Elton John (right) and David Furnish
Associated Press/Photo by Carlo Allegri (invision)
Elton John (right) and David Furnish

The parenting ‘experience’


The California law that grants same-sex couples the same insurance coverage for fertility treatments as heterosexual couples doesn’t break any new territory; it only sanctifies a new cornerstone of liberty. That is, anyone who wants a biological baby should have a biological baby, period. To deny that experience is a violation of basic human rights.

Naysayers who point to basic facts of biology obviously aren’t in tune with the times. Sir Elton John and his long-term civil partner David Furnish have welcomed two infant boys into their home, both conceived with surrogate mothers injected with a mix of sperm from both dads. The biological father can easily be determined by DNA testing if not by physical resemblance, but Elton and David aren’t telling—unless, sometime in the future, they split up, and the “real” dad claims his own.

That’s what happened with TV personality David Tutera and his partner Ryan Jurica, who married in Vermont in 2003 and several years later decided to father twins through a surrogate mom. But their relationship soured even before the twins, a boy and a girl, were born, and by the time Cedric and Cielo made their appearance their dads had decided to divorce. Who gets the kids? They both do. Jurica will take his own biological son, leaving Tutera with Cielo. “I still feel like I lost a daughter,” Jurica said. An understatement, I say.

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Even two mommies in an age of sperm banks have their issues to work out. What if both want to participate in the process? Technology to the rescue: The “two mom” process allows a fertilized egg from one to be implanted in the uterus of the other. This proved to be the perfect solution for Sarah and Maggie Marshall of New York City. Maggie donated the egg because the whole pregnancy thing didn’t appeal to her. But she goes on to explain, “Sarah really wanted to have the experience. We also thought it would be a great way to bond with a kid that ultimately would look a lot like me.” Unless, of course, the kid ultimately looks more like her mystery dad.

Think how that would sound on a fertility clinic brochure: “Pregnancy—the ultimate mom experience!” I’d like to think that most pregnant women could do without the experience; they want the baby. But to speak of “experience” in relation to profound milestones of life reveals the basic shallowness of our culture. Years ago, when I told an acquaintance I was planning to homeschool, she nodded sagely: “You want that experience.” Well, no. I was looking forward to the experience (which turned out to be much tougher at first than I anticipated), but I wanted what seemed best for the children. Experience is all about me, as though life were a buffet of self-enhancing options. Children can indeed be self-enhancing, but they exist for themselves and for God, not for us.

Janie B. Cheaney
Janie B. Cheaney

Janie lives in Missouri, is a columnist for WORLD, writes novels for young adults, and is the author of the Wordsmith creative writing series. She also reviews books at RedeemedReader.com. Follow Janie on Twitter @jbcheaney.


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