MSM like the NYT and culture mavens like Oprah are enamored of procreation stories that break boundaries. The latest installment, in today’s Magazine, presents a very long article about a couple who paid for eggs and hired two surrogates to gestate two children at the same time so that it would be like having twins. The children are called “twiblings.” It is called very chirpily, the “futuristic insta-family.” I also learned a new term: “gestational carriers,” for the women who rent their uteresi–and breasts for nursing. From “Meet the Twiblings:”
I began researching surrogacy and egg donation — corresponding with gestational carriers on surrogacy Web sites and talking to agencies. The process seemed so daunting and alienating — inviting all these strangers into our bedroom, creating relationships with unknown conventions and risks, giving others extraordinary power. In the story of what happens when a man and a woman love each other very much, they don’t need strangers to lend them their gametes. Having children was one of life’s great acts of self-definition. How could we turn the most intimate thing a couple could do — coupling — into a ménage à trois,à quatre or cinq?
One could ask, what about adoption? That too has become something of a market and bureaucratic impediments, apparently:
I had friends who spent all of their money trying to adopt, only to have things fall through again and again — birth mothers who changed their minds, foreign programs that were discontinued. I researched adoption in China but discovered that the criteria excluded us. When Michael’s parents adopted his sister in the 1970s, there was an abundance of babies in the United States in need of homes, but the widespread use of birth control and abortion, among other factors, has caused the supply of infants available for adoption in the subsequent three decades to plummet to a fraction of what it was then. Knowing that, I was still taken aback by how discouraging one adoption agency was about our prospects for “competing” against other couples. “Most birth mothers do prefer younger women,” the woman informed me. “But you’ll get a letter from your doctor, certifying you are in excellent health for the social worker anyway.”
The gestational carriers even have husbands and children. One wonders whether the experience of watching their mother/wife carry another couple’s child and give them up will impact the family in future years. We are told it is all okay and one of the children wanted to help the woman with the “broken tummy.” But who knows? And does it matter? As long as our couple got what they wanted.
Here’s how the article ends:
Once, there was a couple who wanted to have babies. They tried and tried, but no babies arrived, and they were very sad. But then a Fairy Goddonor brought them some magical eggs. She came from a place where it never rains, and she drove a midnight blue convertible and had long golden hair (well, currently short and aubergine). They took the eggs, and the eggs changed into the beginnings of babies, and they gave them to angel women to help them grow. So the angel women stowed the beginning of each baby in their bodies, where they grew and grew like pumpkins.
Sorry. Like most fairy tales, there’s more to the story than the sweetness and light. With every pushing of the envelope that the media trills over, we are experimenting with society’s most basic institution, not to mention–again–validating procreation as a consumer activity and form of manufacture. And let’s not get into the little pumpkins that end up as medical waste or in cold storage.
There’s not much to be done about it if people refuse to exercise restraint. The law lost its ability to control this field a long time ago. Well off people with a sense of entitlement are going to write big checks to get what they want. Fertility doctors will continue to be fill orders and women who need money are going to continue to rent their most intimate biological functions and parts. But we are a ship steaming full speed ahead into a foggy sea without radar–and that sound you hear are waves breaking on a rocky shore.