Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mary Cheney's Baby

Regarding Mary Cheney's baby ... Most conservative commentators, including James Dobson ("Two Mommies Is One Too Many," Time Magazine, 12-12-06), continue to focus on "every child needing both a father and a mother."

Speaking as a parent of both biological and adopted children, I have something else to add. I agree that ideally a child should have parents of both sexes. But beyond that, same-sex parenting burdens the child's life in other ways.

Through conscious, selfish action on the part of these parents -- in some cases, a biological parent, and in some cases not -- he or she deliberately uses modern reproductive technology to help give birth to a child who will not know one (or both) biological parent(s). It is unconscionable for an adult to knowingly inflict such pain on an innocent child.

An adopted child who does not know anything (or even much) of his or her biological parent(s) is haunted by those unknowable facts every day, from the time he or she is old enough to understand what "adoption" means. Even if the child knows just a little about one bio parent, it is still a terribly painful loss, knowing they'll likely never meet her. If the child knows nothing, there is an even greater void. It becomes an unhealing sore affecting the child in myriad, unpredictable, unverbalized ways.

Who knows who the biological father is in the case of Mary Cheney's child? It may not bother her or her "partner" if they've decided to anonymously inseminate. But it will bother the child. And if they do know who the father is, how will this man be a part of the child's life in any way that's not terribly sad for the child? Will they have some sort of "poly" household? How will they explain to their child who his/her father is?

For most adopted children, their adoption is the "happier ending" that keeps them from orphanage or a sequence of foster homes. In the case of children born to parents who give them up, adoption (without the child's knowledge of the biological parents) is a still a positive outcome. But for a child born to same-sex "parents" through modern reproductive technologies, the child is beset with another burden -- her/she is not the outcome of a natural biological process, but is an engineered product two adults who had plenty of time to reflect. How selfish on the part of these two women. Their child will soon instinctively know that something's amiss in his/her little world, and will be pained by it every day. Does this matter to the two mommies?

No one's advocating removing the child from this household. But I will say that modern reproductive technologies are not a good thing. It's hard enough for the adopted child who's already in existence. It's worse for a child whose unnatural existence was carefully planned by two (or more) people lacking the excuse that they were caught up in the passion of the moment.

(P.S.: I have a real problem with IVF for married heterosexual couples too.)

Dobson wrote: "No-fault divorce reflected our selfish determination to do what was convenient for adults, and it has been, on balance, a disaster. We should not enter into yet another untested and far-reaching social experiment, this one driven by the desires of same-sex couples to bear and raise children."