Better, Stronger, Faster

With international adoption beginning to tighten up and the relative rarity of domestic newborns available, lots of talk has turned to how the desperately childless will obtain children. Most of this talk centers around creating children from donor eggs, donor sperm, or both. PAPs having the luxury of being able to pick out the characteristics that they desire in their potential child. Sperm from Harvard, egg from Radcliffe.

Other than the obvious arguments that occur to me in using these kind of procedures, something else occurs to me. If we have a significant number of children conceived of in these way, what are the social implications for the children? Could things take an unexpected and frightening turn?

I imagine what most would think that these children’s reactions might be very close to those of run-of-the-mill adoptees, I wonder. As an adoptee, I was always told the standard story, that I was given up by a woman that couldn’t care for me. Other adoptees and I, to a large degree, got the message that we might tend to be somewhat genetically inferior. A good deal of our struggle has always centered around that, and I think, accounts for some of the most essential way that we view ourselves, and to a great extent the way other view us.

What if we were told something different?

What if our parents had been able to choose our traits to a certain degree? What if they were proud that they had been able to afford what they considered the best genetics for us? What if they had chosen traits that were superior to their own? What if they told us, and everyone else?

How would we react to our beginnings then?

Imagine if from your earliest memories you had been told that your genes were going to make you superior to others. That you would be smart, beautiful, and athletic. That you, and those like you, were essentially better than other children. That you knew others like yourself and that the rest of the world knew that you had been earmarked for superiority. That your were “special” in a real way.

Could that sense of entitlement become part of you? If so, wouldn’t it stand to reason that you would feel that all the things that came with your legacy should automatically be yours? Would it make perfect sense to form alliances among your own kind? Sort of a Skull And Bones Cub Scout Pack?

At some point, wouldn’t you understand that if you were made out of superior genetic stuff than your parents, that they would have very little to offer to you beyond basic needs? How quickly could inferior parents come to seen as a burden?

This is all my musing, but with the climate of consumerism so prevalent in today’s society, I don’t believe it’s impossible to imagine a generation of horrible, entitled, nasty children, created by those displaying the same traits, to a lesser degree.

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10 thoughts on “Better, Stronger, Faster

  1. This IS a very good topic, but as one of the previously “desperately childless,” I’d like to poke a tiny hole in the logistics of the theory.

    I AM an avid reader, BTW, so I’m not posting to be a pain-in-the-ass, it just occured to me while reading that the desperately childless may have the resources to buy the donor eggs and sperm with the designer degrees but they’re still not going to have the wombs to give birth to the babies. Then it all goes back to surrogacy, which has been a huge, nasty debate for years. There just aren’t many people out there forming families via surrogacy.

    Admittedly, there are couples with male-factor infertility that could buy a vial of designer sperm and conceive a child and carry full-term; but most female-factor infertility cases are still going to be just that: females remaining desperately childless.

    Until men can start sharing the responsibility of carrying the pregnancies, this may be a good political debate, but not really a feasible real-life debate.

    (Coming from a chick with no uterus.)

    Jen

  2. You do bring up good points, Jen.

    But keep in mind, we are making advances all the time medically, how far away are uterus transplants from becoming more common? Then there is the news of Indian women being used as surrogates. I can only think that if adoption becomes harder, the demand for these kind of services will sky-rocket. And in a real Orwellian twist, sheep have been produced in uteruses (uterti?) removed completely from the animals.

    I agree, what we think of as traditional surrogacy probably isn’t going to increase a great deal (though the more lucrative it is, the more it will happen), but artificial surrogacy is definitely on the medical horizon. Granted it’s a debate that is a few years off, but I think we are going to see a day when babies can be “ordered”. The science is almost all already in place.

    I know that you don’t fit into the “I want a child at any cost” crowd, but they are out there. There are going to be medical professionals that will seek to offer them some pretty wild alternatives in the future. I don’t think we are going to see a lot of restrictions on it either, it won’t involve hot button issues like cloning. I fear, in the cases of uterus donation, or the use of non-human body dependent means (eeeeew, that just freaks me the hell out) it’s going to treated more like what we think of as “the gift of organ donation” (which is a good thing if somebody needs a kidney) so nice people can have babies.

    Another scary thing just occurred to me, what if, in the future they can do these things for less than the cost of adoption? Oh my, that will be horse of a different color all together.

  3. So many scary things about all the new, fun, fertility things out there. I’ve always had the worry that there will be a mass number of “siblings” out there who don’t know they’re siblings. Say a guy donates his sperm here there and everywhere within the same community. Five different women use it to have, lets say a few singletons and some twins here and there. Some of the kids grow up togehter in school and eventually DATE/MARRY/CONCEIVE…(shivers up my spine…).

    Oops sorry, got off the real topics there…but you’re darn right that there are medical “professionals” whol’ll do ANYTHING their patient wants them to do for the right amount of money.

  4. You bring up a lot of valid points. I tend to be a real cynic, so I can see these things continuing to happen and to go down the road you are talking about. Sometimes I think we’ll ultimately breed a race of beautiful, selfish monsters and we’ll destroy ourselves.

    Regarding fertility options: my DH works in a fertility clinic and it’s all about the money and avoiding lawsuits. The ONLY thing that will stop them from doing things that are unethical, is fear of lawsuits. Patients sign stacks of legal paperwork (probably more than in an adoption). When my husband sees a vial of a given donor’s sperm used multiple times, in the same geographical location, he’s upset about the very real possibility that mama2roo mentioned. It will happen, if it hasn’t already.

  5. I’m a child of closed adoption, when I was re-united I found out that I had two older brothers, living less than 20 miles from my parents, in a rural area. That’s scary, especially when you know I married a guy from 20 miles away the other direction.

    It’s not a new thing, and yes, I’m sure it does happen.

  6. Ick, Addie. You need to write sci-fi novels. I just got a major case of the creeps! 😉

    You know, when you start putting it in terms of sheep uteri, uterus donation, gestation performed outside the human body…it’s no wonder it leads us to consider whether we’re breeding egomanical monsters.

    I didn’t really address the entitlement issue because I was too wrapped up in the uterus problem, but you’re right. My own godson is the son of a single woman who was inseminated with donor sperm. Do I think he has an overall sense of entitlement, even at age 8? Yeah. He’s been told nothing his entire life but what a ‘perfect” donor his father was. Law student, blah, blah, blah. Part could be nature, part could be his personality, but I also think a lot of it is the crap he hears from his own mother. (Which I think she tells herself to make herself feel better.)

    But really, have you ever thought about writing a novel??

  7. I think you bring up a very real, and sad, possibility. Another possibility would be them growing up crushed by the pressure of unrealistic expectations. Worrying that they weren’t living up to the “potential” of their genetic coding.

  8. You know that they are already testing uterus transplants. Here you go darling sister use mine because yours is broke. We are really taking this stuff too far

  9. Addie

    I keep rewriting my comment about this, but ahhhh, look, Heather is right, I think there is a lot less entitlement, and a lot more disappointment than you want to know.

    And as an infertile adoptee, I know for a fact that adoption is cheaper than infertility treatment, and cheaper than donor eggs by a long shot.

    The use of technology isn’t the issue, frankly we treat far more trivial things in the health care system everyday for free. It’s the ethics of creating donor offspring that are ignored. They need open records even more than we do, because you may have 2 brothers, but there are kids out there with 30-40 siblings. Donor sperm cases–some sibling groups have been identified with hundreds of kids, from one prolific donor.

    Right now, real life, I’m not joking.

    Compared to them, I feel lucky. Because I know for sure my birth mother didn’t sell me for cash. And my adoptive mother didn’t buy me. (and no, paying a third party, like a lawyer or a Dr. or an adoption agency, is different. This isn’t expenses or medical treatment, it’s eggs and sperm for money.)

    There’s a reason so many countries around the world are banning payment for eggs and sperm. The US hasn’t yet.

    And Addie, if adoptees & first moms really want to end infant adoption, we should be encouraging better reproductive technology that can preserve women and men’s own fertility, covered by health insurance, so they can have their own kids.

    Same for APs IMO. They get treated like crap and overcharged by the fertility industry, but drunk drivers & drug dealers get excellent trauma care for free in prison. Gahhhh

    The whole thing is unfair all around, for everyone. I have this fantasy in my head where everyone gets to reproduce or not reproduce, when they want, how they want, with no problems….and no bitter angry offspring left in their wake.

    Just me…

  10. This post, in my opinion, sounds just like the eugenics debate of last century and I agree with all the posters arguements/problems that can come from people created this way. We already have organizations today the will provide matches for people looking for the “perfect” mate. So if you can marry him/her, buy sperm or an egg off of them and away you go. I really think we as a society need to evaluate this practice. We are so capitalistic in our thinking that whatever the free market wants and is willing to pay for, it will be supplied regardless of the consequences.

    I agree with Aurelia that allowing open records would systematically nearly eliminate the practice of donor sperm/egg reproduction – just as it has in some European countries. It also eliminate half-siblings mating and producing children with genetic defects. So much could be gained by a simple law change.

    Laws will always lag behind technology but the lag today needs to pick up the pace – like now.

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