Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
Late night TV comedian Jimmy Fallon disclosed late last week that he and his wife Nancy Juvonen had their baby girl, Winnie Rose Fallon, by using a gestational surrogate. As Today.com reports, Fallon is among a growing number of American couples who are taking that route to parenthood:
Statistics from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine show that births via gestational surrogacy have been steadily increasing since 2004. In 2011, there were 1,593 babies born via gestational surrogacy – that’s up from 1,448 in 2010 and 738 in 2004, according to the latest figures from the Birmingham, Ala.-based non-profit.
And thanks in part to high-profile types like Fallon casually announcing that he and his wife used a surrogate, the method is becoming much more accepted, and less stigmatized, in the United States, say experts and couples who have been there themselves.
Heather and James Gwinup even included their surrogate — who is Heather’s best friend — in photos announcing they were expecting: In one, a pregnant Jennifer Irwin holds a sign saying, “Their bun. My oven.”
Image: Jimmy Fallon, via DFree / Shutterstock.com
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Friday, June 21st, 2013
A growing body of research is emerging around the emotional health of babies who are born via gestational surrogate or donor eggs, which is a phenomenon that’s been on the rise in recent years. A new British study from the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge has found that children born via surrogates are more likely to have emotional adjustment problems by age 7 than those who were born by means of a donor egg or sperm. More from NBC News:
Their results, published in the June issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, suggest that it’s more difficult for youngsters to deal with the idea that they grew in an unrelated woman’s womb, than with the concept that they are not biologically related to one or both parents.
With the number of births involving a surrogate or donated sperm or eggs on the rise, this issue may become increasingly relevant.
The latest statistics from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) show that the number of children who were created with a donated egg rose more than 30 percent from 7,284 in 2004 to 9,541 in 2011, while the number of births involving a surrogate jumped more than 200 percent, from 530 in 2004 to 1,179 in 2011. No one knows how many births have resulted from sperm donations, but estimates range from 30,000 to 60,000 per year, according to a New York Times report.
For the study, [family research professor Susan] Golombok and her colleagues followed 30 surrogacy families, 31 egg donation families, 35 sperm donation families and 53 natural conception families until the children were 10 years old. The researchers surveyed the moms when the children were ages 3, 7 and 10 to get an idea of how well-adjusted the youngsters were.
“Signs of adjustment problems could be behavior problems, such as aggressive or antisocial behavior, or emotional problems, such as anxiety or depression,” Golombok says.
There was no difference between children born through egg and sperm donation or children conceived naturally in terms of behavioral adjustment, the researchers found.
While all the children seemed to be doing well by age 10, Golombok says, the concern is, trouble could crop up later as kids hit their adolescence and are trying to find their identities and place in the world, experts say.
The most important thing, experts agree, is for parents to find a way to tell their kids about their beginnings.
Golombok and her team hopes to revisit the subjects when they are 14 years old, to see how these emotional issues play out in adolescence.
Image: Mother and daughter, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
Surrogate pregnancy is not uncommon, and it usually ends well for all involved. But a story out of Connecticut and Michigan is almost operatic in its complexity, drama, and high stakes. CNN.com tells the story of Crystal Kelley, who acted as a gestational carrier to a Connecticut couple who wanted a fourth child and had frozen embryos from previous in vitro fertilization cycles.
Kelley became pregnant, but a routine ultrasound uncovered a number of severe birth defects in the fetus, including brain and heart abnormalities as well as a severely cleft lip and palate. The biological parents, on hearing the news, wanted Kelley to terminate the pregnancy, but Kelley refused.
After a legal battle erupted–the contract Kelley had signed stipulated “abortion in case of severe fetus abnormality,” but didn’t specify what that meant–the biological parents said they wanted to take custody of the child at birth and then turn her over to Connecticut’s state-run foster care system. The case became even more complicated when it was discovered that the couple had used an anonymous egg donor to make the embryo.
Kelley, disturbed by all options on the table, fled to Michigan, where she would be considered to be the baby’s mother under that state’s laws.
While in Michigan, Kelley gave birth to the girl and found adoptive parents for her. From CNN:
Baby S. — her adoptive parents are comfortable using her first initial — has a long road in front of her. She’s already had one open-heart surgery and surgery on her intestines, and in the next year she’ll need one or two more cardiac surgeries in addition to procedures to repair her cleft lip and palate. Later in childhood she’ll need surgeries on her jaw and ear and more heart surgeries.
Her adoptive parents, who asked to remain anonymous to protect their family’s privacy, know Baby S. might not be with them for long. The cardiac procedures she needs are risky, and her heterotaxy and holoprosencephaly, though mild, carry a risk of early death, according to doctors.
If Baby S. does survive, there’s a 50% chance she won’t be able to walk, talk or use her hands normally.
In some ways, Baby S. looks different from other 8-month-olds babies. In addition to the facial abnormalities, she’s very small, weighing only 11 pounds and she gets food through a tube directly into her stomach so she’ll grow faster.
Her adoptive parents know some people look at her and see a baby born to suffer — a baby who’s suffering could have been prevented with an abortion.
But that’s not the way they see it. They see a little girl who’s defied the odds, who constantly surprises her doctors with what she’s able to do — make eye contact, giggle at her siblings, grab toys, eye strangers warily.
“S. wakes up every single morning with an infectious smile. She greets her world with a constant sense of enthusiasm,” her mother said in an e-mail to CNN. “Ultimately, we hold onto a faith that in providing S. with love, opportunity, encouragement, she will be the one to show us what is possible for her life and what she is capable of achieving….”
….Just as there are two ways to look at Baby S., there are two ways to look at Crystal Kelley, the woman who carried her.
In one view, she’s a saint who fought at great personal sacrifice for an unborn child whose own parents did not want her to live. In another view, she recklessly absconded with someone else’s child and brought into the world a baby who faces serious medical challenges when that wasn’t her decision to make.
Image: Pregnant woman in hospital, via Shutterstock
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abortion, adoption, donor eggs, gestational surrogate, in vitro fertilization, infant surgery, special needs babies, surgery, surrogacy, surrogate | Categories:
Must Read, Parenting News
Monday, November 19th, 2012
Twenty years after it first was practiced by thousands of American couples each year, or by celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker or Giuliana and Bill Rancic, gestational surrogacy–in which a couple’s embryo is carried by a woman other than the mother–remains a legal minefield, The Washington Times reported this weekend. The newspaper profiled recent cases in New Jersey and California:
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In late October, judges of the New Jersey Supreme Court were faced with yet another difficult question regarding surrogate parenting. Because the wife of a couple who wanted children was infertile, their baby was conceived with a donor egg and the husband’s sperm, then carried and delivered by a surrogate. The surrogate legally waived all her parental rights. The couple got a court order to name the wife as the mother on the baby’s birth certificate.
But after a nurse questioned putting the wife’s name down and got the state registrar’s office involved, the registrar refused to list the wife as the mother unless she went through a legal adoption process.
The couple challenged this decision in court, because when a baby is born to a married woman, her husband is automatically considered the legal father whether he is the biological father or not. But this is not true when it is the reverse.
An appeals court ruled in favor of the state registrar, and the New Jersey Supreme Court failed to reach a decision either way. So now, there is a child without any legal mother and the only option is going through the adoption process. This is a lengthy, expensive process and in the meantime there are all sorts of pitfalls that can happen.
This is the exact reverse of the situation in California a month ago. California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have allowed judges to recognize more than two legal parents if it is determined to be “required in the best interests of the child.” It would have allowed a previous custodial or biological parent to have parental rights and take care of a child if the two current legal parents are no longer capable, as long as doing so is required to protect the child’s best interests.
The problems Governor Brown expressed concern about simply haven’t materialized the states where similar laws exist, including the District of Columbia, Delaware Maine, Louisiana and Pennsylvania.
Image: Couple talking to a doctor, via Shutterstock
Friday, November 16th, 2012
Elizabeth Banks, the actress who has appeared in the NBC sitcom “30 Rock” and a number of movies including “The Hunger Games,” has welcomed her second child into the world, a son named Magnus Mitchell. The baby was born with the help of a gestational surrogate. US Weekly quotes from Banks’ website:
“As 2012 winds down and Thanksgiving approaches, I have much for which to be thankful — personal, professional and Presidential,” Banks, 38, writes. “However, nothing can match the joy and excitement my husband and I felt when we recently welcomed our second baby boy, Magnus Mitchell Handelman. Magnus joins older brother Felix, thus commencing a decade or more of close hand-to-hand combat.”
“Like Felix, Magnus was born via gestational surrogate,” the actress continues. (Felix, 20 months, was born in March 2011.) “This experience has exceeded all expectations, taught us a great deal about generosity and gratitude, and established a relationship that will last a lifetime.”
Now, “I . . . turn my attention to managing two boys under two,” Banks says. “For which I am thankful. And all their poop. For which I am less thankful. Wish me luck.”
Read more about the meaning of Magnus’ name on Parents.com’s In Name Only blog.
Image: Elizabeth Banks, via s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
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