Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hollywood celebs beget babies any way they can

Having children via surrogacy and adoption continues to be popular in the world of fantasy and entertainment. Sixty-eight year old Robert De Niro and his wife, 56-year-old wife Grace Hightower, became the parents of a daughter, Helen Grace Hightower, via a surrogate this past December. De Niro has three other surrogate produced via surrogate, a son with Hightower ands twin sons with former model Toukie Smith.

Rickie Martin, Mathew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, Elton John, and Nicole Kidman have all become parents in the past few years thanks to women who "donate" their eggs and women who carry the babies.


Kidman is also the mother of two children through adoption with former husband Tom Cruise. The list of Hollywood entertainers who adopted children stretches as far back as Hollywood and includes Bob Hope, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Joan Fontaine, James Cagney, June Allyson, Perry Como, and of course, Ronald Regan and Jane Wyman. In recent times it includes Sandra Bullock, Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest, Sheryl Crow, Edie Falco, Mia Farrow, Calista Flockhart, Mariska Hargitay, Katherine Heigl, Hugh Jackman, Diane Keaton, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, Paula Poundstone, Marie Osmond, Michelle Pfeiffer, Denise Richards, Sharon Stone, and of course adoptive mother extraordinaire Angelia Jolie--to name a few. 

ADOPTING A BABY AS AN IMAGE PICKER-UPPER
Kim Kardashian, mere etre?
It's unlikely the trend will slow. Even Kim Kardashian (she of the 72-day marriage) fame is considering adopting a Haitian child. According to anonymous sources quoted in  In Touch "Kim sees it as the perfect way to heal her damaged reputation--and transform her into an earth mother, a la Angelina Jolie. 'She's telling friends she wants to adopt because of the awful living conditions she saw in Haiti,' sighs a pal. 'But it's pretty obvious she's only doing it to revive her image.'" On the other hand, Hollywood Trends Examiner, an online tabloid, excoriated Tina Fey for having a baby au natural. It was her second that way, the nerve of her!

While I don't doubt that some of these celebrity parents are motivated by love for children, these high-tech births and adoptions smack of publicity-seeking, priviledge, and raw power. With enough money, anyone can be a parent. While it used to be the rich got richer and the poor had babies, now it seems that the rich get richer and have the babies of the poor.

Surely these people must realize that mothers don't give up babies simply to be spared the burden of raising them, but do so because of the lack of resources to care for them.  And while surely some women donate eggs to their relatives, most do it for the money, just as women in places like India carry fetuses to term to have enough money to buy a house.

Do these adoptive parents or parents through surrogacy think about the women who lose in these transactions? The mothers who grieve over the loss of their children. The women who risk their health to produce eggs or carry babies. Do these wealthy unnatural parents consider helping mothers keep their babies?  Are they aware of how the adoption industry--abetted by conservative religious authorities-- manipulate vulnerable mothers into surrendering? Have they read about fathers denied the right to raise their children by harsh and unfair laws? Do they realize college coeds are lulled into thinking that their eggs are nothing but tissue to be sold for profit?

Do they think about the lives these children acquired from the bodies of others will lead? Because of their parents' demanding schedules, most of these children will be raised by nannies and many sent to boarding schools. Because of sealed records, the children, particularly those born with donated eggs or sperm, may never know their biological origins. By the time they graduate from, high school, some  may well be orphans. When Robert De Niro's new daughter is in the fifth grade, he was be 78. By the time she graduates from high school, he will be 85 or 86 and possibly in a walker, if he is still alive. Yes, this daughter of his will probably have enough money to live well, but there is so much more to a fulfilled life than money.

What are these people who create babies this way thinking? How selfish are they? While capitalists and conservatives scream for fewer regulations, we believe that this manufacture of children should be tightly regulated and that it should be illegal to do it for money, as is the case in some countries. Removing the exchanging of shekels for a baby would immediately curtail their production.

THE BRAVE NEW WORLD OF BABIES TO ORDER
By acquiring children through adoption and creating them through artificial means, these wealthy celebrity parents are normalizing the experience, and thus encouraging others to do likewise. It is not enough simply to want a child; the moral decision would  be to care for motherless and fatherless children already here. If they truly wanted to do the right thing, they would take children out of foster care who do need permanent parents and homes. In the process of furthering this new and disturbing trend of  manufacturing babies to order, they likewise further the exploitation of vulnerable women, and create children who are not grounded to their history and the history of the world. It is indeed a brave new world these individuals must one day face.
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See also:
Action is the Sincerest form of thanks
What's wrong with fertile women adopting?
What We Think About Adoption
Egg Donors or Egg Sellers?

18 comments :

  1. I really think surrogacy and "donor" gamete-conceived people need the same rights as adoptees. They need to know everything knowable about their origins, preferably, having a relationship with the people who were involved in their births in whatever way.
    But in a culture where children are commodities--and I don't just mean adopted children or third-party conceived children, but ALL children--the rights of the baby/child/eventual adult will always be last, behind the interests/desires of the "intended parents."

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  2. Well said and I foresee people in the future looking back at this time in history in horror. At least I hope the future generations do feel that way because if they haven't learned by then how wrong it is - then it isn't worth worrying about the future generations.

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  3. The Hollywood adoption craze is one of the reasons I worry that a larger percentage of expectant single mothers will relinquish their children for adoption. Celebrities have certainly put a very positive spin on adoption. And, of course, with no mention of the effect on the first mother and very little (if any) discussion of how the child fares being adopted.

    I also think that public sentiment (at least in the U.S.) is becoming more negative towards abortion. Roe v. Wade has been chipped away at with notification laws, time delays, and now clinics having to meet the same operating room standards as hospitals. It would not surprise me if in the not too distant future, Roe v. Wade were overturned. Given that currently approximately 50% of unplanned pregnancies are terminated this would leave a huge number of women with the options of either parenting or surrendering to adoption.

    When you combine this with the seemingly endless "adoption is so beautiful" message that is coming out of Hollywood and elsewhere I do think it is possible that we could have another period where large numbers of children are given up for adoption.

    This is why in my personal opinion those of us who know that adoption is not all rainbows and fairy tales need to keep clamoring away.

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  4. LilySea

    "I really think surrogacy and "donor" gamete-conceived people need the same rights as adoptees"

    Do adoptees have these rights? Sealed records keep them from knowing the truth!

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  5. Robin for all the reasons you mentioned, just look at the personhood amendments they are trying at state level, anyway, I too believe the future is not going to be pretty and will be a new version of the BSE.

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  6. Robin said "Celebrities have certainly put a very positive spin on adoption." This is not new in our culture. We have used celebs of all kinds for selling products for years. Look at Nike, addidas, spaulding, and almost anything you can link to a sport - we use the celeb to sell it.... Society has not learned that just because the face is familiar doesn't mean it is the face you want to follow into the future!

    After all, who doesn't realize that being OJ doesn't make you innocent... just rich and famous!

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  7. What about Denise Richard's new baby girl? WTF???

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  9. Denise Richards an ex of "winning" Charlie Sheen who looks as though he is still doing drugs. Between his ex and her drug problems, the twins they produced should lead a life just like their role models mom and dad!
    Denise Richards looks normal compared to them but again did she really need a baby? It's her new attention getter her prop to bring attention to herself.
    I absolutely detest these Hollywood types and anyone who thinks they need a baby to complete them or family. If one can't produce one "get over it" there is a reason you can't have one of your own. Those who adopt have told we moms that we need to "get over it" after losing a our baby.

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  10. For the record, I do not believe Denise Richards has been to rehab. You are thinking of the second wife, Brooke Mueller. Denise seems to just like dating guys that go to rehab.

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  11. Sorry, but don't think any expectant single mother is going to relinquish because geriatric Robert de Niro had a child via surrogacy.

    I came across an interesting thread on of all places: FMF. It's called "Are the Last Days of Adoption Really Upon Us? If true, good news" and the statistics are even more interesting than the ones that have been quoted for many years--that about 2% of pregnancies end of adoption. From the post by Lorraine:

    "Quoting federal data that notes that only about 6,800 babies a year are relinquished at birth for adoption, writer Cheryl Wetzstein notes that is 'a minuscule number out of nearly 3 million unwed pregnancies.'"

    http://www.firstmotherforum.com/2009/04/are-last-days-of-adoption-really-upon.html

    That's .2 percent of unwed pregnancies. The percentage of relinquishments based on all pregnancies would be even lower.

    There's an interesting comment in the thread about how Juno did NOT trigger a tsunami of relinquishments.

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  12. B: You are right. It appears that Denise Richards is not the one who went to rehab.

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  13. OceanBreeze,

    Cheryl Wetzstein's numbers are clearly wrong -- Lorraine was simply quoting them and then using a commonly accepted percentage for the children of white unmarried mothers placed for adoption. According to the US Depart of Health and Human Services, about 14,000 newborns are placed for adoption each year. About 1.3 million babies are born to single women each year. This works out to one percent. However, about 40 percent of the babies born to single women are born to African American women who have a low rate of surrendering their children so the percentage is closer to two percent of babies born to white women.

    The publicity over the rich and famous "building their families" either through adoption or donated eggs carried by surrogates encourages the not rich or famous to do the same. The increase in demand along with pro-adoption state laws results in clever marketing schemes to induce vulnerable women to give up their babies or sell their eggs.

    The glamour factor likely also plays a part. Women may see giving their baby to a celeb as a way to assure a glamorous life for their child and perhaps for themselves.

    Celebs are trendsetters. By treating children as accessories they encourage others to do the same. On the other hand, if celebs supported services to help mothers nurture their children and encourage the adoption of children from foster care, others would follow.

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  14. As any advertiser knows celebrity endorsement has a huge amount of swaying power to get people to buy their product or use their service. That's why companies pay the celebs the big bucks.

    There are even celeb adoptees like country singer Rodney Atkins promoting the NCFA. That makes me want to scream. Although given Mr. Atkins recent troubles this arrangement may not last.

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  15. Trying to look on the brighter side of celeb influence, I do think very few people would undertake something as serious. life-changing and expensive as adopting a child or hiring a surrogate because celebs are doing it. Yes, they are trendsetters in fashion, one might buy a dress because a celeb had one like it, but adopting a child is a whole other level of commitment.

    As you noted celebrity adoptions have been going on for a very long time, at least since the 20s. Celebrities live in a fishbowl, and there is as much public interest and glee when things go wrong for them (multiple divorces, affairs, addictions, rehab,"Mommy Dearest" exposes of not so great adoption stories,) as the ooey gooey isn't it sweet they are adopting stuff.

    I would not think this would be a big reason for mothers to surrender either, as the likelihood of any child being adopted by a celebrity are very small. By and large people's reasons for life changing decisions are in their real life, not something "as seen on TV".

    Yes, most of the celebrity adoptions are sickening, as is the rest of their lifestyle, but I don't see it as starting a trend in everyday lives and the real world.

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  16. I think what gets me the most about celebrity adoptions is the message that AP's are some sort of heroic do-gooders who are saving babies from some unseen darkness and destruction. The ability to polish their halo's in public has become truly sickening, and is basically a flashing neon justification to all who selfishly must have a child at all costs. A two for one, someone else's baby and an instant infusion of admiration from everyone. Really helps to salve that infertility pain I bet.

    Maryanne, I know of a young lady who, while pregnant with her husbands child, expressed that she felt "selfish" for having a baby, instead of adopting. Because there was so much "need" out there for parents. We had a talk. She now happens to be an advocate for giving adoptees the OBC's and no longer feels guilty for creating her family the "old fashioned" way. I think that it does have impact when celebrities "advertise". Sponsorship of products by celebrities is a standard method of separating us from our $, why would this be any different? I remember feeling heartbroken when Sandra Bullock adopted, because I had always liked her work as an actress, and had this "et tu Sandra?" moment.

    I can't even imagine the frustration that surrogacy children are going to feel when the urge to search and know who you are appears in their lives.. where do they even begin?

    Respectfully,

    Tamara

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  17. All I can say is YUCK! I hate that adoption is being used as a publicity stunt ("we felt so bad for these orphaned children!") or for convenience ("I want to be a mother, but can't ruin my career by being pregnant.") Disgusting. So Joan Crawford. Get a grip, celebs. If you want to help children, look at those in foster care. And don't be stealing them from foreign countries, so you'll never have to deal with pesky first mothers. Same IV and surrogates. Get honest. Your children deserve to know their truth. If we could get celebrities on out side, adoptive parents or not, we open the sealed records. But they are not with us. They are the ultimate secretive aparents.

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  18. The real problem in society is women who can't control their impulses, aren' t responsible enough to use birth control, and give birth to children they cannot support. By and large, they cause the worst problems in society. Its a shame they are passing on their genetics.

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