Tag archives: surrogacy

Abortion, Adoption, and Birthmother Amnesia

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 4, 2011

On Sunday, the New York Times ran a piece called, “Meet the Twiblings.” It’s an autobiographical account by Melanie Thernstrom about how she and her husband Michael obtained donor eggs from two women and then had them implanted in two different women. Thus, the articles striking subtitle: “How four women (and one man) conspired to make two babies.”

The moral and ethical issues involved in this couple’s decisions are genuine. That two beautiful, God-beloved children resulted from them does not make the path pursued by this couple ethical or wise.

Yet woven into the larger story is one about adoption. Consider just two quotes from the article:

Abortions Affect on Adoption

Quote #1: (I)n the 1970s, there was an abundance of babies in the United States in need of homes, but the widespread use of birth control and abortion, among other factors, has caused the supply of infants available for adoption in the subsequent three decades to plummet to a fraction of what it was then.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that about ten percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 wrestle with infertility. Adoption would be so much more streamlined, less agonizing, less of a desperate quest, if there were more babies to adopt - something that abortion and abortifacient drugs are efficient in preventing.

There are roughly 7.3 million infertile couples in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are about 1.7 million adopted children in our country.

While not every infertile couple wants to adopt, many, perhaps the majority, does, and yet strives to find a child to love, from the county foster care center to nations as obscure as Nepal.

The paradox of Americas unborn, as New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has called it, is this: No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured. And yet no life is so legally unprotected, and so frequently destroyed.

Honoring Birthmothers

Quote #2: You wont have anything in common with the carriers, a director of a Los Angeles agency (which we decided not to work with) insisted dismissively. The gestational carriers at their agency were mainly white, working-class women, often evangelical Christians the kind of girls you went to high school with, he said, managing to give high school an ominous intonation. He waved his hand. You may think you want to stay in touch now, but trust me, once you have your baby, youre barely going to remember her name. I call it surrogacy amnesia.”

Were I to meet this man, I might have difficulty being civil. To catalog the offenses laced like cyanide throughout his comments would be almost too onerous (they include religious bigotry, social snobbery, and elitist pomposity). Yet one phrase - “surrogacy amnesia” - is especially remarkable.

My wife and I remember the biological mothers of our children. We recall their names, their appearance, their stories, the way they sounded. We are grateful to them beyond words or human memory. Our thankfulness to them will remain eternal. This, not some “amnesia,” is the common experience of the adoptive parents we know.

Forgetting about a birthmother might be a form of psychological protection for some adoptive parents who find it too painful to think that their children are not theirs biologically. I cannot cite statistics about how many such persons there are, but would say pretty confidently it is a small number.

This is not to say adoptive parents are preoccupied with thoughts of their childrens birthmothers. But we do not forget them and, in an era of abortion-on-demand, the sacrificial love they have shown.

Here is how one writer describes the journey of a woman who decides to give her child to another family:

Why would a woman make this decision? Sometimes it is because of her religious beliefs, sometimes it is because she recognizes that this child is a unique little person who will never exist again in the history of the human race. Although she is not in the position to raise this child herself, she wants him/her to have the best possible life. She is aware that there are many childless couples who would love to give her baby a home and that they are carefully screened before being approved.

About such women there is no amnesia, only gratitude.

***Dr. Pat Fagan, director of Family Research Councils Marriage and Religion Research Institute, recently authored a new study, Adoption Works Well, which documents how effective adoption is and how it transforms, for the better, the lives of both parents and children. A free download is available here.***

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