Sunday, November 25, 2007

Corruption in Adoptions

I have a pair of ovaries. They are an organ. Until last year, if I wanted to, I could have sold my eggs for around $5000 (possibly per egg). The process sounds grueling (lots of hormones) but not terribly time consuming (around 6 weeks).

Men have been selling their sperm for years. People (including myself) have been known to donate blood and plasma. They also will sell their blood (I've fortunately never had to sell my plasma).

And that's not all. People sell their organs. It may not be ethically a good thing, but it happens. It's a societal issue and a big debate.

I'd like to hear other's opinions - I'm trying to determine why as a society, we refuse to compensate mothers if they decide to "sell" their babies. I'm serious about this - I do know it's a contraversial topic.

I would just like to have a conversation. I'm not meaning for this to be a personal attack or debate. I know that many people have very strong opinions about life and fertility. Just that I'm not sure that we discuss issues like this (as a culture) and I think we should. I hope someone would not be morally offended by discussing this and if you think you might be, you might not to read further on this post.

Foreign Adoptions that have even the slightest tinge of possible "baby-selling" are denounced as corrupt or wrong. So, particularly in foreign adoptions, if an official gets an extra thousand dollars, and that money goes back to the birth mother - currently, everyone looks the other way. And there remain countries where anything can be bought - for a price. With that said, there is also the possibility that a child could be stolen from their birth mother. Or the adoption happens and the mother doesn't realize what's happening. If money is the only factor - that becomes much more possible. The possibilities are horrible - and how can one (society) prevent them from happening?

So as a society, the way we get around this is that we have determined that each mother should want to give up her baby only out of her altruistic good nature. We can reimburse her for some expenses, but any notion of compensation is corrupt. Most mothers/parents can and do give up their biological children to be adopted by another family - solely out of love. And I will say, personally, after going through the pregnancy process myself, it is the most difficult thing I have ever done. So the notion that the only way that a mother could bear to give up her child is out of love holds a great deal of sway for me.

But I have no illusions that all mothers or families have the privileged, loving upbringing that I had. And just because something is easy or unquestioning for me, doesn't mean that it is for everyone else.

It hearkens back to the stereotype that all women are destined to be mothers and capable of loving their babies. And simply carrying a baby for ten months (yes, it's ten - forty weeks) automatically means that a biological mother loves her baby. Or, at least, would never get pregnant simply to be reimbursed. Perhaps it's the notion that the only reason a mother would give up her child would be for the money.

I do bemoan parts of our culture where monetary gain is the only motivator. There is a lot more to life than a paycheck. And our society would fail if its citizens didn't feel some social duties or responsibilities.

With that said, money is incredibly important. I can't remember who said to follow the money to find power - but they are intertwined. And after everything that happens during the process - isn't the time and emotional attention worth something?

Another argument against compensation is that there should be a sanctity of life. That the ability to create a life should be held sacred. But it's unfortunately something that many people who shouldn't be parents are able to do. I'm speaking (of course) about those who abuse and neglect their offspring.

Or the very valid argument that humans should not be bought and sold. And at what price?

I think this is the most powerful argument against selling babies.

After all, how do you explain to your twelve year old son or daughter about the circumstances surrounding their adoption? If they want to find out where they came from? How would they react/feel to find out that their biological mother was only interested in the cash?

Economically, I'm interested that this is something that hasn't followed the supply and demand rule. There are lots of good parents who can't have babies (for whatever reason), but yet the supply of babies has not increased.

The question is - if we did start compensating mothers for babies, would there be additional unwanted babies? Would people (mothers) actually become pregnant for the paycheck?

I think no. Because giving birth is actually dangerous. Maternal mortality is still a very real percentage (although less than 1%) even in western nations. Motherhood can be fatal (no one ever seems to want to talk about this).

I know this post has gone all over the place. I don't really want to explain why I'm personally interested in this topic at the moment - I do know some adoptive parents who are struggling with these types of corruption questions (they are not reading this blog that I know of or were involved in a questionable adoption). They wonder how much "corruption" is okay. Thanks in advance for any and all opinions.


jana said...

I had an LDS friend who sold her eggs to pay her way through college. At the time it sort of freaked me out. But for her it was just a sound financial decision.

Aerin said...

Thanks Jana - that's exactly what I'm talking about. For some reason - men selling and women selling is thought of differently in our culture.

Then - there is also this "magical" difference between eggs and babies. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be - it's just interesting to me the lines we draw - what's acceptable and what's not acceptable.

And - I didn't mention in the post, but even with eggs - who can say if a resulting child decides to look up the egg donor? I think it would be an interesting situation - and one any donor would need to be prepared for.

Freckle Face Girl said...

I guess I have fairly liberal views on fertility and adoption. There are just so many loving couples that would make great parents. There are also a lot of people who have no right to raise a child. Somehow, I would like to see the scale tipped in the favor of the child even if it means $ is involved.

One of my friends adopted a baby from the Marshall Islands. It was the 5th child in a very poor family. While the deal did not include "financial compensation," my friend is required to send them Christmas gifts every year. I am sure that factored into the birth mother decided to give it up for adoption.

Personally, I don't have a problem with compensating a birth mother. From what I have read, surrogate mothers get about $30k on top of all their expenses for having a baby for a couple. That is fairly common & you don’t see lots of women signing up for that. I certainly would NOT even for a lot more money.