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The Myth of the Surrogate Mother
Accept no substitute.
In 2005, twin girls were born prematurely to an African-American surrogate mother in Indiana. Their biological mother was an anonymous white egg donor. The biological father was a white sperm donor from California. Their adoptive father, the one who had bought the eggs, sperm, and the surrogate, was a mentally disturbed gay teacher’s aide in his sixties named Stephen Melinger.
When Melinger arrived at the hospital to retrieve his medically fragile babies, the nurses became alarmed, since his clothing was covered in bird droppings—and he had his pet birds sitting on his shoulders.
Later, neighbors reported the little girls outside in the cold, dirty and dressed for warm weather. The case received national coverage as what turned out to be a fraudulent adoption worked its way through the child welfare courts. Even the New York Times reported on it:
“The complaint prompted a review by the New Jersey Department of Youth and Family Services, which sent a worker the next day to Mr. Melinger’s apartment in Union City.
When a caseworker arrived “she noticed a strong smell of urine in the apartment,” according to a court document. Mr. Melinger later said that the girls were not completely toilet trained and had accidents, and that he tried to clean up after them as best he could.
The home was “particularly dirty,” the caseworker said, with inadequate clean clothes for the twins. Department workers also said the children’s pediatrician, Dr. Pearl Cenon, had concerns about their care and had considered contacting the agency. The girls were removed from Mr. Melinger’s custody.”
Later, the girls were returned to Melinger, and despite my efforts, I can find no trace of what became of them.
A brave new equality battleground is quietly being fought in America and this one has nothing to do with race or poverty or oppression.
This battle is being waged against an ancient, primal earthly power, as old as humanity itself: the maternal bond.
Well, it has something to do with poverty—and class, and gender. It is the reassertion of an elite patriarchy—men with good taste and beach homes and plenty of disposable income—at the expense of downmarket young women mired in debt.
It turns out that a few decades of feminist brainwashing and years of happy-clappy fake biology lessons for young girls—“it’s just a clump of cells!” “You have too many eggs, you should donate them!” “A baby is a consumer good everyone should be able to get, like a venti latte!”—shrinks the potency of the mothering instinct, stretching it thin until it snaps and withers.
In the utopian paradise of the New Patriarchy everyone gets to be a parent—but no one gets to be a mother.
It’s time to have a National Conversation about gestational carriers, or in the parlance of our times, “surrogate mothers.”
I seem to read a new surrogacy horror story every week.
Here’s one that adds a lovely new wrinkle to the quiet surrogacy debate raging just under the surface of our insistence on “fertility equality” for all.
Brittney Pearson found out at 22 weeks that she had aggressive breast cancer and needed to induce the baby early so she could have the chemotherapy she needed. The fathers refused—they didn’t want a preemie that might have health problems and wanted her to abort instantly.
When she offered to have the baby adopted, they said no, because “they didn't want their 'DNA out there', being raised by someone else.”
(Of course, the woman who aborts her own biological child, instead of finding it new adoptive parents, is also in many cases deciding she doesn’t want the reminder of her mistake out there, alive. Better to end it quick rather than having to deal with the messy baggage of your own child who might knock on the door one day and ask you why you gave them away—or thank you for not aborting them. That is too terrifying for most, so they pull the rip cord and hit the eject button on their “mistake.”)
Pearson told DailyMail.com she found a hospital that would deliver her baby, but would not elaborate on whether or not the procedure was inducement or termination, and whether or not the fetus was born alive.
She would only confirm that it has since died.
'The baby was born on Father’s Day, my mother got to hold him and take pictures but he did not survive' she explained.
Pearson felt further upset by the prospective parents decision to take the fetus' remains and cremate them.
'I would have done things differently, I didn't understand it since they didn't see him as a baby at all.'
Pearson said she is speaking out about her experience because she 'never wants anyone else to feel like this.’
Warning: many other women are going to feel like this.
Womb For Sale
Many womb-renters are heterosexual couples unable to bear their own children, or movie stars unwilling to lose their figure temporarily. They create their own biological embryos via IVF and have them implanted into the paid surrogate, a woman from a much lower social class, usually someone with her own children who needs the money to pay the bills.
Here is baby Simon Kaitz, two months old and stuck in Mexico, unable to join his parents in the United States due to paperwork snafus.
But celebrities keep on making surrogacy look easy, dragging cash through the trailer parks, and the impoverished mothers with healthy wombs keep biting. Kim Kardashian, Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, Chrissy Teigen, and Amber Heard have all availed themselves of the service of a birthing servant.
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Ironically, that these are liberal women who probably love The Handmaids Tale and think evil right-wingers want women in Handmaid’s Tale style sexual slavery, as they wire payments to the low-caste women implanted with their husband’s seed.
Khloé Kardashian, in a bid to keep that expensively snatched waist, had a baby via surrogate and confided to her sister and the TV audience that she was struggling to bond with her biological baby.
On the show, Khloé relives the moment she met her new infant. “I felt really guilty that this woman just had a - my - baby and then I take the baby and I go to another room and you’re sort of separated. I felt like it’s such a transactional experience, because it’s not about [the baby.] I wish someone was honest about surrogacy and the difference of it.”
The maternal bond, once broken, can not so easily be repaired.
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Oviraptors R Us
Many surrogate babies start life as a donated egg. These are usually harvested from naive young woman, usually college students with massive debt.
I wrote about the egg donor industry in my new book, Domestic Extremist. Here’s a quote:
You have to target girls before they have families—long before they understand exactly how their bodies work and what oocytes are.
You get them at the source: their eggs.
Oviraptors know how to attract prey. Egg “donation” clinics, like escort services, target their marketing to very young women, ages twenty-one to twenty-nine, who need the extra money and don’t have a complete grasp of how delicate reproductive biology is. It’s an ugly combination of capitalism and compassion. Young altruistic women are lured to clinics with heartbreaking testimonials of infertile couples desperate for children. They are preyed on with promises that the pro- cess is risk-free. It’s also pitched as the most wonderful gift you can give another suffering person. It’s just like donating cans of beans to the hungry. You weren’t going to eat those beans anyway.
You are an impoverished college junior with crushing debt. It’s the eggs or the sugar-baby life. Since clinics can’t legally buy your eggs, the money is called “compensation for your time and suffering.” Plus, you can let a worthy couple experience the joys of parenthood—raising your child! You don’t need all those eggs; they’re going to waste, stuck inside your body. Give them to us!
Note that they call it egg donation when it is a sale, pure and simple. But the word “donor” reminds you of the time you donated blood, and you have an organ donor sticker on your driver’s license, so it’s a nice word. It makes you feel good.
Except the young egg-seller doesn’t realize she is walking into a catastrophic, irreversible trap. Once you donate your eggs, their fate is entirely up to the recipient. You have no say about what happens to your biological offspring. Your maternal bond to any future children is severed for good.
Girls make about $10,000 per egg harvest procedure. Some genetically gifted women may make up to $50,000, if they happen to be supermodels (white ones) with perfect SATs.
Yes, the procedure can render you permanently infertile, and yes, you may be haunted by live biological children whom you will never meet, just like NBA players and Elon Musk.
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Most desperate egg donors will never read the fine print.
When you browse the photos of prospective egg sellers on any number of donor websites. They are invariably young, slim, pretty, and very, extremely white:
I checked out some of these donor websites. They look exactly like dating sites, with airbrushed photos of young women posing provocatively in bathing suits and sexy outfits, like they’re recycling their Tinder photos for their donor profile pages. You can search by race, hair color, and ethnic origin. Curiously, they break out “white” into over a dozen European subgroups: Danish, Swedish, Russian, Ukrainian, German, French, Irish, and so on. Options you will not see on your child’s college applications.
On one major site, I tried searching for “African American” and was surprised to see zero potential donors found. Is the egg-donation industry perpetuating white supremacy?
Why yes, it is! Egg donor sites are the last holdouts of Aryan racial purity on the face of the Earth.
Just look at these requirements! Dog whistle much?
Did you know: women with Native American descent are not allowed to sell their eggs?
Motherless Children of Men
If I had to rank horrors of modernity, a heterosexual couple who uses a gestational surrogate to deliver their own biological child has some serious downsides and ethical quandaries, but it is not nearly the worst thing you can do. At least a child born from a surrogate to a couple that includes a maternal figure gets one fundamental thing: to experience human life as a mother’s child.
Confession: It’s the couples who can offer a child no maternal love to their children who are testing the bounds of my fervent pro-natalist attitude.
And now we come to the big gay elephant in the corner. Let me preface this with a disclaimer that some will ignore, and even think is a cop-out: I have nothing against the regular gays. You know, the ones who don’t want little kids groomed into becoming transgender. Like everyone else, I have gay friends and family, and I‘m sure all of them would be loving and good parents if they were handed a child to raise.
Most surrogate mothers are employed by men, either in couples or as singles. You see, they suffer from infertility, and only the generosity of kindly poor women can alleviate this incurable medical condition.
Under a new law, gay men will be classified as “infertile” here in California in order to force insurance companies to pay the costs of surrogate mothers, since babies stubbornly refuse to spring forth from the loins of a lawfully wedded male couple. Perfectly healthy men are now “medically infertile” because their sexual partner happens to be womb-free.
(This law will also qualify incels, asexuals, spinsters, and confirmed bachelors as people suffering from incurable infertility, by the way. Maybe a dating service for these people would kill two bird with one stone?)
Ironically, gay men who want to become parents without involving a woman must enlist a minimum of two women to participate in the child’s creation.
My argument against male-only surrogacy use is not about hating gay men, or about the dangers of pedophilia. Children, after all, are most likely to be molested and abused by a mother’s boyfriend or a stepfather or a democrat than a gay parent, despite some truly horrific child-raping gay parent adoption stories.
I am still haunted by the Zulocks. “A couple of gay men, the Zulocks, adopted two young boys from a Christian special needs organization and proceeded to sodomize them regularly. They also pimped them out to local pedophiles.”
Despite this, my red line against men creating children doomed to a life without a mother is not about the gay part. It’s about the creating children without a mother part.
That gets a hard no from me.
Reader: do you have a mother? Are you glad you had a mother? Are you happy you know who your mother is? Was your life better for having been raised by your mother?
If you were adopted by a woman and you call her Mom, are you glad you had her in your life?
If you could be a baby again, would you prefer to be nursed, cuddled, and held by your own loving biological mother—or a man you may or may not be related to?
We are being asked to answer a question that no one in human history has ever had to debate: Is a mother optional?
Despite the sad truth that some adults do not like their own moms, and there are legitimately awful bad mothers out there, I think we can all agree that children like having moms. The human heart, especially in an infant, is purposely shaped to be filled with maternal love. There is nothing like it.
I know a male gay couple who used one egg donor and two different surrogates to create their two children. They’re attentive and loving fathers, and those kids want for nothing.
Except maybe, deep in their hearts… this one thing they can never have.
And now let me go further: Any adult who is supposed to have the best interests of his own child in mind and yet he willfully—defiantly even—deprives that biological child of the stark fact of its own biological mother ON PURPOSE—well, it all seems pretty selfish.
Downright cruel, in fact. I can’t imagine life without a mother. Without my mother! She has been absolutely essential to my health and wellbeing. She was a crucial buffer against the world. A comfort like no other, still, to this very day.
I look at my children sitting next to me in mass sometimes an I wonder what their lives would be like if I was erased from their lives, down to the last memory, all the files deleted?
Of course, to the adults buying the eggs and renting the wombs, I am obviously the wickedly cruel one. Hi, it’s me, I’m the evil witch who wants to deprive nice men of parenthood. How dare I!
But I have questions: Does a child born from a donor egg and a surrogate have the right to know who its mother is? In households with two fathers, is the child’s mother ever even discussed? Does she come up?
Does the child ever ask them about her? Or is she simply erased; forgotten as a distant Internet purchase from a stranger of a few frozen eggs?
No scientist would ever dare study the emotional impact on a child raised without a mother, but are you telling me that those kids don’t care? Aren’t curious? Don’t wonder about who their egg donor was, and how many siblings they have, and who they are?
I am not here to solve the problem of how to provide every adult who wants one with a child of their own to raise. I am not here to ease the suffering of “infertile” male couples who long for a family. I am also not interested in outlawing or preventing gay people from being parents, or in stopping anyone from living the way they like with whom they choose.
My reason for writing this is simple. I just want to remind everyone that the magical gift of reproductive technology has a real cost, and it is being paid by the infants and young women caught up in the lucrative egg and womb trade.
Mothers are not optional for an optimal childhood.
The last frontier of in-born privilege is now Maternal Relationship privilege: children raised by a woman they call Mommy.
This was a tough one to write. Thanks for reading it—and please spread the word!
If you enjoyed this post, you are guaranteed to enjoy my new book, Domestic Extremist. 5.0 rating on Amazon, folks!
Peachy Keenan's Extremely Domestic is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
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