An increasing number of single men are procuring surrogacy services to have children for themselves, with no mother in the picture whatsoever.
NBC’s “Today” show and The Chicago Tribune both reported last week separate stories of single men who wanted children but for various reasons never got married.
“Four years from 50, I thought I would never have a family,” said 48-year old CEO Tom Garden in an interview with “Today.”
“I had been married to my business for 10 years so I was really never thinking about kids and I didn’t have time to date or do anything else.”
Being Jewish, he deliberately sought out an Israeli egg donor and then selected a surrogate. Using his sperm and the Israeli donor egg plus the surrogate mother, who is referred to in the article as a “gestational carrier,” his first child, a son, was born in June 2016. His second child, a daughter, also through the use of a surrogate, was born in March.
Similarly, Bill Guest, 40, of the Chicago suburb Villa Park, explained to the Tribune that he wanted a baby and “wanted to experience all of the stages of life” of the child. His friends were all having kids “and suddenly being a doting uncle wasn’t enough.” Guest was not interested in marriage nor interested in older kids; he had tried to adopt through the foster system but the only available children were 6 or 7 years of age.
He wound up on a website called Men Having Babies, a nonprofit groups that helps homosexual men become fathers. Guest successfully applied for financial assistance — surrogacy services can cost as much or more than $100,000, the article notes — and is now a stay-at-home dad who lives with his parents.
“We do everything together: We shop together, we spend the whole day together. I call her my little sidekick,” Guest said.
The same surrogate who carried his first child will give birth to his second in December.
Advocates for children are noting the mass media push to portray commercialized surrogacy as universally positive, leaving out key dimensions of what these reproductive arrangements entail.
“These stories are all the same: they totally focus on the desires of adults,” noted children’s rights organization Them Before Us on its Facebook page, linking to Guest’s story.
“No one seems to raise a concern that these children are intentionally denied a relationship with at least one biological parent. That they will be permanently motherless. That they will deliberately grow up in a sex-segregated household. (And could somebody explain to me how a guy who does not seem to have a job, can afford to create two $100K children?)”
Cathy Ruse, senior fellow for legal studies at the Washington-based Family Research Council, noted that in the inverted priorities inherent in these relationships, surrogacy fundamentally focuses on the adult getting his or her desires fulfilled.
“What about the [surrogate] woman? Her body is being rented. She is often poor, and vulnerable to exploitation. He is putting her health at risk. Hyper-ovulation drugs are dangerous. The intimate relationship between mother and child in her womb is ripped asunder. She is abandoned to suffer any emotional impact alone,” Ruse said.
“What about the child?” she asked. “Motherlessness is always and everywhere a tragedy, no matter how it comes about. But to plan a motherless life for a child is unthinkably cruel. It is the commodification of a tiny child. And by the way, who asked the child’s permission? What about his or her wants and needs?”