More on the “Twiblings”

The New York Time’s Motherlode blog posted a follow-up to the “Meet the ‘Twiblings'” article, and Melanie Thernstrom herself addressed some of the commenters’ questions and reactions.

Again, I thought Thernstrom did an excellent job of providing her point of view and again I was shocked by some of the comments. This time it seemed quite a bit of the snark and vitriol were taking issue with Thernstrom’s explanation of why they didn’t adopt. The comments disputed her facts and even slammed her not using correct adoption terminology (“placing a baby for adoption” vs. “giving up a baby”).

What frustrates me most about the comments is that they don’t listen. Or read rather. Or think. Every time an article like this is published, someone tries to explain that adoption is not inexpensive, easy or fast. For every person whose cousin’s in-law’s neighbor’s BFF was able to adopt a newborn after only two days of waiting, there are many more couples who wait years for a child, and that’s domestic or international adoption. It is not an easy process. It is invasive, expensive and humbling, and I can use those same words for infertility treatment in general.

However, one thing that dealing with infertility does give you is time to reflect and consider. Lots and lots of time. Our family building options dictated that we think long and hard about what was important to us in a family and what we could or could not handle. I think that’s why it is doubly infuriating when we are judged and criticized for the decisions we make.

And don’t get me started on the accusations that we exploit women by using them as surrogates b/c they are all ignorant, lower-class women who don’t know any better. Ridiculous. I’m glad the commenters have the time and the distance to debate the ethics. I don’t and didn’t. This is my life, and situations seem a lot different when they are happening to you.

If you haven’t read the Motherlode blog before, I encourage you to do so. I really enjoy reading it even though at times it seems like an alien world (sort of the same way I felt about Sex and the City).

Meet the “Twiblings”

I don’t know how many of you are readers of the New York Times Magazine, but there was a really nice article on gestational surrogacy in the most recent edition: “Meet the Twiblings“. The article chronicles writer Melanie Thernstrom’s journey to her son and daughter–not quite twins but yet more than simply siblings since they were born 5 days apart–via egg donor and two gestational surrogates.

All of us with any experience with surrogacy always hold our breaths when we hear about surrogacy in the media because it is usually handled poorly. This article is really good, and it is probably one of the best ones I have read about a couple’s experience with gestational surrogacy and all the emotions, decisions and overall roller coaster ride. And I’m a little surprised that it is the New York Times that provided the story since their last piece on surrogacy, “Her Body, My Baby,” was very controversial and reinforced a lot of stereotypes.

I was less thrilled with the comments on Thernstrom’s piece. Commenter after commenter declared the lengths they went to have a family disturbing, usually taking them to task for not adopting one of the millions of babies all over the world who need loving homes and contributing to overpopulation. Yes, that’s right: we infertiles were created expressly to solve that problem! What a neat solution! Never mind that we might have a desire to have our own biological children just as those who are fertile have and do. But I digress. I supposed that I expected the comments to be a tad more enlightened since they were reading an article in the New York Times. But then again, maybe I shouldn’t have expected it.

I thought Thernstrom’s piece did a wonderful job of explaining their motivations and how they came to surrogacy, making surrogacy and egg donation seem not as unusual as they might. Unlike the previous article on surrogacy, it was clear that Thernstrom and her husband truly valued and appreciated their gestational carriers and egg donors, preventing any accusations of exploitation that the other article generated. Thernstrom’s article was carefully crafted and thoughtful. How could it have engendered the mostly negative criticism it received?

It made me wonder about the reception we received when we told everyone we were pursuing surrogacy. No one reacted with horror or disgust. No one preached at us about it being an abomination. We did get asked questions, some more clumsily posed than others, but we answered them. I certainly didn’t and don’t expect anyone who hasn’t gone through infertility and surrogacy to be knowledgeable. The typical reaction was elation.

But now I wonder. Did anyone think like the commenters on Thernstrom’s article? Did they go home and wonder why we didn’t accept that clearly we weren’t meant to reproduce and just adopt or live childless? Do they look at Daniel and study him for any sign of deformity or mark? Do they pity him for such an unusual origin? Do they wonder if F will come back to get him?

In reality, whether anyone in my life thinks those types of thoughts doesn’t matter. Daniel is here, and we would do it all over again and hope to do so. I think it just bothers me that any reader of Thernstrom’s article can be confronted with a parents’ desire to have a child and the extraordinary lengths they are willing to go through to have one and call that ugly.

I call it beautiful.