Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For rent?

Amitabh Bachchan has been a larger than life figure in my childhood and adolescence and certainly epitomised my idea of a movie star! I have always admired his acting skills and recently have come to appreciate his writing skills on his blog... though perhaps not the content.

Recently his noisy rants have been colorful and mildly amusing being that they come from his august mind. In a post on his blog he writes about gestational surrogacy and his feelings about that phenonmenon. His thoughts are buried in this post.

As someone who has gone through the entire wretched and excruciating process of fertility treatment, I was disturbed by his remarks. But then he can be excused. He and several others with hardline opinions have perhaps not walked a single step in the painful shoes marked infertility.

For me and my husband, while the process was long and sometimes felt hopeless we were blessed to have two children.

Has the experience left us completely unscathed? Perhaps not. The psyche is scarred and the joyous presence of our kids is still an incomplete balm. The entire process of fertility treatment has left us slightly different people. Very happy and content, but different. That my friends, is how big the issue of fertility is for many couples. For those who have not walked in our shoes to color the issues as good/evil in broad brush strokes is not warranted. To say children are merely commodities in our eyes makes a mockery of our desire to nuture a biological future generation.

I have written a comment on his blogpost and reproduce it here. Every blogpost of his generates a few hundred comments and perhaps my comment will get buried somewhere. So here it is for your reading pleasure and comment.

I do reccomend that you read his blogpost too so that you get reference to context. Let me know what you think.

My comment follows.

At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly and shaking a virtual finger at you, I have something to say about your view of surrogacy for those faced with fertility issues.

It really and truly takes someone who has been through the extremely hellish process that is dealing with fertility issues to understand the anguish, hopelessness and feelings of personal loss that women and men seeking a child are subjected to. As a veteran of that process, let me assure you that even my own beloved mother did not understand my pain during those excruciating years. There is no way she can understand (though she tried hard to see things through my eyes and heart)… just as I do not expect you or Kutty, Madan or Puri to understand unless they are face to face with the issue of thier own infertility.

Ofcourse it follows that desperate people seeking a biological child will follow through any avenue allowed by modern science and where legal issues are not insurmountable. Surrogacy is just one such avenue. Does it make someone less of a mother because she did not carry her child in her own womb? Is seeking an affordable surrogate a crime for middle class person? Do middle class people have no right to pursue that course and pay less for the procedure if the “birth” mother (and i use this term loosely) is being also benefited? Is the child going to be less loved because it was not nourished by its nurturing mother’s placenta?

I think to color the entire issue in broad strokes with a black paint is wrong and is insensitive to those who struggle with fertility issues.

i hear so often… oh why dont they just adopt! yes, that is certainly an option but hearts and minds must come to terms with that eventuality when all other options are useless. Some decide to adopt and some cannot. Does it mean that the ones who decide not to adopt are incapable of loving a/thier child? ofcourse not! So why would I blacktar the issue of a possible surrogacy without considering that there are many shades of grey to that decision… just as there are so many in life.

Yes, i do agree with you that laws need to be carefully examined to allow for all circumstances to be covered before the child is even concieved. In that and in adoption laws, India needs a huge wake up call. However to denigrate the avenue of surrogacy as lacking in human values of parental love and affection is wrong. For some of us, it is the only way out.


Ugich Konitari said...

One of the things I have noticed among those eminent types who have a way with words, is that their words and pronouncemnets, however erroneous, get undue importance, and nobody doubts their qualification to say these things. I have friends who have undergone trauma of fertility treatments, and sunk and risen in their minds. I am aware of the thinking , empathy, and different type of awareness that one needs to work on, should one deicde to adopt. There needs to be a lot of respect about people undegoing this difficult decision process.

AB talks about laws and stuff for kids born of surrogacy, and who will bring them up etc etc. A child is a child. There are millions of children today in India who need to be cared for.

Maybe he can do something about that. Concretely. Instead of writing opinions. he should leave that to those who participate in the surrogacy/fertility treatments/and adoptions.

Antarman said...

I have seen the trauma of going thru those umpteen treatments and then getting failure, as my sister and mausi wen thru this..nobody can feel the emptiness they go thru.

Though now when my chidren have grown up and I face many problems I wonder whether it is really worth it? But then that is another issue.

But the problem that surrogate child face of having nowhere to go is also very big..sothere must be some laws regarding that also.

Anita said...

I can only imagine how basic a need it must be to have a child that is yours that couples submit to the long and painful process of fertility treatments. I doubt we can sit in judgment. We weigh our options and do what is right for us. Adoption for some, and surrogacy for some. Naturally, surrogacy is more complicated.

Putting safeguards in place is also complicated but it's time to work on them so that everyone can go home with something and no one gets exploited.

Rajlakshmi said...

I read AB's blog... and the way he has handled the delicate issue of surrogate pregnancy is very crude... though he has point when he writes
//Surrogate Mother is 4 months into pregnancy, when husband and wife divorce ! What becomes of the child ?//
India is new to this i guess and the lawmakers should think of some stringent laws to curb down any complications... but then one should realise the emotional trauma a women has to go through when she is trying to 'have' a baby of her own...

Sparkling said...

Kiran, just as you said, nobody, absolutely nobody will be able to fathom the helplessness of being infertile until unless they’re not just wearing, but walking in those shoes as well, so expecting any kind of understanding or acceptance could also be na├»ve on one’s part.

He may be eloquent and may even have superb writing skills but I don’t think he has an iota of sense or feeling for that matter on exactly what it feels to be in a situation like this. One can clearly see that the post is completely impersonal and reads like an editorial piece with statistics et al so maybe, he just wants to talk about the con side of it which also ain’t that far from the truth. But as I said, it ain’t completely objective as well, especially not when he writes a line like this:

‘Once the child is born, the parents, if they can be called that come over and ‘collect’ their child.’

'Nuff said, just want to add that I can only imagine the happiness and joy you must be experiencing every single day as a mother and if surrogacy was the answer to it, then so be it! Amen to that! :)

Don’t ever let yourself feel any other way even if the writer happens to be just Big B ;)


hmmlife said...

Hi Kiran,
hope you don't mind, but i am sending you an email. I think you might be able to give me inspiration.

Anonymous said...

not to be mean, but i hope his own daugher in law does not have to go through this.

Another Kiran In NYC said...

Ugich: I second your opinion completely.

Antarman: I agree that laws need to be looked at. That is where parliament comes in. Try getting MP's to deal with the real stuff! However AB quoted just one case, which BTW was resolved and the baby was taken home by the father. However AB forgets that people can make choices based on thier own circumstances... stuff he has never dealt with himself. He is an old man with fixed ideas.

Anita: Based on the reality on the ground, the laws are screaming to be looked at.

Rajlakshmi: The problem is what AB writes becomes the gospel truth for many people. My own problem with him is that he writes of what he knows nothing about.

Sparkling: As far as I am concerned I see AB's mouth move, but the words dont make sense :)

Hmmmlife: I need to sit down and write to you!

Anonymous: I hope she never does. I would'nt wish it on anyone else.

Sonia said...

I am beginning to understand the pain right now, I have watched my best friend go thru hell to have her wonderful babies but experiencing it first hand is somehting else.....But I am keeping the hope alive