Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More Issues Concerning Surrogate Mothers--Disturbing

The article below doesn’t really surprise me.

Basically it shows that the women who are being hired as surrogate mothers are pretty much from the most unstable and unfit population in every society, the most damaged group from the bottom rungs in each, all probably suffering from undiagnosed personality and other more serious disorders. Which, by the way, research has shown more and more of these traits to be hereditary such as depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, even more everyday personality traits such as shyness and aggression are being shown to have genetic components as well.

So not only are the persons hiring these women to bear children for them taking advantage of a vulnerable damaged population, but they are helping bring children into this world at risk of inheriting the same mental and personality disorders as their mothers: children who would not otherwise exist except for the money being paid to these surrogate mothers to have them. I mean look at most of these surrogate mothers' backgrounds (and I don’t just mean this woman as most of the rest have a similar unstable history from Mary Beth Whitehead, first US surrogate mother, right through to the woman featured in the story below) and contrast it to the candidate pool of their counterparts from the male side of the equation: anonymous sperm donors, for instance.

As anyone, who has studied this issue for any length of time, knows most male sperm donors are college students, some of the most privileged persons in western civilization (and that means in the world really). Who after graduation will go on to become the highest earners in our society: the cream of the crop, so to speak. Donating sperm is used by them as a means to make a little extra income while going to school; at most a 45 minute exercise with little investment for the student and no marked impact on his future emotional or mental state. Contrast this picture with the one painted below of a surrogate mother, and again, as I said not an unusual story at all, and you can see the vast differences between the two populations.

Probably a lot of the women who become surrogate mothers would never even have gone on to have their own children if not lured into being a surrogate mother by the promise of an unrealistically high income for the education and training they have. Or at the very least, would have had far fewer children then they have now; as only the most damaged woman is going to continue having one pregnancy after another, only to hand over her infant at the end of each one.

Actually a good number of these surrogates would have probably been weeded out of the ordinary candidate pool as wives and mothers long ago, maybe having one child and then disappearing from it’s life, since few men would marry and have families with the more obviously damaged amongst them. So their line would have eventually died out just as in nature a damaged mother will either abandon or even eat her own young, thus effectively killing off her own defective gene line. This surrogacy business however continues the damage for generations as again, you are severely damaged as a woman, if you continue having one baby after another and giving it away. There is something wrong with you. A woman who does this is mentally and emotionally unstable, no matter how many gender neutral proponents would like to compare these women to men who are anonymous sperm donors.

It’s not the same thing.

Women simply invest, contribute, and risk more in bringing children into this world. Those few mentally unstable women who can so easily turn and casually walk away from that investment are quite simply damaged goods. No matter how many people benefiting from the instability of these women try to tell us different.

AND they are probably passing along many of their disordered traits to their children.

Thus this practice should be stopped.

As not only is it damaging the woman themselves who are an unstable and mentally ill population, but the children are liable to be suffering from many of the disorders of the mothers as well. Not to mention that I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in surrogate mothers to have multiple children (such as twins or even triplets) since the payment is higher for this, then for just having one child. So now even physical risks can be added to the mental problems for these children as twins and triplets are more apt to have physical disorders.

Let’s face it a perverse incentive exists for these women in the common lump-sum payments of from $10,000 or $15,000 dollars per infant paid to someone with no marketable skills or education, plus all their expenses covered while pregnant (frequently paid for by either the family hiring them or even the taxpayers) as once pregnant no matter how you accomplished that (from either doing the entire football team to having an angel sneak into your bedroom window one night to inpregnate you) any which way you accomplish the deed, it entitles you to extra taxpayer funded benefits in most western countries.

So can someone tell me any good reason why the taxpayers should be funding this sort of incentive to spawn more vulnerable children from an already damaged population????

What purpose or higher good is served by this?

Absolutely none.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/femail/article.html?in_article_id=402180&in_page_id=1879

Daily Mail
24 hours a day


I've given away seven babies, but I'd like to keep the next one

By HELEN WEATHERS,
Daily Mail Last updated at 00:28am on 25th August 2006

Of all her pregnancies, this - her seventh - is proving to be by far the most challenging for Jill Hawkins.

Plagued by crippling headaches, dizziness and nausea, she can barely drag herself out of bed some days and feels constantly tired.

So debilitating are her symptoms that the 42-year-old legal secretary has been signed off work by her GP from virtually the moment she fell pregnant in March and, 25 weeks into her pregnancy (emphasis mine: Probably living off publicly funded benefits for the duration of her pregnancy) she can't wait for the baby - a girl - to be born in December.

Of course, it will all be worth it when her baby finally arrives - only Jill won't be taking her home. Just like the other six babies she has borne, this one will go home with a childless couple who paid Jill £12,000 in expenses to be their surrogate (emphasis mine: Are they also paying her living expenses now I wonder or have they managed to shuffle this cost onto the taxpayers of their home country as well).

If her past experiences are anything to go by, Jill knows what is in store once her job is done (emphasis mine: $12,000, possibly tax free).

She will return to her two-bedroom flat in Brighton, where she lives alone with three rescue cats, and cry her eyes out, telling herself that she is simply feeling hormonal and it's not the baby she weeps for.

"This is definitely the last one," says Jill. "This pregnancy has been much harder than all the others. In the past the pregnancies have fitted around my life, but this one has completely dominated it. I'm also getting older now, so, no, there won't be any more surrogate babies."

Jill, however, has said this before. She said it after baby number four, baby number five and baby number six - born two years ago - but always explained away her change of mind by saying she was 'addicted' to being pregnant (emphasis mine: Or more likely addicted to the nine months paid leave of absences with benefits and $12,000 cash payment at the end of them. As I can’t imagine this woman is much of a star employee either).

This time, she insists, she really means it. She has apparently conquered her addiction.

"I feel very differently about this pregnancy. Before, I had such low self-esteem the only time I felt needed, special or loved was when I was carrying a baby inside me," says Jill, who admits she has never had a serious relationship and has been celibate since she became a surrogate 14 years ago (emphasis mine: no surprise there, few men would have married or planned a family with a woman with so many apparent personality and other mental disorders).

"These couples were so grateful for what I was doing for them, and knowing that I could transform their lives by giving them a baby gave me real purpose, confidence and self-esteem. It was the one thing I knew I was good at.

"But I don't feel like that any more. For the first time in my life I feel happy with who I am. I feel complete and don't need to do this to feel good about myself.

"With my other pregnancies I always became good friends with the couple I became a surrogate for. We'd go out for meals or to the theatre because it made me feel worthwhile and part of the family, but this time there is none of that.

"I very much like the couple whose baby I am carrying and they come to all the scans and ante-natal appointments, but there is no socialising.

"I feel more detached. My friends and family kept telling me to stop after the last two pregnancies, that I'd done enough. But I wanted to experience pregnancy one last time and help one final couple - and, if I am honest, I needed the money." (emphasis mine: Okay, at least she’s being honest.)

So what has happened to change Jill Hawkins's mind? So much so that - after years of firm insistence that she has never wanted children of her own - she is now talking about the possibility of falling in love, getting married and having a baby. Her own baby.

There is, as yet, no suitable candidate on the horizon - she is five months pregnant after all - but for the first time she feels good enough about herself to believe it could happen, even if it never actually does.

This dramatic shift in attitude came after a cataclysmic series of events. After the birth of her sixth surrogate baby, Alexandra, in August 2004, Jill plunged into the depths of depression - something she has suffered from, on and off, all her adult life (emphasis mine, many researchers are beginning to see genetic roots in depression).

Her weight - which she has battled to control since she was a teenager - ballooned to 19st 7lb and during a lonely Christmas at home alone she gradually became increasingly suicidal (emphasis mine: same as above, genetic roots in suicidal behavior as well).

Her beloved rescue cat Sindy, who she'd doted on for 16 years, died from cancer, and a surprise holiday to Gran Canaria she'd booked for her younger sister Susan, 39, and herself to cheer herself up had to be cancelled because her sibling couldn't make it.

Bereft over the loss of Sindy, disgusted at her obesity, lonely, and wrongly convinced in her depressed state that no one - not even her sister - liked her, let alone loved her, she decided that no one would even notice if she was gone and the world was better off without her.

She took an overdose of anti-depressants, but one hour later phoned for an ambulance when she suddenly became frightened, realising she didn't really want to die and that her actions were a cry for help.

Her family and friends' utter devastation at her actions and their reassurances of love made her realise just how wrong she had been, and it proved to be a critical turning point.

After she was treated in hospital (discovering that the overdose of anti-depressants wouldn't have killed her anyway) she underwent counselling and then, in April 2005, paid £7,500 to have a gastric bypass operation in a last-ditch effort to lose weight.

Jill, who has since lost 7st, insists that her depression was not caused by the emotional strain of giving away so many babies, but rather by underlying issues which have always been there - but one wonders if she is being entirely honest with herself. (emphasis mine: Yep. She is)…

For the two appear to be inextricably linked.

"The catalyst for me was that suicide attempt. I think I had to reach rock bottom before I really started to confront the issues which I'd tried to ignore for 25 years," says Jill, who decided to become a surrogate after reading a magazine article when she was 27.

"If anything I think the surrogacy actually kept me alive by giving me something to feel good about. But at the same time, perhaps if I hadn't become a surrogate I might have confronted my problems sooner.

"In a way, it's like running away from yourself. You can put your life on hold and leave your problems behind for nine months.

"I have been a yo-yo dieter for years and I loathed myself for being fat. I loved being pregnant because you are allowed to be fat when you are carrying a baby. My main motivation for becoming a surrogate was to help childless couples, (emphasis mine: Now she’s running away from the honesty observed above) but if I am honest I was doing it for selfish reasons, too."

And, bizarrely, I'd lose weight when I was pregnant as I would eat very carefully and exercise because I was responsible for someone else's baby. I never thought of it as mine. After each baby was born, after the inevitable tears and sense of loss, I would feel great about myself and what I'd done to help this couple and try and stay healthy by going to the gym.

"After the fourth baby was born I went right down to 11 stone and I felt fabulous, but the weight would always creep back on. I wasn't stuffing myself on chips or takeaways.

"I was just eating too much and eating between meals. I just couldn't stop and was so desperate I took appetite suppressants - which I never did when I was pregnant - but after a while they stopped working.

"When I went to see a counsellor after my suicide attempt, I said to her: 'There is nothing that you can say to make any difference until I lose weight.'

"That for me was the root of my self-loathing and until I did something about that the rest would be pointless.

"After the bypass operation the weight just dropped off and it is the best money I have ever spent. It has completely changed the way I feel about myself and how I relate to other people. I am still on antidepressants, but the self-loathing has gone.

"I didn't really need to go ahead with this seventh surrogate pregnancy and in some ways I didn't want to, but having lost so much weight I might need a nip and tuck in the future to tighten up my saggy tummy and lift my breasts, so I needed the money. (emphasis mine: back to the honesty).

"After this baby is born I am hoping to join an internet dating agency to meet new friends. I'm not saying I'll necessarily meet the love of my life, but if it happened before I was 45 then I wouldn't rule out having a baby of my own. I feel ready for that now." (emphasis mine: like what normal man is even going to think of her as a serious candidate as a wife and mother when he hears her history).

There is no doubt that Jill Hawkins is a complicated, curious woman. A warm, gentle and genuinely compassionate person, she gives the impression that she would make rather a good mum - only, as she admits herself, she prefers her cats.

The eldest of three children born to businessman Brian Hawkins, 65, and Brenda, 61 - now retired and living in Spain - she always thought her childhood was happy, but now after counselling she is trying to understand the root causes of her low self esteem and comfort eating.

Her mother, whom she still adores, was - she says - a rather domineering woman and Jill was impressionable. Because she loved her mother so much, her opinions became Jill's opinions and the only area where she felt she had any control was food.

Intensely shy as a child and suffering from partial deafness caused by a viral infection, she found it difficult to make friends and - desperate to be liked - turned to food for comfort when she felt rejected. The bigger she grew, the more she hated herself and the more she ate.

"Men never asked me out. I was 15 stone by the time I was 15 and my weight put them off. I never felt good enough for a relationship, and never even wanted children of my own, but I felt this intense yearning to become pregnant," she says.

At 26 she approached COTS (Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy), set up by Britain's first surrogate mother, Kim Cotton. At first they were reluctant to take her on, because they preferred women who'd completed their families, but when she convinced them she would not want to keep the baby they put her in touch with her first couple.

So began an odyssey, motivated not by money but an emptiness food could not fill. All the children she has given birth to are biologically hers - Jill self-inseminates with the husband's sperm, rather than being a 'host' surrogate where a fertilised embryo is implanted using IVF. (emphasis mine: meaningless distinction which the people profiteering from this sort of enterprise like to make. She would have been the childrens’ mother no matter, as bonding and other interaction take place between the mother carrying the child, no matter how the fetus was produced.)

Today, she regularly sees all her surrogate children Lucy, 14, Bertie, 12,

Jamie, eight, David, five, Sam, four, and Alexandra, two - whose pictures adorn her bedroom wall - and remains good friends with their parents.

She is fond of them all, but there is no maternal yearning. "They are all great kids, but when I see them I don't think 'That's my daughter' or 'That's my son'. (emphasis mine: like I said damaged goods as even adoptive mothers who never see their children generally have feelings of grief and sadness whenever confronted with the reality of their decision.)

"I think of them as my friends' children. Their real mothers are the women who are bringing them up, loving them, nurturing them and shaping their lives and personalities.

"All the boys look like their fathers but people say Lucy looks like me, though I can't see it. I only ever see the children on an invitation basis, and I feel very privileged that the parents want to keep seeing me as a friend, for who I am, rather than out of any sense of obligation.

"Over the years I have become better at dealing with handing these children over because initially you do feel very empty and upset. Your body has spent nine months nurturing this baby and suddenly it's not there anymore, so emotionally it can be quite traumatic.

"The first time, with Lucy, was the worst because I'd never had a child before. I experienced feelings I'd never had before, overwhelming emotions of wanting to protect this little baby. I didn't know if I would want to change my mind or how I might feel once Lucy was born, whether I would bond with her.

"I never thought of her as my own and I never wanted to keep her, but it was very hard to deal with once she was gone. I went to my parents, who've always been very supportive, and just cried for days.

"My way of dealing with it now is to spend half an hour of private time with the baby before I hand it over to mum. That way I will always have a memory that is mine alone, which I can relive if I need to."

She adds: "I like being pregnant, my body was built for pregnancy and I have the fertility of a rabbit, so it seemed to me a shame not to use that to help people who couldn't have children naturally."

Jill's remarkable story can't help but raise some disquieting questions about the morality of surrogacy; questions those involved appear reluctant to confront. In their desperate quest to become parents, do the childless couples who seek out women like Jill ever know just how emotionally needy or damaged they might be, or question their true motives? And if they do know, do they care enough to think twice about proceeding? (emphasis mine: Probably not. Anymore then people using a puppy mill will question whether they should purchase that cute puppy. So it’s up to the rest of us to stop them. Obviously).

Jill's latest couple are married professionals aged 50 and 45. (emphasis mine: old enough to know better). The woman suffered a miscarriage before discovering she had breast cancer.

Chemotherapy left her infertile. They are overjoyed at Jill's pregnancy.

But has Jill told them everything they might feel they have a right to know?

"I have told them about my depression and the suicide attempt. They know I am taking anti-depressants, which are safe to take during pregnancy, and they don't appear to be concerned about it," says Jill, before making a startling admission.

"I haven't told them about the gastric bypass operation, but they can see I have lost a lot of weight. (emphasis mine: I've noticed a lot of ads for surrogate mothers recently highlighting height and weight requirement as again, yes, these physical traits are genetic in origin as well. So obviously people don't want to pay $12,000 for a kid who is going to grow up to be fat. This could have disqualified Jill if the parents purchasing her child actually realized how overweight she had a tendency to be.)

"I don't know why. Perhaps I was worried that it might put them off, but doctors have assured me that the pregnancy will not be affected although I have to take extra vitamins and nutrients for the rest of my life."

The chances are this baby, along with all the others, will be a beautiful, healthy child who will bring joy to its parents and whose picture will join those on Jill's bedroom wall. But will it really be the last?

"You know, I am really looking forward to the rest of my life. I am going to start doing things for me now because I don't feel bad about myself," says Jill. "I want to do more travelling and meet new friends. After this pregnancy I want to get down to my target weight of 11 stone. I really do feel very happy."

If that happiness proves to be short-lived, will there be surrogate baby number eight? (emphasis mine: Yikes…)

15 comments:

silverside said...

Good points. Although it does seem on some psychological level this woman is addicted to pregnancy; it some how soothes her massive feelings of unworth. I really think the whole surrogacy thing should be banned. Even when these women come to their senses and develop normal feelings for the child they are carrying, and want to care for the baby like any mother would, they are harrassed. And frankly, evidence from the children who have come into the world via these situations is not good either. The social "mom" often has problems bonding with a child that is related to her husband, but not to her. She is really no different than a stepmother, and the kids feel this. The fathers don't really bond either, because father-bonding is totally influenced by how bonded they are to the mother who bore their child. If they love her, they love the kids. If they don't, they don't. Seldom do fathers really love their children when they are indifferent to and/or hate the mother. And besides, the father doesn't raise the kids. The "mother" does. So the kids grow up knowing something is missing, knowing they are rejected.

bloggernoggin said...

I am sorry we fought. Please come back to Redstatefeminst's site so we can compare notes again. I really miss you!! Hope you are alright.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
NYMOM said...

"Please come back to Redstatefeminist's site so we can compare notes again. I really miss you."

That's an interesting sentiment bloggernoggin, especially considering I rarely posted on redstatefeminist's site in the past...

I just came in that one time to make a few comments about Matt Dubay concernng his "Roe vs. Wade for Men" case...

I do this on many blogs, post for a while and then maybe not post again for weeks or even months.

Someday I will probably post again on redstatefeminist's site.

I can't say when however.

NYMOM said...

Well that was a lot of stuff to digest silverside.

I'm not 100% sure I agree with all of it.

I think there could be something in what you said about the father's feelings for the children being impacted by indifference or even contempt for the surrogate mother at some point. I have a feeling the same could be said for both parents, especially as the children get older and start looking like or even acting like the women that are their biological mothers.

I also have to wonder how these surrogate families are feeling now that this woman went public with her medical history????

I mean I would be kind of embarrassed if I were them and had to own up to allowing her to be the parent of my kid...

Of course she probably wasn't so obviously damaged at 27 when she started this as she is now at 42...

Youth covers a lot of flaws, I actually heard even the royal family had said about Princess Diana that they never would have allowed that marriage to take place if they realized how seriously damaged she was from her own childhood...

Sharon said...

I feel that you should not base your judgement regarding Surrogacy and Surrogate Mothers from reading this article. As a past Gestational Carrier (to TWO sets of twins) a married (23 years) mother of 2 and a business owner I resent the fact that only the lowest of the low are 'lured' into the surrogacy world because of financial gain. I would write more but perhaps I should have you read my blog and uncover the facts for yourself, not only from my experiences (of running a surrogacy agency) but from others who have written about their own surrogacy path.

saguiar said...

I completely agree with Sharon. You must not judge every Surrogate based on this one bad example. I was also a Surrogate, a Traditional Surrogate at that. I did not become a Surrogate for financial reasons, but rather having watched a few close friends battle infertility, I was inclined to help someone on their journey to parenthood.

Since my Surrogacy, I am now running my own Agnecy. Having already given an amazing gift to a most deserving couple, I am honored to help couples create their families. To watch these parents hold their babies for the first time...to watch the closeness with everyone involved...is priceless. I must say that I have the best job in the world! I wish you could find the bright side of this issue...

NYMOM said...

How totally self-serving: you both have your own agencies now. I find it a little hard to believe you are claiming humanitarian motives but then run agencies where you can profit from this business. If you are only concerned with helping so-called 'deserving' couples, no one is stopping you from doing that.

It's the money that should be disallowed.

Many of you overlook that little caveat.

You want to do this for nothing, fine...

By the way, further back in my blog is a story of a mother who lost custody of her first two children because she tried to pay off her debts by becoming a so-called surrogate mother.

Sharon said...

If running a surrogacy agency to insure that all parties are treated fairly, screened properly, are not taken advantage of, and are guided with a knowledge of Assisted Reproductive Technology experience is 'self serving' then so be it. But in stating this you would also have to throw in the Reproductive clinics, Drug companies, Psychologists, and Attorneys as well...and lets not forget the hospitals and their entire staff who make a living on delivering these Surro-babies...because all of these professions make money when a surrogate or egg donor is involved. The compensation to a surrogate is minimal when compared to what the clinic is asking. I think that this argument needs to be put into prospective. Saying that a woman who volunteers to be a surrogate mother shouldn't have her bills paid is ridiculous. Are we horses to be bred? I think not.

NYMOM said...

By encouraging this behavior, Sharon, you put ALL WOMEN at risk of being viewed as cattle to be bred for the convenience of others. As you and your associates continue chipping away at the fundamental 'sacredness' of motherhood, we're left with women being viewed as brood mares for the convenience of others.

Think about it Sharon and wake up.

Anonymous said...

I am a married mother of one, BA-degree (graduated number one in my class), worked in an international executive career that paid me ALOT more than 12,000 pounds... and I am still interested in becoming a surrogate mother.

While all surrogates may not come from my gene pool, they also do not all come from that of the woman posted in your article... A wise person looks at the world through a lens of many shades of gray, not just black and white.

What a truly disheartening and disturbing site. Good riddance.

NYMOM said...

"Good riddance."

Likewise.

Anonymous said...

being a surrogate mother is a personal choice I made and I couldn't be happier with my decision!

Anonymous said...

No doubt this article/blog/silly rant is written by a man! LOL. I'm a career woman and I would happily carry a baby for any of my friends or my sister if they couldn't. It wouldn't be about money or being so called emotionally damaged. If I have a body that can produce kids and it can help someone who can't, then that's all there is to it.

NYMOM said...

Exactly my point...no money involved.

Thanks for sharing...