I have my own mitochondrial DNA. When it becomes a part of another person--no matter how that is done--that person is a part of me, I am a part of her or him, and will be for generations hence.
I have a granddaughter whom my daughter gave up for adoption. I only learned about her after she was born. I never met her. Yet she is a part of me and I am a part of her. I worry that she needs to know who she is, why she was available to be adopted, who her biological, genetic, real non-adopted relatives are. I wonder if her adoptive parents--genetic strangers--are good to her/good for her. I wonder if she has an ability to write and express herself. I wonder if she has flat feet. I wonder if she is allergic to cats and ragweed. She should know that several grandparents died of a heart condition, and that cancer is rare in the family. I wonder how she feels about being adopted, if she questions her identity, and where she came from.
However, the laws of Wisconsin, where she was born and adopted, deny me this information. I am left only with eternal questions. It is true, my longing to know this granddaughter is not as all encompassing as was my need to find my daughter. That ruled my life until I found her.
As regular readers know, my daughter--my granddaughter's mother--died last year, and even if she were alive, the state would not search for her daughter; only the adopted person can initiate a search, as I recently learned when I emailed someone in the appropriate Wisconsin agency. I do have on file my willingness to be contacted, and the news that her mother is deceased--information that will be given to her should she contact the state. This unknown young woman, born April 3, 1986 in Madison, named Lisa by her mother, is a part of me.
Though I cannot walk in the shoes of the childless who yearn for a child, simply saying, Here, take some of me and make a baby, and we'll go on living as if that individual has nothing to do with me, is against any and all reasonable laws of nature. Embryo adoption as well as egg and sperm selling--they are not "donations" since donations are just that, donated--are abominable prima facie. Though the urge or procreate is what continues the human race, the world has enough people in it without making more when nature is trying to put on the brakes.
With all we know today about the need to know one's heritage, we should not be cooking up people in laboratories who will never be able to learn from whence they came. If anyone doubts this, look up the websites of sperm-donor babies searching for their fathers and siblings. Go to a meeting of adoptees in search. Read their postings on the Internet. Talk to a late-discovery-adoptee and hear their pain.
The need to know one's roots is basic and universal; no one should be denied this. Laws that seal records of adopted people are abominations that go against the grain of reality, nature, any ethical standard. They are the remnants of a culture that condoned slavery.
Because someone wants to have a child, no matter how deeply felt the desire, no matter that the science makes it possible, does not make creating that life from this one's eggs and that's one sperm right. Because someone cannot have a child does not give them the right to someone else's, whether as a living baby or an embryo frozen in a tube.
PS: Aston, a friend who let loose one night about how selfish birth mothers are who search, and I have reached a rapprochement of sorts. He called, apologized, came over, we talked. He said he read the Donaldson study of adopted people and had gained some new insights, but if I made any headway on his harsh and unyielding attitude towards birth mothers (that we have absolutely no right to ever initiate contact, because that might be disruptive) is unknown. Aston is a church-going man, and--only when I asked for compassion for the birth mother's point of view--did he seem to respond positively and think it over.
I did use what one of our readers wrote: that adoptees are told they are selfish for searching because they might upset the birth mother's neat little life. That seemed to hit the heart of the matter: both sides being told they are selfish to seek reunion. (By the way, I've seen some new list of acceptable language [to adoptive parents, one assumes], and reunion is now verboten.) When the conversation started he seemed only to want to tell me that I should warn people that adoption was a subject not open to discussion, which seemed a bit boorish on his part. I have been treated better by hostile attorneys when I testified in court for adoptees asking for their birth records. Aston ought to try discussing the reasons against international adoption with our mutual friend who has a Chinese daughter. She gets apoplectic if you mention Emily Prager's name. (more on this later.)
Perhaps the good that came out of this whole disagreeable incident is that I was confronted head on the attitude of many today--many today in our legislatures--and because of our friendship and numerous connections, possibly I opened Aston's mind a bit to the concept of birth mothers other than Juno. And that would be a good thing. If only he were not the kind of person we encounter in Albany when we lobby for open records.
The I-Ching says: Work on what has been spoiled.