Friday, November 14, 2008

Real vs. fake vs. semi real?

What is the difference between parenting a biological child, a biological child via surrogacy, an adopted or fostered child? (even leaving out the constructs of race, class and how they will affect opinions)
What terminology is correct to identify the differences between these children? When does a person take offense at what's said, do they understand the underlying meaning?

I was talking with a friend regarding my in laws acceptance of surrogacy and how it would hinge on their knowledge about surrogacy. I felt that we should have been educating them about gestational surrogacy for a while before letting them know it was our choice. That way they would understand the science, see the benefits and come to accept our decision over time, instead of having a lot of information thrown at them quickly. I think if they understand the reasoning about why we're trying for this (a bio child is important to Frank, most likely BECAUSE of them) they would feel respected and honored. Instead they feel sad, let down and disappointed about the situation.

Why are we choosing gestational surrogacy? Why go through these hoops instead of adopting a waiting child? Number one reason, is that Frank wants a bio child. As a first generation child of immigrants family and family ties are paramount. Family traits and resemblances are legend in his family. He is much more modern than his parents, but still more traditional than I am. Number two reason is his parents. I feel my in laws won't accept a non biological child in the same way they would accept a bio child. Number three, it would be wonderful for Sarah to have a biological sibling.

I see a difference in how they interact with Sarah contrasted to their other grandchildren. I know that part of that is they haven't seen Sarah grow from a baby to a child. They aren't who I call if I need a babysitter or support or help. I know my distance from them leads to some of their distance from us. And for the most part, I'm okay with it. But I think a bio child or a non bio child, hell any way we put it, having another child is going to open up a can of worms with them.

My MIL has already mentioned that if our surrogate gets pregnant she wants to come talk to the baby all the time. Talk about boundary issues!! Umm, no you can't go visit our surrogate to talk to her belly. Not cool. We know you would be excited, but I wouldn't let you talk to my belly as that would cross my comfort boundary, so of course it wouldn't be something that is okay for our surrogate.

As a long time child care provider I can attest to the fact that your love for any child grows. Whether the child is biologically related to you or not, being responsible for that child, being that child's parent and caregiver is what matters. The first time I saw Sarah my heart wasn't overcome with adoration. I thought she looked kind of odd and was just so thankful that the delivery was over. But my love for her grew and steadily became this all encompassing force which I think would happen with any child. I know that adopting brings it's own challenges, but accepting a child into our lives seems like something we could do if surrogacy doesn't work out.

But then we have the fact that adoption is our third choice. Pregnancy was obviously number one, surrogacy number two and adoption three. What message does that send to a possible child? Yes, we love you but we tried all these other things before we found you. Since we couldn't do that, having you was "good enough". What load for that kid to carry, whether it's true or not, the underlying thought of being the third choice could be devatstating. How would we handle that to make sure an adopted child would feel treasured and cherished?

How would my in laws handle that? What type of relationship would they have?

Will I stop stressing over this if the surrogacy works?

1 comment:

Becky said...

Wow. I honestly hadn't given any thought to the whole "while you are pregnant, this is what the grandparents like to do" part of the equation. I know a lot that touching/kissing/talking to the belly is cultural. You'd NEVER see that kind of hands-on interaction in an asian household. And my parents are way too uptight and would never have touched me if I didn't invite them to (even then, I would only have asked my mother if she wanted to feel the baby kick). Obviously if they have other grandkids, Frank isn't their only child. So maybe they've gotten some of that hands-on interaction out of their system with their other kids.

I can tell you WAY would I want my in-laws grabbing me or putting their ears against me or talking to my belly. It would make me feel wildly uncomfortable. LOL But you know that never became an issue with us.

As for the distinction between methods of starting your's only needed during the process. Once the baby arrives, they are just your child. There is no label! It doesn't matter how a family forms. There are so many ways to start a family these days, and you three are already a new family unit by marriage. If you want Frank's parents to bond with Sarah, then they need to be treated like her grands and given the opportunity to get to know her. If they are anything like my in-laws, they will wait to be asked and feel slighted until that invitation is extended. Look how old my kids are and I am still figuring this stuff out.

To be honest, I see no difference between you carrying a baby and someone else doing it. It's your egg/his sperm. Things only start to get dicey when donor egg or sperm enters the picture. We would have used a surrogate without hesitation if they'd been able to retrieve any eggs from me.

While having a bio-child would have been great, we always had adoption on the table. The boys will know that starting a family through adoption was the "hard" way. Hard because we had to wait so much longer to be a family than if my belly wasn't "broken". When you have to work hard for something, you tend to appreciate it more. That's our opinion anyway. LOL And no...we never go around introducing our kids as "this is my adopted son". Nor do we make that distinction in general conversation. If people press for a birth-story, I give them the highlights. Yes, there is a ton of curiosity around adoption and surrogacy (thanks to the media) so you get some rather personal questions at times. I am very careful what I say in front of the boys and will include Tyler's thoughts, if he wants to chime in. When it's adults only, I am very open about our story. When we set out to start a family, I never anticipated that I would become an advocate for adoption. But I find that I like the role and have helped a ton of people find the right path.

Anywho, I hope you don't have to fight against favoritism in the future. Work on those step-grands. Sarah has always struck me as smart and charming with a winning personality. They would have to be real jerks to NOT warm up to her.