Wombs for Rent
December 30, 2007 1:20 PM   Subscribe

Wombs for rent: "Anand's surrogate mothers, pioneers in the growing field of outsourced pregnancies, have given birth to roughly 40 babies. More than 50 women in this city are now pregnant with the children of couples from the United States, Taiwan, Britain and beyond. The women earn more than many would make in 15 years."
posted by mr_crash_davis (134 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Boy, this is a tricky issue. If all goes well, it can be great for both sides, but the possibilities for trouble are pretty obvious. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.
posted by languagehat at 1:42 PM on December 30, 2007


Better living through science
posted by Sparx at 1:42 PM on December 30, 2007


Why doesn't the surrogate's body reject the alien embryo?
posted by Cranberry at 1:47 PM on December 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't even want to try untangling all the exploitation here.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:49 PM on December 30, 2007


I guess there are simply no limits to what we will outsource.
posted by jamstigator at 1:50 PM on December 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


the bond between the infant and the genetic mother would be attenuated. the infant grows up appreciating rice/curry dishes, while the genetic mother keeps her girlish figure.
posted by bruce at 1:53 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't even want to try untangling all the exploitation here.

Hmm. So would it be "exploitation" if say, an American couple used an American surrogate (who also gets her expenses covered and is paid a fee, unless she's a friend)? Or is it merely because the service is being provided by women in a foreign country?

The issue that stands out to me here is the fact that the surrogates have to stay in that house away from their families, for the duration of the pregnancy.

There was another interesting article on this very situation in Marie Claire magazine (US) several months ago.
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:53 PM on December 30, 2007


the bond between the infant and the genetic mother would be attenuated. the infant grows up appreciating rice/curry dishes

Please please PLEASE tell me you're joking.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:58 PM on December 30, 2007


Next up, outsourced agony of all kinds. Others suffer so you don't have to!




Wait, that already exists.
posted by SaintCynr at 2:03 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


If my plan for adopting a large number of babies for my personal army family falls through, my backup plan is to rent a large number of wombs and fill them with superbabies made from boutique sperm banks and egg donors.
posted by mullingitover at 2:03 PM on December 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


FTA: But if commercial surrogacy keeps growing, some fear it could change from a medical necessity for infertile women to a convenience for the rich.

"You can picture the wealthy couples of the West deciding that pregnancy is just not worth the trouble anymore and the whole industry will be farmed out," said Lantos.


Shhh, don't give them any ideas.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:05 PM on December 30, 2007


India has worse obstetric problems than this. Any place that offers top-notch obstetric care, English/computer classes, and a spectacular wage is fine in my book.
posted by The White Hat at 2:16 PM on December 30, 2007


medical necessity for infertile women

Why is this considered a "necessity?" Surely there are kids out there needing adoptive parents?
posted by maxwelton at 2:16 PM on December 30, 2007 [5 favorites]


What Maxwelton said. This, along with all the millions poured into IVF, is just a way of ensuring that there are enough white babies to go around.
posted by pompomtom at 2:22 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


As long as the surrogate mothers are fully informed and not coerced into doing it, I don't see any problem. Presumably the surrogate mothers are happy to have earned up to 15 years' worth of normal wages, and the genetic parents are happy to have a child. Everyone wins.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 2:25 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'll say. It's not exactly selfish not to adopt, or to want a child that is a genetic descendent of you. I'm not saying that it's the only thing that matters, but it does matter to some. And that's not wrong.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:32 PM on December 30, 2007


Surely there are kids out there needing adoptive parents?

Because some parents don't feel they can give an adopted child the extraordinary amount of effort, energy and love that it takes to properly raise a child, while they feel they can do this for a child that is genetically their own. This may seem selfish, but it's very real and it's better that these people don't adopt children. But they still want kids, so this is their solution.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:41 PM on December 30, 2007


I don't have a big problem with this per se, but I'm constantly amazed at the effort, pain and money that will be spent by some to avoid adoption. I mean people will take fertility drugs that cause them to have 5 premature and deathly ill babies. They will hire a woman on the other side of the world to give birth for them. I mean facing all those challenges, I just find it kind of unbelievable that adoption doesn't seem so much more attractive.
posted by whoaali at 2:45 PM on December 30, 2007 [5 favorites]


Sure, it's uncomfortable to contemplate, but does it differ substantively from any of the countless exploitative jobs in the American economy? The men and women who clean up your toilet at work are also selling their bodies and their time for your convenience. So are the people expending their strength and health at factories to manufacture the things you bought this Christmas. If you know anyone who has worked at a factory for decades, you know that the work often destroys health and scars and disfigures the body.

The decision that these women face (rent your womb or be destitute) is the inevitable outcome of a global economic racket that is carefully designed to coerce the many into according great wealth and power to the few. The solution is to democratically restructure industry and trade to benefit people rather than maximize profits, and distribute wealth with an eye toward providing a measure of well-being for everyone. We should shift our tremendous intellectual and technological resources toward eliminating jobs that are degrading. Whatever degrading work remains to be done should be divided up equally among people.

If these women and their families had freedom of mobility and freedom of labor, access to good education, good healthcare, and basic sustenance, and still decided to be surrogate mothers, we would be touched by their generosity, rather than appalled at their exploitation.
posted by limon at 2:46 PM on December 30, 2007 [5 favorites]


Any new way of extracting money from the lazy selfish rich is a-OK in my books.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:46 PM on December 30, 2007


So, do the kids have dual citizenship?
posted by rockhopper at 2:50 PM on December 30, 2007


They say $20,000 is on the low side for this procedure.

What does adoption cost in North America? What percentage of those available for adoption are free of burdens such as drug-addicted mothers or fetal alcohol syndrome or physical abuse?

As I understand it, from our own consideration of adoption in Canada, the cost is comparable to the above (or higher) and it's very difficult to find a child to adopt that isn't going to have severe challenges. I know it sounds selfish, but if we were to adopt, there is no way we would want to get into those challenges. Because of that and medical considerations for my wife, it's unlikely my daughter will have a sibling.
posted by Kickstart70 at 2:54 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think I just heard Lou Dobbs' head explode.
posted by spiderwire at 2:55 PM on December 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


I don't have a big problem with this per se, but I'm constantly amazed at the effort, pain and money that will be spent by some to avoid adoption. I mean people will take fertility drugs that cause them to have 5 premature and deathly ill babies. They will hire a woman on the other side of the world to give birth for them. I mean facing all those challenges, I just find it kind of unbelievable that adoption doesn't seem so much more attractive.

I agree. I'm cynical enough to believe that extreme methods of getting knocked up when clearly nature would as soon you abstained are really about egomaniacal assholes who aren't happy with anything less than the most accurate Mini-Me possible...or I was until a woman I know started doing fertility treatments that gave her the shits six times a day, among other such lovely side-effects. I still think it's inherently narcissistic and just plain ass-backwards to go to such lengths and not even pursue adoption (actually adopting a kid isn't always as easy as it sounds), but it seems to be a drive in some people that pushes past rationality and may not be completely within their control. Hell if I understand it, and I still say your DNA ain't so great, you special little snowflake you, so why not do the world a favor and adopt a kid lest that kid grow up to rob me one day in my dotage, but whatever.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:01 PM on December 30, 2007


"Lou! What are they?! If life begins at conception and the pregnancy begins outside of the U.S... are they illegal aliens!?"

"I... I don't know... It's like The Invasion of the Body Snatchers..."

"Wait -- what if the foreigners start paying for U.S. surrogate mothers? They'll be citizens, Lou!"

"My God -- they've found the loophole."
posted by spiderwire at 3:04 PM on December 30, 2007 [12 favorites]


It's a brave new world -- better get used to it.

(I'm awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard.)
posted by not_on_display at 3:04 PM on December 30, 2007



I see far less of a problem with this than with people buying organs from people in poor countries. With good prenatal care and nutrition, pregnancy itself is not especially risky and it's not like it is likely to cause future harm.

Whereas if you give a kidney and the one you have left fails...

And I still continue to be amazed by people's presumption that infertile people are selfish for not adopting. They are no more selfish than fertile people who don't adopt-- ie, no more selfish than the majority of people in the world, who don't adopt.
posted by Maias at 3:07 PM on December 30, 2007 [7 favorites]


Next step is for men of means to buy eggs from women of their choice all over the world, fertilize them and have them implanted in other women, adopt the results (what happens to the ones judged not up to snuff, I wonder), and have them raised in whatever circumstances they desire and can afford.

A whole new level of whoever has the most toys when they die wins, and at last the achievement of an equivalence between money and 'precious bodily fluids' which appears to me to be the unconscious underlying project of so much contemporary conservative thought.
posted by jamjam at 3:08 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


This, along with all the millions poured into IVF, is just a way of ensuring that there are enough white babies to go around.

Whereas if these couples would just adopt a nonwhite baby from another country, they would never ever be suspected of impure motives.
posted by transona5 at 3:10 PM on December 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I sort of shake my head when every time a subject like this comes up we get people who advocate adoption wondering how the other 95% (or whatever) of humanity can be so out of touch. Here's a memo: it's you guys who are the outliers. The vast majority of people really, really would rather have a kid from their own genes if it is all possible and I don't see anything wrong with that. It's human nature.
posted by Justinian at 3:11 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's human nature.

So are avarice, sloth, selfishness etc... doesn't make them good things.
posted by pompomtom at 3:25 PM on December 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


(also: yes, I'm quite aware that I'm an outlier. Ta.)
posted by pompomtom at 3:26 PM on December 30, 2007


Costs for adoption in the US vary widely. If you are adopting a child over 7 years of age from the foster care system, the costs are frequently waived. However, domestic infant adoption is frequently in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. Some of that cost depends upon the income of the adoptive parent(s). Foreign adoptions are also about $30,000 and have the additional travel expenses and weeks out of country. For both domestic and foreign adoptions, the parents have to be screened, go through classes. The foreign adoptions also have the whole set of issues surrounding the immigration and naturalization of the child.

When people with fertility issues look at fertility treatments, surrogacy or adoption, the costs and invasive adoption certification process can cause them to spend the money on the fertility treatments instead. With fertility treatments or surrogacy, you're not adopting the child and you don't have to spend months going to classes have having investigations done on you.

As has been mentioned above, some want a genetic connection to their child. However, I also believe many people choose to not go through adoption because of the items I just mentioned above. Additionally, if you get a child or not is completely out of your hands in the end. Someone else is deciding if you are suitable to be a parent. However, with fertility treatments, no on is going to judge your suitability. Yes, there is a huge amount of work and uncertainty involved there as well. But, you're more directly impacting or even trying to control your becoming a parent. Another reason why people will choose to not adopt is because they do not know how emotionally damaged a child may be by the events prior to adoption.

The decision to adopt or not is intensely personal and very complicated. Potential parents need to evaluate all the options available to them. They should not be looked down upon if they choose to do fertility treatments or surrogacy instead of adoption.
posted by onhazier at 3:27 PM on December 30, 2007 [6 favorites]


Note to self: Do not try to type a coherent response on MeFi while tending to dinner and answering a 6yr olds questions about the existence of God...


Oh and full disclosure: We're starting the classes, background checks and in home visits next week so we can adopt.
posted by onhazier at 3:32 PM on December 30, 2007


I would just like to remind all those on their high horses that basically everything we do in life can be traced back to an instinctual desire to pass on our own genes successfully. That's what keeps ours and every other species on this planet going.

Adoption is a great and noble thing, but it's pretty fucking arrogant to sit there and judge people who are trying to perform that function while not hurting anyone else.
posted by slapshot57 at 3:37 PM on December 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I absolutely do not mean to troll here, as I have always sincerely wondered: if you are unwilling, unfit or otherwise incapable of conceiving naturally and carrying a pregnancy to term, maybe this is nature (or God or Zeus or whoever) telling you that you shouldn't have a baby? I mean, FWIW.

This is a obviously an issue that is about as personal as you can get, but from my own perspective, my wife and I (me 40, she 38) have been trying to conceive for a little while now, with no success, but I can not conceive (npi) of any circumstances where going this route would be desirable. We'll likely end up adopting if it's not, in our view, meant to be. I do not understand the factors at work that would push a person or couple in this other direction.
posted by psmealey at 3:39 PM on December 30, 2007


Maias summed it up so very well in my opinion. I would try to add something to this, but she said it so much better than I would. So, yeah, ditto.
posted by KingoftheWhales at 3:39 PM on December 30, 2007


I'd just like to thank onhazier for raising the level of this debate with such a thoughtful and informed response. I wish you luck in the adoption process!
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:45 PM on December 30, 2007


Why doesn't the surrogate's body reject the alien embryo?

All embryos are "alien" as far as the immune system is concerned, which is why we have a placenta. (I'm sure I'm oversimplifying this)
posted by delmoi at 3:45 PM on December 30, 2007


Whereas if you give a kidney and the one you have left fails...

Generally speaking if one kidney fails for any reason other than trauma (like a car wreck) they'd both have gone anyway.

I suspect that statistically speaking pregnancy has a much higher complication rate than kidney donation. I suspect this because I know that kidney donation has a low complication rate. I can't speak to the complication rates of receiving a kidney, but they're higher.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:48 PM on December 30, 2007


>>basically everything we do in life can be traced back to an instinctual desire to pass on our own genes successfully.

Right. But we humans can reason, and see the ramifications of our actions. We have law, for example, because our instinctual desires tend toward the destructive, shortsighted, and selfish.

Or, we can just attribute our behavior to instinct and not worry about the results.

Choose wisely.

(and I have to add: Do we really want each and every person to successfully pass on their genes, just because it's instinctive? )
posted by SaintCynr at 3:50 PM on December 30, 2007


if you are unwilling, unfit or otherwise incapable of conceiving naturally and carrying a pregnancy to term, maybe this is nature (or God or Zeus or whoever) telling you that you shouldn't have a baby?

Would you accept pneumonia as God's way of telling you that you shouldn't live? We use technology to overcome nature's obstacles all the time, and IVF is like any other medical course in that respect.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:52 PM on December 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


I get the analogy, Kraftmatic, but I don't think it's accurate. It seems to me that there's a big difference between using technology to overcome a natural obstacle, and using a stranger's body as a stand-in for what is an essential (to the species) and personal biological function.
posted by psmealey at 4:18 PM on December 30, 2007


Suman Dodia, a pregnant, baby-faced 26-year-old, said she will buy a house with the $4,500 she receives from the British couple whose child she's carrying. It would have taken her 15 years to earn that on her maid's monthly salary of $25.
Except that $4500 over 15 years is not $4500 today...but significantly more, also considering we don't know what the future buying power will be. Whereas, a fertility treatment apparently costs at least around $100K today, or so it appears. They are just exploting a poor ignorant indian.

So let me be a little less naive and place a price at $50K. 10% goes to the surrogate mother, 30% to the indian racket, 60% to the american racket. It's time someone goes to Anand and enlighten these woman on how much they can _really_ gain by just spreading the word systematically , that the americans will pay them $15-20K.

And I can't see anybody , but the yankee fertility clinics wanting to do that at once, unless of course they are exactly the ones who are running the scam, first by failing the treatement and then by selling the "definitive solution".

On a side note, why bother with fertility drugs and treatement when the market dictates wombs are a hell more effective and unexpensive ?
posted by elpapacito at 4:22 PM on December 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


And I still continue to be amazed by people's presumption that infertile people are selfish for not adopting. They are no more selfish than fertile people who don't adopt-- ie, no more selfish than the majority of people in the world, who don't adopt.

Well, sure they are. Selfishness isn't evil, or wrong, of course, but spending $N0,000 to enlist a doctor in order have a child that has your genes when children are available for adoption isn't the exact same thing as fucking your way to parenthood the old fashioned way. The distinction is a difference. A minor one, by many readings, but a difference nonetheless.
posted by Kwantsar at 4:25 PM on December 30, 2007


One of the biggest fears about adoption I have heard from friends that have gone that route is ensuring that you have all the history, including medical, of the child up for adoption. There will always be children who are needier than others, emotionally or mentally or physically or in combination, and as long as you know that going in and are prepared to deal with the special circumstances, as any family faced with those problems should be, all can go well.

Because older children are less likely to be adopted than babies and infants, agencies or individuals may conceal very real problems from a family attempting to adopt, in the well-intentioned but unrealistic hope of matching a child with a family in some kind of "happily ever after" scenario. Of course, when this occurs, the "match" is hardly in the best interest of either the family or the child, and it is most likely the child who will suffer as a result.

The fear of situations like these--too many unknowns--can lead a couple to consider a surrogate solution rather than adoption, and it is just one scenario among many. It's ridiculous to assume that you or I, an outsider, can ever understand the complex motivations that go into choosing one alternative over the other.

But, hey, it's much easier to go on believing that every issue is black and white than to take the trouble to sift through all the greys, right?

So let's continue to label any couple that can't have kids themselves and yet still have the audacity to want to be parents as selfish, shallow, narcissistic asses.
posted by misha at 4:34 PM on December 30, 2007


I get the analogy, Kraftmatic, but I don't think it's accurate. It seems to me that there's a big difference between using technology to overcome a natural obstacle, and using a stranger's body as a stand-in for what is an essential (to the species) and personal biological function.

Okay, how about a better analogy? Do you think that diabetes is god's way of telling diabetics they should die? Converting blood sugar to ATP is about as essential and personal a biological function as we have, and we use other bodies (pigs, I think?) as a stand-in to make insulin all the time.
posted by Justinian at 4:48 PM on December 30, 2007


As long as the surrogate mothers are fully informed and not coerced into doing it, I don't see any problem.

Typical superficial free-market glibertarian reaction, only analyzing the immediate market transaction and not the larger societal impacts.
posted by panamax at 4:51 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's incredible how many dystopian futures imagined in speculative fiction are having their seeds planted nowadays.

Also, care for beings already in existence on the planet is sticky enough. Creating new beings via subjugation of another being's natural reproductive cycle...well, I dunno. It just seems really, really worthy of questioning.

NB: I can't conceive. I know well the pain of those who can't reproduce their own genetic imprint through their own bodies. And I still feel it's both selfish and short-sighted. YMMV.
posted by batmonkey at 5:28 PM on December 30, 2007


Fair enough, justinian. I think you make a good point (and misha makes an excellent, if angry, one) and you both have forced me to consider this issue from a different angle than I had. I doubt we'd consider artificial insemination, gene therapy or surrogate motherhood as an option, just based on personal ethics and views, but it would be incredibly wrong and closed-minded of me to judge others for doing so.
posted by psmealey at 5:38 PM on December 30, 2007


batmonkey writes "It's incredible how many dystopian futures imagined in speculative fiction are having their seeds planted nowadays."

Pun intended?
posted by orthogonality at 5:42 PM on December 30, 2007


Pun acknowledged as inevitable ;]
posted by batmonkey at 5:43 PM on December 30, 2007


...but it would be incredibly wrong and closed-minded of me to judge others for doing so...

I think we can safely conclude that psmealey is not a Republican.
posted by spacewrench at 5:50 PM on December 30, 2007


(speaking of adoption, if any of you out there know of a pregnant woman who cannot or does not want to raise her child, I know a couple who are looking for a baby to adopt. )
posted by konolia at 6:23 PM on December 30, 2007




Costs for adoption in the US vary widely. If you are adopting a child over 7 years of age from the foster care system, the costs are frequently waived. However, domestic infant adoption is frequently in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. Some of that cost depends upon the income of the adoptive parent(s). Foreign adoptions are also about $30,000 and have the additional travel expenses and weeks out of country. For both domestic and foreign adoptions, the parents have to be screened, go through classes. The foreign adoptions also have the whole set of issues surrounding the immigration and naturalization of the child.



You also have the charming surprise that your fingerprints are going into a DHS database:
From the Washington Post
The DHS already has a database of millions of sets of fingerprints, which includes records collected from U.S. and foreign travelers stopped at borders for criminal violations, from U.S. citizens adopting children overseas, and from visa applicants abroad. There could be multiple records of one person's prints.

It's getting tougher to adopt overseas, as countries impose more restrictions. And I don't fault anyone for their choices--people have to know what is right for themselves.
posted by etaoin at 6:26 PM on December 30, 2007


the larger societal impacts

Thanks for providing them ,panamax. Oh wait, you didn't. I'm not finding a lot of strong reasons against this issue. The worst I can say is that the world is already overpopulated and there are better uses of people's money - but hey we don't castigate every large family and every flashy sports car do we. As for exploitation, it's a lot easier money for the women that fifteen years doing utter shit, which is likely to be their alternative in India. If you've been there, you find them doing the worst jobs imaginable for an utter pittance - this looks like a great opportunity.

As for adoption, there are less babies out there than the popular imagination believes. Yeah you can foster a child aged about five with a junkie mum that insists on visitation rights...

A gay couple I know spent over $100 000 on getting a surrogate child from the US. Adoption is not a legal option in Australia for gays, yet surrogacy is. Kinda weird. Seems they were stooged, should have gone to India.
posted by wilful at 6:28 PM on December 30, 2007


whoaali: I don't have a big problem with this per se, but I'm constantly amazed at the effort, pain and money that will be spent by some to avoid adoption. I mean people will take fertility drugs that cause them to have 5 premature and deathly ill babies. They will hire a woman on the other side of the world to give birth for them.

First, a correction, whoaali: WOMEN will take fertility drugs that cause... etc etc. Last I heard, men aren't getting the short end of the stick on that one, though I'm sure the ones who are pressuring their wives to have natural children despite ongoing infertility issues have never even thought twice about just what they're asking for.

And not to say that all in vitro is bad, or that all men are selfish jerks, but inevitably, willingly or unwillingly, women are the ones who bear the brunt of the physical discomfort and overall inconvenience of the procedures.

As for my thoughts on adoption: in our backassward, morally third world country (yes, U.S., I'm talking about you), we penalize plenty of willing adoptive families -- for example, same sex couples. In Massachusetts, the Catholic Church halted adoption services rather than have to hand over kids to those scary, scary gays*. (And Romney wanted to let them keep on discriminating, FYI!)

* "scary, scary gays" = sarcasmfilter

Add the huge costs of a domestic adoption -- $15,000 for a friend of mine, right off the bat, and that's only the beginning -- and a lower priced surrogate abroad starts to look like a really good option, with the added bonus of all the health information etc others have mentioned above.

Admittedly, I'm not 100% comfortable with outsourcing surrogacy to women who have almost no other means to earn such considerable amounts of money (to them), but I think if done the right way -- as they seem to be doing here, giving the women additional training and other benefits -- it's not the worst thing in the world.

Assuming I wasn't an only child, and my (cancer survivor?) sister asked me to carry a child to term for her... hell, if my best friend asked me to -- I would! If she offered me money to cover my medical expenses, or take care of my existing family while I was incapacitated, I'd take it! Why is it ok for me to do it and it isn't ok to ask someone unrelated to undergo the procedure under the same operating conditions?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:42 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


What next? Outsourcing copulation. Brave New World.
posted by brickman at 6:46 PM on December 30, 2007


I'm always amazed at the number of people who know nothing about adoption who somehow feel qualified to recommend it to other people. Here are some reasons that people might want to use fertility treatments (which can range from a simple and cheap Chlomid pill to full-blown IVF) rather than adopt:

1. Most domestic adoptions in the US are "open" adoptions -- the biological parents know who the adoptive parents are, can contact them, and, when the kid is a teenager, the kid can contact the biological parents with ease. The biological parents frequently get to choose the adoptive parents from several competing couples and can set terms on the adoption -- like contact with the child, letter writing, etc. Now, we can argue about whether open adoption is a good or bad thing as a policy matter, but surely you can understand how some people might not want to sign up for this -- you're not just picking up a baby, you're entering into a potential lifetime relationship with strangers who have an intimate connection to your baby.

2. As some have noted, many babies given up for adoption come from backgrounds with an increased likelihood for fetal alcohol exposure, bad prenatal nutrition, etc. Again, we can argue about policy and what society should do for kids like this, but people with fertility problems have no special responsibility in this area any more than people without fertility problems. (I.e., if you think it's immoral not to take these kids in, how many have you taken in?)

3. International adoption has a whole slew of economic and logistical issues in addition to increased risk of health issues like fetal alcohol syndrome.

None of that is to say that fertility treatments are always the answer and adoption is never the answer -- it's a personal decision with a huge number of factors to consider, like most decisions about family, children, health, etc. But it's just plain wrong to think that adoption and fertility treatments are equivalent methods for obtaining a baby, with the only difference being "selfishness," "laziness" or some irrational desire to propagate one's genes.

[S]pending $N0,000 to enlist a doctor in order have a child that has your genes when children are available for adoption isn't the exact same thing as fucking your way to parenthood the old fashioned way. The distinction is a difference. A minor one, by many readings, but a difference nonetheless.

What's the difference? That someone is spending $N0,000 for something they want? Do you apply the same standard to your own elective purchases? Every $ that you spend above the bare necessities could be used to support children that will die of starvation tonight. Why do you get a free pass?
posted by Mid at 6:55 PM on December 30, 2007 [6 favorites]


And not to say that all in vitro is bad, or that all men are selfish jerks, but inevitably, willingly or unwillingly, women are the ones who bear the brunt of the physical discomfort and overall inconvenience of the procedures.

Take it up with God, however we men really appreciate your sacrifices. And, thanks to women of the world we MEN have a much happier existence.
posted by brickman at 7:10 PM on December 30, 2007


etaoin brings up the point about DHS getting copies of adoptive parent fingerprints when they seek to adopt overseas. The whole process to adopt is much more invasive than that. There are criminal background checks, multiple in-home visits for the home study, orientation and classes, and finger printing. If anyone is to provide care to the child for any length of time more than just a few hours of babysitting prior to the child's finalized adoption, the care provider may also have to be finger printed and have a criminal background check. Most state licensed day care providers already have this done. If you're wanting to do foster to adopt (resource homes), the situation gets a bit more complicated.

For all the gory details, check out my state's adoption manuals. Look for the sections on the homestudy. The social worker who does the homestudy is the one who really determines if the applicant family is suitable and ready to adopt. The whole process can take months.

Then it is a matter of waiting.

So, it completely blows that DHS may end up with our fingerprints. We're not going to do a foreign adoption; so, maybe not. I've never been fingerprinted. However, if it is just one more thing I have to do to be approved to adopt, then I have to deal with it. By making the choice we have, we know we are bringing strangers into our home to evaluate us and judge us as acceptable or not.
posted by onhazier at 7:39 PM on December 30, 2007


Mid, I hope you can see what's fucked up in this context about language like "obtaining a baby," "something they want," and "elective purchases." But maybe I am just a freakish outlier: I can't begin to imagine the must-have-baby-must-have-baby-must-have-baby-now-now-NOW!!! mindset. Sometimes I wish my cat would leave me alone. Whatever this urge is, I'm thankful I lack it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:40 PM on December 30, 2007


Take it up with God, however we men really appreciate your sacrifices. And, thanks to women of the world we MEN have a much happier existence.

Oh sweet jeebus, how to respond here? Obviously there are men out there who do appreciate what women go through when it comes to in vitro and related procedures. My point was that there are many who don't, and unlike coercing a woman into an abortion she doesn't want, it pads in on much softer, more socially acceptable feet.

Force your girlfriend into having an abortion? 99.9% of the non-mouthbreathing populace will probably consider you a dick. Convince your wife to undergo months -- if not years -- of painful, dangerous procedures so she can bear your precious little bundle of joy? Well, you just want her to be happy, don't you? You just want to have a baby, and aren't you marvelously sensitive and fabulous, and aren't we just so lucky we can afford it, dear?

My views here are colored in part by -- wait for it, then laugh -- the House episode Need to Know, in which a woman takes birth control to negate the fertility treatments she's been receiving with perilous results, because she can't bear to tell her husband she cannot handle one more child. Why is it terrible to talk someone into an abortion but not into fertility treatments? I bet it happens more than you'd suspect, I really do.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:45 PM on December 30, 2007


Why is it terrible to talk someone into an abortion but not into fertility treatments? I bet it happens more than you'd suspect, I really do.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:45 PM on December 30 [+] [!]


I give women a compliment and get attacked because I forced girlfriend/wife into abortion/having a unwanted baby. Well, your complaint was, all the burden for child bearing was on the fairer sex. Complaining on this site is not exactly going to fix the problem-now is it? I'm sure you heard about the rib and all that-after all, your one up on us. :)

Probably be a good idea to tone down your sentiments slightly, just in case some men do not require their wife/girlfriend to commit the ulitimate sacrifice of bearing and rearing a child. Now, I know your a very nice lady (I don't take your screen name seriously) and want to give some men the benifit of the doubt.

As for me, I'm a grandfather with 2 lovely wonderful little ones, to spoil and spend back to their parents. So, please footnote some of your comments-after all, you don't want to offend everyone of the male gender.
posted by brickman at 8:19 PM on December 30, 2007


Good thing they aren't way too many frikken people on this planet already.

Otherwise, the well-off going through incredible contortions to exploit the substandard living conditions of the world's poor to produce yet even more privileged consumers wouldn't make much sense.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:09 PM on December 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is the first time I'm hearing about this. I mean, I was aware that it was being done, but to have read that article and know that it's being done on such an assembly line kind of a way is kind of unsettling. It's great that the good doctor is taking so much care to see that the right women are chosen for these procedures, but having them isolated from their families seems like something out of a science fiction novel.
I don't have any problems with the outsourcing part (like the idiots who made the comments at the end of the article)--if we can do it cheaper (and better), and someone who really needs the money gets it, all power to them. But, I just hope this doesn't turn into some kind of a nightmare situation... also, I wonder what kind of an effect this will have on the children--say twenty years from now. Do children borne from surrogate mothers choose to seek them out or something, just to find out where it started from?
posted by hadjiboy at 9:53 PM on December 30, 2007


hadjiboy writes "Do children borne from surrogate mothers choose to seek them out or something, just to find out where it started from?"

I doubt they will ever know, or if they will it will be almost certainly a legal parents choice to say. It is kind of unsettling to think that 20 years from now one may discover the woman that carried you for nine months died of some disease that could have been addressed better in a richer country.

It is also interesting to analyze this from a legal point of view, consider what should be the liabilities of the organization that fails to "deliver" an healthy baby, what happens if the surrogate mother chooses to interrupt pregnancy, what if she starts abusing some substance (which is probably one of the reason for keeping them under a very questionable confinement, dressed as a golden prison), what if she dies during the pregnancy , what happens to her own offspring in these circumstances. I guess that as the surrogate mother lives in india and is indian there are aspects of her "job" that are of interest of indian law, even if the contract is underwritten in US. I bet lawyers have founds shortcomings, gray areas and possibily taking some risks on courts reacting too slowly, because of their being underfinanced or inefficient.

Yet it would be devastating to find out that an indian court may find that the baby is the legitimate offspring of the surrogate mother and that he/she must, therefore, be returned to her, and I don't doubt for a minute any organization will skip over pesky "details" such as the fact some rights are cannot be legally renounced...or forget to mention the parents about another half a ton of details, just to disappear in a "poof" after the baby is given and the money is cashed.
posted by elpapacito at 2:09 AM on December 31, 2007


if you are unwilling, unfit or otherwise incapable of conceiving naturally and carrying a pregnancy to term, maybe this is nature (or God or Zeus or whoever) telling you that you shouldn't have a baby?

If you're unwilling to carry a pregnancy to term, that's just your brain's way of telling you that you're unwilling to carry a pregnancy to term, and nothing more.

If you're "unfit" to carry a pregnancy to term, that's just some government's way of telling you that you don't meet their standards for racial purity, and nothing more.

If you're incapable of carrying a pregnancy to term, that's just your body being incapable of carrying a pregnancy to term, for genetic, developmental, or traumatic reasons, and nothing more.

If you're incapable of conceiving naturally, that's just a couple being incapable of conceiving naturally, for a whole host of possible reasons, and nothing more.

None of these carry "Therefore, you should not have a baby" as any sort of direct logical consequence. The skills and kinds of health necessary to care for a newborn are at best poorly correlated with reproductive health.

About the closest you could get would be "I have a genetic abnormality that makes conceiving and carrying to term difficult/impossible, and any girls I have might have this too." But that fails too, because if you can have a daughter with current technology, the daughter will have an even easier time decades later with more advanced technology to bring to bear to the problem, if she ends up with it. Or, if not, the world has ended so who gives a damn?

If your god or gods want you to not have a baby, that should be in whatever holy books or teachings you have, and will be far removed from any sort of direct logical consequence of medical conditions. If the State thinks that you're "unfit" to bear a child, presumably they'll sterilize you against your will, force you to undergo an abortion if you're pregnant, or just murder you, so it won't be your problem anyway.

we use other bodies (pigs, I think?) as a stand-in to make insulin all the time

Bacteria (and yeast?).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:33 AM on December 31, 2007


Spread the genes! Spread 'em like butter!
posted by tehloki at 4:07 AM on December 31, 2007


As long as the surrogate mothers are fully informed and not coerced into doing it, I don't see any problem.

Because dangling a fat wad of cash in front of someone who would barely make $5/day normally, doesn't constitute coercion in any way.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:25 AM on December 31, 2007 [3 favorites]


Because dangling a fat wad of cash in front of someone who would barely make $5/day normally, doesn't constitute coercion in any way.

That's right, it doesn't:

co·er·cion /koʊˈɜrʃən/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[koh-ur-shuhn] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun
1. the act of coercing; use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance.
2. force or the power to use force in gaining compliance, as by a government or police force.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:46 AM on December 31, 2007


Kittens - not sure what you mean by "must have baby now.". Both adotpion and IVF are long, expensive, painful (in different ways), and not guaranteed to result in a baby. It's pretty much the opposite of must have baby now.

As far as the terms "obtaining a baby" and "something they want" - I was trying to talk about adotption versus IVF in the most practical terms possible (to rebut the notion that there is no practical reason to choose IVF over adoption).
posted by Mid at 6:30 AM on December 31, 2007


Because dangling a fat wad of cash in front of someone who would barely make $5/day normally, doesn't constitute coercion in any way.

That's right, it doesn't


Actually, I think the term you are looking for is economic duress.

economic duress: wrongful or unlawful conduct that creates fear of economic hardship which prevents the exercise of free will in engaging in a business transaction -Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law
posted by Pollomacho at 6:51 AM on December 31, 2007


Sorry for the split. The condition of economic duress is a form of coercion when it is used to take advantage of someone.

What I am curious about is the immigration implications here. Are the children the children of, say, Americans or Indians. If the child is an American, does that mean that the surrogate could apply for a greencard as the mother of a US citizen?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:59 AM on December 31, 2007


I wouldn't have thought there would be any immigration implications as the child is the genetic offspring of the mother and father, not the surrogate.

The cases in which surrogates have won custody or any kind of rights have been those in which the child is genetically related to the mother (ie, surrogate's egg and uterus, Dad's sperm). Here, this isn't the case-- and in fact, that kind of surrogacy, I believe, is rarely done anymore for that reason and also for the reason that it essentially means your husband fathers a child with another woman (though he doesn't actually have sex with her). Of course, sperm donation is the opposite situation-- but I don't think an unknown sperm donor has ever won custody or visitation (though ones who are known to the mom have).

What would be interesting is a custody battle in which one mother provided the mitochrondrial DNA (the outside of an egg, but not its nucleus) and another provided the nuclear DNA (what we typically think of as "the DNA"). This child would actually have three parents (and some have already been born).

I imagine custody would go to the nuclear DNA mom-- but mitochrondria are also in every cell of the body, so it wouldn't be that clear cut.
posted by Maias at 7:54 AM on December 31, 2007


As I understand it, from our own consideration of adoption in Canada, the cost is comparable to the above (or higher) and it's very difficult to find a child to adopt that isn't going to have severe challenges.

I knew a couple who had adopted a child from a developing country; a big part of their reason for going abroad was a local (New York State) adoption law that gave the birth mother 90 days to change her mind and reclaim the child. So you could spend nearly three months bonding with a little baby and one morning, a representative of the State could knock on your door and take that child away from you.

They told me that, on balance, they thought it was a good law but that they personally didn't want to risk that kind of heartbreak.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:20 AM on December 31, 2007


I can't begin to imagine the must-have-baby-must-have-baby-must-have-baby-now-now-NOW!!! mindset. Sometimes I wish my cat would leave me alone. Whatever this urge is, I'm thankful I lack it.

(I can't get the spacing on that to look right, so it will just have to look like some kind of weird zen poem or something)

Oh man, I'm totally on the other side of the coin. I'm only in my 20s, but I've been wanting a baby since I was in high school. It's like instead of a biological clock, I've got a biological TIME BOMB. Hopefully, I will reproduce before I explode. Problem is, no one told me when the bomb goes OFF.

Certainly, if I couldn't biologically produce offspring, I would adopt. Long and arduous as it would be, since raising children is just about the only real goal I have in life, adoption would be well worth the investment. It certainly wouldn't be about having a shiny baby RIGHT NOW, it would be about the emotional fulfillment of having a family. And y'know, families are around for a damn long time. It really puts the wait and the money into perspective when you think of a person that you're going to be connected to for the rest of your life, as opposed to just thinking about a baby as a novelty item. (Which, granted, they sort of are. They're cute, but they don't really do all that much except eat, poop, and cry. And yet, we're nutso for them. WEIRD.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:11 AM on December 31, 2007


I can't begin to imagine the must-have-baby-must-have-baby-must-have-baby-now-now-NOW!!! mindset.

My better half works as executive director for an adoption agency. Most certainly, they deal with couples exactly like this all the time. It becomes an obsession built around being denied something that you assume to be your birthright...the ability to procreate. You cannot ignore or belittle just how powerful this need/desire/drive can be in people. They spend ungodly amounts of money on all sorts of fertility treatments over periods of years. They take out second mortgages, equity loans, personal loans etc. All that before they even begin to look at adoption.

It can be startling just how far the desire/drive to have children can push couples.

I'll have to ask her if they've seen this story.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:23 AM on December 31, 2007


It really can be amazing the lengths people will go to - I know it's supposedly a biological imperative and everything, but I think it's far more cultural than biological. I do not want children and am 99% I will NEVER want children. I just don't "get it" despite how much I've tried over the years.
posted by agregoli at 10:19 AM on December 31, 2007


I don't know. I don't think I could do a surrogate. I think it's gross and sad. Why would I want to watch someone grow and experience pregnancy of my child when I can't? I think it would feel like someone would be saying 'ha ha" and pointing. As far as infertility treatments, I said I never would do it and here I am scheduled to see a RE next week. I see women with packs and packs of meds and shots and that scares the beejesus out of me. But I figured I'll take it step by step and see how it goes. As an adoptee, I am open to adoption but I will admit I'm slightly bitter about my own adoption--after 36 years. I wouldn't want a child to be bitter. But maybe I could address the feelings by saying I DO understand how they feel. I just don't know. The adoption process seems more emotionally draining than the infertility treatments. The whole "you have to have a baby room ready" before the kid comes seems like torture.

Maybe if I take one look at K-Fed, I'll get pregnant. It seemed to work for Shar Jackson and Britney.
posted by dasheekeejones at 11:44 AM on December 31, 2007


I know it's supposedly a biological imperative and everything, but I think it's far more cultural than biological.

I don't know about that one. If it really were cultural, then wouldn't all women socialized in the same society want children? I know a lot A LOT of women who absolutely do not want kids, most of whom are of my age and social background.

I think it's biological in the same way that teh ghey is biological - some people have it, some don't. I think there must be some kind of "WANT BABIES" button on the uterus and whether or not it's ever activated depends entirely on the individual.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:49 AM on December 31, 2007


It really can be amazing the lengths people will go to - I know it's supposedly a biological imperative and everything, but I think it's far more cultural than biological.

I think a few hundred thousand years of biological evolution would disagree with you. People had lots and lots of babies before there even existed a culture to influence them.

I mean, if ever there existed a fundamental biological urge, the urge to have children and pass on your genes would be it. That doesn't mean it is universal, but it is fundamental and ancient.
posted by Justinian at 12:32 PM on December 31, 2007


I mean the attitude of "You must have a baby" is FAR more cultural than biological. Look at all the flack childfree people (not the hateful ones) get for saying they don't want children.

If it really were cultural, then wouldn't all women socialized in the same society want children? I know a lot A LOT of women who absolutely do not want kids, most of whom are of my age and social background.

Those ones you know are a drop in a bucket compared to those who want children - most women socialized in this baby-culture society DO want children, and the reasons I hear for them wanting one don't have as much to do with "I want to feel immortal/pass on my genes" as compared to social status, forming that nuclear family thing (absolutely cultural), enjoying a baby cause that's "what being a woman is all about," etc., which is how I've formed this opinion.
posted by agregoli at 1:32 PM on December 31, 2007


People had lots and lots of babies before there even existed a culture to influence them.

As for this, it's kind of duh, right? It's cause they liked sex, not because they necessarily wanted kids. There wasn't exactly birth control back in caveman days.
posted by agregoli at 1:33 PM on December 31, 2007


Very interesting and troubling article--thank you.

I think this issue is particularly worrying because reproduction is a topic fraught with emotion that doesn't have much to do with logic. And that makes it more difficult to see the possible future negative effects/economic exploitation of these women who, for now, (may) seem to be fairly compensated.

But as an analogy, think about the factories in developing countries where people currently work for multinational corporations in substandard factory conditions for very little money. At first these jobs seemed like a godsend to communities with few economic opportunities. The wages, while low, were actually enough to support families. But as time went by and communities became dependent on these jobs, wages did not increase in proportion to the cost of living. Multinationals refused to raise wages or improve working conditions, and in some cases, imposed stricter work conditions and harsher working environments, as competition for cheaply produced products increased. Now these workers are stuck in a catch-22: they need to keep working at these factory jobs, but they are not being adequately compensated for their labour, and they are working in substandard/dangerous conditions.

Back to the surrogate mothers: what guarantees do we have that this won't happen to them? Only this time, the rhetoric surrounding their "labour" (yeah, pun, I know) has the added pressure of being something that supposedly should be done out of generosity and kindness, because who would be so horrible and callous as to make a profit from the beautiful act of bringing a baby into the life of an infertile couple who desperately want a child?

Very troubling. I really don't think we can ignore the economic imbalance between those who are buying these services and those providing them, even if the service involves giving birth to someone else's baby. It may seem unpalatable to speak in such terms, but to do otherwise is to conveniently ignore that this IS a business transaction.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:48 PM on December 31, 2007


As for this, it's kind of duh, right? It's cause they liked sex, not because they necessarily wanted kids. There wasn't exactly birth control back in caveman days.


Well, wouldn't you say that we have a deep instinctual desire to care for the children we create? And that goes for males too; almost all cultures males pride themselves not only by casting their seed to the far winds, but also having some of it grow and replace you.

Of course, none of this has to do with whether something should or should not be done, or the morality of it all. Some people seemed shocked that people want children, that they want genetic decendents. At least here on the blue, no one is telling anyone you should have a baby, while there are plenty of others that are saying you shouldn't.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:07 PM on December 31, 2007


Only this time, the rhetoric surrounding their "labour" (yeah, pun, I know) has the added pressure of being something that supposedly should be done out of generosity and kindness, because who would be so horrible and callous as to make a profit from the beautiful act of bringing a baby into the life of an infertile couple who desperately want a child?

Extremely good point.
posted by agregoli at 2:07 PM on December 31, 2007


Well, wouldn't you say that we have a deep instinctual desire to care for the children we create? And that goes for males too; almost all cultures males pride themselves not only by casting their seed to the far winds, but also having some of it grow and replace you.

With the amount of child abuse and parents that turn tail and run as soon as a child enters the picture, I wouldn't say that at all.
posted by agregoli at 2:09 PM on December 31, 2007


But how much compared to the total? Is the caring of children only a cultural imperative then?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:38 PM on December 31, 2007


I have no idea how much compared to the total, but I didn't agree with your generalization.

I have never made an absolute statement about culture vs: biology. Only that I think that the "I must have a baby" and "YOU must have a baby cause that's what people DO" ideas are driven by culture, not by biology.
posted by agregoli at 2:44 PM on December 31, 2007


I mean, are driven MORE by culture than by biology, damnit.
posted by agregoli at 2:45 PM on December 31, 2007


Hmmmm, well, lacking any study on hand, I can't scientifically dispute it ('it' being the role biology plays in caring for the young, or the desire to care for the young), though, I do dispute it. I'll retreat on this point until I have something substantial.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:47 PM on December 31, 2007


I'm not sure I would bother, considering we appear to be talking past each other about different subjects - I'm talking about the desire/non-desire to have children, while I'm seeing your argument about wanting to care for born children...although I suppose at base you could say that both are about wanting or not wanting to care for children in general although I do think they are different.
posted by agregoli at 2:49 PM on December 31, 2007


So it turns out The Handmaid's Tale wasn't fictional.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:41 PM on December 31, 2007


I'm just curious...out of all of the people railing about the unimaginable selfishness of people who undergo fertility treatments when there are many children who need homes, how many of you have actually adopted a waiting child? If you haven't, why not? Is it because you have your own biological children, and because you had them without medical intervention, your desire for biological children is somehow more valid than someone with, say, endometriosis? Or do you not have kids, but your desire to have a child-free life is a justifiable, unselfish reason not to adopt one of the waiting children that you apparently have so much empathy for?

Or maybe it's just super fun to get all holier-than-thou.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 9:04 AM on January 1, 2008



Also, it's completely absurd to say something is "biological" or "cultural"-- as absurd as to say something is "genetic" or "environmental."

Genes must express themselves in an environment, they don't work in a vacuum, therefore even the most genetically influenced property is also environmentally influenced. Height is the classic example: highly hereditary, but if you starve someone with "tall" genes during development, they will grow up short. Giving a person with "short" genes optimal nutrition will never make them as tall as doing the same would with someone with "tall" genes, however.

Similarly, culture plays itself out within the limits of biology. Will a biologically evolved creature ever get to a situation where most people prefer adoption to having their own kids (leaving aside the problem of where they would get them from if everyone made that choice!)-- Darwin says no. Ain't gonna happen because whenever experiments have been done in trying to get people not to bond particularly to their own kids-- like kibbutzes, for example-- it hasn't turned out that way. Because it makes no biological sense.

Similarly, there are no cultures in which torturing babies from your own group for fun is acceptable. There are cultures in which painful initiations are inflicted on the young== circumcision, for example-- but there are none in which torturing your own children or those of people in your society for the thrill of it is upheld as a good and righteous deed. It may be OK to torture kids from groups you are at war with-- but even there, just for fun isn't acceptable.

Culture either enhances or goes against biological predispositions-- so sure, there's cultural pressure on women to have kids but there's also inherent biological pressure. And much of the cultural pressure comes from relatives who want their genes passed on (ie, it's actually biological)-- the reason mom asking when are you going get married or give me grandchildren is a cross cultural cliche is because biology and culture align here and strengthen the pull. What you'll never see is a majority of mothers wanting their children not to have kids themselves.

When culture works in opposition to biology, you get conflicts and there are certain oppositions that will never work because they are just biologically absurd-- like the baby example above and the idea of a majority of parents wanting their kids never to have kids. However, you can have cultural trends-- like leaving child-bearing very late- - that pull against biological tendencies. They are far from conflict-free either for those who engage in them or for society, however.
posted by Maias at 9:55 AM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm just curious...out of all of the people railing about the unimaginable selfishness of people who undergo fertility treatments when there are many children who need homes, how many of you have actually adopted a waiting child? If you haven't, why not?

I don't rail against fertility treatments, but I do find them kind of amazing and in the realm of selfish behavior (not that being selfish is inherently wrong - everyone has the right to be selfish in regards to their own life, and it's not like there is great harm towards others via fertility treatments). I have not and will not adopt a child because I do not want children, now, or ever.

Why would you doubt the empathy a childfree person has for unwanted children? I have more empathy for children waiting to be adopted than I do for people desperate to have biological children - because I can imagine and understand the want of a child to have a family, and I cannot easily understand the want of a couple to have a biological baby so badly as to go through all those medical procedures. That doesn't lead me towards a direct "thee must adopt." Adoption is frought with difficulties.

That's how my thought process goes, anyway. I'm not outright condemning anyone for anything - just explaining how it's hard for me to "get" the fertility treatment thing.

Culture either enhances or goes against biological predispositions-- so sure, there's cultural pressure on women to have kids but there's also inherent biological pressure.

And all I believe is that the cultural pressure is FAR beyond the biological pressure, these days.
posted by agregoli at 7:05 AM on January 2, 2008


how old are you agregoli, just out of curiousity?
posted by Maias at 11:18 AM on January 2, 2008


Why should my age have anything to do with this discussion?
posted by agregoli at 1:49 PM on January 2, 2008


And why my age, specifically? I'm intruiged as to why you ask.
posted by agregoli at 2:15 PM on January 2, 2008


Agregoll, because you indicate you are female, and so, whether you want it to or not, age is a factor for you more so than a man, both in your drive or lack of drive to have children, and your ability to physically do so. Eggs mature, and then wither and die. This is a fact of life. The older a woman becomes, the less likely she is to produce healthy offspring.

You will most likely say, "I don't want a child, I will never want a child, and my age has nothing to do with it," but I think it would be hard to back that last assertion up factually; just recently a thread by women suddenly overtaken by a strong biological imperative to have a baby--women who also, until that point, thought they would never want children--appeared here on the green, as a matter of fact. Also, as you yourself pointed out, the vast majority of women do go on to have children, and certainly you are not the first to feel the way you do.
posted by misha at 5:53 PM on January 2, 2008


Ahh, so you DID want to invalidate my position because of my age! I figured as much.

One thing that childfree women come up against, again and again and again, is people not believing their "I don't want kids EVER" position. If I did have a burning desire to have kids, at my age (28), no one would blink twice. "Why, how normal and natural!" It's "normal" for women my age to want kids.

Well, I don't want them - ever. And THAT goes against the cultural expectation that women, especially women around my age, want kids. So my claim is frequently doubted. I am not surprised that it's doubted, but I do take offense to it - at 28, I most certainly know my own mind and do want the benefit of the doubt that I know what I want for my life. It's condescending to say otherwise - no one doubts the 19 year old who "would die to have a baby" but the 28 year old woman, who has spent at LEAST the past 5 years carefully weighing the pros, cons, personal desires of myself and my husband and came to a very careful decision regarding kids and how we do not want them, ever well, we are likely wrong.

Eggs mature, and then wither and die. This is a fact of life. The older a woman becomes, the less likely she is to produce healthy offspring.

One of the best things about getting older, to me. I wish I could make them all wither and die, I could get off this dang birth control! =)

So I'm sorry, but I feel as if my point has been made - my age has nothing to do with this discussion - by bringing it into the discussion, it winds up back onto cultural expectations for me. If you do not agree, I hope at least my viewpoint has given you something new to chomp on.
posted by agregoli at 6:57 AM on January 3, 2008


And up until recently, I was pretty okay with the idea of not getting married and never having kids. Sure, adopting is fine, but I didn't want to give birth (say that with a disgusted tone and that was me. in a nutshell).

Adopting wouldn't have been fine to me. I don't want kids at all, and I've come to that decision after a lot of thought about all aspects of parenting. This sentence, to me, indicates this person was never serious about not having kids - she just hadn't thought about it that much. And that's fine! If she's that rabid about having a baby, I wish her luck with having one.
posted by agregoli at 7:00 AM on January 3, 2008


One thing that childfree women come up against, again and again and again, is people not believing their "I don't want kids EVER" position.

Ain't that the truth. My wife, and I vicariously, get this shit all the time. FFS, we're in our forties, it should be damned obvious that we've decided not to have rugrats. Ugh.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:41 PM on January 3, 2008


Hey, a lot of people don't want to have children, and that's fine by me. But your age, agregoll, DOES have bearing, and not just culturally but biologically, and that's the point I was trying to make.

And I understand how tired you, and five fresh fish, feel of being challenged for your position. But for the rest of us, when those other couples who also said that they didn't want children (and gave us hell for wanting them, and acted as if we had something wrong with us, also) turn around and decide they do, and then act as if this was a wholly unexpected, unprecedented occurrence, well that gets pretty darned tiring, too.

In other words: for every couple that is determined not to have children, there is a couple who didn't want children but then changed their minds.

And THAT'S why you get challenged about it.
posted by misha at 5:03 PM on January 3, 2008


Hey, a lot of people don't want to have children, and that's fine by me. But your age, agregoll, DOES have bearing, and not just culturally but biologically, and that's the point I was trying to make.

No. It. Doesn't. I find it extraordinarily rude that you, a person who does not know me beyond my screen name, can tell me that you know better about my life than I do the probability whether or not I want kids and you base that on my AGE. Something so completely besides the point in intellectual thought it's insane. It's dismissive of the very long and thought-out position and decision my husband and I have made. Once again I see the cultural aspect coming out - a person not wanting kids is so out there to most people that they cannot accept it at face value. It seems you fall into that category, despite your claims to the contrary.

In other words: for every couple that is determined not to have children, there is a couple who didn't want children but then changed their minds.

And why do you assume that my husband and I fall into the latter category? Your assumptions that I might fall into that, AND that we might be the couples that badger people about having kids (I don't care if people want kids - I say, great, hope you have them) are completely and utterly baseless. There is no other topic I can think of that people doubt you on so much. How about cutting people some slack - who cares if some couples change their minds? Why lay that burden of what sounds like spite about what very rude people (badgering you about having kids? Huh? Are these your friends?) being hypocritical at the feet of the people who have nothing to do with them. Obviously people do change their minds. We will not be.

And THAT'S why you get challenged about it.

No, I think it's because people like you are unable to give people like me the respect of accepting that we know our own mind and will not be having kids, ever.

Five fresh fish, kudos. I'm sorry you still get people in your face about it. It drives me insane too and I shudder to think that this will still be happening in our 40's. Ugh!
posted by agregoli at 7:05 AM on January 4, 2008


I'm sorry, I didn't mean to go off so bad. This stuff drives me crazy, as you can see.
posted by agregoli at 7:49 AM on January 4, 2008


I'm sorry, I didn't mean to go off so bad. This stuff drives me crazy, as you can see.

Sounds like overactive hormones. Are you sure you're not pregnant?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:48 AM on January 4, 2008



The thing about age is, you don't know what it's like to have certain experiences until you have them. It's kind of analogous to puberty-- a 7 year old finds sex icky and finds it incomprehensible that someone would actually *want* to do that. She might declare that she will never, ever, let a boy put that horrible gross thing anywhere near her.

The vast majority, once the hormones kick in, revise their opinions. Yes, that happens at different ages for different people, but age is more than a number in this sense.

So the reason people are saying this about the "biological clock" experience is because if you haven't had it, you don't know what it's like. If I said I'll never get cranky when I hit menopause, you probably wouldn't believe me either because I don't know what it's like to go through menopause (and pray that I won't have to for quite a while yet) but I can't have an honest opinion about what it's like because I haven't experienced it.

It's completely possible that you will never change your mind about wanting kids-- it's also completely possible that when you hit 35, you will suddenly start seeing babies as the most beautiful, amazing, attractive creatures you ever set eyes on and you will find yourself staring at them the way you used to stare at attractive men. It's possible that you will suddenly come to see "cuteness" as an overwhelming emotion and start to yearn for a child.

it's possible not. but if you haven't hit your mid to late 30's, you really can't say because you don't know what your body and brain are going to throw at you.
posted by Maias at 1:25 PM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I find that offensive, Kraftmatic.

The thing about age is, you don't know what it's like to have certain experiences until you have them. It's kind of analogous to puberty-- a 7 year old finds sex icky and finds it incomprehensible that someone would actually *want* to do that. She might declare that she will never, ever, let a boy put that horrible gross thing anywhere near her.

Weird. I never thought sex was "icky." Nor did I find males horrible and gross. Maybe I had a healthy upbringing about sex?

You never know what it's like to never have kids until you never have kids, I guess. I'll find out, yay!

So the reason people are saying this about the "biological clock" experience is because if you haven't had it, you don't know what it's like.

And many people NEVER have it. I've heard that from so many people - that they never experienced "biological clock." So how does that figure in? They never knew what it was like cause it never happened to them.

If I said I'll never get cranky when I hit menopause, you probably wouldn't believe me either because I don't know what it's like to go through menopause (and pray that I won't have to for quite a while yet) but I can't have an honest opinion about what it's like because I haven't experienced it.

So you're saying that unless I experience wanting kids, I'm always in a stage of "pre-wanting kids." That's ridiculous.

It's completely possible that you will never change your mind about wanting kids-- it's also completely possible that when you hit 35, you will suddenly start seeing babies as the most beautiful, amazing, attractive creatures you ever set eyes on and you will find yourself staring at them the way you used to stare at attractive men. It's possible that you will suddenly come to see "cuteness" as an overwhelming emotion and start to yearn for a child.

I'm gagging from all the pap as I'm reading this. Seeing babies as the most beautiful, amazing, attractive creatures ever wouldn't convince me to have a child. I coo over a cute baby like anyone else. I came to my decision to not having kids out of logical, reasoned, intellectual thought processes, and I'm not going to jump into the opposite opinion cause of a cute kid.

it's possible not. but if you haven't hit your mid to late 30's, you really can't say because you don't know what your body and brain are going to throw at you.

I know what I won't be doing. Having a kid. I find it offensive and rude that because of my age, and, because I'm a woman, I am assumed that I will want kids despite my saying I don't want them. Please think about not taking this line of thought to the extent you have with me with others in the future. The ones that respect my decision might think whatever they want, but in public they say, "Oh really? That's cool." Just like I would to anyone who says they want children desperately. Both decisions are worthy of equal respect. You do not know my own mind or my reasons for not wanting kids. It's not going to be a decision changed by hormones or age.
posted by agregoli at 2:15 PM on January 4, 2008


36 here.

Still don't want kids, despite (among other things):

- my Kaiser ob/gyn refusing to tie my tubes because I was bound to change my mind and then what...?! How about, I don't get to add another over-consumer (aka first world citizen) to an overburdened planet?

Once I hit 31 she relented but I haven't done it because surgery squicks me out. I'll get round to it eventually, though.

-my mother claiming I'll never be adult until I have kids of my own (We have different definitions of adult.)

I am not against adopting, but I see it more as a civic duty, like donating blood. That said, I somehow keep putting it off. Bad citizen! Bad!
posted by small_ruminant at 2:18 PM on January 4, 2008


The "you'll never grow up" argument also amazes me. It boils down to the idea that Jamie Lynn Spears is more adult than an 80 year old without kids. Such reasoning does not compute!
posted by agregoli at 2:20 PM on January 4, 2008


I feel strongly that breeding should only happen if you're called to it, like becoming a nun or a priest. As in, if there is any way you can avoid it and still be a whole and satisfied human, you should do so.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:21 PM on January 4, 2008


Five fresh fish, kudos. I'm sorry you still get people in your face about it. It drives me insane too and I shudder to think that this will still be happening in our 40's. Ugh!

It doesn't happen so often any more. Part of the reason is that I have made it exceptionally clear to certain parents that they will be entirely and forevermore excommunicated if they can't restrain themselves. They know I will make good on that promise.

What's really cool in my life right now is that a number of my colleagues are my age and also child-free. It is so refreshing to be in an environment where my decisions are not only normal, but understood and held in high regard.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:10 PM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


If I said I'll never get cranky when I hit menopause, you probably wouldn't believe me either because I don't know what it's like to go through menopause (and pray that I won't have to for quite a while yet) but I can't have an honest opinion about what it's like because I haven't experienced it.

So you're saying that unless I experience wanting kids, I'm always in a stage of "pre-wanting kids." That's ridiculous.


Your response is what is ridiculous. That is not what we are saying at all. What we are saying is that people don't implicitly accept what another person says unless we feel they are coming from a position of authority. You feel that you don't want children. Great. You may have spent several years considering this, weighing every option and making a dedicated decision. But, you're right, we don't know you from anything other than your profile. So what WE have to judge by is other 28 year-old women who thought they didn't want kids. Some remained committed to childlessness. But some did not, and the reasons others gave, in the thread I linked but you apparently ignored, was not "cultural pressure" but their own biological clock.

You are the one who brought up the whole "culture is a much bigger factor than biology" debate. Why then are we "rude" to point out the role biology has when we debate the point? We only said that you should recognize the possibility that the reason you feel culture has more to do with the decision to have children or not have them than biology is because you, personally, have not felt that biological clock.

And maybe, as you say, you never will. When you hit menopause, still childless, you can come back here and have a good laugh about it and say, "I told you all so."

But if you refuse to believe that your age and gender do not have any bearing at all on the argument that biology is a factor in a decision to have children, you are not seeing the forest for the trees.

And the fact that you take this debate so personally and choose to see that position as some kind of personal affront says a lot more about you than it does about the people you are choosing to call "rude."
posted by misha at 8:32 PM on January 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Exactly, misha.

I also think the majority of little kids find sex "yucky" or maybe incomprehensible or "not particularly appealing" is a better way to put it-- regardless of whether they are raised by sex-positive hippies or bible-thumping conservatives.

Hence the classic reply to learning about where babies come from: "Eew.. you mean you did that [number of siblings] times?" If kids didn't have an essentially pre-sexual stage, they'd do far more prepubescent sexual exploration with each other than they do-- sure, kids "play doctor" (and you do find some little kids who are really fascinated by the whole thing) but you don't typically find six to seven year olds "dating" with the intensity that teenagers do, nor do you find many of them seeking to lose their virginity and thank goodness for that!

It still amazes me that people feel compelled to deny biology so vehemently that they would presume that it's impossible for something that has suddenly affected many, many people before them at an older age than they are to ever affect them.

Also, one can have a full-on complete baby-yearning biological clock experience and still *not have* kids because you decided you don't want them. But that doesn't mean that you will never experience the wanting.
posted by Maias at 11:20 AM on January 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


misha and Maias- what age will I need to have attained to make my not wanting kids legit, and not just some combo of immaturity and ignorance?

You really are being presumptuous about me and agregoli. There are many things I haven't yet experienced, and I won't understand until I do.

As an example that feels similar, I have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as my personal lord and savior. I have been told time and time again that one day I will understand! And all these years of denying my personal lord and savior will seem ignorant and childish. When that time comes, I will change my opinions and lifestyle accordingly. Until such time I must conduct my life as though he is in fact not my personal lord and savior, and any lectures from those "in the know" will be resented by me as presumptuous.

I am going to presume to speak for agregoli here...If you are wondering why we are getting hot under the collar, it's because we have been overexposed to pro-child proselytizing and have developed an allergy to it.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:28 PM on January 5, 2008


That should actually be "pro-breeding" proselytizing. I'm in favor of kids.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:30 PM on January 5, 2008


small_ruminant, no one here is telling you you have to have kids. What we ARE sharing with you is a biological -let me say that again, don't want you to miss it- a BIOLOGICAL craving to reproduce that for many of us, just came out of nowhere.

I think I shared earlier in the thread, but let me repeat myself with a little detail. Growing up, I detested kids. Did NOT want them. The first time I was engaged, my fiance used to point out small children and make comments about, oh, don't you want one? Isn't she cute? And I would just about gag. Did. NOT. Want.

Lo and BEhold, at the relatively young age of 24, the craving HIT. I was shocked to my boots. Why on earth would I want one of those small smelly shrieky creatures? It made no sense to my rational brain. But that was not the part of me that allofasudden wanted to be pregnant.

I wound up getting married and I wound up getting pregnant the first year of my marriage and I was thrilled. If I had had a time machine and gone back a couple of years and told that to my younger self, my younger self would have been totally shocked. As shocked as if I had decided to cut off my own right arm and toss it to a shark, THAT shocked.

Look, we are not saying that this will necessarily happen to you. Maybe it won't. But I have to tell you that the vehemence with which you do NOT want children now will have absolutely no relation to whether or not the switch flips and you suddenly have a craving that never, never EVER in your wildest dreams or most horrid nightmares could you imagine yourself having.

Because, friend, I originally did NOT want children with just that much vehemence.
posted by konolia at 4:27 PM on January 5, 2008


Yes. I believe you. And people who have found Christ have the same vehemence. (I believe you may have mentioned this yourself in previous threads, more or less.)

That does NOT make it okay for you or anyone else to pat me on the head and tell me I don't know what I'm talking about and that I'll likely grow out of it.

As a side note, I keep running into guys who've seemed suddenly to have acquired a very noisy biological clock. Must! Have! Kids! Now! And yet they aren't and never have been subjected to the same patronizing line that I and my other child-free women friends have been. It's very odd.

So, again: please let me know at what age my anti-breeding preferences will begin to carry some weight. I am genuinely curious. I would have thought 36 would do it, but clearly I was wrong.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:40 PM on January 5, 2008


Well, you certainly could be the exception that proves the rule. I'm sure what happened to me does not happen to everyone.

But it does happen to a LOT of people. And the truth is none of us knows which category we fall into for sure to start with.

If I could have tied my tubes at eighteen I probably would have. Then at 24 I would have been wailing and gnashing my teeth.

I at least am not trying to be patronizing. I suppose all I would want to say to anyone in your position is that you need to respect the fact that who you are now and who you will be, say, five or ten years from now may or may not be the same. Those of us who are Old Farts (I am 49) have lived long enough to see that in ourselves and others.

Bottom line is I think a person should leave themselves all the options life has to present for as long as they can. At thirty-five I am supposing you indeed are one of the exceptions and that's cool. If you were twenty-five I would urge you to respect the thirty-five year old you would be one day and leave your options open. That's all.
posted by konolia at 6:29 AM on January 6, 2008


Bottom line is I think a person should leave themselves all the options life has to present for as long as they can.

Whereas I think it cripples one's decision-making. Not making a choice just-in-case is still making a decision, but it isn't one that allows you to actively control your own fate.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:17 AM on January 6, 2008


Leaving aside the question of controlling one's fate (I think that is an illusion)...I guess what I am saying is -don't get your tubes tied at 24 because you have no way of knowing whether you will change your mind at 35. One can decide not to have kids for a long time-a perfectly valid decision- without robbing oneself of the choice to change one's mind at some point. And frankly who cares what people think either way?


Oh, and I have a friend who had her tubes tied, then when she met her third husband decided that had been a bad idea. It took her one tubal reversal, one blown out ovary (ectopic that never even made it to the fallopian tube) and five long years of trying till she managed to conceive and give birth at 42. Frankly it was pert near miraculous. Her daughter is now nine or so. She tried to have more children but only managed more miscarriages.

PEOPLE CAN and DO change their minds on things. That is not bad, that is not weak. It's fine if they don't but again, from my observation of the human condition, one can't really COUNT on it.
posted by konolia at 6:00 PM on January 6, 2008


For the record, I wish I'd chosen a vasectomy at 21, when I had quite completely decided to never have children.

Also to note, an acquaintance of mine did choose the V at a tender young age, and has had no regrets.

Frankly, the "ooh but what if you change your mind" stuff sounds like wishful thinking.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:43 PM on January 6, 2008


Your response is what is ridiculous. That is not what we are saying at all. What we are saying is that people don't implicitly accept what another person says unless we feel they are coming from a position of authority.

And what I'm qualifying as rude and unfair is saying that I have absolutely no authority to say that I do not and will not want kids ever, based simply because you know that people change their minds. I do not understand why this is the one life decision that people do not accept - and that's why I bring up the cultural aspect. It's so against current culture that it's not allowed to be accepted at face value.

We only said that you should recognize the possibility that the reason you feel culture has more to do with the decision to have children or not have them than biology is because you, personally, have not felt that biological clock.

I recognize the possibility - it's just that I reject it.

And maybe, as you say, you never will. When you hit menopause, still childless, you can come back here and have a good laugh about it and say, "I told you all so."

I wouldn't feel vindictive about it. Although I do hope Metafilter is around at that future date!

But if you refuse to believe that your age and gender do not have any bearing at all on the argument that biology is a factor in a decision to have children, you are not seeing the forest for the trees.

My age and gender do not have anything to do with MY decision to have or not have children. In general, age and gender do have something to do with it, but as I said, I find the cultural pressure much more compelling a reason people feel they need to have kids and WHEN they need to have them to be much more than plain biology. It was never an "either/or" argument from me.

And the fact that you take this debate so personally and choose to see that position as some kind of personal affront says a lot more about you than it does about the people you are choosing to call "rude."

I explained why I find it offensive. I'm assuming you'll offend others in the future as you did me - if you're comfortable with that, it says just as much about you as it does about me finding it offensive. Hopefully you'll have learned something about how everyone does not appreciate this.

Also, one can have a full-on complete baby-yearning biological clock experience and still *not have* kids because you decided you don't want them. But that doesn't mean that you will never experience the wanting.

Doesn't mean I will either though - many people never go through it. What I would like to see change is the assumption that everyone is likely to go through this baby-wanting phase - I've met many people who say it never happened to them.

That does NOT make it okay for you or anyone else to pat me on the head and tell me I don't know what I'm talking about and that I'll likely grow out of it.

Thank you - that's what it sometimes makes me feel like, and it's what I consider rude.

I at least am not trying to be patronizing. I suppose all I would want to say to anyone in your position is that you need to respect the fact that who you are now and who you will be, say, five or ten years from now may or may not be the same. Those of us who are Old Farts (I am 49) have lived long enough to see that in ourselves and others.

I DO respect that fact - saying that I don't want kids doesn't mean that I don't realize that life changes or that my life was very different 10 years ago and will be very different 10 years from now. It's so patronizing to tell someone that they don't realize how their life will change and that you are almost certain that their priorities and thoughts about their own life will change. Why can't the "I don't want kids" thing be taken at face value? That's all I want, honestly. Same as if I said, "I want to live in a house someday" or "I want to spend some time in Japan." No one challenges me on those kind of life decisions - but kids...well, you can't get away with saying you don't want kids, apparantly, ever.

Leaving aside the question of controlling one's fate (I think that is an illusion)...I guess what I am saying is -don't get your tubes tied at 24 because you have no way of knowing whether you will change your mind at 35.

From what I hear, it's almost impossible to get your tubes tied at 24 if you haven't had kids. I know people who aren't "allowed" to have it done at much higher ages than that, which is a damn shame.

One can decide not to have kids for a long time-a perfectly valid decision- without robbing oneself of the choice to change one's mind at some point. And frankly who cares what people think either way?

Why care so much about other people who decide they don't want kids? I don't care about what people think - I care about what they choose to share with me about what they think.

PEOPLE CAN and DO change their minds on things. That is not bad, that is not weak. It's fine if they don't but again, from my observation of the human condition, one can't really COUNT on it.

I acknowledge I could change my mind - but I know myself and I know that it's much more likely I won't. I don't like being treated like a youngster with no convictions - I want the respect of being accepted for my decisions NOW.
posted by agregoli at 7:30 AM on January 7, 2008


There is no point in arguing with you further, agregoll, NOT because you are right, but because you both refuse to accept that others are arguing in generalities and take every argument as a personal attack on your decision to remain childless, and because you simply ignore any argument that effectively challenges your position on biology vs. cultural influence by calling the proponent either condescending or rude--despite your actually having been the one to originally throw around terms like selfish, rude, offensive, patronizing, etc.

If you can't keep the debate about the issues, and instead have to continue to make this into some kind of personal vendetta against everyone who disagrees with you, in the guise of us "wanting you to have children" (which couldn't be further from the truth), then I won't waste my time explaining, for the umpteenth time, why I, and apparently others, feel that biology has just as strong an impact as culture on the decision to have, or not have, children.

I will refrain from going the route of "methinks the lady doth protest too much" but your constant return to the "I will never have children" refrain really does bog down what could have been a healthy, vigorous debate over biology vs culture. Next time, try reading the relevant links and responding to the issues instead of making it all about YOU.
posted by misha at 4:46 PM on January 7, 2008


misha, what goes for agregoll goes for me, too. It's personal because there is not much on this planet that's MORE personal than this issue, imo.

I am willing to concede that for some people biology creates a desire for kids. Biology of some sort or another creates a desire in me to eat soft-serv ice cream. Telling people that they MIGHT decide someday to let their physical cravings overwhelm their good decision-making process (from our point of view) ... well, it's offensive to some of us.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:59 PM on January 7, 2008


Well, to make it even more general, there are a lot of things I was totally certain about when I was younger-and I would have been just as offended to be told I might change my mind.

I suspect THAT is where the offense lies, and not the particulars on reproducing. Ah, youth. ;-)
posted by konolia at 5:07 PM on January 7, 2008


These arguments are as absurd as "Oh, don't ever get a tatoo. You might change your mind someday and then you'll regret it!"

It's a specious argument.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:18 PM on January 7, 2008


Or tattoo, for that matter.

Besides, if the baby craving hits, we can all get a fakie. Problem solved.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:25 PM on January 7, 2008


There is no point in arguing with you further, agregoll, NOT because you are right, but because you both refuse to accept that others are arguing in generalities and take every argument as a personal attack on your decision to remain childless, and because you simply ignore any argument that effectively challenges your position on biology vs. cultural influence by calling the proponent either condescending or rude--despite your actually having been the one to originally throw around terms like selfish, rude, offensive, patronizing, etc.

Huh? Honestly, I'm a bit confused here. I have not taken every argument as a personal attack. I've only been explaining my take on these types of comments. I haven't been ignoring any argument, to my knowledge. I haven't called anyone rude or condescending - I've called certain argument tactics and comments to be rude or condescending - I separate the behavior from the person and you would never find me saying that anyone who engages in these "you will likely change your mind about having kids" is a bad person or anything.

If you can't keep the debate about the issues, and instead have to continue to make this into some kind of personal vendetta against everyone who disagrees with you, in the guise of us "wanting you to have children" (which couldn't be further from the truth), then I won't waste my time explaining, for the umpteenth time, why I, and apparently others, feel that biology has just as strong an impact as culture on the decision to have, or not have, children.

We disagree. That's it. I have not been thinking that you want me to have kids. I don't have a personal vendetta against anyone who disagrees with me (huh? again?). I have been trying to show how those comments come across to those of us who aren't respected for our decision not to have kids, especially when that decision isn't considered valid because of factors like age. That's what feels condescending. I understand you feel that biology has just a strong an impact as culture on the decision to have or not have kids. I disagree. That's it. There's no larger struggle here besides those viewpoints.

I will refrain from going the route of "methinks the lady doth protest too much" but your constant return to the "I will never have children" refrain really does bog down what could have been a healthy, vigorous debate over biology vs culture.

Except by mentioning it, you really didn't refrain, did you? That's ok, I've had that barb lobbed at me before for simply daring to discuss my desire not to have kids. I thought we were having a vigorous debate about biology vs culture but it did get a bit sidetracked. I'm sorry we can't see eye to eye but we just disagree.

Next time, try reading the relevant links and responding to the issues instead of making it all about YOU.

Oh for crying out loud. It's not all about me. But when you try to say that based on nothing but my age and gender, that it's likely I'll change my mind, I'm going to have to jump to some cultural conclusions on why you feel compelled to say that. That IS part of the debate, and my points. I realize you feel compelled to say that because you feel biology backs you up. Again, we just disagree.

Well, to make it even more general, there are a lot of things I was totally certain about when I was younger-and I would have been just as offended to be told I might change my mind.

I suspect THAT is where the offense lies, and not the particulars on reproducing. Ah, youth. ;-)


That's just condescenion continuing. You're right - it's offensive, and I'm not sure why anyone would want to negate someone publicly like that. Such a lack of respect in these discussions.

I certainly don't tell anyone that they'll regret having their kids. First, cause I don't believe that it happens often, and secondly, because it would be plain rude to say such a thing and I wouldn't dream of it. I think the reverse, while not AS rude, as it does not dismiss a child, is in the same realm of rudeness as questioning someone else's life decision. I am truly sad that people cannot see that, but I guess since they've never been childfree, they wouldn't get it.

No hard feelings from me, that's for sure.
posted by agregoli at 7:41 PM on January 7, 2008


I realize my last paragraph could be taken as out of left field - I kind of took the wrong childfree point in my mind. What I should have said was I don't tell anyone that they won't want kids, they must not have them, they will never want them, etc.

But meh. I've said what I wanted to say in this discussion and I'm muddying my own thoughts now.
posted by agregoli at 7:44 PM on January 7, 2008


I have been trying to show how those comments come across to those of us who aren't respected for our decision not to have kids, especially when that decision isn't considered valid because of factors like age.

I think the problem is that your decision is so disrepected that it is easier to write it off as argumentative or hostile, than it is to learn something from it and to treat it with respect. It's all pats on the head and dismissal: you don't have anything worth hearing.

You, after all, haven't had this sublime experience of wanting babies and so you are heathen.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:53 PM on January 7, 2008


Whoa, five fresh fish, I don't agree with that at all!

I don't think everyone should have children. In fact, I think it is something someone should do only if they are very sure they are ready for the monstrous commitment it takes.

I respect everyone's right not to have children. I think it can be a responsible choice, given the state of the world's resources today.

I don't think people who choose not to have children are selfish or shallow or any of the other negative stereotypes that have been heaped on those who choose to have children and go through adoption or surrogates. (I didn't do any of those things, btw, in case you think that's coming from a personal perspective.)

I also don't think that having children simply because of biological urges OR cultural pressure is at all the right thing to do. Again, I think that the decision to have or not have kids is one that should be undertaken, as agregoll indicates she has done and so have you and small ruminant, after long and careful thought on the subject.

My whole debate here was that I don't think that it is cultural influences that make most people decide to have kids. I think that biology is at least equally strong in weight when it comes to that decision. (Now, if you were arguing over why people decide to get married or not, I would definitely think that cultural values had a stronger impact. We can see that in the marriage rates of, say, the UK versus the US.)

Again, I am not suggesting you don't know your own mind, or that agregoll or small ruminant do not. I would never presume to know your decision-making process. I just know that there are many factors going into making that decision, and it may be that those who do not feel a biological urge to have children simply have not had that urge *yet*. That DOESN'T mean that when they do, they will give in to that urge. Just that it is a strong urge, and I think it has as much influence as cultural factors do.

That's the best way I can explain my argument, so I hope I've done it well enough this time that you'll understand I really don't want to pressure anyone into having children, or discount their decision not to!
posted by misha at 7:25 AM on January 8, 2008


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