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?
Creating a motherless child for your own needs is purely selfish from where I sit. People are priceless and irreplaceable. Pieces of paper do not mean anything to a baby. Lifelong trauma is the cost for this child. I know as an adoptee from closed adoptionof 1970.
Nothing can ever replace a Mother’s Love. Every child is entitled to a Mother and a Father wherever possible as this is known to be the best relationship for the child’s up bringing. These selfish, often wealthy adults are not thinking about the child they have created and the life-long affects this will have on the child’s life as they grow to adulthood. We should have learned from the closed adoption (see above) that happened back in the 60’s and 70’s….the children are now seeking their parents……they want to know/meet their Mother and Father, and to ask the many questions they might have about their background.
I took custody of a three week old baby because her parents were deemed unsuitable. However I made sure she knew both her parents and assured her that the fact that they were unable to raise her did not mean that they didn’t love her. A child has the right to know and love her biological parents even though they are unable to parent her.
There is no limit to human selfishness!
What mother would want her baby to go to a single man!?
Seriously?! What if that woman was planning tho have an abortion but chose adoption?? Is it then better had that baby been killed then to live in a single parent household? You say “motherless” is it just men who shouldn’t adopt or do you feel babies are “fatherless” when a woman/ women adopt? You act like this man stole someone’s baby when in fact he may be giving it a better life OR a life at all!!!
You know from the facts of Cohen’s surrogacy story that was NOT the case. So why are you arguing a hypothetical instead of the facts?
I totally agree with you, your absolutely right what if the woman was going to abort. She now saved years of guilt by having the child and knowing she did the right thing by giving the baby to a loving person. Amen!
Research, schmesearch. You guys are missing another part of the bigger picture here. In a world that is filled with so much hate, violence and obnoxiousness, I am encouraged and filled with joy to see someone who has had the courage to share publicly, that his lifelong dream of becoming a father has come true. I believe the main message Andy’s public story displays is that what truly matters most, to all of us (humans that is), is LOVE. He was sharing that despite being born a gay man and that it seemed nearly impossible to be able to fulfill a deep-seeded calling to fatherhood for years, that his prayers were answered.
Will he be a perfect parent? Who is one? Is being a single parent going to affect the life of a child? Absolutely, but guess what can also affect the life of a child? Having BOTH parents in the picture and in a loveless or abusive marriage where they constantly argue and put their drama before the needs of the child. Is that any better? ALL OF US, (ok maybe not you folks with your perfect, exemplary lives), no matter what type of household we come from are going to need therapy at one point or another in this life. Life is hard. Life is harder with judgy people bringing each other down all the time.
LOVE always trumps all. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and varying perspectives, but I choose to appreciate the vulnerability Andy offered in sharing his story, and like all of us, what matters most is to love and to be loved.
As a married, heterosexual Christian wife, and mother of a toddler, I’d like to raise my son in an evironment with more unconditional love and less judgement of other people’s business.
Peace and love,
The attitude of an adult saying “yes it’ll be hard on the child but he/she can lump it” is exactly why Them Before Us exists. No, I’m sorry. “Love” as you define it (adults getting to do whatever they want) doesn’t trump the RIGHTS of another human.
Don’t children eventually become adults? Or do humans first 18 years of life are the only thing that matters?
Exactly!! Who defines “family” these days? Families can be people not blood related. Cohen , Cooper and NPH-Burtka children are lucky to have such loving parents who wanted them. They ARE biologically related. The really ironic fact will be watching these boys grow into gender tolerant men like so many others before them -some Gay, some not. Because surprisingly to you homophobes , being raised by Gay parents does not effect sexuality. Go research that one! The older Burtka-Harris kids are so happy, confident, and well adjusted. The world is changing. Yall need to get on board w the times. (BTW I am a married (to a man), Christian, white female so this is not bias, but WJWD.
The “egg donor” is the mother. She may be a money hungry, cold, pathetic excuse for a human being, but she is the mother. The father is selfish to core, cold, and doesn’t care about anyone but himself. The kid is royally screwed. It should be illegal.
He’ll hate his father when he grows up. For all the reasons you’d expect.
I don’t have a problem at all with gay people becoming parents, why should they not? But I do wish any person having a child was part of a couple, because I do believe a child needs two parents. Of course it is sad that the child doesn’t have a mother, and that affects children – donor-conceived or otherwise – their entire lives, but I find it worse when people (like Andy) use nannies to raise their children for a paycheck. The first month Andy’s baby was born there were reports of him out at clubs. But that is what I expect because he is not a mother and probably doing this more for publicity than anything else. This is why there are so many screwed up kids. There can be amazing gay and straight people who are parents, but being a single rich busy man a horde of nannies has nothing to do with any of that.
And for people who think his parents will help, I just saw a picture of them after not having seen them for years. They look decrepit, they must be about 80 years old. Please tell me what 80 year old is running after a toddler. Andy will be near 70 himself when his own child is a teen and will have his own opinions about his circumstances. It is what it is.
I think egg donation can be great for parents who cannot conceive on their own and think it’s wonderful we have the medical technology to do it. I do wish egg donation were a more noble process as well. The only person I know who donated eggs did so in her very early 20s because she needed money to buy breast implants and some other cosmetic procedures. She could have cared less about the egg she donated or the baby that resulted. Now she is almost 40 and much more mature and has such regrets that she, though married for a while, can’t bring herself to have children of her own. She will never know her children and there is nothing she can do about it, and I wonder if it’s better if those children (not almost adults) never find out their mother sold them to get bigger breasts.
Women that want kids do this all the time so why is it so negative here with the man doing it to have a child ? Not every child has both parents due to so many reasons , death of a parent, divorce , maybe the Parents are addicts, whatever . As long as he is a great loving dad I don’t see a problem with him have a surrogate to father his child .