' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Having a Baby Today; and a new book about identity when adopted

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Having a Baby Today; and a new book about identity when adopted

photo by Ken Robbins
We've skated in the past over this generation of young women choosing not to have children until OMG it's too late....well, today, two books reviewed in the New York Times Style section caught my eye: Rattled! a memoir by Christine Coppa is about a young woman who got pregnant at 26 and decided to have the baby, even though daddy split; the other, In Her Own Sweet Time: Unexpected Adventures in Finding, Love, Commitment and Motherhood by Rachel Lehmann-Haupt is the story of the author, now 39, who is considering insemination unless Mr. Right shows up on her beach blanket this summer. Don't know if she is considering insemination by someone who the child might someday be able to know. Here's the link to the Times. Perhaps we could send her a copy of Lethal Secrets: The Psychology of Donor Istemination, Problems and Solutions by Annette Baran and Reuben Pannor, long time adoption-reform advocates.

You probably won't have any trouble deciding which author we at Birth Mother, First Mother Forum would prefer to have over for tea or a rum and tonic.

And from New Jersey, Linda has alerted us to a new book by a fellow Jerseyan, Ann Bauer: The Sound of Hope about her quest to find her original parents and identity.

And while we are feeling frisky and cranky today: check out what just popped up after I hit the publish post, View Blog:
Shall we barf now or later?
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  1. How are you going to coax people off the ART ledge without sounding *cranky* and like you're anti-reproductive rights? I mean it seriously. What argument can you make for avoiding ART--especially when you don't think adoption is so swell--that doesn't sound like Sister Mary Balthasar scrolling through the list of forbidden things that screw up god-given procreation real good? Just curious. I am not a fan of anonymous donor insemination or surrogacy myself but I'm pretty close to that 39-year-old you just pooh-poohed. (I adopted.) So what do you propose for gay couples as well? I'm all in favour of making a huge case for foster-to-adopt with gay couples but many of them are hung up on having that bio-connection. I'm also in favour of promoting the joys of childlessness. But this is not going to make much of a dent. The childless brigade has been with us for a long time but for those who discover that urge to parent, their message simply isn't relevant. I fear that the urge to parent and the ability to do so are not connected. Sorry. It is a conundrum. (I personally think mnarriage and parenthood ought to bge separated too.)

  2. Do the basic facts of biology elude people today--that no matter how busy they are with their careers and whatever, one's reproductive abilities start going down after 25 and at 35 take quite a plunge? Is this no longer taught in Biology 101?

    I object to writing the words "artificial insemination" or IVF or reproductive technology and having a damn ad pop up advertising said services in a country where anonymous donors are still the most common and most of the people who used such services let their most fecund years slip by. Yeah, it makes me cranky. I realize I can not change the mind set of the generation that waited to reproduce but I don't have to like it.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Nobody cares abnout procreation until they can't do it.

    Socially, the whole society would also have to revert to something it probably can't be anymore if teens are to start having children and it's seen as normal and good. Grandparents? Your life is over. We should all face it and "move on" about that too. The fact that our biology is not in sync with our social mores or psychological realities is a conundrum but just *putting it all back* isn't going to work.

    But this doesn't take away from the fact that there are real issues with surrogacy and anonymous donation. Probably, I would imagine, the children of such technologies are going to have to speak out forcefully about what's missing in their lives for this to change.

  5. "Do the basic facts of biology elude people today--that no matter how busy they are with their careers and whatever, one's reproductive abilities start going down after 25 and at 35 take quite a plunge? Is this no longer taught in Biology 101? "

    Um, did the basic realities of social opprobrium elude me when I got knocked up in 1962?

    OTOH, I think it's great that Ms. Coppa got to keep and raise her baby, and that she was fortunate enough to have a strong support system to help her do so. I'd wish as much for every young single mother, who, with a little help would be capable of doing a good job.
    However, Ms. Cappa's case is not an argument for young women to rush out and get pregnant - just because they're young and fertile and can.
    Besides, far from all the women who fail to have children do so because they've 'left it too late'.
    And even if they have, unlike some, I don't see their reasons for waiting as necessarily being selfish. What's so wrong with trying to arrange one's life in a responsible way, that won't be damaging to oneself or others? Maybe a person can be a tad too cautious and overly concerned with security, but circumspection in and of itself is hardly a crime. Perhaps I could have done with a little more of it.

    However, it does bother me that fertile women can store their eggs and choose to become pregnant in their fifties and sixties. It's one thing when ART is used to correct failures of nature (such as in some IVF procedures), but another when it is used to create post-menopausal pregnancies. Infertility after menopause isn't illness, and post-menopausal pregnancies are not in the interest of the child.

  6. I couldn't agree more. Did anyone see Prime Time Family Secrets last night? Those kids were too young to be moms. Two of them admitted on camera they'd take it all back. 15, 16, 17? Who are you kidding? They were chafing under the responsibility. BTW, speaking of biology: a kid's brain isn't even fully mature until about age 25. Might be something of an indication that biology alone is not a good basis for decision-making.

    As the daughter of a 46-year-old (all natural), maybe I have a slightly different take on it.

  7. Women over 30 are twice as likely to have fertility problems as younger women. Fertility declines from the early 20s to late 30s and it is difficult or even impossible for a significant percentage of women aged 39 or older to successfully become pregnant and bear a child.

    Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, as Osolomama notes, but IVF over 30 is not to correct a "failure of nature." It is used to engineer nature.

    Incidentally, Ms. Coppa was 26. A good age to have a child.

  8. Everyone knows that fertility declines with age. However, nature often *does* fail under stress, environmental or other, and sometimes for no apparent reason.
    Not all women who fail to become pregnant do so because of advancing age, or because they've contracted an infection.
    IVF can be used to overcome endometriosis that hasn't responded to other treatments. Or even problems with sperm.
    Sometimes women are unable to conceive naturally because of childhood sexual abuse.

    Personally, I think there are some situations where IVF is morally acceptable, and others where it is not.
    As with many ethical problems, it's drawing the line that is tricky.

  9. As far as IVF being a way of "engineering nature" is concerned, engineering is about using scientific knowledge to solve practical problems
    So, going back to what Osolomama said about anti-reproductive rights, I think it is useful to remember that contraception and abortion, even though they represent the other side of the coin to IVF, and have been hugely instrumental in the emancipation of women, can be abused as forms of social engineering (think Norplant and minority women).

    Can we have a little nuance, please?
    Or is that to difficult to manage?



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