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.
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