On Friday, TV host Andy Cohen announced that he was going to be a dad. “Tonight, I want you to be the first to know that after many years of careful deliberation, a fair amount of prayers and the benefit of science — if all goes according to plan in about six weeks time I’m going to become a father.” Congratulations poured in wrought with affirmations that Cohen would be an amazing “Daddy.” And I agree, we have no reason to doubt that he will be a great father.
Unsurprisingly, nowhere in those congratulatory tweets was a mention of a mother. That’s because Cohen wasn’t announcing his wife’s pregnancy. Indeed, as an out and proud gay man, he’s not looking for a wife and mother for his child. Instead he shared that he was having a child as a single man, “thanks to a wonderful [nameless, faceless, non-rich celebrity] surrogate who is carrying my future.” Fans and media alike fawned over his announcement, despite the fact that for this 50-year old single man to become a father, it’s his child who must sacrifice.
Look past Cohen’s staged announcement at how his fatherhood is actually being accomplished: Contracts have been signed, eggs have been purchased, a womb has been rented, money has been exchanged, and, upon birth the child will be separated from his or her mother FOR LIFE and handed over to Cohen.
Here’s four ways his decision to become a single dad via surrogacy will impact his child:
1. Maternal separation
Science, and common sense, reveals that losing a parent is traumatic for the child, even if we think the child is too young to remember it. Research shows that being separated from one’s mother at birth causes “major psychological stress” on the baby and, even if brief, can result in long term alterations of the child’s brain. As Them Before Us founder Katy Faust notes, “We don’t immediately place newborns on the chests of random women so they can forge a bond. We place them on their mother’s chest because they have an existing bond.” Cohen may be the biological father of the baby, but on the day he/she is born, the surrogate is the only parent the baby knows.
2. Intentional Motherlessness
Children crave the love of their mother, even if they are being well-loved by their father. Indeed, mothers and fathers interact so differently with children that some experts posit that there is no such thing as “parenting”, there’s only “mothering and fathering”. Children who grow up without their mother’s love suffer greatly, often into adulthood.
Rhianna shared how her mother’s absence impacted her: “My dad was now a single father of 2 girls. He loved being a dad and adored us…and we adored him. We thought he was the greatest thing ever!” She had a healthy, loving, and positive relationship with her father. But her father couldn’t replace her mother. “I never have had a mom’s love and affection…I still to this day suffer because of that abandonment feeling. I often would wonder why every other kid had a close relationship with their mom, but not me. I wondered if I was unlovable in the sight of my mom’s eyes. Why did she not want to be in my life….No child should be without their mothers [sic]… a mother’s love is crucial! I’m still to this day going through my emotions and dealing with the pain… All I wanted growing up was my mommy to love me and be there for me.”
3. Loss of a Biological Parent
Children have a natural right to exactly two people- their biological mother and their biological father. Losing one or both often leaves a lifelong wound. Will Cohen’s child long to know his/her missing parent? If he/she is like 80% of donor-conceived children, yes. The woman who “donated” her eggs may have given something to Cohen, but as a result, she deprived the child of something to which baby has a fundamental right- herself.
Elizabeth explains her view of the “donor” parent she’ll never know: “He gave something to my mother, but nothing – less than nothing – to me. He is, or was, my father, but by cooperating with my artificial conception, he deprived me forever of the possibility of knowing him. I do not know his name, what he looks like, what his personality is, what his voice sounds like. I do not know my paternal grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins.”
Jessica Kern, a surrogate-born woman, writes of the genealogical bewilderment that she struggled with growing up:
I am one of the fortunate children of donor conception because it only took me nine years to find my birth mom, however those of us who are conceived through surrogacy do not have the right to have this information. Often we are lied to, and never are even told our stories of origin. When we are conceived it comes across to me that only the adults involved have their interests looked after. The intended parents might be threatened that their child won’t view them as parents if they know who their biological parents are, or the surrogate possibly did the surrogacy for financial reasons and does not want to be tracked down. From where I sit this is a painful thing.
Many children created in a lab feel that they were treated as a product, a commodity. Indeed, most of them were literally chosen out of a catalogue. The largest study ever conducted on children born of sperm donation reveals that almost half of them are “disturbed that money was involved in their conception.” Jessica continues:
When you know that a huge part of the reason that you came into the world is due solely to a paycheck, and that after being paid you are disposable, given away and never thought of again, it impacts how you view yourself.
Only In Surrogacy…
If you asked a person on the street if a baby should be taken from her mother, you’re virtually guaranteed a resounding “NO.” But, if you floated the same question under the guise of surrogacy, not only would many have no problem with it, they might see it as a scientific achievement. Indeed, some governments even offer guidance to adults seeking surrogacy in the name of equality. But when “equality” or a scientific “breakthrough” means that a child must sacrifice, we don’t progress, we regress.
Cohen and Co’s elation can only exist if the fulfillment of adult desires is the Greatest Good. However, when we look at this pregnancy from the perspective of the child, we see a baby taken from the mother with whom he or she bonded for the first 9 months of life, a child separated from his/her birth mother, the life-long deprivation of maternal love, and no right to know his/her medical and genetic history.
Creating a motherless child is complex, expensive, and costs the child for life.
Does that sound like something we should celebrate?