Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sensationalism of Surrogacy

The NY Times posted yet another disheartening article about surrogacy, Building a Baby, With Few Ground Rules. I absolutely despise how the media treats infertility and surrogacy. Both are typically presented in such an extremly biased, one-sided, negative light and it's utterly maddening to me. Some of the stereotypes that the media likes to perpetuate include the following ... Infertiles are horrible people who should "just adopt" or aren't supposed to have children (natural selection). Surrogates are horrible women who "steal" other people's babies. Surrogates carry other people's babies for the money. Intended moms are depicted as women who don't want to lose their girlish figure by having a baby and/or are too career driven to take time to carry their own baby(ies). Intended parents are highly educated affluent members of society while surrogates are impoverished and uneducated. This is just a few of the horrible things that the media likes to use to grab reader's attention and make a few bucks. I find all of these stereotypes to be disgusting and extremely disappointing. I challenge members of the media to do a better job. I challenge them to present the positive aspects of both infertility and surrogacy.

I have been involved in a battle with infertility for 5 years and during this time I've met some of the kindest, most compassionate women I know. These women are waging their own war with infertility and are also going to great lengths to share their lives with a child. Along the way these women have likely encountered harsh criticism for their efforts not only from the media, but sometimes from family and friends too. Early in my war I dealt with this more often, but with every battle my skin thickened and I managed to better deal with the criticism. I decided that most of the critism I had encountered came from people's ignorance about the emotional, social, and financial struggles of infertility, which is why I became so vocal with my own struggle. I felt that if I could educate people using my experience they would be less likely to criticize others going through infertility and more likely to lend support and encouragement. I just wish that the media would follow suit.

I wish that the media would present some of the positive stories that exist in the world of infertility and surrogacy. I wish they would see some of the faces of the 10% of US women who have difficulty getting and/or staying pregnant. There are about 6 million of us out here, so it's likely that most people know someone who's been waging their own war against infertility (often alone in secrecy). I challenge newspapers, magazines, and news programs to focus on the women behind those statistics and show the goodness in them.

I also challenge the media to present one of the beautiful, surrogacy journies that exist. There are plenty of them to choose from. I would even volunteer to share ours and K's story. Our story is one of love, compassion, generosity, and gratitude. We have a wonderful relationship that grows stronger with each day. The two little boys who are going to enter this world in February because of K have an amazing life story to tell and will be the luckiest boys on the planet. Without K our boys wouldn't have a future story to tell and we wouldn't be able to experience parenthood with a living child. Surrogates offer up themselves to help loving people become parents who otherwise couldn't. Many form life-long bonds with their intended parents and get to watch the babies they brought into this world grow up. Surrogacy creates families and to me there isn't anything more beautiful than that. This should be what the media shares with the world about surrogacy!

20 comments:

sprogblogger said...

Couldn't agree more. I read that article (after my FIL called to ask "Is that what you're doing?" and was absolutely horrified by the assumptions made, the stereotypes perpetuated by this article.

Let's get some real reporting, indeed. Shame on you, NY Times!

AnGèLe said...

I agree! I have such a hard time finding any positive outlooks on surrogacy! I am 20 weeks into my pregnancy with a surrobaby! It is about LOVE! Thank you for your post. I have a blog with positive articles I have come across. Please feel free to read through and re-post :)
http://infertility411.wordpress.com/

Expectant Duck said...

I agree! I hate how IPs are these "rich people", please - we're just normal, not rich people who have take a total of 1 vacation in our entire lives and we're going into serious debt so we can have a family, but, what else are we suppose to do? Just give up on our dreams of being parents?
I have not read the article, and probably won't, what's the point? Not everyone will understand the amazing thing that K and my GS is doing too, the hell with them, they're just missing out.

MyLifeMyWorld & Growing Families said...

Here Here! Well said

Unfortunately, sensationalism gets the readers and drama often preceeds happy stories.

Take heart, we know we're good people, and the world IS slowly changing.

Tanya said...

I HATE the comments about "just adopting". While I never dealt with infertility I did look into adopting. It's certainly not the simple process that many people seem to believe... and there are no guarantees that you will get a healthy child or ANY child at all.

I simply can't imagine any woman choosing to be a surrogate simply for the money. It's not something I would ever choose to do for money... but I MAY have chosen to do it for a family member.

Angela Grace said...

Very Well Said!!

Waiting In Sunshine said...

Well, you know how I feel, since I ranted and raved on my blog, and posted the comment I wrote on the Times website (which the Times will NOT post. I tried posting it twice even; nope, nada.)

Damn, I'm mad.

Jacinta said...

I would have expected the NY Times to keep away from grubby sensationalism. It is so one-dimensional and boring. You are right to say that they are missing out on an amazing story.

meinsideout said...

The NY Times has been doing a very poor job reporting about infertility - this is just another example.

Crystal said...

ugh.. sadly the media likes to show the crummy side of things instead of the wonderful, loving, amazing side. I do think there are some messed up people in this world that do some pretty crappy things but why shine light on evil?? They are gonna write what sells I guess.. shame on them. I would like to hope that the general public is smart enough to know that this isn't the case in EVER surrogacy pregnancy.

MommynMomma said...

Being a GS Surrogate myself. I don't understand how anyone would think that we do it for the money. There is a lot of sweat, tears,heartache, and love that goest into being a surrogate. It's so sad that a "large" newspaper would say such things about this. So, so sad.

jeanna said...

Amen sister! You hit it nail on the head. Infertility and surrogacy are so misunderstood largely due to the media. Thank you for sharing your story.

Sober Mommy said...

Niki - Let me first say that I am truly happy for your experience.

However, some of what the article says is true. The majority of the women who perform gestational surrogacy may be doing it to give another family a child but make no mistake about it they are also doing it for the money. In fact, there are so many military families who pursue surrogacy to help with their finances that there is a push to not provide insurance for women who are performing this service as IP's are the ones that should be paying for the prenatals, birth, and follow up care. Tricare has one of the largest populations of people to treat with one of the lowest per patient/doctor ratio.

The fact of the matter is that only people that have a certain amount of income *are* the only ones who can pursue this option - the price tag is so expensive it's out reach for most of the families in this country.

As far as adopting I do understand your desire to not pursue it and to be told well, just adopt isn't really a valuable statement. It takes just as much effort and in some cases even more trust and belief to go through the adoption process and not everyone is made to handle it. And that's okay.

I think that it was unfortunate that the times made the article sound. There are both positive stories surrounding surrogacy - yours being one of them - that deserve to be told.

cmatsukes said...

I can see your needs that to do what you did but also adoption is a very unselfish way to give a baby a home as well. I am not putting you down I can see both sides but I do think some woman do it for money. Also to Tanya there is guarantees in life your own child could be not healthy all children are precious no matter what the health. So that comment makes no sense I think that is being selfish.

Niki said...

cmatsukes, I think you misunderstood both Tanya and me. People who are trying to provide advice to an infertile often say "you should just adopt" as if it is easy. Adoption can be just as much of a roller coaster ride as is infertility (or so I've read/heard from others), which is the point Tanya was trying to make by saying there are no guarantees. I (and I presume Tanya since she looked into it) think that adoption is a a wonderful way to build a family. My mother is adopted and I know others who've adopted. With that said adoption wasn't the right path for us (well to be honest we hadn't even considered it at the point we were at).

In terms of surrogates who do it for money ... well I'm sure there are some, but not all do it just for money. Sure the money is nice, but it's not even close to enough for what the surrogate is doing. It's no secret that K is doing a compassionate surrogacy, so she clearly is an example of someone who isn't doing it for money (especially since she's not getting paid any!). I don't intend to get into an ethical debate over paid surrogacy. The point of my post was that surrogacy is a beautiful experience for some and I am wishing that the media would highlight those stories.

Saffy said...

Niki, YOU should be writing the article. What a well written, balanced piece.

Can you believe the boys are almost 29 weeks? My ob calls 29 weeks "home and hosed" :)

voncabramowitz said...

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cmatsukes said...

I agree with what you are saying my husband I once looked into adoption as well and my husband John my 2nd husband my first passed away 2 plus years ago. John is an adopted child and always thought of his parents as is parents it is not who gives you life but raises you and is in your life. He has never looked for his real mom even though his parents said they would help him with that.
I think it is great that K is doing do this for her cousin she is a very unselfish, caring person who is blessed with love. So yes some do for no monetery value expect life, and that is great.

songbird24 said...

It is truly about love and someone understanding your earnest desire to create a family.What is so wrong about this?
Wish you and K all the very best in your journey.

Karma & Adam said...

I agree with what you've said, and was equally frustrated as we were going through our own journey. But on the media side, we were actually featured in a national magazine (Canada) and a news program - all done in a very positive light, with tons of support.
Unfortunately the sensationalism of the stereotypes often wins out - that's just part of all of this. But you are doing your part for education around surrogacy by keeping this blog. You can definitely feel good about that.