Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Intent as a basis for discrimination

It's quickly becoming my #1 pet peeve. Does it have a name? Or can I dub it "intentism"? The prejudice according to which those persons who intended to parent a child (and sometimes couldn't) are by default in every way better than those who didn't (but sometimes contributed "raw materials" up to and including the entire child, as is the case in adoption).

It is presumed that the sperm donor, the "birth" mother, and that even more faceless entity who knocked her up are by definition inferior. The discrimination is presumably based on the fact that intending parents usually invest money in obtaining other people's children. This money proves that they really want the child, they deserve it, and, since they have money to spare, they're instantly worthier human beings.

The offspring of these inferior parents should be grateful they were accepted by these superior social parents as their own.

But just what is so great about intent? About the burning desire to have a child, first your own, and then, if that fails, anyone's child?

Has there ever been any serious longitudinal research into the emotional effects on children (into their adolescence, at least) of being raised as very very wanted children by parents very very desperate to have them?

Is there even any proof that planned children fare better in life than 'oops' kids?


  1. As an adoptee, I can attest that one faces considerable prejudice from one's so-called "parents"; any shortcoming will be blamed on the "wild" genes of the people they "saved" you from. They will never admit that the strangeness and their inability to emotionally respond to a stranger's child the same way they would to a biological child could affect things. It is always the rich stealing the children of the poor, and they will create their own morality to justify it. And, at some deep level, they will always hate that part of the child that is different from them, because it reminds them of their own failure. I don't know how it might be in cases where the woman sought out a donor, perhaps in some cases she (or her partner) resent the fact that they had to rely on a stranger? Society in general looks down on sperm donors also. But I would guess in the case of the donor conceived, not as bad as adoptees. I would suspect that there is a great deal of harm to the child, who cannot help but perceive that for some reason its parents are less than 100% accepting. I did not realize these differences until I had my own kids. However into every life a little rain must fall, we must hope that it will make us stronger and more rounded humans.

  2. Ah, the wild genes. I get that. And I understood the difference when I had my own kids too.

    More rounded? Tricky. Hopefully more empathetic.

  3. Wow you write so well.

    Research though? If you call for research they are bound to give it to you and there will always be that array of different opinions. People can spin psychological studies to suit their special interest. You don't need a study to know that the law does not treat donors or their offspring as people; people with offspring are parents and parents are obligated to support those offspring until they are 18 and if they ditch out they hunt them down. The offspring have a right to their support. Donors are not people so they don't have to support their offspring, the people who commission them have to support them because donor offspring are born to serve as their children. They are not actually children in the eyes of the law though or they would have the same right as other children to support by those who reproduced to create them. Its nasty stuff. I help reunite broken families for free I lots of those families were broken up by gamete donation. I really like the way you wrote that.

  4. I think all intentional conception of children is unethical, not just IVF and/or donor conception, and there is no right to intentionally create children. There is only a right to marry, and a right of marriages to have sex and conceive children. Having sex is not the same thing as intentionally conceiving children, even if they hope it will result in children and even if they take steps to maximize the chances (ie, quit smoking, switching to loose underwear, seeing a doctor about fertility problems, etc). The difference is between welcoming a child as a gift, the fruit of the marriage that both spouses are responsible for, as to each other, and ordering up a child to raise as one orders a pizza to be delivered, that might not even be the fruit of the union, and which only one person makes the phone call and pays the pizza guy.

    Sorry I'm rambling. Just came here to say that's some good hard-hitting well-written stuff on FamilyScholars. Keep it coming!