responses to challenge my own logical and ethical assumptions. I use responses to roll logical and ethical questions around in my head.

          I like to challenge myself with ethical and intellectual questions. What I posted is my post recent challenge to myself to think about. You have absolutely no obligation to respond.

          I don’t think this blog is the right place for me if people continue to respond to me in a personal way. Spreading wartime propaganda? When I am attempting to follow a logic chain and moral argument?

          This is the second time I have had to claim my good faith in an intellectual debate. This is certainly not the first time you have made an argument into a personal one with me, or called my intellectual assertions unacceptable questions to ask.

          If this blog does not allow me to explore in a questioning way without commenters behaving in a personally accusing way towards me I will leave, and should leave, as I am not interested in engaging with those who make aggressive, personalized attacks.

          • Tess there are three of us chatting here and if you were posing questions only to yourself you’d be posting them to your hard drive or writing them in a spiral notebook. You responded to something I wrote by saying that an interest in genetic purity concerns you and I said nothing about an interest in genetic purity. Your response to my comment had nothing to do with anything I said in my comment it implied that I said stuff I did not. I like exercising my mind and you are as good at challenging the rights of donor offspring to recognition in their genetic families as Julie is better maybe you should have your own blog. Don’t go. Stay. But do expect to at least be accountable for what you write – I was challenging the content of your writing not the content of your character.
            You wrote a bit about adopting a person fully into ones culture and I was wondering if the traditions you speak of allowed the adopted person to retain recognition of their heritage and identity concurrent with their adopted heritage or if they were made to give their own heritage up in order to be raised by the people adopting them? Must the adopted person pretend to be the genetic child of the adopter in order to be loved and cared for or can they retain their identity as the child of other parents while still being worthy of being adopted into their caregiver’s culture?

            I know quite a few adopted people and donor offspring who were told early and often and were even aware of their other relatives. The people raising them left it up to them whether or not to pursue contact with their siblings and other relatives thinking that this was a very forward thinking open honest approach to raising an adopted person or donor offspring. Those good intentions were not perceived that way by the person being raised because they did not have equal say in forming or not forming relationships with the family of the people raising them. They were made to go to Christmas dinners with those people’s relatives and spend time entrenched in their families like it or not and formed life long bonds the way people do when they are fully embraced as a member of a family unit. Their own relatives were not given equal air time to the relatives of the people raising them. Their own relatives were treated as less important because they were merely genetic relatives and so the people who controlled their daily activities inadvertently prevented them from forming deep bonds with their siblings and other relatives during childhood. Their own family was treated as less important than the family of the people who wanted to raise them. Being fully indoctronated into the culture and heritage of the people raising them is viewed as great so long as it does not erase their own unique heritage or attempt to replace their own mother father siblings etc.

            I really see no reason why a person has to give up their family in order to be raised in another one.

            • “But do expect to at least be accountable for what you write – I was challenging the content of your writing not the content of your character.”

              hmm…I see what you’re asking now about the genetic purity question. It’s easier to respond to things that you have concerns with if you clearly highlight it and don’t throw in other statements, such as accusing me of war propaganda. 🙂

              RE: Genetic purity. Purity is not the correct word to use. It is imprecise and I can see it was an error.

              What I meant was a concern with the purity of the lineage — placing a primacy on genetic descent over other forms of family formation. I worry about the implications the concerns over introducing a person into the genetic/kinship line who is not “pure” — not a part of the line.

              There are claims of harm to the child, and, by implication, to the adult child’s children and grandchildren. I am asking myself what it means to assume harm. This is a question I have about the value of genetics and possible dangers in the assertion that there is value in keeping a genetic lineage line “pure.”

              In other words: there are consequences for putting a primacy on genetics in terms of how we perceive blood, genetics, the kin line, and outsiders versus insiders in the family line.

              RE: adoption into kinship lines

              “You wrote a bit about adopting a person fully into ones culture and I was wondering if the traditions you speak of allowed the adopted person to retain recognition of their heritage and identity concurrent with their adopted heritage or if they were made to give their own heritage up in order to be raised by the people adopting them? Must the adopted person pretend to be the genetic child of the adopter in order to be loved and cared for or can they retain their identity as the child of other parents while still being worthy of being adopted into their caregiver’s culture?”

              There was a big difference if a fur trader was adopted into a tribe versus if someone was adopted after capture in a battle. (Look up on google the Iroquois and the Mourning Wars/ Beaver Wars, for an example of this. This book might be of interest http://www.amazon.com/The-Unredeemed-Captive-Family-America/dp/0679759611)

              This is what I find particularly interesting about this concept of adoption: Genetics not only don’t count…people don’t even notice them. They are, quite literally, unimportant to everyone who has been raised in this system.

              People in this tradition don’t have a understanding of “race” that comports with a modern understanding of race, genetics, or blood. Someone can fully & completely be adopted into the tribe and not be considered an outsider at all. The tribe literally ceases to see any difference whatsoever between an adopted child and a naturally born child. (I don’t mean they fake it, but continue to “see” it on some level — I mean it’s really gone in their concept of kinship/culture. The French fur trader who goes through adoption literally becomes an Huron or an Iroquois and ceases to be a European. This is a pretty hard concept for 21st people to understand, because race and genetic line is so important to modernists. Race-based thought and concerns with genetics has been very important in the 20th century western world. It’s hard to comprehend a world in which race, genetics and blood line are not given weight.

              The first thing to understand about these traditions, which I’m locating in North America about 17th century, is that genetics is not important. People aren’t seeing race or genetics in a “modern” way. The blood ritual of adoption is used to literally substitute. Do you understand how completely this is outside of our understanding in the 21st century?

              The adopted person must have allegiance to the tribe, certainly, else he/she is not part of the tribe. genetics are not impt. In this system a nuclear family does not adopt. A kin line and tribe adopts. (There’s no private property in this system, only rights to resources/ common land/ ect.)

              • This is what I was reacting to. The thought that wanting everyone to have equal rights with regard to their biological parents is akin to a preference for genetic purity it sounds almost like racial cleansing. I mean everyone is genetically pure you can’t mix genes with anything but genes. Each person is going to be their own unique combination of the individuals they descended from and wanting the law to recognize people and identify the people who they descended from accurately and factually does not mean that they cannot accurately and factually be recorded as being a legally recognized member of other families like their spouses family or like their adoptive family or like their foster family or their step family etc etc. I would not assert that one is better than the other only that they are not substitutes for one another and that the existence of one does not in reality and should not on paper obscure the other.

                You are coming at this discussion believing that people in my position are arguing to keep unrelated people out of families so as not to sully the genetic purity of the unit and that those unrelated individuals are being persecuted by not fully indoctrinating them into the family as if born by blood. I’m going to try and wrap my arms around that one because it seems to matter to you while simultaneously getting you to think outside that situation at the possibility that people who are adopted might like to actually retain their own unique heritage and relatives and still be embraced as a full and complete member of the family adopting them. Think for a moment that it might feel more like total acceptance if they did not have to give up their allegiance to the parents and relatives who are not raising them and to the race, nationality and religion of those people in order to be loved valued and accepted by the family they are being taken into.
                As part of the falacy of the excluded middle you seem to overlook the possibility that the adopted individual would feel more welcomed by their adoptive family if their own family and unique heritage did not take a back seat to the adoptive family and heritage. It is possible to treat a person as fully integrated into the family without erasing or hiding their seperate and unique history. Think of it how it must feel if the only way anyone will love you or raise you (after having been abandoned by one or both parents) is if you forsake any alegiance to that abandoning parent and their heritage and fully assimilate yourself into the culture and heritage of the family willing to take care of you. You, on your own are not worthy of their care or consideration unless you reject your own heritage and your own family. What choice does a child have but to be respectful to the hand that feeds them? So the position that I assert is not genetic primacy at all. If I were to label it I’d call it common courtesy or general respect for the person as an individual that did not come into being at my creation. They would exist whether or not I existed they belong to a different family and I would feel terrible if they felt that I was only willing to love them and care for them if they fit the mold I wanted them to fit. I’d want them to feel like the hole in my family and in my heart was exactly their size and that they with their parents and their heritage and their relatives were exactly the right person for me to love and care for and that they got full equal membership in their adoptive family that did not think of them as less a member because of their heritage that there was no desire to make them over into something they were not in order to be a member of this family. Be U, I’ll be me and everything will be just fine.

                • What am I trying to say? Another way to say it, that may be less charged then “purity” is that you see a genetic integrity which should be respected, observed, and recognized. The integrity of the genetic lineage is not something you want disrupted — you want it recognized as a entity which does not absorb someone who does not match the genome. But you also don’t see a person as truly able to be a part of a different lineage that are not-genetic.

                  In a view that gives primacy to genetics, the adopted person will always remain, to some extent, an outsider in the lineage because the genome marks that person as an outsider to you in the lineage. If the genetic heritage is unknown, you don’t think the person understands their “true” identity because they are not truly a part of the new adopted lineage. In this view, the person can never be truly grafted into that family line as a member of that kin group. They are forever marked as outside. The adopted lineage cannot “really” be their identity because their genome doesn’t match up.

                  I don’t see genetics in this way. To give one specific example about nationality. I don’t see an embryo as attached to a nationality as defined by its genome. I don’t think: “hey, that embryo is French and is affiliated with the French nation-state. If that embryo is put into a Swedish woman, that embryo will not be Swedish, it will still be French.” This ideology gives primacy to genetics and the genome at the expense of other ways of defining family, lineages and kin groups.

                  • Primacy is the wrong word it implies that one is better than the other rather than one being inherent and the other adopted. They are both real. Both viable. But one is true whether or not the person is adopted and the other is true only if adopted and if adopted by that particular family. Why do you see one as having to trump the other and also why must one replace the other? What makes the Sweedish birthgiver’s family more important than the family of the person she gave birth to? I’m just wondering why it does not work the other way around then for you? Why not the Sweedish woman become indoctranated into the French culture if nothing is inherited then where did she get her Sweedishness from? Where did her relatives come from? Couldn’t she just as easily give up all her relatives in favor of the relatives of the child she gives birth to?

                    If an adopted child is indoctranated into the adoptive family’s culture why does their family and culture get to be something that is inherited but the family and culture of the adopted child not get to stay with them? What makes the family and culture of the adopted child weak and worthless and the family of the adopter strong and valuable? Why should the adopted person feel good about having to loose a family in order to gain acceptance into the family that adopted them? Do you think the fact they are not accepted for who they actually are will make it difficult to feel warm and fuzzy about the adopted family viewing them as being fully a member of the family? Do your feelings change if the person is not french or white but rather clearly some heritage that stands out like indian or asian or african or eskimo? Is it bad to erase their culture and heritage?
                    LEAVE A REPLY

                  • “Why do you see one as having to trump the other and also why must one replace the other?”

                    Legally you see one family as trumping the other. The Swedish family must adopt the “French” embryo. But I do not see the embryo as “French”, and I interpret the embryo differently because I don’t see the genetics in the same way.

                    By primacy I mean you use genetics as the primary way to determine how you think about the embryo’s legal, cultural and social attachments. What I’m trying to say, is that the essential difference between our point of view is this point of genetics. If you like, substitute the word privilege.

                    For example, in the case of the embryo conceived by two French people, yet gestated in a Swedish women’s uterus: you see the embryo as French. You think the embryo — even if gestated and born in Sweden, even if the child grows up speaking Swedish, even if the child doesn’t know any French, doesn’t eat French food, and has never been to France — you see the potential child as French and needing to be adopted and naturalized by the Swedish family in order to gain Swedish citizenship. Rather then seeing the child as primarily Swedish, as a first cause, as a primary point of reference, you see the child as French, and alienated from his French community and nationality.

                    “What makes the Sweedish birthgiver’s family more important than the family of the person she gave birth to? I’m just wondering why it does not work the other way around then for you?”

                    I don’t see an embryo as possessing a nationality. For me, the embryo isn’t French, or Swedish, or Mexican, or Argentinian. For me, the embryo is potential life, but not yet attached to a nationality.

                    “Do your feelings change if the person is not french or white but rather clearly some heritage that stands out like indian or asian or african or eskimo? Is it bad to erase their culture and heritage?”

                    Are we talking about embryos or children? Because potential life isn’t the same as a child. I don’t think culture and heritage can be erased from an embryo. But, in practical terms, once children are born they need to deal with racial prejudice from their peers and the wider society.

                    Celebrating what someone looks like & connecting it to a imagined heritage and culture can be very helpful with this. But for me, it’s a fictive culture and heritage if we’re talking about our “French” embryo who gestates in, say, a Swedish woman’s uterus and is born in Sweden. That child, for me, is Swedish in his or her culture and heritage. I would see the “French” heritage as fictive. But it would make sense for the parents to do whatever helped to make the child feel good about his or herself, particularly if the chid felt odd for not looking “Swedish” enough.

                    I suspect you’re having a hard time comprehending what my viewpoint is because your point of view is so naturalized that what I’m trying to say doesn’t even make sense.

                    If you could just understand what I mean about genetics you would understand what I think in terms of each of your questions in your last paragraph. For me, it is not logical to perceive an embryo as affiliated with a nation and a possessor of a culture, language, heritage, ect. I understand that this is not how you see the world. I’m not sure you quite understand that because I don’t accept your premise about genetics, I cannot accept what must seem absolutely logical and clear to you.

                    hmm… Here’s a thought exercise that might help break down the communication barrier. Imagine someone who doesn’t see race. I don’t mean someone who doesn’t think in racialized terms or thinks it’s cool that people have different skin tones, or whatnot. But imagine someone who really and truly doesn’t see what 21st century people see as the “white” race. That person observed that some “white” people were pale while some “white” people were really dark. That person observed that some “white” people had facial features that were really different from other “white” people’s facial features. That person noticed that the differences between two “white” people and their facial structure and color tone made very little sense. So he did not comprehend this idea of the “white” race because it made so little sense that he didn’t see racial categories at all.

                    ok. Now apply that constructed understanding of racial categories to genetics.

                  • “I don’t think culture and heritage can be erased from an embryo.”

                    oops – I’m writing too fast. That should read: “I do not think that an embryo has a culture and heritage to be erased.” (in other words – I do not think that an embryo is somehow linked to a culture and/or heritage. It’s an embryo — potential life. When the baby is born, that child is born into a specific language groups, a country with a variety of cultures, a family with specific traditions, ect. Until the child is an actual person, he or she cannot start to lean any languages, cultures, traditions or anything else.)

                    I also do not think embryos possess affiliations with any nation-states.

                  • My sperm donor actually has nearly identical heritage. Same religion (which is also considered an ethnic group by many), very similar nationality (I am Russian Jewish with a little bit of Polish Jewish. Donor is Russian Jewish and German Jewish).

                  • See I don’t know why you bother talking about embryos instead of talking about people. Who cares about the embryo? When a person is born they are in fact always the offspring of two specific individuals who reproduced to create them and they are in fact related to those individuals and their relatives and that person is a member of that family. They may also be an adopted member of some other family. Why do you see the need to erase their family and diminish the importance of that family in favor of the family that is raising them

                  • hmm. I think what I’ll do is answer each questions individually & see if that helps further explain where I’m coming from. Our critical difference is our different understanding of the role of genetics in family formation. That is the key. Once you understand that, you’ll get why we have different opinions.

                    “See I don’t know why you bother talking about embryos instead of talking about people. Who cares about the embryo?”

                    Because in embryo donation we’re talking about embryos (or sperm/eggs.) We’re talking about genetics, genese, the genome, not people. It’s not a person, it’s a potential life. When an embryo is donated, it’s not yet a person. That embryo may split into two people or it may arrest or it may miscarry. It is not a person. You can’t “adopt” an embryo because it’s not yet a person. Yet, once it’s put into somebody else with the intention of relinquishing rights, it’s no longer connected to those who were the progenitors of the genetic material. Somebody else is growing the embryo, and the original progenitors have walked away and have no role in growing the embryo. They’re out. They’re no longer participants in the gestating/ creation of the person.

                    So when I see family, I do not see the genetic progenitors as relevant to that discussion if they walk away with intent to leave. They are no longer in the role of “creator” and, in fact, they have left before anything of significance has been created. The role of “creators” switches to the woman who gestates the child and her partner if she/he is supporting the pregnancy with intent to parent.

                    Embryos are not similarly situated in life to infants. Eggs/ sperm are obviously not similarly situated in life to infants.

                    The genetic progenitors walk away before any life is created. There is simply potential life when the genetic progenitors walk away from a donor embryo. When a genetic contributor walks away from sperm/eggs, he/she does not even walk away from potential life (embryo). He/she walks away from a piece of genetic tissue which may or may not be involved in the creation of an embryo. But the genetic contributor has no role of intent in the way that a man does when he has sex with a woman. The genetic contributor does not engage in an action which contributes to the creation of the embryo. That action is left to the lab embryologist. So genetic contributors who give sperm/eggs are not engaging in intent in any way, shape or form. They are completely unlike men who have sex with women because (1) the action which is the equivalent of intent is missing (no sex). (2) they are in no way involved in the creation of the embryo and (3) they have, through very clear actions, relinquished intent to use their material to create their own child. They could be donating sperm/ sperm for stem cell research. But they are very clear they relinquish claims and they have no intent to become a parent with said tissue.

                    “When a person is born they are in fact always the offspring”

                    right here: we have different definitions of offspring. I don’t agree with your def. of offspring.

                    “of two specific individuals who reproduced to create them”
                    Again – we disagree about who does the creations in ART. The embryologist does the creation of the embryo. The contributors of sperm and egg are actually not involved in the creation at all. Their tissue is necessary, but they do not do the actions that put the tissue together to create the embryo. This is absolutely key.

                    Furthermore, the woman who grows the embryo is critical to transform potential life into life. She creates the embryo which may or may not twin. She creates the fetus. Her womb environment turns on some genetic cues and leaves others dormant. Of all the people involved, if we want to point to the most important creator – it is the person who gestates the fetus to viability.

                    “And and they are in fact related to those individuals and their relatives and that person is a member of that family.”

                    We disagree about the definition of (1) relatives and (2) family

                    “They may also be an adopted member of some other family.”
                    I don’t think eggs or sperm need to be adopted into a family. I don’t think an embryo needs to be adopted. I think the embryologist puts together the embryo (the first aspect of creation) and the woman gestates, and does the second, most critical aspect of creating the child. There is no child without her. She invests the blood that brings the potential life into actual life. She is the creator.

                    “Why do you see the need to erase their family and diminish the importance of that family in favor of the family that is raising them”

                    I don’t see another family involved in ART. I understand you do. But I don’t. It does not logically follow from how I see the world. The genetic contributors didn’t create the child. They didn’t even create the embryo. Their genetic tissue was used for the act of creation, but they did not act themselves to create anything. They simply donated, while others created. The egg and sperm tissue could have instead been used for scientific research, for example. They relinquished intent, and did no actions involved in creation.

                    In contrast, when a man has sex with a fertile woman, he is engaged in the act of creation. The fertile woman is engaged in the act of creation. Her body nourishes and creates an embryo with the help of the sperm. A sperm donor is not creating. A egg donor is involved in the act of creation. The lab techs and the gestating woman create the child in ART. That is the critical difference between sperm donors/egg donors and men and women who become birth parents.

                  • “A sperm donor is not creating. A egg donor is involved in the act of creation.”

                    oops, sorry, typing too fast again. that should be “An egg donor is NOT involved in the act of creation.”

                    I should edit my words down. Basically, this: sperm and egg donors do not engage in the act of creation. In ART the embryologist and the gestating woman create the child.

                    That is the critical difference between sperm and egg donors versus birth parents. Birth parents create a child through their actions. Donors do not. Donors merely contribute their genetic code, while others act to create the embryo and then the fetus, and then the infant.

                  • actually people are born with a nationality. I was born an American citizen. to lose my citizenship I would have to actively repudiate it and even then I could never lose the impact of having been raised in America.
                    Another person may become a naturalized citizen of the USA; he is no less a citizen than myself; that does not cancel out that he has another background.
                    So sorry i don’t think your nationality analogy serves your purpose well.

                  • RE: ki sarita

                    “actually people are born with a nationality. I was born an American citizen. to lose my citizenship I would have to actively repudiate it and even then I could never lose the impact of having been raised in America. Another person may become a naturalized citizen of the USA; he is no less a citizen than myself; that does not cancel out that he has another background.”

                    People! yes – Born!!! Yes, exactly….Born! You were born. 14th Amendment….birth/ born! Birth! Birth has to happen for you to be born! Once born you have American citizenship! Born born born born!

                    Embryos aren’t born!!! Embryos aren’t even viable in the womb. You’ve got to be a fetus to be viable. But even fetuses don’t possess nationalities because they gotta be born first! Birth has to happen first before nationality can happen. Embryos don’t have citizenship/ nationalities/ affiliations with nation-states.

                  • hope he’s not your cousin rebecca. you know how many jews migrated from poland to germany before the war? they thought that germany was going to be a good place for jews.

                  • From my point of view I find it difficult to see how a Swedish woman married to a Swedish husband (or Swedish wife), who are living in Sweden have both share the intent to parent their unborn child can possibly give birth in Sweden to a French citizen. But that is because I do not rely on genetics to determine parenthood.

                    Aha! I just thought of a good way to outline our different positions. This might help clarify our differences.

                    Your definition of parent, family and kinship is is primarily determined by…..(_____________). (Fill in the blank. What do you think is the critical component in determining who is a parent?)

                    M/ Marilyn: genetics

                    Julie: actions (and intent? I haven’t been reading the blog long enough)

                    Tess: actions and intent. I give a little more emphasis to intent and Julie gives a little more emphasis to actions.

                    Tao: genetics

                    Ki Sarita: I think genetics, but I haven’t been reading the blog long enough.

                    Tao, Ki Sarita and Marilyn/M all think that a child may be adopted, but that the original parents are always determined by genetics. Genetics and the genome are absolutely central to your definition of parenthood.

                  • in that case you won’t get any argument from me about embryos. i could not care less what happens to a disembodied embryo. i was talking about real live born people all along. I think it is very sad to be a person who was made from an engineered embryo gestated by one stranger, with the genetic code of two different strangers, raised by an entirely different person. gotta infuse the person with a sense of disconnect even if other aspects of their lives are great.

                  • Yes but Tess the fact that they walked away or sat away or even stayed and raised none of that changes the fact that they become biological parents when their ofspring are born and they are the ones who reproduced and created their offspring nobody reproduced for them; they may have been influenced or pushed or even helped to reproduce and along the way but the roll of creater never shifted from on person to the other. Nobody can pee for you nobody can sneeze for you and nobody can create your offspring for you. The only thing the gamete donor does not do is raise their child and in the case of an egg donor she lets another woman gestate her pregnancy for her but that does not mean she did not conceive her own offspring. The offspring she raises are not somehow more hers than the ones that she let someone else raise. Its all just action after birth it has nothing to do with embryos or reproduction.

                  • How did these people get sweedish if you don’t believe in inheriting genes? People will be a citizen of the country they are born in regardless of where their mother is a citizen of so like My Mom was born in the US to a Norwegian she’s an American citizen of Norwegian descent and in fact qualifies for dual citizenship. So stop talking about nationality. The kid born in Sweden would be a Swedish citizen even if their French mother had decided to gestate them and deliver them herself on Swedish soil they’d still be of French descent.
                    What happens to their own origin you just erase that hijack their own heritage by virtue of gestation it does not work that way you cant get hold of another person’s offspring early enough to erase any evidence that the child belongs to someone else. It’s like you’re thinking people can get in there before the kid is born and take over enough of the development of the fetus they can almost turn the kid into their own kid

                  • “but the roll of creater never shifted from on person to the other. Nobody can pee for you nobody can sneeze for you and nobody can create your offspring for you.”

                    We part ways here — we see the actions of creation differently in these cases.

                    In fact, I would say in reproduction there is no life if somebody doesn’t do the work of actually (1) first creating a potential life and then (2) growing potential life into an actual human life. I would say that somebody must create or there will be no person, just a sperm and an egg, and they ain’t gonna get busy unless somebody takes the actions which create potential life. The egg would just sit around frozen being an egg; the sperm would sit around frozen being a sperm. The lab tech needs to create an embryo. But that’s not all that needs to happen. Somebody then needs to take the potential life and grow it into actual life in her uterus. Without her actions the child would not exist, which makes her a critical element in the creation of life.

                  • If the donor were related to me, which I think is unlikely, it would be such a distant cousin that we would share almost no DNA whatsoever. He doesn’t match anyone known to be in my family (date of birth/physical characteristics), and all of my great-grandparents moved to America before World War I.

                  • “So stop talking about nationality.”

                    I’m not going to engage with you if you address me like that.

                  • “It’s like you’re thinking people can get in there before the kid is born and take over enough of the development of the fetus they can almost turn the kid into their own kid”

                    This reads as if you think fetuses are being transplanted from mother to mother. It’s not simply “take over enough of the development.” It is that there is absolutely no development prior to ART.

                    (1)There is no embryo without the lab tech, who puts the sperm inside the egg.
                    (2) There is no implantation & pregnancy without the transfer
                    (3) There is no first trimester without the pregnancy
                    (4) The embryo may twin in the early first trimester
                    (5) It is the combination of uterine environment & embryo which results in either a successful pregnancy or a miscarriage.

                    There is no life until a successful birth. It’s not a matter of “taking over the development.” There is no development prior to other people (the pregnant woman, the lab tech) doing the work of creation.

                    You see the definition of “kid” and “parent” as essentially attached to genetics. But surely you know from reading this blog that Prof. Shapiro doesn’t agree with you? This position, which does not see genetics as determinative of parenthood, cannot be a surprise, as you’ve been around on this blog for quite a while. This is simply a different view that does not take genetics into account in the way that you do.

                  • And Tess you can add me to the list as in the middle I guess – I think biological parents should get the first chance to raise the child, and if they’ve always wanted the child from the start the child should live with them regardless of the sneaky actions of others (see contested adoptions where the child is rushed off to another state before the father who always stated he wanted the child can file paperwork in time), but I believe biological parents can validly give up their parental rights and that it is not wrong to do so for adoption or sperm/egg donation.

                • That is to say, if he is related to me, it would be such a distant relation that it would be impossible to know even if we had just met randomly and decided to have a kid. Would have to be from a very distant relative that immigrated at a different time.

                  • yeah i suppose that was a dumb comment. my bad.

                  • i’m somewhat in between marilyn and rebecca, being that i do believe it is unethical to donate egg/ sperm, however once it is done I don’t think the state should go unearthing their identities when the kid is the minor, I do not see that as in the best interest of the child. But Of course then, people will keep on doing it. So I am stuck a bit as to what should be done.

                  • I’m not a geneticist, but I’ve been told once the removal is at 2nd cousins it’s statistically insignificant. If people want to worry about potential issues with the fetus, choose something that is more statistically likely to occur like downs.

                  • i also think that the sperm purchaser like rebecca is on somewhat more ethical ground than the seller; after all they are going to take care of the kid while the sperm seller wont. they may also be willing to obtain the identity later on if they see the kid needs it. also they didnt dictate the terms of the sale, the sperm bank did and they are playing by its rules. but of course, if there were no buyers there would be no sellers, so how much of a difference is there?

  12. “How is talking about equalizing parental obligations a threat to anyone’s procreative liberties. It’s not. So that resolves all your concerns.”

    That is not what I am presently considering. Again, you do not need to answer or you may be uninterested in the moral question I have posed to myself.

    This is what I am asking myself. I am posing this question to myself to see how much I agree with it, and I am rolling around logical flaws in my head.

    (1) Assumption: The child’s right to identity is a human right. People have noted that the UN argues for this right. This right is defined as the right to know one’s biological heritage and familial lineage. This knowledge is not simply the knowledge of one’s nuclear family, but includes knowledge of the extended family line. (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.)

    (2) Assumption: The forced separation of a anonymous gamete donation or closed adoption steals this knowledge from the child.

    (3) Question: Does this harm continue into the second generation? Will an anonymous person harm his/her children if he/she reproduces?

    (4) Question to myself: Is there a moral obligation for an anonymous adult to refrain from reproduction because the harm continues?

    (5) If not, why not? And if I disagree, is this for sentimental reasons? Is it because I do not see there to be much of a harm? Or is it because I do not agree with an essentialist definition of genetics? Do I accept a different version of lineage? What are the reasons that I disagree?

    Does my reluctance to agree to this chain of statements undermine my first two assumptions? And if so, why do I suspect that it does?

    These are all questions I am presently considering.

    • See Tess you are still talking about trying to assert control over someone’s freedom to reproduce. Why do you keep doing that? It’s not your place and it’s not the government’s place to dictate who does or does not reproduce.

      Simply recognize all people as having a right to know the identity of their genetic relatives from birth forward and make it a crime to conceal or withhold information or destroy records that would help to identify a person’s genetic relatives. Correct records of parentage determined to be genetically inaccurate. Eliminate marital presumption of
      paternity and gestational presumption of maternity with a voluntary admission of genetic maternity or paternity or proof by genetic testing before birth records are certified. Recognize genetic kinship even when birth records contain false or misleading information so that people are not forced to live out a lie just because it got written down. Records don’t create the truth they are suppose to record it.

      • “It’s not your place and it’s not the government’s place to dictate who does or does not reproduce.”

        I’m speaking of personal ethics, not legal restrictions. Does that individual have an ethical obligation to consider X?

        • Ethics are better than morals at least they are based on fairness. So for things outside the realm of law like lying and cheating in personal relationships or taking unfair advantage of people in personal relationships if someone seeks to conduct themselves ethically its fair to say that if they question the ethics of their actions their actions are probably unethical. If your are risking something that does not belong to you you have likely crossed an ethical line and should expect the person whose chips you gambled with to be pissed off about it

          • The question I mused about concerned the 2nd gen issue:

            Should the 2nd gen concern itself with harm to the anonymous grandchildren.

            Sounds like everyone thinks that the answer is, no, there is no harm significant enough to be concerned about by the 2nd generation.

            • There is actually an enormous public health threat growing every day due to parental anonymity impacting the ability of family members to avoid incestuous relationships for generations. There will be likely twice as many 1st cousins as there were siblings in the second generation unable to avoid unintentional incestuous relationships. 1 unkonwn relative is bad enough and can typically be traced to one irresponsible parent. But donor reproduction maximizes the level of irresponsibility one parent can ascend to and the damage he or she does to his or her family’s health will take generations to recover from. On a national level from a public health standpoint if we required everyone to be responsible for their ownoffspring right now and eliminated exemptions from responsibility that currently exist for donors it would still take generations for the health of the population to recover. Everything we’ve learned about the effects of inbreeding or heridetary disease or communicable disease is undermined by people not knowing who they are and are not related to. Gamete donors start out by not knowing the identity of the people that they are creating children with and so of course there are unintentionally inbred donor offspring and that is never discussed and its so obvious a problem I think people are affraid to discuss it. Everyone talks about the children hooking up with siblings because they won’t know their identities and we are not looking at donors hooking up with siblings aunts uncles cousins 2nd cousins and even their own parents all a possibility when people are not seeing the individuals they create children with. I’m helping one person whose dad was a donor right now and it looks like the dad and mom were in the range of 2nd cousins I’m hoping not I’m hoping that is not the case as the family trees begin to converge.

      • “Why do you keep doing that?”

        This is how I work out my own positions and work thorough my ethical beliefs. I ask myself hard ethnical questions to see what I believe. I test my logic chains. I look for inconsistencies. I look for implications, moral and practical. I do not accept easy answers without interrogating myself.

        • Fair enough but its hard to tell that your talking to yourself when you keep posting comments without disclaimers. Should we leave you alone for a while or you tossing ideas around ready for the occasional volley?

          I’m real interested in seeing if its possible for you to arrive at the same conclusion if you challenge yourself not to talk about reproduction or conception. If opponents to ART stopped opposing ART and started being proponents of the rights they feel donor offspring are denied they’d get much farther with what they want. I detest a week argument almost more than I detest inequity in the law. I really fear there is a deep flaw in the common arguments for people that advocate against donor reproduction because the argument seeks to prevent others from exercising their rights and because of that fatal flaw they’ve been caught up in an endless circular debate about whose rights trump whose leaving the equal rights of donor offspring still far out of reach. Now I’m just tossing about ideas and thoughts. I think defense of this position would benefit from thinking critically about how the same result can be achieved without trying to ban anything or inhibit people from exercising their legal rights to reproduce. It’s taken me quite a while of challenging my own beliefs and weeding out my own contradictory thoughts to settle on the fact that if someone losses something because another person was granted equal rights or was made to be equally obligated then the thing they lost was never theirs to begin with.

          • “Fair enough but its hard to tell that your talking to yourself when you keep posting comments without disclaimers.”

            I’m responding to a thought chain of someone else, but apologies if I’ve linked to the wrong reply. This thread has grown long at this point.

            At this point I don’t even know who is doing it, but someone keeps asking me if I’m angry or throwing out war propaganda. That is what I’m responding to. Somebody doesn’t understand that debating is fun, and not personal for me. And if it isn’t fun for you, just tell me and I’m happy to ignore your comments and/or walk away.

            • That’s me it is fun for me as is evidenced by my mounting dishes and looming laundry pile I do love a good debate. I’m just identifying debate techniques that I’ve read about that were first published as a guide to wartime propaganda that are widely taught at universities to lawyers and journalists such as responding to something that was not said for instance or giving only two options to a situation that has more there are a bunch of them and they are tricky to respond to. I still see it as fun I just want to note when for instance there is a third option or when the response is to something I did not say. I love talking to someone on the opposite side of the fence. I care a lot about what I see as a true abuse of human rights and I think having to defend this position against all kinds of opposing suggestions is a good way to be confident about what I believe in. What I believe in has changed a bunch since I’ve visited this blog.

          • “I’m real interested in seeing if its possible for you to arrive at the same conclusion if you challenge yourself not to talk about reproduction or conception.”

            But this is a logical inconsistency. We are talking about reproduction and conception. Eggs, embryos, and infants are not similarly situated before the law. A embryo is not a person. In ART, the rate of twinning is quite high, and it’s not uncommon for the embryo to become 2 people. We all understand this.

            What you really want to ask me is if I see genetics in the same way you do. You want to know if I would apply legal rules to children with the genome being the determining factor, which outweighs all else, including the best interest of the child.

            But you know the answer to that question already. You already know I am much closer to Julie in my beliefs about genetics.

            Thus, you already know you and I will come to different conclusions about the role of the law in this matter. And, more importantly, you know why we will come to different conclusions — it all hinges on our different understandings that the role genetics should play in family formation.

            • Um no. I just want to know what you have against equal rights for born people.

            • what does this mean?
              “You want to know if I would apply legal rules to children with the genome being the determining factor”

              Then let me correct your assumption forget the gnome and don’t let it be a determining factor. I want to know if you have a problem with all people having the same rights at birth with regard to the things they share in common with other people. In areas where all people are inherently equal should not their rights and responsibilities be equal and if not what is the justification? If you don’t feel that some people should have those rights then do you think it would be good to take those rights away from everyone so that at the very least they would all be equally situated? I don’t want to talk about gnomes or embryos or sperm I want to talk about people.

              • “I want to know if you have a problem with all people having the same rights at birth with regard to the things they share in common with other people.”

                I’m sorry for the lack of clarity, but I don’t know how to better explain this to you.

                This is the key to our ideological differences on this matter: You are depending on genetics to determine family. The genome is what you give primacy in order to determine familial structures. Your understanding of equal rights is based upon your views of the genome and, in your option, its critical role in family formation.

                But I don’t share this view of the world. I don’t give genetics the same role.

                It’s the same difference you have with Prof. Shapiro.

  13. Is there a moral obligation for an anonymous adult to refrain from reproducing? HECK NO! We are all anonymous when we reproduce – it’s not until our offspring are born that we have to have our names written down and take responsibility for our actions! Reproduce anonymously all you want. No anonymous parenthood.
    Will people still wind up having kids with people they can’t identify? Sure but they should not be given a right to withhold information about the genetic parent of their child – nobody can force words out of their mouth and not everyone will disclose the identity of the other parent, but the child should always have the right to the information and if it is withheld then it should always be viewed as a violation of the child’s rights and nobody else’s name should ever be listed as parent on that child’s birth record and no step parent adoptions should be allowed either because the other parent is not showing up to be named and give consent. While I’m at it adoption needs a serious overhaul too. In any event let’s not prohibit anonymous people from reproducing lets just hold them to the same standard of public identification and accountability as everyone else once their offspring are born. eh?

    • The ethical question I posed to myself (and anyone else who may find it interesting) was a question about anonymous grandparents. It’s a second generation obligation, and questions about how much people value that lineage/ what harms you saw (or did not see) in continuing an interrupted lineage at the second generation.

      It sounds like people don’t actually care about second generation interrupted lineage, which is interesting to me.

  14. Top of the Chain of Authority – they are the source of the person with whom they have the relationship with. Without them there would be no person to have a relationship with. They are not interchangeable or replaceable. If they did not exist it would not be possible for their child to exist.

    Not genetics but personal responsibility for ones actions. A person cannot insert themselves into another persons reproductive process so early as to call it their own.reproduction, conception, child. It just will never be true. Evidence won’t bear it out.

    A woman who gestates an egg donors pregnancy may have this illusion that she created the baby with her husband but she did not. She is not the baby’s parent because she needed permission from the parents to play the roll of parent. She needed permission from the parents of the child she’s raising to be pregnant with that child and to raise that child. Parent’s don’t need anyone’s permission to be parents. The woman whose egg was fertilized wanted to have offspring with that man and she agreed to allow his wife to gestate her embryos but she did not have to. She could just as easily have gestated her own pregnancy. His wife’s gestation was a non-essential novelty for entertainment purposes. It was only necessary to make her feel like she had bonded with her husband’s child – but she in particular was not essential to the creation of the child. As I said the mother could have delivered her own child or could have allowed some other woman to gestate her pregnancy. She also could have raised her child herself she did not have to agree to walk away and abandon her parental responsibilities, she signed a contract agreeing to do that – the other woman’s motherhood is at the discression of and with the permission of the child’s two biological parents. If there are any embryos left over after the divorce he can stop his ex wife from gestating them because they are not her embryos she was allowed to gestate them. If she was really the mother she would not need anyone’s permission.

    Every person should be identified as the offspring of the individuals at the top of the chain of command because they are the ones who are first in that position of authority that can be abused to commodify their child.

    • The early moderns viewed the role of sperm as the essential aspect to the creation of a child — they saw women’s role as essentially passive.

      Whom and how people view sex, reproduction, birth, labor, ect. also reflects and constructs how people see parenting. Our interpretations of the biological processes also constructs how we view gender, parenting roles, ect.

      • view it and twist it however you want I’m talking about the cold hard fact that the child will inherit nothing from the woman who gestates if his or her mother was an egg donor. What about that child’s physical relationship to all their own relatives? Why are their own relatives somehow less important than the relatives of the woman that gives birth these are individuals that they might not want to date or might want to get to know why would you think its OK to put that barrier up you cannot say that those people are medically irrelevant to the child or vice versa.

        Its whacked that women are starting to actually break from the scientific definition of reproduction offspring and biological its LYING. That is what it is LYING. Redefining terms so that a reality we don’t like sounds more like a fantasy we like to other people is called LYING.

        When ever anyone says “well, it depends upon how you define X” or “I don’t veiw X as X I view X as Y” they are LYING and they are to chkn sht to take responsibility for it. They want other people to participate in the fantasy with them they get all offended if people say they are lying.

        No words don’t have different meanings to different people – that is the whole point of language to take away the personally ascribed meanings and settle on a common definition so we can all understand one another.

        So lady if a person needs an egg donor in order to get pregnant – she ain’t reproducing for sht – it’s not her conception, it’s not her baby and to say that it is – is a lie. It would be considered a lie in court for a doctor to refer to a woman who delivered an egg donor pregnancy as a biolgoival mother

        • And I’m not talking about redefining terms describing things that are socially constructed like marriage, I’m talking about redefining terms of the physically concrete tangible world like human reproduction. If a woman was able to reproduce she would not need another woman’s egg. The other woman’s egg makes the other woman’s child. The child will look like her for crying out loud. The child will inherit her allergies and her fat thighs and bad teeth even if the woman who delivers the child is a willowy skinny thighed straight tooth beauty queen.
          This is exactly the kind of mixed message that disclosure and honesty without parental responsibility gets a kid – their relatives take a back seat to the relatives of whoever paid to play the roll of their parents. Who these people really are gets obscured and diminished in service to the people who paid for them to behave as if they are their children. These people think they are doing the kid some big favor by acting as if they are theirs by blood that they are fully indoctrinating them into the family and the culture but in the process they make the kid feel like their own heritage and family are not important because they are only genetic relatives and those kind of relatives don’t matter. When I say this the only defense is to go further into denial and suggest that those people are not even relatives that there is no connection unless you act like there is a connection.

          Really if you want to talk about what is ethical and what is not ethical if these people think that a person’s genetic relatives are not really relatives and should be shunned and dismissed they should limit themselves to shunning and dismissing their own genetic relatives and not venture into making those decisions for other people even if they are raising them because it is not their place to decide for other people that the people they descended from don’t count don’t matter and don’t need to be in contact with them.

          • “And I’m not talking about redefining terms describing things that are socially constructed like marriage, I’m talking about redefining terms of the physically concrete tangible world like human reproduction. I”

            I think biological sex is also socially constructed.
            http://nortonbooks.typepad.com/everydaysociology/2009/08/the-social-construction-of-sex-intersex-as-evidence.html

            • What a fascinating article! Thanks for linking to it. I embrace the truth as grounded in physical fact and think it is important for those inter-sexed individuals not be forced to live a lie in order to accommodate societal expectations. It’s rare enough that society is not really set up to provide equal protection for a third sex that has the chromosomes of either a man or a woman but the genetals of the opposite. Not being familiar with these conditions I don’t know in what all ways they lack equal protection but I can venture a guess and surely they have a right to be recognized as who they actually are and not who others wish they were. And that is precisely my point actually about people who are not the child of the parents named on their birth record. They are forced to live life under a false identity assigned to them to meet other people’s expectations. Who they actually are in physical fact is not recorded. They aree
              not allowed to be the child of their parents as provable by physical fact they are assigned a false identity as the people in your linked artical. The physical reality of who they in fact are is rejected and hidden and not documented and they are assigned an identity that serves other people in some way. Thanks for the link. I think we understand one another just fine. People who get themselves named as parents on the birth records of people who are not their offspring are denying those individuals the ability to live life as who they actually are in order to have them serve in a roll that is not their own physically its not true factually its constructed as a way to make other people happy at the expense of truly acknowledging that who they are in fact is just fine. I am glad we understand one another I was begining to wonder.

        • My larger comment is caught up in moderation, but here’s an excerpt:

          A bionormative view of reproduction tends to inform one’s view of parenting roles.

          But someone who follows, say the theorist Judith Buter’s views about gender and sexual identity & performances is likely to have a very different view of parenting, genetics, motherhood, ect.

          Bionormative views of reproduction tend to correlate with strong views about what families are and what they are not.

          • Biology is attached to a person right? Specific people being specifically accountable for the results of their actions. I think that all people with offspring should be equally accountable to them and for them on the record if records are going to be kept at all. I don’t think the current law holds all people equally accountable to and for the children they create and as a result some people’s children are placed in a compromised legal position where they have to assume a false physical identity complete with inaccurate medical records and kinship assignments. All people are equal at birth in the physical facts of the matter they are the offspring of two individuals who reproduced. Equal rights would spring from being equal to others on some level and that is the way we are all equal its the common denominator. If we are grounded in physical fact we can then have our varying opinions about what those facts mean but we need a clear starting place where everyone is recognized the same. We should not have rights turn on the behavior and choices of our parents for that is outside our control.

        • “No words don’t have different meanings to different people – that is the whole point of language to take away the personally ascribed meanings and settle on a common definition so we can all understand one another.”

          This is very simple. You’re a biological essentialist. I am not.

          Not everybody is going to agree with you. That’s just how life goes.

          • M,
            A different point of view for you:
            Joanne Meyerowitz, How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States
            “In this story of transsexuality, Meyerowitz shows how new definitions of sex circulated in popular culture, science, medicine, and the law, and she elucidates the tidal shifts in our social, moral, and medical beliefs over the twentieth century, away from sex as an evident biological certainty and toward an understanding of sex as something malleable and complex. How Sex Changed is an intimate history that illuminates the very changes that shape our understanding of sex, gender, and sexuality today.”

            http://www.amazon.ca/dp/0674013794

          • You were on the debate team Tess. How do you think that response of yours would go over? Pigeon-hole your opponent as being a bigot and agree to disagree. In context biological essentialist reads like bigot. I’m going to have to do some looking up on that but that’s my take on it. May find out that I’m wrong but I feel like your saying you are ‘calling a spade a spade’.

          • I have now read articles on biological essentialist and constructivism and I can firmly say that I am neither. I believe in recording the physical facts of the matter whether male or female and the identity of the people who reproduced to create a person just as I believe it is appropriate to record physical weight and length or the location and time of birth. Those physical facts fix that person in relation to everyone else in the world they differentiate one person from another born down the hall the same day at a different time with a different doctor originating from different source individuals. Those physical facts differentiate one person from his or her siblings even if they were all given the exact same name, their birth dates and physical facts at birth help others to identify them uniquely from their parents other children. If a person is physiologically somewhere in the middle between male and female I think we owe it to them to record the truth of who they are and figure out how to accommodate that physical fact in a respectful way but hiding the fact and forcing a gender roll to serve societal sensibilities I think is inappropriate. I think behaviors generally thought of as chiefly male or chiefly female are up for grabs boys can cook and girls can race cars and I would not force a girl to behave the way I think girls should behave if those were not her natural inclinations but we are talking about a physical girl not wanting to behave in the way physical girls generally do and that is fine I would not force her to behave a certain way but I would say her physical reality should be recorded accurately and then its up to her as a free person to behave in whatever way she is most comfortable with and if for her that means rejecting typically female behavior then so be it there are millions and millions of women in the world who are not stereo typical females it is not odd at all. I am not a constructionist because I don’t think its anyone’s place to construct a false reality for anyone. I would not take a phyical boy and record him as being a physical girl and then force him to live life behaving in stereo typical girl ways that’s f’d up. I’d identify him physically as what he is and respect him as a person who can decide for himself whether or not he is comfortable behaving in stereotypical male ways.

            I think everyone should have the right to an identity that is grounded in physical fact rather than one that is socially constructed because nobody should have the authority to misrepresent the physical facts of another person’s existence in order to serve themselves or societal norms. I reject the idea that there must be certain behaviors males and females exhibit though. I think if there is any social consruction of a person’s behaviors it ought to be them making the decisions and nobody else forcing it on them. You are male or are female or are somewhere in between and then you adopt the behaviors that make you most comfortable. I want personal truth and freedom for everyone. So don’t call me an essentialist anymore because an essentialist ultimately socially constructs reality for people who would rather break from behaviorial norms associated with their physical gender. That’s not me.

        • “So lady if a person needs an egg donor in order to get pregnant – she ain’t reproducing for sht”

          So if I tell you that I have a penis, am I still a lady in your eyes?

          Think about this: Why do you (1) assume I am a “lady” and (2) Consider what that word means to you. Think about the various definitions of that word. Consider why you make such assumptions about people, and assume that your definition must be true.

          You are very sure there is only one definition for things such as “men,” “women,” “father,” “mother,” “boy,” “girl,” ect.

          Also, consider why you would use that word in the context of this comment thread. Why throw out a gender specific word? What does it mean to you? Is it an insult? Is it an affirmation? Why? Why not?

          • “I’ve offended you. I appologize for that. I sincerely did not mean to insult you by addressing you as a lady as it truly was my impression that you and I are members of that broader umbrella group. In retrospect I admit that gender is not germain to the conversation it does not add or detract I could have just as easily and maybe more efficiently said “”Look, blah blah, blah”” instead of “”Look lady etc etc”” But I sincerely meant the word to mean what it does in the dictionary which is not derrogatory or demeaning at all. So that is my appology I really am sorry that you experienced what I wrote as if you were being personally attacked or insulted. I was even extra careful not to personalize my comment by saying that you Tess are doing or not doing anything. I specifically worded it to leave you and me out of it and be clear that we are talking about other people and their actions, not our own. That was a conscious attempt not to attack you personally. So when I say “”if a person”” and “”they are lying”” I’m talking abou people that are not you and are not me because I don’t want to make assumptions about you beyond what you have described or reprsented as being your situation or interest.

            No with my sincerest apologies given because you are really good mental exercise, please don’t go….I need to say in my defense that you are representing yourself as being a married, female who does not believe that civil or human rights should be withheld due to their sexual orientation. I say that not because I think that all people with husbands are female but because all people named Tess are female or at least want people to think that they are female. A person who was trying to avoid people thinking they were female might choose a more gender neutral name for posting comments like Pat or Jessy. So again in my defense I assume your female because that’s what you want me to assume, not because I’m a biological essentialist.”

            In fact I’m getting kind of tired of being insulted by you because while that term is not in the dictionary I think you mean it as a put down like saying I’m pedestrian and uneducated and not forward thinking. And also because the meaning I think you ascribe to it like that I think non-biological parents are not as good as biological ones is not true. Both you and Julie consistently ignore when I say and explain that is not what I think at all.

        • “When ever anyone says “well, it depends upon how you define X” or “I don’t veiw X as X I view X as Y” they are LYING and they are to chkn sht t”

          “So lady if a person needs…”

          Marilynn: If I met you in person, I would leave your presence immediately if you called me “lady” in a disrespectful way, accused me of lying, and swore at me, and accused me of being full of “chicken shit.”

          People say things on the internet they would never say in person to someone. Perhaps civility is too much to expect more from an environment rife with anonymity. Oftentimes personal disrespect on the internet is done without thinking and it has become quite commonplace in comment sections. But while others may not care, or may even enjoy those sort of personal insult-exchanges, those sort of negative personal engagements cause me to feel uncomfortable, and it’s not how I want to spend my time.

          So I’ll say my good byes. This is a very interesting blog that poses many interesting questions. I very much appreciate Prof. Shapiro’s hosting a blog that discusses these topics. I’m sure I will continue to read along with interest.

          Thank you all for engaging and I wish you the best.

          • How does one call a person lady in a disrespectful way? It does not have a disrespectful definition. I said sorry above and I do mean it please don’t go Tess you make it so much more interesting. Try not to get so offended. Its like saying look buddy, look Jim (if Jim were your name) I over Tessed myself out and wanted an item of personal address for emphasis. Hardly an insult but I’ll not use it if we are blessed enough to keep you around here scouts honor. That would be the new forward thinking all inclusive scouts. The kidscouts.

          • Where did I accuse you of lying I specifically chose words that left you personally out of my trajectory “if a person” “they are lying”.

            You however I gotta say keep calling me or ascribing these titles to me and I don’t like them. Don’t call me a biological whatsus. I’m not. I am a human rights activist an equal rights advocate and am chiefly concerned with the same information getting written down for everyone based on what they have in common the facts of the physical world are true for all of us and we are all free to have different feelings about those facts but the law should treat people equally based on the facts and not the feelings because the facts are true for everyone and therefore are fair and even for everyone. If the best interest of a person are at odds with a default assumption that a person be accountable for their actions it can be written down that they are the person responsible and then there are things you can and should do in court to intervene like if a person is violent and can’t safely take care of their own children – yes intervene but don’t say it was never their responsibility to care for their child in the first place.

  15. Yes, yes. A bionormative view of reproduction tends to inform one’s view of parenting roles, gender flexibility. If one sees genetics as X, then parenting becomes Y, ect., ect.

    But someone who follows, say the theorist Judith Buter’s views about gender and sexual identity & performances is likely to have a very different view of parenting, genetics, motherhood, ect.

    Bionormative views of reproduction tend to correlate with strong views about what families are and what they are not. Roles are closely aligned with bionormative norms.

    It’s not a coincidence that both Alana Newman http://anonymousus.org/about/ and Elizabeth Marquardt oppose gay marriage and are Maggie Gallagher fans.

    For example: See Marquardt’s praise of Maggie Gallagher’s book.
    http://familyscholars.org/2012/06/05/can-we-talk-instead-of-shout-about-gay-marriage/

    I assume y’all know who Gallagher is but if not — she’s a pundit and right winger who has fought against gay marriage and civil partnerships for decades.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggie_Gallagher: “She is a former president and former chairman of the board of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage and other legal recognition of same-sex partnerships.”

    • My parent's donor is my father

      I know who Maggie Gallagher is and I am a fan of hers as well. But Maggie Gallagher never started out fighting against SSM but rather is a strong supporter of marriage. (Wikipedia is a terrible resource for factual information.) So too with David Blankenhorn and Elizabeth Marquardt but who have both now changed their position on SSM. There is no conspiracy theories here.

  16. My parent's donor is my father

    I’ll vouch for Marilynn. She’s passionate but she’s real and has a heart of gold. Good back and forth Marilynn and Tess. Thank you both.

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