I find it striking that the conversation tends to revolve around the question of rights. So now we have this expanded notion of a “right” to have a child.

What about responsibilities? Where does this enter into the conversation?

Expand full comment

I'm going to push back a bit on the last comment about adoption.

1) It's not like outlawing surrogacy on the grounds of it being cruel to mother and baby (RE: Could cause undue emotional stress due to separation) lives in a vacuum. I think the issues with the medical ethics and its blatant similarities to human trafficking far outweigh that point.

2) I think the actual purpose of adoption is getting muddled in these arguments. It would be safe to say that the reason we have adoption as an option in our society is that we have children born into circumstances where the risks and challenges of staying with their birth parents outweighs those of placing them with a new family. Perhaps, as a society, we have expanded adoption well beyond the scope of what it's good for. Obviously, adoption poses some significant challenges for mothers and babies (and fathers for that matter), but if we view it in that narrow framework, it can be a better solution for everyone.

Just my two cents.

Expand full comment

In either case, the guiding principle should be what is best for the baby. This may not always be clear, but it should be the ideal nonetheless. In the case of adoption, it may well be best for the baby. In the case of surrogacy, I don’t see how it can be.

Expand full comment

The fact of the matter is that adoption is extremely fraught. We like to think of “all those abandoned children who need good homes,” but that is not what’s actually going on in the majority of cases. There is a reason teenage girls in the 50s had to be forced to give their babies up for adoption and suffered lifelong emotional trauma from that. There is a reason that adopted children have worse outcomes on a number of measures and feel emotional distress related to being adopted. There is a reason that many countries have shut down international adoption, due to abuses of birth parents such as coercion, kidnapping, and sale and trafficking of children. There is a reason that it is darn near impossible to adopt a newborn in the US. And there is a reason why children who truly need homes often can’t find them. The biological bond between mother and child is real and powerful. God bless those who could actually treat an adopted child as well as they would their own child, and times a million if that child has extraordinary needs or problems, but most people are not capable of that.

I’m not suggesting that adoption be outlawed, because its purpose is to do the best we can in less than ideal circumstances. I do think that more people need to be realistic about what adoption is and the fact that it represents a deviation from the ideal that is necessarily going to cause pain to someone in the process, whether that is the child, the birth mother, the biological father, either or both adoptive parents, biological or adoptive siblings or grandparents, or any combination thereof.

Expand full comment