Skip to comments.A Question Mark Hangs Over Their Heads (problems faced by IVF children)
Posted on 05/17/2011 6:21:03 AM PDT by NYer
When I do presentations on in vitro fertilization, audience members sometimes ask whether test tube babies experience psychological problems as they grow up. Although they clearly face elevated health risks for a number of diseases and physical disorders, the psychological effects on these children have not been thoroughly studied. Nevertheless, children born from other, closely related technologies, like anonymous sperm donation, are starting to be tracked, and researchers are finding that these children face significant difficulties in dealing with their feelings and emotions as they grow older. They oftentimes struggle with their own sense of dignity and identity, with their need for a father, and with a desire to understand their family connection.
A recent online article in Slate Magazine entitled, The Sperm Donor Kids Are Not Really Alright describes one such study and includes some thought-provoking personal testimony from a British writer named Christine Whipp. Whipp, herself conceived by anonymous sperm donation, expresses the feelings that some donor offspring have of being, in the pointed words of the article, a freak of nature or a lab experiment. She puts it this way: My existence owed almost nothing to the serendipitous nature of normal human reproduction, where babies are the natural progression of mutually fulfilling adult relationships, but rather represented a verbal contract, a financial transaction and a cold, clinical harnessing of medical technology.
A growing number of children born this way instinctively sense how that cold, clinical harnessing of technology can never quite measure up to the warmth and commitment embodied in the life-giving marital embrace of a mother and a father. The absent father who donates sperm anonymously, the financial exchanges involved, and the depersonalized laboratory environment surrounding their origins imply an element of being used. It can be difficult for such children to put into words what they are really feeling and experiencing, as a young man named Craig emphasizes in his online comments following the Slate Magazine article:
The confusion I felt growing up was not your normal run of the mill confusion. I didn’t even begin to understand the inner turmoil I felt until I found out about my beginnings. My suggestion to you would be that before you start giving suggestions to others about how to live in a mixed family, come to know what it’s like to be a child who knows something is wrong but you just don’t know why. Know youre different but you just don’t know why. Live with a question mark over your head every day of your life and not be able to put words to that question.
Another young person in the same situation poignantly comments:
I am a product of sperm donation and I can tell you that I always hated growing up without a dad. I cant tell my mom how I feel because I said something to her when I was little and she got very hurt and upset and tried to explain to me that a lot of kids grow up without dads and kinda went into all of this women can do this and women can do that and most women really dont need a man and blah blah blah. So I now keep all of my feelings to myself. I can tell you that for as much as I love her, inwards I still hate her for doing this to me and thinking that she had a right to decide if I needed a dad or not.
All children deserve to have a mother and a father as they grow up. We should never intentionally choose to set up situations where a child will be conceived in a manner that deprives him or her of a parent. Every child, moreover, is entitled to the full respect of being conceived and brought into the world only though the marital acts of committed parents, through the intimate, loving embrace of husband and wife, not in petri dishes and test tubes.
Because awareness of our own human roots is critical to our sense of personal identity, and because of our vulnerable sense of self as humans, we have a particular responsibility to avoid creating a subclass of those who have different origins from the rest of us. It ought to come as no surprise that subtle psychological burdens may be placed upon children born from donor sperm as they subjectively struggle with broken or absent relationships, and experience a sense of being a commodity or an object because of how they were created. These dark and morally troubling aspects of modern reproductive technologies need to be more fully acknowledged and discussed in our society, as they unleash powerful forces that profoundly affect the future of the human beings who are thereby brought into the world.
(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)
Truly sad what happens when people try to play the role of God.
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But please LOVE and EMBRACE these children, they did not ask to be born by this means.
The angst expressed by children in this article sounds much like that of many adopted children.
Sure, their experience is different, but are they better off than they would be otherwise? In the case of the in vitro kids, would they rather never have existed? Maybe so.
I’m not arguing the pros and cons of in vitro. The point is that we all look around ourselves and yearn for what we perceive is the better life of others.
There is no perfection on this earth. No family, no body, no collection of experiences called “life”.
We all have to take what we’re given and make the best of it.
Please love and embrace ALL children. None of them asked to be born into this imperfect world.
His documentation about the harms of IVF relates almost entirely to sperm donors. A lot of IVF is for couples who are having trouble to conceive the usual way. My sister did that for two of her babies. Do we know what percent of IVF pregnancies use either eggs or sperm from someone other than the parent?
>>But please LOVE and EMBRACE these children, they did not ask to be born by this means.<<
Why would you think that NYer wouldn’t?
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“But please LOVE and EMBRACE these children, they did not ask to be born by this means.”
I agree wholeheartedly. The problem is, with New Age, pop phsychology, they won’t find a constructive means to deal with their feelings. Instead most of them will end up in dysfunctional lifestyles while their overpriced shrinks tell them their behavior isn’t their fault, blah blah blah
As an adoptee and adoptive parent, let me assure you the difference between adoption and IVF conception is very different. Adoptees are the product of an unplanned pregnancy vs IVF children which were produced in a petri dish to gratify the desires of one or two individuals. The one child's perception was excellent - they are a commodity.
We all have to take what were given and make the best of it.
That is an adult statement. Think back to your teen years, when hormones were churning and youth seeking an 'identity'. One of my best friends, an adoptee who grew up in a loving home with two parents, asked me to help track down information on her birth parents. It is a natural desire to want to know what you inherited from the dna of your biological parents. Is there a history of heart disease or some other illness, etc.?
“A lot of IVF is for couples who are having trouble to conceive the usual way.”
It’s my hope that these couples gorw to accept their infertility & unite their sufferings with that of Christ on the Cross. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and IVF is a perfect example of that. There is a reason why the Church is against it, & considers it immoral. It’s a pandora’s box
There is foster parenting, Adoption etc... available as well. For some childless couples they can act as support for other parents (and Yes I am speaking from experience).
I wonder if any of them suffer from the “why me” syndrome.
After all, many of their brothers and sisters don’t make it out of the embryonic state.
I was thinking much the same thing. Children can be conceived in other ways that are far from God’s plan of the fulfillment of a loving adult relationship: through rape, or casual sex, or even unwanted children.
There are many less than ideal circumstances. I’d guess more children than we’d like to admit find themselves in these.
I do NOT support IVF, ok, and I don’t know what these kids may be facing. However, there are plenty of babies conceived in war and rape, in one-night stands, etc. And there are plenty of kids who grow up not knowing who their dads are, or worse, knowing who they are and not being parented well.
These children have the gift of life to spend in any way they choose. Hopefully it is not all spent whining.
(Is that too harsh?)
I agree with all you say.
The need to know who we are is inherent. Were I adopted (and there are many adoptees in my family), I would certainly research my bio family, just for the knowledge of my origins.
I wish for all children, IVF or adopted, that they come to the point of acceptance. All were wanted, either at irregular conception or at adoption, which is not necessarily true of the natural-born.
What happens afterward, adolescence and the rigors and disappointments of life, is common to all mankind.
Jedediah, that is exactly what I was thinking. They are yearning for the loving embrace of an intact family with parents who love them. This is often NOT the reality of families, and what is visible from the outside is often not what is really going on.
I connected up with a childhood friend recently. She told me she had loved our family, it had seemed like Leave it to Beaver to her. “Really?” I responded. Our dad was really mean and angry, it was anything but the Cleavers. And yet ... it blessed her and we had so much, regardless.
The most painful part of the article for me was reading about the boy who couldn't talk to his mother about growing up without a dad. The one time he tried, she got all hurt and talked about herself, how she didn't need a man to have a baby, etc. It was all about her, she couldn't talk about what her son needed.
My mom has long said, “There aren’t any illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents.” While I understand the desire for kids (we have five, and weren’t supposed to be able to have any, went long periods of time trying, with no success), as Catholics, we don’t believe in IVF. The kids written about here, who are the result of sperm donations, have inadvertently been placed in a terrible state. Through no fault of their own, they must question the circumstances of their birth, often as small children. Like the one young man whose mother was hurt when he said something. He did nothing wrong.
And I really do have sympathy for those desiring kids, but unable to have them. Not just because of my personal life. One of my brothers and his wife have fought for years with endometriosis, and finally adopted two kids. They’re great, the kids are great, all are happy. It took a long time and a lot of effort, but my goodness, it was worth it.
My thought about the adults/young adults who are questioning their existence because of IVF’s involvement in their birth: introduce them to the Church. And for those who are of the various denominations, my message is essentially the same. Remind these children, who deserve the same love we share with our own kids, that their heavenly Father loves them, and that regardless of what they see of how they came to be here, He has a purpose for them, and that they are loved.
Sorry, but you're full of very stinky used food on that one.
I know a few IVF parents and, amazingly, they love their children just like they were (gasp!!!) real, human children.
"Commodities" my ass. Get off your high horse.
” I know a few IVF parents and, amazingly, they love their children just like they were (gasp!!!) real, human children.”
Whether you want to admit it or not, we live in a society where a large number of people DO indeed regard children as a commodity, fashion accessory, etc. Look at gay adoption - I know several gay couples who have adopted, all for very selfish reasons. I also know many people who have stuggled with fertility issues & have not been accepting of the fact that that is their lot in life. Instead of adopting a child in need of a home, they want one that it THEIRS & they don’t care how they go about fulfilling that desire. Even if it means they have to play God. IVF is a very evil, evil thing that has opened to door to lots of badness in our world. If you don’t want to admit that, too bad.
You know what? You sound like a pharisee.
I don't doubt this for a minute. However, how many fertilized eggs (i.e. human beings) were destroyed in the process of producing the children that were actually born? IVF is a selfish process to gratify the parents, not their offspring.
So you see nothing wrong with IVF??
I’m no fan of IVF ... but your comment about how IVF parents view their children is ridiculous.
As it's currently practiced, of course I see things wrong with it. Were they able to achieve a 1-to-1 ratio of eggs to embryos... that would be a different matter.
Which has nothing to do with why I called you a pharisee.
so what was the reason for your calling me a pharisee?
It’s clear that the psychological feelings of confusion are not just for the children whose mothers are unmarried and have no father; it’s something innate the child feels, without knowing the clinical circumstances of their conception.
God’s plan for human reproduction cannot be violated without causing much human suffering.
Regarding any comments about people love their artifically concieved children - well obviously some do and some don’t, just as any parents. But the fact that they chose to artificially conceive children instead of depending on God, and if no natural conception was possible, to adopt, is evidence of a “playing God” mentality.
And of course the concommitant fact that IVF necessitates deaths of embryos.
this article confuses multiple issues.
disease issues which have yet to be consistently proven as direct to IVF.
mental issues when it is an unwed mother buying a child as a life accessory
and those normal couples who use the procedure to produce their own genetic children.
you are lumping donor IVF with couples who use the procedure to make their own genetic children.
The article should have focus exclusivly on the mental issues of a single mother anonymous donor aspect of this issue.
IVF is many things.
it may be a simple as aggrigating a fathers low sperm count stuff to increase the odds (ala turkey baster jokes)
to sorting out multiple eggs from the women to engsure one takes hold.
adoption is not for everyone.
It is nice to know that for the most part we are talking about cherishing all these children via proper normal paratage in a loving home.
Absolutely not. As the article also points out, children conceived through IVF, often face illnesses throughout their lives. These children are the products of a selfish desire by two people to produce their own offspring through unnatural means.
A lot of your ivf arguments can be applied to other fertility treatments too. What about someone taking ovulation drugs even when she knows she has a higher than average chance of miscarriage? So on average any child conceived only has fifty perent chance of being born? What about couples who have to take medication and carefully time things to try to conceive, does that make their child a commodity too?
I think there are a number of issues with ivf that are immoral but that those prctices could be changed. Don’t create extra embyros. Don’t abort if there are “too many”. It’s a technology and what you do with it determines whether it is good or evil.
I am a Catholic. While the Churchs judgment concerning in-vitro fertilization treatments may appear cruel and unfair, it is not. Children are a gift, not an entitlement. The Church teaches that marriage does not confer upon the spouses the right to have a child, but only the right to perform those natural acts which are per se ordered to procreation. A true and proper right to a child would be contrary to the childs dignity and nature. The child is not an object to which one has a right, nor can he be considered as an object of ownership: rather, a child is a gift, "the supreme gift" (58) and the most gratuitous gift of marriage, and is a living testimony of the mutual giving of his parents. For this reason, the child has the right, as already mentioned, to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents; and he also has the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception. (Instruction on Respect for Human Life 8)
If you can step back from the emotions and look at IVF through rational eyes, you begin to see the wisdom behind the church's teaching on this topic. To appreciate how far science will go to accommodate those who desire children, consider the following - a true scenario. About 10 years ago, a British paper reported on a new scientific development that would be 'cutting edge' for infertile couples. The scientific community was able to cull eggs from an aborted female fetus. The plan was to store these for use by infertile couples. Mercifully, psychologists intervened, attesting that society was not yet ready to handle the potential psychological problems for children born from this technique.
As an adoptee and adoptive parent, I can assure you that ALL children, be they adopted or natural born, have a 'normal and natural' desire to learn more about their biological origins. This usually manifests itself during the teen years. The same is true for children conceived through other means. Imagine the plight of the child conceived through the above procedure learning that their biological mother had never been born. Imagine, for a moment, that this was your situation.
We live in a narcissistic society where "my" wants preclude the "needs" of others and that is truly sad.
Children are a gift, not an entitlement. The Church teaches that marriage does not confer upon the spouses the right to have a child, but only the right to perform those natural acts which are per se ordered to procreation.
I am not a Catholic but these teachings are basic morality and truth and have nothing to do with sectarianism. The very fact that children concived by IVF do have a higher rate of health problems should be enough to condemn the process.
To be honest, I’ve often wondered if some people are just not meant to be parents and all the new methods of acquiring a child cannot change the fact that God probably knew what was best when He decided. The stats related here bear that out: something is wrong with the parenting with statistics like that.