While apparently not true, gossip had it last week that another celebrity couple had decided to create a family, this one with harvested eggs, unidentified sperm and a gestational surrogate. The upset appears to be the veracity of Ellen DeGeneres’ and Portia di Rossi’s plans, not the prospect of their piecing together component parts and processes to create a living child. That industry, the commercial enterprise of removing reproduction from a fertile human female united to a fertile human male through intercourse, creeps steadily into our daily lexicon almost without notice. “Creating a family” – as in Simms itself – is the new, unmitigated good – an adult objective so presumptively worthy that doubts and objections to the commercialized simulation of natural human reproduction often meet with hostility or stony silence.
This is the emerging reality: we “create” – not “have” – a family, both euphemisms for acquiring a baby, that little creature who turns a couple into parents. We use to “have” children, giving God or nature primary role as their “creator;” but our postmodern language elevates the human to creator, the want-to-be parent(s) in charge of literally designing, creating and funding children legally their own into existence, while redefining human concepts of lineage and ancestry. Children are no longer the prerogative of nature and intimacy, linked biological to an identifiable line of human persons – they are creations of man, an optional accessory available to any adult in need of his/er own family.
This is a radical shift in paradigm.
But it is evident everywhere – and often expressed in a context designed to discourage dialogue. Consider the following quote from an activist during a recent press conference held by “Catholics for Marriage Equality,” a group opposed to reversing that state’s narrowly passed legislation permitting same-sex marriage.
“I never want our own son or any of our children to be alone—in sickness or in health. I want each of them to have the security and joy of a family that they create, and for that family to have the legal protections that come with civil marriage. “(Italics added)
No one – certainly no mother – could possibly take issue with this sentiment. Who would dare object and say, “But how do gay men and their male partners “create” their own children?” – as if wishing upon them loneliness, illness and despair?
It is hardly surprising how little awareness – or concern – we seem to have regarding this new class of commercially created child, or “ComKids” – children who, for the first time in human history, will not know their biological origins, are intentionally separated from adults intimate to their conception, gestation and birth and whose very being will have been purchased in whole or in part as a commercial transaction. In demands that the government legally entitle all adults to the same “security and joy of a family” that living persons have known as biologically conceived and connected children, there is an eerie disregard for the fundamental differences which ComKids will bear and suffer.
The lack of concern for the fate and future of this experimental class of human being can not be excused by blinkered focus upon the living adult and an expectation that children, like pets, will dutifully love their “parents” and not experience – or, at least, not voice – feelings of loss and longing for biological ties or information denied them. Nor is it possible to deny that being conceived, gestated and birthed as a commercial transaction can and does matter to human beings. One need only watch the testimonies in Anonymous Father’s Day or read Robert O. Lopez’s recent “Growing Up With Two Moms: The Untold Children’s View” or review Mark Regnerus’s summary “Queers As Folk” to recognize that this new class of children do and will have a new class of emotional and developmental issues as well as a list of demands for information, rights and protections.
Let us, for the sake of fairness, allow the questions and voices of ComKids – children designed, conceived or acquired through purchase of any component of the reproductive process – into the discussion of family configuration and creation. And let these voices – and their questions, concerns and demands – be as inextricably associated with “creating a family” as are the prevailing concerns that adults not grow old alone due to infertility; incompatibility; homo-, bi-, trans-, or poly-sexuality; disabilities or any other impediment to child-bearing by sexual intercourse between a fertile man with fertile woman.
What are the rights of ComKids? Do they have a right to know their biological origins? Do they have a right to know the identity of the person whose sperm, egg or womb made possible their life? Do they have a right to know the terms and conditions of the contracts that lead to their existence? Do they have legal recourse against fertility clinics, egg brokers, surrogates or any other party under normal contract and tort law?
These questions beg consideration now – before we further populate a class of children with no more rights or recourse to information about their identity than African-Americans enslaved to suit the needs of their masters. These are good questions to consider now, as adult humans shift into the role of creator, creating children for themselves so that they will not feel alone or unloved.