Thursday, September 24, 2009

Botched embryo implants garner sympathy -- Birthmothers? Fugheddaboudit

An Ohio couple, Shawn and Carolyn Savage, is struggling with giving up the child Carolyn will carry for nine months. After giving birth by Caesarian section, Carolyn will hand the baby over to another woman. “We want a moment to say “hello and goodbye” she said sadly. “This will be exceptionally difficult,” added Steven in interviews broadcast on MSNBC. This is no adoption story; Carolyn was erroneously implanted with an embryo created by another couple.

Their trauma, however, does not translate into empathy. Although the Savages already have three children, they want their unimplanted embryos to have a chance at life. Because doctors have advised against another pregnancy, they are planning to use a surrogate to carry them to fruition. The Savages also intend to sue the fertility clinic.

Shirel and Steven Crawford of California want to find the children created from their sperm and egg but implanted into the wrong woman or women. An adoptive mother, Shirel was unable to have her own children according to the Orange County Register. "If they're in need, there's nothing we can do but pray for them," she said. "We just hope that somehow, if there's a way they can find us, for medical reasons, and we'd like to make sure that they're fine. They're at that age where they want to know about themselves" said Shirel Crawford.

Julie Kirk would also like to know who bore her children. She donated eggs, hoping to give an infertile friend a chance at motherhood. However, enterprising doctors created more embryos from her eggs and implanted them in other women without her consent. "I was under the impression that they were going to one person, they weren't just being farmed out like I'm someone's broodmare" Said Kirk.

Kirk and the Crawfords sued the University of California at Irvine whose doctors were responsible for the mess. UCI has settled their and another 155 cases for a total of $27.7 million. According to a report by the LA Times-Washington Post news service, the doctors skipped the country to avoid criminal prosecution.

These stories are news worthy because (we hope) they are rare. What’s not rare are the stories of the 15,000 to 20,000 American women and an equal number of foreign women who lose their newborn infants to adoption each year to meet the demand of Americans who cannot or choose not have children naturally.

Meredith Vieira is not interviewing these women. Nor are they receiving thousands of dollars to ease their pain. If anything, they are expected to be better off, relieved that they will not be burdened with a demanding infant. It is a sad truth that a woman who loses a child to whom she is not biologically related, and women who lost children they did not bear, command more sympathy than those of us who lost genetic children we carried for nine months. We are supposed to go away, not think about those children, or god forbid – look for them – so that the “perfectly happy” adoptive family can pretend we do not exist, or died in some accident shortly after the child’s birth.

4 comments :

  1. You have that right. I honestly believe that people have to be living in the world of IDK to believe that is such a big deal. It amazes me that so much attention is given to the woman that loses a child in a mall, or whose spouse wins custody, etc. and they act as if it is nothing to us.

    Considering the fact is that they put themselves in this position....definitely fugheddaboudit.....

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  2. I think it's part of the assumption that mothers who surrender "deserve" their pain. Suz over on her blog at http://writingmywrongs.com was recently talking about a woman who was forced to do community service as part of her surrender (!!) and we started talking about those who had botched episiotomies and other horrors because the doctors thought they "deserved" it. All part of making those mothers feel ashamed and unworthy.

    Is anybody really surprised that there might be fertility clinics that choose to make money in this fashion? It's just an extension of what the adoption industry already does. Unfortunately that would be news to many people who don't have a direct connection to adoption.

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  3. Um, Triona, I didn't get that. At all. I understand the point you're making--and I agree that sympathies tend to lie not with the person who is actually suffering the most but the one whose pain people can most identify with--but I do not understand how a woman who relinquished could be "sentenced". Relinquishment is not a crime. How did this person get into the criminal justice system? I went to the original source and still cound not understand.

    I also don't get why one wouldn't be sympathetic to a woman who who carried a child for 9 months believing it to be her child and then had to relinquish. Or is it just the genetic lineage that is important to y'all. Seriously, if you could explain it to me.

    Both posts--yours and Suz's--have me thinking I just need to quit this game altogether. The learning curve is simply too steep.

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  4. I've postponed my response because...where does one start? It sounds like science fiction.

    I feel for the woman who has to relinquish a child she's carried and will give birth to, but it's not her child per se. Does that make it any easier? Will the baby know the difference? How the hell will the parents explain their child's origins when he asks Mummy and Daddy to tell him about when he was in Mummy's tummy?

    This was posted on Lorraine's facebook wall in response to the blog link: "This is a prime example of why people should not interfere with Mother Nature." I confess that was my gut reaction when I heard the story, now (shaking my head...)

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