Adoption vs. surrogacy

This legal and bioethics expert thinks adoption trumps surrogacy. As if there are no commodification issues with adoption, particularly in India. And it isn’t mostly poor women who lose their children to adoption as well.

I don’t think one is better than the other. The same class, race and gender inequities frame both adoption and surrogacy. Adoptive birthmothers are deemed or deem themselves unfit to parent. Because society doesn’t think much of baby-selling, only adoption agencies and other middlemen profit from the transaction. Womb-renting, however, is apparently legal in India and the U.S. Surrogate moms in India waive their parental rights in exchange for money, usually for the benefit of their “own” families.  The “real” parents get to brag about the special way their children were born. Just as adoptive parents brag about the special way their families were formed.  

Perhaps I wouldn’t have such a problem with outsourcing pregnancies to India if it were rich Indian women with lawyers in tow who were contracting as surrogates. Women who would be able to define the terms of the deal themselves, who don’t need the money just to feed themselves and their families, who would be empowered enough to say in midterm or after birth, “I changed my mind,” and, in case of a miscarriage, still say “You owe me for my time.” Guess what, there would probably be no “renters” in such a world. 

9 thoughts on “Adoption vs. surrogacy

  1. The picture with that article shocked me. It looks like they are doing this conveyor-belt style.

    There is so much to be disturbed about with this article. The two men actually state that they feel good that they are doing something to help these poor women. They only fool themselves.

    I remember the day I learned I needed a hysterectomy. I thought….well…maybe I can ask my sister to carry a child for me. It took me all of about ten seconds to realize I couldn’t do that because sometimes women die in childbirth. I wouldn’t want to do that to another woman either. What will these men do if this lady dies in childbirth? Will they provide for her family? How will they live with themselves?

  2. One thing that struck me is the fact that the clients chose this program because it was inexpensive. As compared, I suppose to surrogate programs in the US sans regulation?

    The justification that the couple mentioned, mutual needs being met, and that they are doing a good thing, is very common in adoption, esp. IA.

  3. I am so sick of exploitation packaged as aid, and the idea that something as sacred as childbearing can be outsourced.

  4. Good point at the end about empowerment.

    Oprah did a show on Indian surrogates and LAUGHED at the site of a tiny 4 foot Indian woman who was pregnant with the child of an American couple with a six foot sticky husband. She LAUGHED and said: “Can you say c-section!”

    These women are risking their lives for money…and is not sustainable income.

    And know who else are being used as surrogates? Military wives!

    Adoption is also BIG BUSINESS: $6.3 billion annually worldwide is low guesstimate. Children are trafficked globally to fill the demand of other women – many of whom simply waited too long!

    Mirah Riben, author, “The Stork Market: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry”

  5. Your comment about miscarriage bring up yet other issues of surrogacy.

    What about a still birth or worse – what about the child is born with a very serious physical defect? Whose child is it? What if the couple paying doesn’t want it?

    There have been several high profile court cases as a result of surrogacy gone wrong. Many involved such issues. One I recall reading about a number of years ago involved twins born to a surrogate mother and the couple only wanted ONE!

    Also – what restrictions are there to prohibit pedophiles (i.e. Michael Jackson) from hiring surrogates to have babies for them. No home studies as with adoption!

    And…every couple that choses surrogacy – or even international adoption – is turning their back on the more than 100,000 children in foster care that can never be reunited with their families.

  6. Mirah, what Oprah did was sick! That woman is NOT the world’s conscious. I’m so glad you’re expressing outrage.

  7. Mirah, I can’t speak for all “receiving” countries, but in some, prospective a-parents are actually discouraged from adopting domestically. Although I don’t think this is policy exactly, it may be a strong feeling passed from social workers to PAP.

    Even in countries which encourage people to adopt domestically and discourage them from adopting abroad, there is a strong feeling within the adoptive community that adopting children “in care” is asking for trouble.

    What I don’t understand, is why are children from abroad seen as not being “in care” and as not having potential issues, because the reality is, they do. Could it be how they’re packaged for sale?

  8. hello – this is a very interesting post – i have just finished producing a short documentary on surrogacy here in the uk – it covers the changes in laws which are occuring – and the problems some people can face when going through the process to overcome infertility – it can be found on my blog – – and – feel free to have a look – it would be great if you could get back to me with any comments and debate – thanks – mike

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