' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Legal surrogacy in NY moves forward, adoptee rights stalled. Again.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Legal surrogacy in NY moves forward, adoptee rights stalled. Again.

Lorraine at 2018 Indiana conference with fellow New Yorker,
Suzanne Bachner, playwright,The Good Adoptee 
If surrogacy--renting a woman's womb for a high price--is legal, why isn't prostitution?

Both commodify a woman's body as a product to be sold, bartered, rented, call it anything you want, it offers for sale the use of a woman's body. If the surrogacy is unpaid--except for the expenses of the procedure itself and the birth of the baby--it's not quite the same. Family members--even mothers for their daughters, sisters for siblings--sometimes have offered to become impregnated with related DNA as sperm or egg or embryo and carry a fetus to term. I have no objection to that.

But the paying for the use of a woman's womb, and having her incur all the medical challenges of pregnancy and birth, changes everything. It takes advantage of impoverished women as well as students facing enormous college costs their families can ill afford. In fact, the better the school one is attending--think Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the like--and the fee can skyrocket to $200,000.

This isn't about surrogacy
per se, but it covers the
same issues for the children. 

You read that right.

Poverty and money force women into this inhumane practice. Until recently, India was a hothouse of surrogacy where "fertility tourism" was an industry that brought in $400 million a year. Poor women from outlying villages could make enough money for their families to buy a house. Videos of the horrid and cramped conditions the women lived in while pregnant gave the country a bad name, and the government acted. In most of Europe, paid surrogacy--just as paying for sperm--is outlawed.

While adoptee rights in New York seem to be in no one's sights in the legislature right now--at least to judge in press reports datelained Albany where there is not a single mention of them--paid legal surrogacy has grabbed Gov. Andrew Cuomo's attention. This morning I had an email from him--sign up on his contact page and you will get missives from him too--urging me to support LGBTQ rights, and part of that package is to legalize paid gestational surrogacy.

Our issue of adoptee rights somehow runs smack into this miasma of murky bioethics, the business of making babies for profit. Why so? Because gay and lesbians who wish to have children need outside help to make it happen. And that is where the exploitation of poor women enters the picture.

Excellent history of the tangled,
tortured route of sealed records.
I consult it frequently. 
Offer no money and it's unlikely many women will be lining up to turn over their bodies for the use of someone else--and then lose all rights to the baby. According to the New York Times this morning, 47 states allow surrogacy now through different kinds of laws, or no law at all, which basically permits unregulated surrogacy. In Albany, a strong lobby for gay rights has the support of some of the same legislators who support our legislation to unseal birth records of the adopted. Sen. Brad Holyman (D, NYC), who is openly gay, had two children via surrogacy in California, is one. He said the legislation showed "the importance of the LGBTQ community to the State of New York." I wanted to add, so what is the adoptee community to the State of New York? Chopped liver?

And one staunch opponent of adoptee-rights legislation (Assemblyperson Deborah Glick, also gay, also from NYC) is strongly opposed to legalizing surrogacy in New York. "I'm not certain that, considering the money involved, that this is an issue for the broader LGBTQ community," she said. "This is clearly a problem for the extraordinarily well-heeled." Well said, Ms. Glick.

What is the most infuriating part about the surrogacy issue is that it shows how adoptee rights get swept under the rug, after all kinds of bills, commotion, committees and lobbies over the DECADES, while LGBTQ rights move forward in our "progressive" state. There is a week left on the legislative calendar in Albany. We have been cautiously optimistic but there are no rumblings of any kind of action yet. After our bill (S3419) passed in the Senate, we cheered.

But we wait and worry while the Assembly dithers. We have the votes for our legislation to pass in the Assembly, but it is held up by a few powerful legislators. Right now our bill (A5494) is in the Codes committee, a final stop before it reached the floor for a vote. Joe Lentol (Brooklyn, D) chairs that committee. He is against it, and unless the Governor pushes him, Lentol has the power to kill the bill for yet another year by simply letting it die in Codes. Yet we are confident we have the votes in that committee to pass it.

I want to scream.--lorraine 

In other news related to our bill, here is a link to a piece I had last Friday in the Albany Times-Union.

Commentary: Allow adopted people right to know their true identity

and a link to a television spot on Channel 12, Long Island TV. 

Please feel free to share widely. 

And if you order anything through the portal of this blog--TVs, underwear, vitamins, face cream, garbage disposals--we make a few pesos and it costs you nothing. It's one way to support keeping this blog alive. Click on a book here and once at Amazon, search for what you want. 
Surrogate Pregnancy Battle Pits Progressives Against Feminists

Lethal Secrets
By Annette Baran
The psychology of donor insemination presents both problems and solutions. In the world of alternative means of conception, donor insemination is the parent procedure, the most available, successful and egalitarian. Breaking the bonds of silence and ending secrecy is necessary, the authors believe, to address the inherent psychological problems. As the world continues headlong down the road of high-tech procedures and methodologies, there is a need to maintain a strong sense of importance of the human element and historical, genetic connections.

Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption
By E. Wayne Carp
Carp has a lot of great information about adoption agencies' and social workers' policies concerning the release of birth and adoption information to adult adoptees. It was fascinating to see all the quotes regarding their acceptance of adoptees' desire for identifying information up until the 1950s or so.
...Those who want further insight into the issue of sealed versus open birth and adoption records, this book is not just a necessary read, but a necessary purchase.


  1. A primary reason LGBTQ rights have progressed and adoptee rights stalled is money. Lots of it. Gay marriage is a bonanza to the wedding industry. Gay themes have reaped billions to the entertainment industry. The baby industry profits from gay adoptions.

    Egg donation and surrogacy make lots money for medical practitioners, as well as promoters, and the travel industry. I suspect one reason Gov. Cuomo is so gung ho on legalizing surrogacy is that would-be in New York would like to cash in on the business booming in other states.

    Opening adoption records not only doesn't make money, it hurts entrenched industries. No longer can adoption agencies and attorneys promise to prospective adoptive parents as they did in the past that your child's first parents won't show up at the door. With open records and the Internet, paid searchers and paid register operators are taking a hit.

    If someone could only monetize allowing adoptees to access their original birth certificates ....

  2. "Opening adoption records not only doesn't make money, it hurts entrenched industries. No longer can adoption agencies and attorneys promise to prospective adoptive parents as they did in the past that your child's first parents won't show up at the door. With open records and the Internet, paid searchers and paid register operators are taking a hit."
    Well said, Jane. Closed adoption was a human rights violation. And no one cared!

  3. When a girl was growing up, she had many dreams. Yet, I don't think any young woman's greatest dream was to be a "birth mother," providing a baby for someone who could not conceive, a baby whose identity would be stolen, HER child she would never know, her child who (in some cases) would have siblings he or she would never know. More women today are knowledgeable about the damage done to women of earlier decades, when no one cared.

    Lorraine, I am glad you have pointed out how women today are "used" through surrogacy. And, yes, it has been very prominent in India. This has really bothered me. It's generally a matter of poor women, whose bodies are being used. It sickens me.

    Also, I am reminded of Mother Teresa, who gained renown for providing housing for women pregnant out of wedlock. At one time, I admired her -- and then I learned how she really did not provide much and thought of women suffering as cleansing and purifying.

    I am sad that religion has been used in the majority of cases to make girls and women believe that they were doing something to wipe away their sins -- or even doing something noble -- by surrendering their child to a Catholic or other religious agency, who had a wonderful Christian couple, hoping to create a family, thus saving the unwed mother from scorn and her child from "bastardy." That was a "win" for the agency and for the adoptive parents -- a tremendous, life-changing loss for the first mother -- a loss completely unacknowledged by all of society. Never forget.

    1. Not only did MT think of women's suffering as cleansing and purifying, she shipped those ill-begotten babies to Europe and North America and made a pretty penny out of it. She opposed birth control and told women who could not afford more children, give them to me, and into the adoption market via orphanages they went. A saint she was not.

  4. I couldn't agree with you more about the subject of surrogacy. I think it is really exploitative. A while back I was looking for some information on holding companies (my other interest is finance) and I came across this article. Two gay guys are planning on surrogacy to create a family for themselves. I submitted a comment in which I didn't criticize them for planning a surrogacy, but only said that the woman who carries the child will be the mother of the child and they shouldn't forget that because the child will not, and they should include the mother in their child's life. It was really a mild comment. It wasn't printed.


    1. And, don't forget, there is an egg "donor" who is the genetic mother of the child. It's extremely rare now (since Baby M case) for the gestational carrier to also be the bio/genetic mother. While I understand my gay male friends wanting to be parents, I do cringe, knowing as much as I do about what the "necessary" women go through, and how the children may feel as they get older.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Unknown...and when the child is born with deformities in some country around the world sometimes the parents don't come to pick the child up. Then ... that baby is not their problem.



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