Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Surrogacy vs Adoption

By: Craig Rigby
As you may or may not be aware my partner Jake and I have decided to adopt. We are currently desperately trying to pay off everything we owe to anyone so that one of us can give up work when the time comes.

When we were considering children, we had all gay people, make a choice. We had to choose between surrogacy and adoption. Here in the UK surrogacy is not really possible locally. It is not legal for a mother to sign away all rights to her child, she can always assert them. People who want an absent surrogate and egg donor for the child have to go to the USA.

There was recently a documentary made by Channel 4 about a gay couple in the UK who first had children by surrogate and egg donor 10 years ago called “My Weird and Wonderful Family”. It followed their story as they followed the process again to add twins to their family.
I watched the program with some trepidation. I had seen Barry and Tony before in various short television interviews and didn’t know how I felt about them. They are millionaires who now live in Essex and now have five children all by egg donor and surrogate and all born in California. Their children all know how they were made and the older children had some limited contact with their biological mother before she lost interest and cut off contact.

The children are well looked after and seem very happy. They have a large house with 14 dogs (my dream) and don’t seem to want for anything, including love and attention. I chuckled when I saw that they are all very well dressed with nice clothes and good hair cuts. I am pretty sure that any children Jake and I end up with will be scruffy little buggers, I don’t buy “designer” clothes for myself so I am not going to do it for a 5 year old who is going to play in dirt… They can have 14 dogs though.

The main criticism against them in the program, and one that I in some ways agree with, is that they have a designer family. They spent time looking at eye colour charts to work out possible combinations and at one point mention possible fostering and adoption when one of their unborn children is suspected to have downs syndrome. I found this last part of the program particularly shocking. They counter the accusation with this:

“As far as buying a family, we did everything we could be have a family by other methods like adoption and fostering. It was impossible for us to do this at the time as social services were not happy having a same sex couple making the applications. So the only alternative for us was to go down the surrogacy route. To be 100% honest with you though, we actually don't care what people think!”

They have had a pretty hard time in TV interviews, especially when they were having their first children 10 years ago. Most of the questions at that time were not about the surrogacy aspect but the gay issue. Eamonn Holmes once asked them what they would do if the children reject a gay lifestyle, as though they would be out clubbing and taking ‘E’ at 8 years old....Mentalist.

Whatever I thought about Tony and Barry as people, the program did help set in my mind my own thoughts on surrogacy, artificial insemination and adoption. I am not in the slightest way conflicted.

I personally see no difference with gay men using surrogacy and egg donors, straight or gay women using sperm donors, straight couples using egg or sperm donors or straight couples using IVF. All of these things, to me, are a way of people using science and intervention to have biological children that they are incapable of having alone. I don’t think any of these people are particularly immoral. What the program set in stone in my mind, is that I don’t really agree with any of these approaches to having children. Not even, perhaps controversially, low-fertility couples who have IVF.

I have seen, both through the program and through experience within my own family, the vast amount of time, money, effort and emotional capital that are spent on all these ways of having children. I have also seen the vast numbers of unwanted, neglected and abused children sitting in care waiting for homes and families to take them in. If I was a religious man I would tell people to take the hint.

If Jake and I are turned down for adoption, then maybe I will think again about the path I would like to take, but until that happens I can’t consider any path other than adoption. It just doesn’t make sense.


  1. I feel the same way about you.
    Some times I just think about the importance of blood in a family, but in the end, when you raise a child the most important thing is love. Love is what makes a family not blood.

    Hugs Craig, And good luck

  2. I've thought the same thing. I feel no need to have a biological child at all. There are so many kids that need a home, why would I need to procreate? Just to pass on all my weird food allergies? ;)

  3. I've long had issue with the morality of IVF when there are so many thousands of children in need of a safe home. The hypocrisy of religious groups who want to deny gays the ability to adopt is particularly galling, given how many Christian couples I know of who have kids, and how many of them are adopted. Including Bryan & Jay, all the Christian couples I know with adopted kids are gay; in most cases they also all have at least one child with some form of disability - usually foetal alcohol syndrome.

    The flip-side of this is that because I have moral issues with IVF and surrogacy, I actually don't have the poption of having a family myself. Because I have Asperger Syndrome I have no chance of ever being able to adopt even as part of a couple so, barring the unlikely possibility that I'll meet a young gay father, I'm effectively barred from ever having kids of my own. I'm becoming more OK with that as time goes on - I'm honourary uncle (actually first-step-cousin-once-removed) to three fantastic kids who I absolutely adore - but it's still something I regret.

    Good post, Craig!

  4. I can not for the life of me understand the desire to have a child that you are genetically related to. At the end of the day, does it really matter if you are genetically linked to a child, or that you love and care for them? I mean being related isnt any guarantee, at least for the child that they will be loved and cared for, as we are all to aware of.

    We are not kings who requires a heir to keep their family in power. All we are is human, and to build a child with medicine when their are millions of unwanted, unloved children who are pining for a good loving home is just wrong.

    Also, I hate how the whole adoption system works. It's almost as if they are selling the children to you. And damn! These kids go for an outrageous price! My hubby and i wanted to adopt, but never could afford to. Children are languishing in foster care, and there are good parents waiting and wanting a child to lavish love on, but because they don't make an insane amount of money, no can do.

  5. I can. I have a family history that I am proud of. And I think I would like a child to pass on my family history too. It have enjoyed learning and discovering my familial past. And, I just would like to have a biological child.

    And I shouldn't be made to feel guilty over it. It is a valid choice.

  6. All valid points however in some countries it is illegal for gay couples to adopt and my partner and I do not want to wait for the laws to change it could be years here in Australia........ Therefore surrogacy is our only option..... We want to have children so we can grow old with them and see them go on and live there own lives..

    I do understand that there are many children without homes and in desperate need of care but people in power and churches need to realise this and move with the times....

    In the meantime I can not wait to meet our baby!!!!

  7. I can see why people want to have their own biological children. If my partner was a fertile woman and I a fertile man I would not hesitate to put a bun in her oven.

    But I can't do that, so I am left with the choice of what to do next. And I think I would much rather help a child in need that go to great trouble to produce one on my own.

    I really don't think people who use artifical methods to conceive need feel guilty. I honestly don't see the difference between two men who use an egg donor and a surrogate and a straight couple who use IVF.

    I wonder if I am influenced by my desire to prove gayness have a point and is biologically useful to society? I am not sure, but I definately feel called to adoption.

  8. Without passing any judgment, I can honestly tell you that we have adopted four children from three different situations/Mothers who we love very much. I don't know the feeling of having a bio child but I can't possibly see me loving a bio child more than I do my adopted children. Over the past several months I have come across some Great & Fantastic Fathers/Bloggers who have used Surrogacy and after all is said and done, we are basically the same people. I guess what I'm saying is "to each his own". But I will leave you with this, we are thinking about adopting kid #5 out of Foster Care because I know that he or she is out there looking for us.
    Thanks for this Post today.
    Your Friend,m.
    p.s. Good luck. There is a child out there waiting for you too.

  9. I do have an experience related to a kind of discrimination that certain gay men practice in regards to family building. Last summer when Jay and I went on an R Family cruise to Alaska we met lots of other gay fathers and the vast majority of them had their children through surrogacy. When confronted with the fact that we made our family by adoption, the reponse of alot of these men was simply...."oh"...and that was that.

    It made one feel as if he had said something wrong. After a two or three of these types of interactions I began to feel as if there was somekind of class divide when it came to those who chose surrogacy over adoption...a conclusion that I really hope is not true.


  10. My bf and I disagree about this... I want to adopt and give a children who is being neglected the loving home he/she deserves. My bf wants a biological child because he thinks it's not as legit, somehow, in comparison to adoption... that somehow because the child has his DNA it will be more important or something. I honestly think he's dead wrong and I'm trying to explain to him that our situation (two gay men) gives us the perfect opportunity to help fill a gap in society. I don't know, I think his reasons are kinda selfish and superior... *sigh* I'm slowly breaking through to him though. (I think)

    Wish me luck, people. :p

  11. I am sorry to hear the experience you had on the cruise, Bryan. Gay people are humans, too, and have all the flaws and prejudices that most humans have. It's unfortunate, but true.

    It is sad that one of the most prosecuted minorities in human history cannot develop more empathy for others.

    I can see merits on both sides, adopting and surrogacy. It doesn't have to be either/or, but it can be both. It is certainly a sublime experience to share genetic ties with your offspring, but as Uncle Saul in Brothers and Sisters told Kevin so poignantly when they were searching for an egg donor, it is not the genes that determine a person's character or future. Humans are influenced by their upbringing as much as they are by their instincts or genetic makeup. How we raise our children often has more impact than what we pass to them in their genes. And sometimes, the little unforeseen differences are the surprises that make life meaningful. So to all the control freaks who want to make sure they have a perfectly designed and perfectly planned family, you are missing out on the best part of life.

  12. I think you are happy and enjoying.

  13. Unless you (and possibly your partner) are planning to have only one child, and your country of origin limits your options either way, there's no reason why you can't do both. These two options are not mutually exclusive.

  14. If I had not gotten pregnant the 'old-fashion' way I would probably not have had a child, as that was not the road I was heading down at that stage of my life. But dont get me wrong I adore and love my son with my whole heart, and I dont regret having my child, but if I hadnt had him when I did I now would of been going to adoption route as I think there are so many children out there that need good loving homes from any one that has love to give to children.. whether they are Straight, Gay, married or single... why is there the over-welling need to have your own genes in your child. any way my 2 cents worth

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