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By Robin von Halle

I don’t know whether to put it down to the general public’s prevailing ignorance  about gestational surrogacy and egg donation or shoddy and sensationalist reporting, particularly by the British press.

But the news coverage, especially in Britain, of the birth-by-surrogate over the holidays of a baby boy to rocker king Elton John and his partner David Furnish was pretty stunning on all counts.

The revelation that the child actually had (gasp!) two “mystery” mothers! And now, two fathers!  The fact that nothing is known about either “mother,” like their background, religion, marital status or rights to the child. That it’s not illegal for millionaires like Sir Elton to “buy” a baby in California, which, one piece proclaimed, had the most forward-thinking surrogacy laws in the U.S.

With all the exaggeration by the U.K. popular press when a celebrity utilizes assisted reproductive technology (ART), it’s a small wonder that the laws there concerning these advances remain restrictive.

We’ve been in this business nearly 20 years, and have watched the possibilities with ART, attitudes and the legal landscape change dramatically in that time, at least here in the States. Yet the misconceptions just seem to hang on.

Of course, the background, religion, marital status of the surrogate are largely irrelevant, at least in terms of the child and its future. With gestational surrogacy, the woman who carries the child has no biological connection to it. In terms of the egg donor, what’s typically most important to intended parents are the donor’s genetics. She has no more “rights” to the child than a sperm donor would, and understands that going into the process.

In California, case law has provided some guidance as to children born of gestational surrogacy. Illinois, which truly has been at the forefront with its surrogacy friendly laws, has provided protection for all parties in this arrangement. Intended parents are recognized as a child’s legal parents from the moment that child is born without an adoption or court proceeding so long as the requirements of the act have been followed and at least one of the parents is the genetic parent of that child.

Right now, we’re seeing a substantial increase in prospective parents who can only achieve parenthood with the help of a surrogate. It’s a challenge. It takes a very special person to agree to carry someone else’s child for them. And there are never enough surrogates to meet the demand.

The media scrutiny and its role in perpetuating myths only compounds the problem. Maybe it will take more first-person stories, like the New York Times’ “Meet the Twiblings” piece, to help put it all in the proper perspective.

Visit our Web site at www.arr1.com.

About Us

Conception Connections is a blog about alternative paths to family creation. It is maintained by Alternative Reproductive Resources. Contributors include intended parents, egg donors and gestational surrogates in addition to ARR staff. Our goal is to facilitate conversations about trends, issues, current events, technology and personal stories surrounding infertility, egg donation and gestational surrogacy. If you'd like to contribute, please e-mail shodge@hodgemediastrategies.com. We also welcome your comments and suggestions. Note: Comments are moderated and posted on approval.

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