Adoption vs. surrogacy

| Bridget Ryder | October 7, 2016 | 6 Comments

Surrogacy opponents lay out key differences in legislative hearings

Editor’s note: This is the third story in a series on surrogacy, which a Minnesota State Legislature commission is studying as it prepares to make public policy recommendations on the practice.

As the discussion on surrogacy continues before a Minnesota state legislative commission studying the issue, the divide between the two sides becomes clearer, even as proponents of the practice try to normalize it.Surrogacy logo black

In the latest round of testimony Sept. 27, proponents compared surrogacy to adoption.

“You don’t buy and sell babies in an adoption procedure, but there are costs paid,” said surrogacy lawyer Gary Debele.

But the kind of costs paid in surrogacy prove to opponents that the industry is commerce in babies. In addition to reimbursement for medical expenses, in many surrogacies, “a big fee is paid for carrying the child,” Debele also testified Sept. 27. In adoption, direct compensation is illegal, and any financial support of the birth mother during pregnancy is strictly limited. Surrogacy agencies, however, advertise that surrogates can earn up to $40,000 per pregnancy.

“There’s no question that surrogacy involves the selling of the child,” surrogacy opponent Harold Cassidy had stated in testimony during an August commission meeting.

Cassidy has represented troubled surrogate mothers since the 1980s and is currently representing Melissa Cook, a surrogate mother in California who was pressured by the intended father to abort one of the triplets she was carrying. Cassidy also has experience in adoption law. Earlier in his career he represented birth mothers who had been pressured to surrender their children. In many cases, the adoption was overturned. Since then, laws have been enacted to ensure that mothers make a completely free and voluntary choice. A child cannot be surrendered and no legal agreement can be made until 72 hours after the birth. The adoption is not final until 90 days after the placement. The child is only separated from its mother after careful consideration and for a serious reason.

“There were situations where the mom was unable to care for the child. It happens, and the culture had to come to the rescue of those children to provide them a home,” he stated.

Surrogacy, however, is not an intervention, he stressed.

“Surrogacies are planned before the child is even conceived. To what? Separate a baby from the mother who carried the child,” he said. “What the intended parents are bargaining for is not a service to carry a child. What the intended parents are bargaining for is exclusive custody and control over the child.”

The Cook case is a good example. Early in the surrogacy arrangement, according to court documents, the intended father wrote Cook in an email, “I would let you keep my babies for weeks till you feel [it is the] right time for them to being [sic] ready to be home with me.”

Then, later in the pregnancy, after he had expressed concern about his ability to care for the triplets Cook was carrying, he ignored her repeated offers to care for all three babies for several months after their birth and to raise the third child he said he could not handle. Instead, he insisted she have an abortion. The court, too, refused to hear her petition for custody of the third child, claiming that because of the surrogacy contract, it could not intervene.

Cassidy said that violates the rights of the child.

“Let’s look at what we’re really talking about,” he told the commission. “We talking about using a document that is signed before the child even exits, before the mom has a relationship with the child, before we know if the child is even going to come into existence. We use it as waiver of the future rights of the child, the future rights of the mother without regard for whether it’s a good idea and whether the mother really understands what she’s getting into.”

For opponents, this point exposes the fundamental difference between surrogacy and adoption. While adoption revolves around the child, surrogacy revolves around adults.

“Throughout our history, the central focus of child rearing is what’s in the best interest of the child,” Cassidy said. “Here, for the first time, we’re talking about writing laws that are going to have as its central purpose not the best interest of the children. It’s going to be the desires of the adult. We are fundamentally shifting the focus of child rearing.”

Misplaced desire

Surrogacy supporters have repeatedly referred to the “dream to become parents” of people who seek surrogacy. While having children is a good, the way of going about it matters, too.

“Desiring a child is a good thing,” said Deborah Savage, a professor at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity and co-director of the Siena Symposium for Women, Family, and Culture, both in St. Paul. “But children are gifts; they are given. We have no right to a child, because a child is not the same thing as a good meal.”

Savage speaks from personal experience. When she and her husband were unable to have children, she prayed. Six years later, out of the blue, a friend called. Her teenage daughter was unexpectedly pregnant and wanted Savage and her husband to adopt the child.

“Wanda didn’t not want Maddie. Clearly, she was doing it out of love for Maddie,” Savage said.

Parenthood is about the good of the child.

“A child is not a means to my happiness, he’s created for his own sake,” Savage explained.

As human persons with “their own right to life, their own destiny,” parents must respect the human dignity of their children. Savage agrees with Cassidy that a child has to be respected as a human person even at their conception.

“We think of children wrongly,” Savage explained. “To say that this child has no rights because this child doesn’t exist is to deny that we were all at one time pure potency.”

Pure potency is a philosophical term for the potential to exist. No one brings himself into existence, “we are all gifts to one another,” Savage said. “Placing a price and having a right-by-contract over the life of another treats that person as a commodity, not a gift.”

She added: “By definition, I don’t have a right to something that is a gift.”

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Category: Faith and Culture

  • f2473627

    i don’t agree with the pro life bullshit but the rest of the article is spot-on! surrogacy is both human slavery and baby selling!

  • Tom

    Savage says no one who is infertile has the right to a child born through medical innovation. Does she also believe no one who has cancer, diabetes or a stroke has the right to treatment through medical innovations? What’s the difference? All are medical conditions that can be addressed through medical treatments. Also, does Savage not have Genesis Chapter 16 in her Bible? There we read how Abraham used a surrogate, at his wife’s request, to have a child. Were Abraham and Sarah wrong to use a surrogate? If they weren’t wrong to use a surrogate, why are infertile couples wrong today? Or is the Bible not a guide for our lives?

  • Hanna

    Speaking about the medical side, Western Europe seems to be better. Although there`s one rather negative aspect. In many countries surrogacy is forbidden. Moreover, there are no women there who`s ready to share their cells. It`s strange for me to hear that there`s such good service in Ukraine. I have never expected that their medicine may be on the high level. Although everything possible in our modern world. Third world countries develop so fast. Maybe it`s a good idea to go there. But still, I hesitate. Spain seems to be better for me… Well, time will tell.

  • Iris

    Well, I know a lot about surrogacy in Ukraine. Thanks to it we grow up our daughter. It is illegal in my country. I live in Germany. I was looking for the opportunity to go anywhere else. Where the surrogacy is legal. After looking through a large number of clinics, we decided on one clinic in Ukraine. They offered an all-inclusive package. We were very happy with. The whole package was about 30 00 euros. Accommodation, meals, transfer from airport, interpreter are included. There`s no such prepositions in other countries. Moreover for such price. We were worried so much. Although we were frightened by rumors about Ukraine. Still we decided to try. And I do not regret. Workers of the clinic supported me on each stage. So if you consider Ukraine, I recommend you to try. They have enough experience for that.

  • SierraB

    Infertility, or not being able to have a baby when you long for one, is a form of grief for someone who is never going to exist – the child who will never be born; the mum or dad you fear you can never become. Since I got married a few years ago, several of my friends have had babies. I’m watching those babies grow up into toddlers, not knowing if I and my husband will ever be parents through adoption. And I won’t know for several years, probably. Telling people to ‘just adopt’ is so exasperatingly patronizing – take half an hour to read up on why and you’ll soon understand why it’s such a long and difficult process, and it sure as heck isn’t for everyone. We contemplate about surrogacy lately. There is a nice clinic in East Europe which has drawn our attention. It offers an “all-inclusive package” for rather not high price. We saw advertisement in internet; have read dozen reviews therefore opted for it.

  • Paigejen878

    Some people just love the idea of the state controlling or regulating every aspect of our lives. For most adoption applicants there is little or no chance of adopting a baby in the UK. The adoption process gives violent and abusive parents numerous opportunities to retain their children often over several years and these older children are often irreversibly psychologically and emotionally damaged by the time the social workers finally recognize they need a new home. Even after adoption the natural parents can retain the right to visit the child they have abused and neglected. On top of that prospective adopters are required to go through an overly invasive vetting procedure with social workers poking around in the most intimate parts of their lives. While surrogacy gives you a lot more prospects for your money. If one decided to use such program, its personal choice and others should not be up to the case. To me, choosing a proper clinic, like in Ukraine, Spain or Georgia, where prices comparing affordable. Than you have prepare needed documents. I even heard that in Ukraine, clinic do it by itself, so you just pays money and wait. I think it’s a lot easier then adoption. Of course it will take your nerves, sure, but result worth it.