Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Baby-Making 21st Century Style


The battle lines regarding who can marry who, and right to life versus right to choose fill our media headlines here in the west, but the landscape of baby making and baby parenting is paying no attention.  Market forces, social forces, and advances in medical technology have flowed under and around the controversies to create "The Global Baby", a tiny human not so much conceived as assembled.

Tamara Audi and Arlene Chang explain in this eye-opening article for The Wall Street Journal.
In a hospital room on the Greek island of Crete with views of a sapphire sea lapping at ancient fortress walls, a Bulgarian woman plans to deliver a baby whose biological mother is an anonymous European egg donor, whose father is Italian, and whose birth is being orchestrated from Los Angeles. She won't be keeping the child. The parents-to-be—an infertile Italian woman and her husband (who provided the sperm)—will take custody of the baby this summer, on the day of birth.
That's the opening paragraph, and it gets stranger the further you go into the wild, wild west of medicine as one medical ethicist put it, the world of overseas surrogacy.  Money is exchanged, women donate eggs or act as surrogates, babies move across borders.  Why adopt when you can make your own?

Back in the United States, family lawyer Liz Mandarano asks the next big question, "In the age of alternative reproduction, who are a child's parents?"  Turns out that each and every state has a different laws regarding all the conceivable variations in parentage, and different laws for every situation - think visitation, inheritance, child support.  Furthermore, states may or may not honor the law in the state you were married in, or used to live in.

In her article at Huffington Post, Mandarano concentrates on parentage to illustrate how confusing things are, giving some recent rulings from around the country.  Something called the Uniform Parentage Act, model legislation addressing some of the inconsistencies, has been adopted by only 9 states so far.

WNL wonders what combinations of all the possibilities are going to show up in your child's play group.  Having two mommies or two daddies will be pretty tame stuff before we know it.

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