26 August 2006

More on donor-conceived persons

Very thoughtful blog from Buffalo Girl. Found via Family Scholars, which has been running some posts about the topic.

It's so sad.

We seem to be in a time when the conclusions of those who think for a living and have carefully done research are either unknown, or disbelieved. We have torrents of news and noise coming at us via the airwaves and Internet, but one gets the idea that we're missing whole huge hunks of the wisdom we need to live fully this great life we've been given.

For example, there is a group that insists that:--
The child has the right to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up within marriage: it is through the secure and recognized relationship to his own parents that the child can discover his own identity and achieve his own proper human development.

That seems like a perfectly reasonable statement. Unpopular, these days, but hardly the fruit of some half-baked ranting. Instead, it represents conclusions drawn after careful, slow consideration of all the aspects of the problem, moral, philosophical, physical, anthropologic ... but we refuse to listen. Instead of respecting the moral equivalent of "don't touch that stove or you'll get burned!", we stubbornly insist upon doing these things, rediscovering only later that there really are consequences:
Just like the other six babies she has borne, this one will go home with a childless couple who paid Jill £12,000 in expenses to be their surrogate.

If her past experiences are anything to go by, Jill knows what is in store once her job is done.

She will return to her two-bedroom flat in Brighton, where she lives alone with three rescue cats, and cry her eyes out, telling herself that she is simply feeling hormonal and it's not the baby she weeps for.


Jill's remarkable story can't help but raise some disquieting questions about the morality of surrogacy; questions those involved appear reluctant to confront.

In their desperate quest to become parents, do the childless couples who seek out women like Jill ever know just how emotionally needy or damaged they might be, or question their true motives? And if they do know, do they care enough to think twice about proceeding?
--quoted by Genevieve at feminine genius; source here.

* * *

“As I have said many times before and will say again, it does not matter how or why or for what outstandingly noble reason we were given away, back, forward or bloody sideways by our natural mums, it is still perceived by most as abandonment and there is a deep and unabiding loss.”
(source) --Sara at Umbilicly_Challenged

The ones who defend the children's rights go on to show that they understand the fears and pain of those who resort to science to get children:

The suffering of spouses who cannot have children or who are afraid of bringing a handicapped child into the world is a suffering that everyone must understand and properly evaluate.

On the part of the spouses, the desire for a child is natural: it expresses the vocation to fatherhood and motherhood inscribed in conjugal love. This desire can be even stronger if the couple is affected by sterility which appears incurable. Nevertheless, 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.(57) A true and proper right to a child would be contrary to the child's 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. (emphasis in the original.)
It is understandable if one cannot agree with this stance; but it is reasonable, I think, to request that one seriously read and consider the statements and evaluate the reasoning behind them.

Parents have no right to a child.

The child has the right 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.

Not the kind of thing one hears about the topic these days. Magazines, doctors, and TV dramas all urge one to believe differently from those statements.

In charity, I suppose that many parents who resort to medical means of conception may never have encountered the alternative ideas about "best practices" for a whole, fully human, life.

Sadly, some parents are so focused on what they want that they completely forget that The Baby is going to be a human being, different from them, and complete with instincts and needs and desires which they've thwarted to fulfil their personal goals:
"Lets look at this from our point of view. Here is our biological mother our flesh and blood the woman who would naturally be raising and loving us totally denying that we are her child. I’m sorry but you just cant do that. We are your kids. We’re your kids just as much as your own kids, but yet you only think of us as some sloughed off egg that you are giving to a substitute mother who no matter how much love she has just can’t be the same as you? For 25 thousand dollars or whatever? You don’t bond with us when you are carrying us and you deny that we are yours because you have deluded yourselves and deny who and what we really are. That is so totally not right that I can’t believe anyone would think this is normal!And why are you doing this? For the most part its money from what I understand. Some of you have already admitted that in other posts. Would any of you do it if you did not get compensated for it? Or maybe if you didn’t get that feeling of belonging or acceptance that you never had as a kid? How do you think that makes us kids feel? You may be able to deny us but we don’t want to deny who you are. That makes us feel very rejected. That leaves a hole in our hearts whether we admit to it or it manifests some other way like in depression or a fear of getting close to someone else."

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.

Read it all.

May God have mercy on those of us who have failed to trust our lives to God's love, and in our pride and ignorance have reached out to play with the pretty, warm flames.

And let us remember that a whole education does not consist of censorship; i.e., removing certain texts from the curriculum which have fallen out of favour with the current fads of thought. Instead, all the main schools of thought must be presented. Because, in the end, it's not some abstract thing we're dealing with, but life and our ability to live it well. Instead of thinking we know what we're doing - we who've had so little training in even how to think, much less what others have learned before us through centuries of observation and hard lessons - we need to get constructively lazy about life, and spend hours reading the thought of those who went before us, and respect that thought. We do not want to suffer the lack of children, so we take steps to avoid it, without having sufficient education or depth of thought to begin to imagine what it will do to those who bear the consequences of our actions:
I cannot control people's actions and I'm not trying to. In the end, people will find a way to justify their actions no matter what they do. I am just glad that there are people like you out there who wish to be more informed to make such a life-altering decision. Donors are not saving lives (of recipients), they are **creating** lives. Many people do not realize the intensity of the situation. My biological father is sick and tired of "the whole sperm donor thing" but it is my life. Though, in reality, it is irrelevant to any success or failure I will have but it is nothing less than significant to define my background, where I come from, and how I am treated, as something miraculous, taboo, unnatural, and medically supernatural.

No one knows better than donor-conceived people that blood does not make two people family... so why not save a life that is already on this earth and adopt?

...But that's just me.

--quoted in a post on the Buffalo Girl blog

25 August 2006


Via JoyfulWoman, I found my way to dancing on the ceiling and this meditation, which ends thus: --
People don't get touched enough. Many walk around with a bad case of skin hunger. There is something very attractive about people who live large and unapologetically. Their hearts show through. They are not bound up with notions of being appropriate. They are tuned into life. And I am all the richer for Sam and his hugs.

They are not bound up with notions of being appropriate.

I've typed and deleted some paragraphs here. I'll leave it at this: if one doesn't care for touch, or sex, it is best - kindest - not to marry someone with an affectionate nature. ;)

13 August 2006

Reformation ... or ruination?

This is a cogent, well-written article which had its inception in the current situation in the Episcopal church, but which repeatedly goes past that specific issue to show that it is part of a general trend away from the hard work of self-knowledge and repentance. Found via Drell's Descants.

12 August 2006

Who's your daddy?

When you have a child with a man you've never met, it only makes sense that you might be letting yourself in for sometimes unpleasant surprises.

just sayin', is all.

Thoughts on mothering

Over at Genevieve Kineke's feminine genius, there's a wonderful thoughtful piece about the mother who seems to pride herself in being unable to tolerate the common tasks of motherhood.

Genevieve writes,
...she has a very good point. While mothers ooh and aah over many silly things for the sake of the child, there is the ubiquitous problem in our culture wherein the child is the centre of the universe and his ego is fed at the expense of teaching him authentic humility. Mothers are supposed to create a bridge between the child and his father, and ultimately between him and God the Father, Who says two things to each child simultaneously:

1. You are fearfully, wonderfully made and I adore you, My little creation; and

2. Repent! For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

A good mother's love will allow the child to understand unconditional (undeserved) love while teaching him humility, concern for others, and a sense of purpose.
When, after Genevieve considers some other aspects of it, she starts a new paragraph with:--
What this article screams between the lines is that this woman was not mothered.
...reading those words felt like a discovery. I wish she'd developed that thought more.

Genevieve finishes with this:
Her last defense shows her ignorance (despite a brilliant academic career):

All us bored mothers can take comfort from the fact that our children may yet turn out to be more balanced than those who are love-bombed from the day they are born.
If she only knew what true love was, she would never dare drop a remark like this. She, the apple of God's eye, surrounded by the breath of the Spirit, and entrusted to the loving care of an attentive angel, heaps scorn on "love-bombing." Perhaps if she would stop obsessing about her own accomplishments and hourly self-fulfillment, she would find time to lift her head and give thanks -- for being love-bombed by the Almighty, Who saw fit to bless her with these two boys.
Tempus fugit, my dear. Love is all that lasts.

It is not that mothers haven't felt this way at one time or another; for most, however, one can hope that it's a temporary state of mind, rather than something to write proudly about.

I don't think it's fair to pick on this mother. She's no philosopher. She reminds me of that line in the Deteriorata:--
Be assured that a walk through the oceans of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet.
Just because someone is "educated" does not mean they're wise, thoughtful or intelligent; in fact, it's a good bet that the more seriously they take their university degree, particularly in the liberal arts, the more likely it is that their natural sense of wonder and openness to simple joy is significantly, perhaps permanently, impaired.

While I read it, a word kept coming to mind: accedia. It's used to describe the state which sometimes descends upon monastics, but I think it can also apply to any of us in a vocation, even motherhood. However, as with most such states, the only way out is through. Dodging it, as the bored mother does, is often just a way to prolong one's needed soul-work.

I keep coming back to the idea that the bored mother was not mothered, herself... there's a lot to contemplate, there.

Dear God, please bless all mothers today, and particularly "love-bomb" that bored one. Bless her richly, Lord, as you know her heart. And, while you're working on her, please protect and guide her children. Amen.

The book meme

1. One book that changed your life:

Story of a Soul

2. One book that you've read more than once:

Little Women

3. One book you'd want on a desert island:

A blank one. (and a pen)

4.One book that made you laugh:

Diary of a Provincial Lady

5. One book that made you cry:

The Notebook

6. One book that you wish had been written:

The one I wrote that gave me a comfortable income for life. ;)

7. One book that you wish had never been written:

anything by Judy Blume

8. Two books you're currently reading:

Ship of Fools
Stranger in a Strange Land

9. One book you've been meaning to read:

The Spiritual Life

I tag my friend over at Happy Trails.

09 August 2006

Stray thought...

...and not well thought-through, but this came into my mind this afternoon:

In the 60s and 70s, women were urged to get out of the kitchen and away from the home and demands of the family, and enter the workforce. Much of the rationale for it - not all, of course - was that women ought to do this, on principle, because they were "better" than just homemakers.

That principle is still cited today. Today in some circles one is considered rather odd if one considers one's calling to be homemaking.

Are we happier because of this? Are women truly fulfilled, demonstrably better off, clearly light years ahead of where they were?

Most women these days are more or less ignorant of what it takes to make a home. The FlyLady membership has topped 300,000 and is steadily growing. Many of us - and yes, I count myself among them - never learned the simplest techniques for taking care of a family. It isn't difficult; but there's nowhere to learn, these days. The concept of do it now, do a little bit, rest, balance, release perfection, etc. are all things many of our grandmothers knew and didn't even know they knew it. Now we have to rediscover it and learn it all over again.

What got me off on this kick was putting together my "control journal." This is a FlyLady thing. It means to write down one's routines, so as to stay on track throughout the week and get things done in little bits, instead of killing oneself trying to do it all on Saturday. I couldn't even grasp the concept for months and months; now I'm beginning to figure it out. So I wrote down my routines, morning and evening. The morning routine goes until 7:30, when I leave for work. The evening routine starts when I get home.

All of a sudden I realized that those hours in between were just - lost. I've never considered work part of my Life. It is a blank to me. I go in, I do my work, I go home. I have interesting, good work, for good pay, in lovely surroundings with great people. I earn my money fair and square. But, at the end of my life, when I look back over my time on earth, will I remember the days I spent at the office? Of course not.

I think doing anything out of principle, because someone just said you should, is a risky deal. And I think it's time for us women to take a long, hard, honest, unflinching look at what the feminists told us, and see if it really fits. Is it really what we want? Is it really who we are inside? We have a duty to ourselves, so that we can faithfully discharge our responsibilities towards our families and towards society. Society happens to need lots of well-adjusted, healthy, smart children. We are not being generous with our progeny. That is a serious thing, because we are putting ourselves and our fellow citizens at risk. Are we so incredibly happy, joyful, fulfilled, that it's a worthwhile trade-off, to stint on raising sound, happy families? Or are we getting a few hints from the weeping we cannot stop as we leave our newborns in the hands of others when we go to the office, or the anguish we feel as our empty-headed teenagers behave in ways we know are risky and will not bring them joy, happiness, or fulfillment?

We women have tremendous power. We knew this before, and we know it now. Do we have to blindly swallow the rhetoric of a bunch of women who wanted to tear apart society for their own ends?

What, exactly, is so wrong about devoting oneself to one's family, if that's what one's called to do? Should girls be taught to deny those yearnings to make a home and raise children because it's somehow more healthy to sit at a desk each day and go out to clubs at night?

Like I said, not thought-through, yet. And rather larger of a topic than I have time for tonight. I just think it's time for us to get brave and push back a bit against those who Know Better Than We What We Want.

Paul the apostle tells older women they should be guides for the younger ones. I think maybe that's true; we need to reflect seriously upon our lives, and help the young women around us to truly choose, not just reflexively do what they're told - by anyone.

08 August 2006

In which naïve researchers "discover" some old news

I've been marveling over this article about how if kids listen to filthy song lyrics, they'll start having sex sooner. It's being reported as if it was a "discovery."

The reason it's news, I suppose, is that the strident voices of the 60s and 70s and 80s tried valiantly to convince themselves, us, school districts, etc. that kids aren't influenced one tiny bit by raunchy lyrics and R-rated films... just as you hear supposedly well-educated priests and liturgists say that there's nothing wrong with dumbing-down the words of the Mass or providing only dreck music.

Of course, they conveniently ignore or dismiss the fact that the economy rests largely upon people being gullible enough to march out like zombies and buy whatever's advertised on television...

Anyway... in the 60s, the assumption was that the parents were being "mean" and wanted to keep young people from having "fun" and "finding themselves," by trying to "hide" sex, etc.

It never occurred to the hormonally-challenged young that maybe - just maybe - the code of mystery and silence about sexual activity was not meant to blight their youthful existence, but was rather meant to help them make the most of their growing-up time. It's a lot easier to learn if you're not distracted by trying to do family-making behavior without the family to go along with it, and without the experience or wisdom or even enough knowledge to manage such a weird thing, anyway.

We natter on and on about "natural" foods, yet try to live in opposition to our instincts.

What's really sad is that a lot of kids have no idea what the alternative is. They don't know how to make a family, or be in a relationship. They're clueless about children, in a fog about finances, and totally without an original thought about history, politics, or any of the great books.

The parents and establishment of today is just as determined to keep the way of joy and wholeness from kids as previous generations worked so hard to shelter children from the brutality of a lawless, amoral world.

Perhaps this latest "discovery" will help the kids to wake up to what life can hold for them when they learn to really love, not just have sex... even if it's too late for their parents.

07 August 2006

Don't just tell ... show 'em what's going on?

Very interesting post via Quintero at L.A. Catholic, about a group of parishioners who recorded the liturgical abuses etc. on a CD and sent it around to some at the Vatican who might be interested.

According to the poster, it was helpful.

Such a presentation - simply letting the images and words speak for themselves - might be very enlightening to those who otherwise might dismiss such reports as exaggerated, simply because they're unfamiliar with the extent of the, ahem, creativity we're subjected to, because they're, you know, in Rome.

05 August 2006

Last century's hangover

Bobbie at emerging sideways posted a link to this collection of old advertisements for various kinds of drugs.

She writes:
this is a collection of vintage ads run in medical journals. some of these are terrifying to think of the lives ruined, the addiction created and the loss of dignity taken by medicine. i know they didn't know then what we know now, but it's still such a clue into how trying to anestitize a generation from their emotions and facing their past has brought us here. fascinating.
I was fascinated by them myself, in the way one would be fascinated by the gun that was used to kill someone you loved... a morbid fascination, full of dread, afraid that if I look too long, the horrible things will reach out and grab my soul, too.

You see, my mother was prescribed medications to slow her fast-beating heart and calm her revved-up mind. Today we would call her condition "bipolar." Then she was just out of control, completely. She would talk a mile a minute ... for hours on end ... brilliantly, wittily, and with a streak of humour that would leave you sore and tired from laughing so hard ... but in the end, only tired, wishing she would just wind down and go to bed. She interpreted all such suggestions as personal slights, and got so extravagantly wounded by them that no one ever dared say anything like that again. Then ... whether from the drugs, or just the natural low point of the cycle ... she would sleep for days, drag herself to sit in front of her dressing table, smoking cigarettes, not eating, and barely able to take care of herself.

Life with her was never dull, I'll say that.

Anyway, all the doctors would do was prescribe phenobarbitol, and she took it lavishly and got so addicted that my father, in blind rage, brought her off of the stuff cold turkey one horrible week when I was very young (5? 6?). He could've killed her, doing that. All I remember was being taken upstairs to her room to see her. She was in her negligée, by the window, looking out, talking to "the chicken man" - the guy who delivered the "Chicken Delight" we sometimes had when she couldn't cook. I wasn't put off by that - my mother had a famous imagination, and told the very best stories - but by the attitude of my grandmother and the clear embarrassment of my father. He was always embarrassed by her. Come to think of it, she was perpetually embarrassed by him. It's really a wonder I'm here at all. ;)

Anyway ... I've been spared that particular horror in my life, though before Imitrex, I was prescribed extremely strong medicine to help me cope with the severe migraine I dealt with almost daily. I depended on the medicine and loved to feel it take hold, numbing the pain, allowing me to get through the day. Fortunately, I wasn't addicted.

But I, too, have my cycles ... a week of feeling great, then a week of illness and migraine... and, sometimes, I wonder ...

Bobbie was right, though: so many were medicated out of dealing with their griefs and sorrows and the natural adjustments of life - growing old, losing friends, etc. It was just another part of what contributed to the mess of the 60s and 70s.

And yet ... I once woke from surgery with the anesthetic completely worn off. I was still mostly paralyzed from the epidural, but I could hear and feel everything. I have never in my life felt such pain, and I hope to God I never do - that no one ever does. I lay in the bed whimpering "help me... help me..." while the nurses scurried around and prepared an injection of morphine. It was a relief beyond words to feel the stuff work its way up from my arm to my brain, so that the pain went away, and I could relax into the dark fog. So I'm not against drugs. But we cannot use them to escape the psychic work of growing and loss and grief and healing.