Babies without intended parents
August 13, 2011 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Babies by nobody and for nobody are an institution in France and a hundred-thousand+ dollar illegal commodity in LA.

In France, a baby can be technically born to nobody: "sous x"

Take Laetitia Buron, for example. When she gave birth, in Nice, on 7 November 1987, a sheet was put over her legs so that she would not see her child – then common practice for women giving birth sous X ("under X"), the law that allows women in France to have a baby and hand it over for adoption without disclosing their identity...

According to Claude Sageot-Chomel, president of DPEAO, an association which defends the rights of people to know their origins, the law persists because France is fundamentally a conservative country. He argues that the legislation is a way of "manufacturing children without any kin to suit the profitable adoption industry ... There has been a huge amount of Catholic influence on the medical world to defend a woman's right to give birth in secret". He suggests that the state's refusal to acknowledge that a child can have multiple filiations comes from fears that this would open the way to gay adoption and the development of unconventional family structures.

Last month, a law came into force upholding bans on sperm donation to lesbian couples, on surrogate motherhood, and restated that gamete donation must remain anonymous. Some say this legislation will bring the suffering of those born sous X to a new generation.

In the United States, surrogacy is legal, but intended parents are required; You can't legally create an embryo to be shopped around for an 'adoptive' family, but some have tried:

...the surrogates (who were US citizens) were sent to the Ukraine to have embryos transferred. There were no intended parents at this point. One of the defendants selected the sperm and the eggs, looking to create designer babies for whom there would be high demand. Recruiting for surrogates was done over the internet, as is common.

Once the surrogates were back in the states, the defendants would look for “buyers”–which is to say, prospective parents. (The surrogates were required to give birth in California, because the law there was favorable.) Contrary to my earlier account, prospective parents weren’t told an adoption had fallen through, but rather that (non-existent) intended parents had backed out of a surrogacy arrangement. Essentially they were offered the chance to step-in as new intended parents–for a price.

(Previously, about anonymity in gamete donation)
posted by Salamandrous (28 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are the links correct? Three of them are going to the same blog.
posted by Houstonian at 9:59 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think this is supposed to be the first link
posted by hellojed at 10:03 AM on August 13, 2011

That is a confusing article. Even after trying to get where the scam was I couldn't.

Where do I buy the baby?
posted by cjorgensen at 10:21 AM on August 13, 2011

I think the blog link is commentary about this case.
posted by Houstonian at 10:31 AM on August 13, 2011

Among other things, I think it's rather foolish to deny people the ability to research possible hereditary illnesses / pre-dispositions.
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:51 AM on August 13, 2011

How long before we have a properly commercialized baby market? Complete with the ability to return children if they're not up to scratch, too ugly, too dumb or annoyingly sick all the time? There could also be a thriving second-hand market, with reduced prices for barely used babies (one previous parent! Comes with 12 point inspection!) and so forth. Why should children not do their bit for the capitalist system? And it would totally work, because the market is always right!
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:03 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

The part that makes it a "scam" vs "legal" is really a technicality. Basically all that is horrible about this is currently legal if you fill out your paperwork correctly and pretend your intentions are good.

The money and intentions involved in the obcuring of babies to deliver to those with money has always been sketchy and ripe with exploitation--- both of the women whose wombs are used and those whose money is being taken in order to obtain a baby.

We have an idea that there are women who just love creating and handing over babies BECAUSE THEY WANT TO! Yet, it's telling that women refuse to let their wombs be used in this way unless there is a huge price offered, or they are in terrible circumstances and have no resources to help them.

And in the cases of infant adoption it's fascinating that it's illegal for a woman to be given thousands of dollars for her infant however it's perfectly legal for a salesperson, ahem, adoption worker, to make thousands as a living transfering babies.

Meanwhile when we examine the percent of women who hand over their infants because they don't have enough resources to parent effectively (be that money to by emotional and therapeutic services, enrichment for their children, money to stay at home and spend quality time etc etc) it becomes even more sinister that this money is being handed over to a third party when that about of money if delivered directly to the mother may have been enough to allocate supportive services to help her create and sustain an enriching and healthy environment for her child.

So yeah "baby-selling" rings sound like some sinister thing that's different than what is in fact legal, but it's not really all that different. Which is quite frequently, equally a product of a capitalist market that is indifferent to human suffering.
posted by xarnop at 11:11 AM on August 13, 2011 [14 favorites]

Mod note: OP if you'd like to send the links you intended for this post to the contact form we can fix it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:57 AM on August 13, 2011

BNFN doesn't really have the ring to it that FUBU does.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:02 PM on August 13, 2011

I don't understand this:

The hallmark of surrogacy is that the agreement between the IP and surrogate is made at the outset–before anyone is pregnant. You cannot fudge this part and still have it be surrogacy.

Why not?
posted by empath at 12:37 PM on August 13, 2011

I guess then it would just be adoption?
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:45 PM on August 13, 2011

Because then what happens is women just go and get pregnant and sell their babies. Also there is an issue of the money being a coercive tactic used against poor women to get their babies from them. It happens all the time in the third world and it is illegal. It's sort of like ethical issues with sweatshop labor where due to poor conditions people are willing to subject themselves to work environments that are harmful. If the child would starve without food and you offer the mother 2000 to take her child--- it brings up the ethical issue of why you wouldn't have just helped her provide for her child to begin with, in the event this is a loving mother her is simply willing to pay the ultimate price in order for her child to live.
posted by xarnop at 1:01 PM on August 13, 2011

Argh, people. LA = Louisiana. L.A. = Los Angeles.
posted by Eideteker at 1:11 PM on August 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

in the event this is a loving mother her is simply willing to pay the ultimate price in order for her child to live.

Wouldn't that be that the mother dies? That would be the ultimate price. If she's receiving money in exchange for not raising her own child, that's slavery (purchasing of another human being). But "ultimate price"? $2000 in pocket is pretty far from "ultimate" in any consideration of the term, unless you believe that giving up a child is the equivalent of death.
posted by hippybear at 1:13 PM on August 13, 2011

Paying the ultimite price being: giving up a child. For some women who have relinquished children, that price does indeed feel comparable to paying for your child's well being with your own destruction.
posted by xarnop at 1:16 PM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hey, I'm adopted and read a lot of the literature. I understand the destructive repercussions that being a birth mother can have. I'm just questioning your use of a phrase, which is pretty much standard in US culture for meaning "gave up your life".
posted by hippybear at 1:25 PM on August 13, 2011

Seconding Eideteker - LA is Louisiana, L.A. is Los Angeles.
posted by X4ster at 1:54 PM on August 13, 2011

"I'm just questioning your use of a phrase"

And I gave an answer. If you would like to question further, can you make your further question more clear so that I might be able to give an answer without putting words in your mouth?

Yes I compared losing a child to losing your own life. That is a complicated comparison to make of course, but if you want to go through the details of why I made that statement that might be a long conversation. If you knew the number of women who struggle with feelings of wanting life to end after losing their children and fighting to hold on and find a reason to keep on living anyway--- you might understand better. I can't tell you what percent of women this is, hence I used the term "for some women"
posted by xarnop at 1:58 PM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

No, I'm done. Just as long as we're clear on what you meant when you used the phrase. Thanks.
posted by hippybear at 2:02 PM on August 13, 2011

(hippybear and all adoptees-- it can be extermely hard to hear about the extent of many firstparents pain. I am an adoptee, and I completely understand the difficult emotions this brings up for adoptees. My firstmother was suicidal for a brief period and hearing the details of that and it's relationship to my adoption was extremely difficult and uh.. something I'm not sure is a good thing for firstparents to share with their adopted out kids, but I'm glad I know. So on the one hand, I'm not interested in making adoptees hear about it because damn it sucks for adoptees to hear about. On the other hand, if we hide the amount of firstparent pain that is happening that adds to keeping what goes on in a adoption kept secretive and first mothers feel like they are unable to share their pain and get the support they need. I do not want anyone to bear such pain in silence. And as I am also a firstmother, I know what that is like as well.)

Paying people for their kids is an extremely complicated practice and I certainly can't speak to what every woman who has been propositioned in such a way or who has attempted or sold a child feels about it. I do read about human trafficking and the family stories in third world countries and I think the experiences range drastically. When everyone's starving, human life itself can mean different things than when conditions are good and of course there are cultural differences that I can't speak to understanding either. Baby and child selling tends to be more common in poorer countries and it's not always with the intended purpose of "a better life" however when everyone is starving it might even seem like selling a child into slavery BUT WHERE THEY CAN EAT might be a kindness and allow the family to provide more food for the other children with the money. I don't know, I can only speculate.

Outsourcing surrogacy and surrogacy itself is a challenging area as well because in wanting to respect autonomy we want to respect everyone's choice, however if the choices are limited to sycky options, it becomes pertenent that perhaps if we want to be compassionate we could seek to create the existance of options that aren't so exploitive to empower people who are struggling. (I.e. instead of saddling people up with either starvation or work in a factory that causes cancer-- we could create better standards in work environments so that people are not choosing between two really sucky options.)
posted by xarnop at 2:30 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

That's a free-market economy hard at work. All the charm of cold cash.
posted by Twang at 3:04 PM on August 13, 2011

It's fine to give away a baby I carry and who has my DNA.

It's also fine to carry a baby to term who doesn't have my DNA. In that case, I can either sell the baby (surrogacy) or keep it (by receiving an egg and sperm donation).

It's also fine to sell my DNA (by being an egg/sperm donor).

The one thing I absolutely cannot do is carry a baby with my DNA, and then sell it.

I'm not saying I don't find selling babies extremely squicky. I just don't understand how you can reconcile these facts into a consistent moral framework.
posted by miyabo at 3:36 PM on August 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

hippybear and all adoptees-- it can be extermely hard to hear about the extent of many firstparents pain.

Yeah, as I said, I read the stuff and I know what has been said. Stop making this some kind of huge revelation which you suppose I'm just now having. Say whatever you need to, but stop including my username in this like you know what I know or what I feel or anything. Okay?
posted by hippybear at 3:43 PM on August 13, 2011

Mod note: Please take that conversation to email if it needs to continue. Thanks!
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:33 PM on August 13, 2011

Related: the baby hatch.
posted by chavenet at 5:38 PM on August 13, 2011

The "Solomon Method":

Sell individual parts of babies with tracking info, so that they can be purchased and used to reconstruct the baby on the buyer's end. This has the added bonus of allowing defective components to be swapped out.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:31 PM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

The one thing I absolutely cannot do is carry a baby with my DNA, and then sell it.

That's just another form of surrogacy, called Traditional Surrogacy. That's where the mother is both egg donor and carrier. The other form, called Gestational Surrogacy, is where the surrogate is unrelated to the child.

Traditional Surrogacy laws vary by state. Some allow it unconditionally. Some disallow it unconditionally. Some, like WA, allow it only if there is no consideration paid to the surrogate.
posted by Revvy at 10:23 PM on August 13, 2011

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