Quote from the "Son of a Surrogate" Blog

Quote from the "Son of a Surrogate" Blog

It looks to me like I was bought and sold. You can dress it up with as many pretty words as you want. You can wrap it up in a silk freaking scarf. You can pretend these are not your children. You can say it is a gift or you donated your egg to the IM. But the fact is that someone has contracted you to make a child, give up your parental rights and hand over your flesh and blood child. I dont care if you think I am not your child, what about what I think! Maybe I know I am your child.When you exchange something for money it is called a commodity.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Excerpt from DC Hearing on the proposed 2013 Surrogacy Agreement

This is just an excerpt from the hearing, for the full hearing please go to http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/granicus/

You're here now

I've been encountering more, as I try to explain how products of 3rd party donor conception might feel about the way they were brought into the world, I really am amazed by how blithely the response is you're here, you wouldn't be here if it wasn't for that.
When I hear that one statement, for me it demeans everything that I've gone through. Because for the people who say this, the conversation also ends here. They aren't interested in there being studies to see the effects on the products of surrogacy, the children of the surrogates. They aren't even interested in meeting in the middle and saying, yes perhaps we need to provide egg donors and surrogates, with their own legal counsel not paid for by the intended parents so they can have less biased legal advise. They aren't interested in setting up mandatory psychological testing for for intended parents, although if a child who is already in the world and needs a home, they would be required to go through this.  They certainly don't come across as interested in looking at what happens when the mother child bond gets broken after delivery. I don't see them being interested that the children being created this way should have a right to know who their genetic and birth parents are. I don't see the research getting done in any of these areas. To me it seems that it wouldn't benefit them to do the research because then they would have to admit if they went through with these processes that they would be not considering the child's best interest.

Another thought that I have, is there is a difference between having a life and a quality of life. If you look in the psychiatric world they have levels for survival... basic food and shelter, and then emotional needs would be at the next tier. If one must spend most of their life trying to fix the emotional needs that weren't met, is that really a quality of life? Is that a good reason to create life instead of taking care of the children who are Already here?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Today's D.C. Councilman Hearing

Today I testified at D.C.'s hearing about the Bill 20-32 the Surrogacy Parenting Agreement Act of 2013. This was my first experience speaking out against surrogacy on this type of platform.

I was sadly, not surprised by, but none the less disappointed by the fact that the councilmen on the Judiciary and Public Safety committee were not interested in hearing whether or not it was a good idea to pass a policy to allow gestational surrogacy in the district, rather they had their minds made up that this was going to be done. It seemed to me that they wanted to hear what tweeks would need to be made to this piece of legislation before it was passed.
The reason that this isn't surprising is this type of legislation can benefit the people like Mr. Cantina who could benefit from this type of legislation. Mr. Cantina is a gay man, who I would imagine like the rest of us has a biological clock. Currently for gay couples it is a challenge to adopt through traditional adoptions. However, with the newer wave of assisted third party reproductive services. People like Mr. Cantina do not need to be invested in trying to reform the current adoption system which would enable gay couples to do traditional adoptions. Instead they can surge through and obtain their child through surrogacy. (Let me say, that I in no way think that being gay means you should not be a parent. I don't believe that one's sexual orientation has anything to do with they type of parent that one would be.) So if the people who are creating the legislation are writing the bills, what hope do we have that this issue can be looked at from an unbiased stance? It's natural when something resonates with a struggle that we ourselves have gone through or people in our community have gone through that we will have blinders on, and no longer be able to be objective.

I was really surprised to hear a Doctor from a fertility clinic testify that there was no proven risk to the drugs used in the process of harvesting eggs. (Hello, the documentary Eggsploitation showcases women who lost their ability to have their own children, women who have developed cancer as well as women who have died from the process!!!) But I guess if people were really aware of the risks that surrogates and egg donors go through, it would hurt the financial bottom for this reproductive industry. I will agree that it's hard to track exactly how extensive any complications will be, because there have been ZERO studies to follow up on the effects of the processes for the women involved. In fact a lady who spoke on the Eggsploitation documentary said that after she developed cancer she contacted the egg bank that she had donated her eggs to in order to see if any potential children who may have been born from her eggs, would be able to  be informed that they might need to undergo screening for cancers. She was informed that after the eggs were transfered all records were destroyed. (Great looking out for the children of donor conception!)

Another huge thing that I was struck by, today we heard from attorneys, doctors, surrogates, parents who have had their children for surrogacies. They all spoke to needing this legislation to protect the intended parents to protect them from a surrogate who may change her mind. Secondly they did agree that the surrogates should have representation. (which typically is representation paid for by the intended parents.... because that wouldn't be biased representation at all.........) But not one of those people spoke towards the children being created through surrogacy. The folks who were testifying that this bill should not be passed, spoke towards the medical risks, the exploitation of the women involved and also towards the welfare of the children.

As a product of surrogacy, I feel like the intended parents and the surrogates are willingly creating a life, there is no accident here so the children conceived through these technologies have zero reason to not know who their biological parents are. They should always have access to their real medical history. If the surrogate or the intended parents aren't comfortable with this they shouldn't be doing a surrogacy. Surrogacy by nature sets up products of surrogacy to go through adoption traumas so if all adults are being responsible and putting the child's needs first wouldn't they want to minimize this to the full extent possible?

I was really surprised when the councilmen made a point of noting that the people who were speaking against the bill were not D.C. residents however, the people who were speaking positively about the bill, it was not highlighted when one of them was not a D.C. resident. 

Due to the fact that the councilmen's minds seemed to be made up already I'm not sure how effective the testimony was today, but I hope at the very least there will be more consideration towards the children conceived via gestation surrogacy. One can hope.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Donated Generation: A Story to Help People Understand

Donated Generation: A Story to Help People Understand: The following is a story that DC person Barry Stevens tells in the documentary Anonymous Father’s Day. It is actually one of his DC sibl...

Judiciary and Public Safety: Bill 20-32, the Surrogacy Parenting Agreement Act of 2013

Tomorrow I will be on a panel with Jennifer Lahl, President of The Center for Bioethics and Culture, Kathleen Sloan National Organization for Women (NOW) Board of Directors. Our aim will be to show the committee why it is not a good idea to pass the BILL 20-32, THE “SURROGACY PARE
This blog includes the testimony that I will be making at the hearing. 
Thank you to the members of the DC council for letting me address you today on the Surrogacy
Parenting Act of 2013. 
My name is Jessica Kern. I am a product of a traditional surrogacy. (This is where a surrogate is hired to both donate her egg and carry the child to term.) I am here today to urge you to not change DC’s current stance on surrogacy. 
As a product of surrogacy I can tell you firsthand what we children of donor conception go through.
Children of surrogacy, just like children of a traditional adoption, deal with all the traumas that go along with adoption. We want to know where we come from. We want to know who our biological mothers are. We want to know who gave birth to us and what they are like.  We are curious about their family and other siblings we may have.  I spent the first 17 years of my life being lied to by my biological father and adopted mother.  Only when I read in my medical records, did I discover I was a product of a traditional surrogacy. Imagine the trust issues that this creates when your family lies to you your whole life, about information that is your right to know. I am one of the fortunate children of donor conception because it only took me nine years to find my birth mom, however those of us who are conceived through surrogacy do not have the right to have this information.  Often we are lied to, and never are even told our stories of origin.  When we are conceived it comes across to me that only the adults involved have their interests looked after. The intended parents might be threatened that their child won’t view them as parents if they know who their biological parents are, or the surrogate possibly did the surrogacy for financial reasons and does not want to be tracked down. From where I sit this is a painful thing. When I was blessed to find my birth mom I subsequently developed relationships with my extended family. At 26, for the first time in my life, I saw where I got my sense of humor from, my physical traits etc. Even though I hadn’t grown up around these people, the genes from this side of my family are what is dominate in me. I finally made sense to myself in ways that I didn’t understand was possible. When we have children in this world who already need homes, why are we intentionally creating children to go through adoption traumas? I am one of the lucky ones who were able to heal some of my pain when I found my birth mother. However, I still deal with the other adoption issues of what makes me different in my biological mom’s eyes. How can she consider the children that she intended to have her children, and the children she had through surrogacy not equals. When you know that a huge part of the reason that you came into the world is due solely to a paycheck, and that after being paid you are disposable, given away and never thought of again, it impacts how you view yourself.
As a product of surrogacy, when I express this viewpoint to others, I am told, look how much your
parents wanted you, they planned and saved to have you. You should be grateful and thankful for them.  But at the end of the day, the adults were looking out for themselves, and what they needed and wanted
The next point I would like to speak to is a psychological effect, called the “Cinderella Effect”. This is a real concern for me that I experienced personally.  The “Cinderella Effect” describes the risk of abuse to children being raised by who aren’t biologically related to the child they are raising. The odds of being abused increase for the child. I experienced this first hand. Growing up in a household where I was biologically related to my father, but not to my adopted mother, I was physically abused until I was 13.  I reported my adoptive mother to social services. The physical abuse for the most part stopped at that point, but the verbal abuse increased until my therapist removed me out of their home four years later. I would like to think, that yes my story is the exception to the rule and that the majority of third party conception births go smoothly. From where I’m sitting, sadly that’s not the case. I feel that there is a good reason for this though. Parents who go through surrogacy to start their family are not by law required to go through psychological testing like parents who are starting their families through adoption. I really wish that at the very least that when the doctors, lawyers made their contracts with intended families and surrogate moms, while they were nailing down the financial details, this psychological testing is required. That somewhere in the mix of the profit, I really wish that there would have been a thought to make sure the child being created was going to be going into a safe home.  For myself, being born via surrogacy has left me feeling like I don’t have any immediate family. I choose not to have a relationship with my biological father and adopted mother because of the abuse. Whenever I’m around them it impacts my mental health negatively, so in order to protect myself I can’t be around them. Unfortunately my biological mother and I aren’t speaking now, and I’m afraid that since I’ve decided to speak out against surrogacy we may never have a relationship again. (But this is too important to not speak out about. We now have information that 30 years ago wasn’t available.) Out of the people who I consider to be immediate family I have one brother who will speak to me. From where I’m sitting, surrogacy is not the magic answer to creating families; more often it’s a source of cause for lifelong pain for everyone involved. I know I’ve really been hurt through this process, but I can see where my intended parents, birth mother, and I have all been hurt in our own ways. I strongly urge the Council to please consider the needs of the children born via surrogacy and uphold the previous law that penalized surrogacy. This is what’s in the best interest of children, and families. 
Thank you