In a recent article published in Air Mail, the author discusses how some gay-identified men see having children via surrogacy as a “status symbol” of “time, money, and ambition.” This trend is incredibly disturbing, as it’s women who must bear the burden for these dreams to become reality.
From Elton John to Anderson Cooper, it seems like every year, more and more gay-identified couples or individuals, specifically gay men, are having children via surrogacy.
“Children have in a way become a status symbol among many gay men,” Yuval Hudadi said. “They signify a certain level of time, money, and ambition.”
His statements are part of a longer article in Air Mail, which discusses the growing pressure on male same-sex couples or gay individuals to have a baby as LGBT-identified celebrities publicly grow their families.
The article reads, in part, “Conceived at the intersection of hope, love, money, and technology, these kids represent, perhaps, the ultimate symbol of L.G.B.T.Q. equality: parenthood for men who—despite their wealth and privilege—never imagined they would become fathers.
“Indeed, at a time when social media and hook-up apps have set almost supernatural standards of gay-male desirability, becoming a father now presents yet another “accomplishment” some gay men feel they must achieve. No longer is it enough to simply be successful in your career and also be in possession of a six-pack. Gay men aspiring for Cooper levels of cool now need a newborn to compete for likes.
“No one is suggesting that well-known gay men are reproducing just to boost their follower counts. Rather, the optics and messaging around their growing families can create pressure for less resource-rich gay men who might hope to follow suit.”
The article reports on a recent study that revealed three-quarters of LGBT Millennials “are either already parents or are considering having children,” which is 50% more than Generation Xers and boomers.
But two men can’t make a baby, and two women can’t either. So, in order to have a biological family, men who engage in same-sex relationships can only achieve this by commodifying women’s bodies.
Though there are always glowing stories about women helping other couples grow their families, that’s usually not the case. Between egg donation and surrogacy, women put their bodies under immense stress in order to help others achieve having biological children.
Women who undergo egg donation, which gay men need to have a family, they often receive high dose hormones to stimulate egg production and undergo an invasive process to retrieve their eggs. This can cause what’s called hyper ovarian stimulation syndrome, which can be mild or severe with blood clots, rapid weight gain as fluid fills the abdomen, severe abdominal pain and other health complications occurring. One woman, who donated her eggs 10 times in as many years, was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer at 32, despite having no risk factors. She believes that the hormones given to her during the egg retrieval process contributed strongly to her cancer diagnosis, the signs of which her fertility doctor ignored in pursuit of her eggs.
Surrogacy brings its own complications, and potentially deadly consequences. Rarely—if ever—do those glowing surrogacy stories in the mainstream media explain these complications.
The United States is one of the few countries that has legalized commercial surrogacy, the process of paying a woman to bear a child for someone else. These relationships between prospective parent(s) and the surrogate are complex, some of the contracts are so specific that it defines what the surrogate can and cannot do while pregnant, including details about her diet.
Relationships can irrevocably break down during the pregnancy as well. The intended parents could break up, as happened with former The View co-host Sherri Shepherd, or the parents could demand abortion, if the IVF process results in multiple children and the couple only wants one or if the child has a congenital anomaly.
Surrogates have also died giving birth to another person’s child, leaving their own children behind without a mother. This happened earlier this year in California. Michelle Reaves was carrying a second child for the same couple when she experienced pregnancy-related complications and died after her c-section.
Sadly, gay couples who pay to bring a child into the world do so with the intent of depriving that child of a mother. Children are not a “status symbol,” but precious individual lives who deserve a mother, not just a gestational carrier, and a father.
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