I have a dream that in the future all IVF children and families will have equal rights including donors and surrogates. Single parents or gay parents or infertile heterosexual parents who opt for IVF will have equal rights. “Accidents” in the IVF clinics where samples are swapped accidentally and hence “no biological link” with a parent will not be the reason to separate IVF children from parents. Innocent IVF children will not be placed inadvertently in legal limbo. Are the laws addressing these issues? Sadly infertility is dealt with secrecy and lies and it becomes difficult to ascertain how many people are affected. The same secrecy and lies are hurting innocent IVF children and their rights. In the future, this will be common knowledge and as a result, such children will also have EQUAL rights and not remain INVISIBLE. The campaign to educate and spread awareness starts now. We need to advocate on rights of infertile or dysfertile people and their IVF children. Will you join us?
As a left-behind parent of an abandoned IVF daughter and watching her turn 4 years, every moment has been worth it. We celebrate her existence and learn from the sacrifices why every human life deserves equal respect and dignity including her. There are no winners here but to punish innocent IVF children who are the most undeserving victims for the crimes they did not commit are the biggest losers. As adults, we must bring their rights as an individual to the forefront. I have a dream that one day it will not be the gender of a parent but the love and character of a parent which will define parenthood. More importantly, innocent siblings will not be judged or discriminated based on the gender of their parent.
What circumstances creates a situation where children have “no legal mother”?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a medical technology which is great for infertile or dysfertile people. In the early decades since IVF’s finding in 1978, in most cultures it was “reserved” only for “infertile couples”. Suppose thats a remnant of the “baby scoop era” when innocent children were forced into adoption because their only fault was to be born to a “single mother” which was “socially unacceptable” at the time. As time moved on, IVF expanded to single parents, gays, lesbians and so on. This represents the growing tolerance in our society as a whole. However, the LAWS have not caught up with this social tolerance. Specifically, in a “closed environment” where IVF occurs within the boundaries of the same country, there is NO immigration requirement for the IVF child. However, as soon as an IVF parent wants to engage in international IVF, immigration laws and multiple “legal jurisdictions” are engaged which are lagging in laws when it comes to equality. While people are sympathetic to the situation, the laws are non-existent which places innocent IVF children in a legal limbo. I have a dream that someday in the future we will have EQUAL rights for IVF children in their best interest and not a mere statistic as a “manufactured” human being.
This is NOT just an individual case but affects a lot of IVF families and immigration. Due to secrecy around infertility, very few cases get publicized and an already traumatized infertile or dysfertile families remain silent and continue to bear more trauma in silence. The innocent IVF children suffer and its a gross violation of everyone’s basic human rights. If my IVF children were NOT split, I also may not have spoken up. Please let me know if this would be of interest to you or someone who can help us. There are several US prospective parents who are engaging in IVF/Surrogacy in other countries like India, Thailand and so on as reported in the news media. It is traumatic enough to deal with infertility, should there be added burden of continued trauma due to lack of laws for EQUAL rights for IVF children and families? Let us examine some international IVF cases and its outcome. The common thread among these cases is there is “NO LEGAL MOTHER” as per laws even though physically a mother exists who gives birth.
1) In a recent IVF case in Texas, a court ruled that a woman who had given birth to lovely IVF children was the “mother” who had used donor eggs. In another recent case, US citizenship was DENIED to a set of IVF children based on prevailing US Immigration laws who were also born to a US Citizen mother using donor eggs but outside the US. Why the difference? Its confusing, is she a mother or not? The two IVF siblings are growing up together although in Israel. A US diplomat spokesperson said at the time of denial of US citizenship to the children that while they sympathize with the US citizen mother and children, they are following the laws.
2) In another horror case of a US couple trying to have an IVF child in India, the sperm samples were swapped accidentally by the IVF clinic in India and thus NO biological link exists between the innocent IVF child and the US parents. Because of no biological link to the parents, the innocent IVF child cannot legally come to the US. The choice was to leave the innocent child in an orphanage or try to bring the child to the US on humanitarian grounds. Is it the innocent child’s fault or the parent’s fault? Should there be a legal recourse for medical “accidents” outside the parent’s control?
3) In another case, a father on US green card was left stranded with an IVF daughter in India with no “legal US mother” and is living in EXILE in India raising the innocent IVF child. Even worse, the little girl has an IVF sibling, a brother, in the US who she has NEVER met and it was the IVF brother’s wish to have a sibling and why she is born. What is the innocent IVF siblings fault?
4) In 2005, Canadian parents could NOT bring one of their IVF children back to Canada immediately because as per Canadian immigration laws, a “biological link” is required for a Canadian citizen parent to have their IVF child born outside Canada to legally immigrate to Canada. It seems there was a medical accident and the sperm samples got swapped at the clinic resulting in a failed DNA test between the parents and the IVF child. Is this a FAULT of the parents or accidents of science and technology? Most scientific innovations in history of the world have come from “accidents” – its how we learn, ask Madam Curie. Even though there is NO law for the facts that occurred, the Canadian government relented in the end and after 6 years allowed the family to live together in Canada. The non-biological IVF parents gave up 6 years of their lives showing that it is NOT the biology but the LOVE of a parent. The “biology” needs to be discussed because of the LAWS.
It is important to note that infertility and IVF are often dealt with secrecy. As a result, very few cases are made public. These cases are just tip of the iceberg. A lot of victims may choose to abandon or not go public for their own personal reasons.
Into The Future
Recently, the “father of IVF”, Dr. Robert Edwards who helped bring the FIRST IVF child into the world in 1978 and was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work passed away. We still have a long way to go to concretize his legacy which is ensuring equal rights for IVF children and families including donors, surrogates and the entire IVF fraternity and ecosystem. The 21st century is upon us and calling us.
As more countries are legalizing same-sex marriages, incidents of IVF including international IVF will only grow and having effective international laws protecting the best interest of the child first is of paramount importance. IVF is here to stay and we need laws to catch up with the technology and avoid inadvertent victims, sometimes the most vulnerable, the voiceless, innocent IVF children. This is first a humanitarian crisis and a child rights issue. The Hague has worked multilaterally on laws for International Child Abduction and International Adoption and we need International laws on IVF/Surrogacy in the best interest of the children. The Hague is rightfully working on international laws for IVF/Surrogacy and issues that arise from it and you can find more information here.
As per a June 2011 US government report, the right answer is for the laws to catch up with IVF technology. This is the right answer and we need support to translate the vision into execution and save innocent IVF children and families lives’ before it’s too late. US is a world leader when it comes to advocating and protecting human rights and child rights. It is time to step up and show leadership when it comes to EQUAL rights for IVF children and families and work multilaterally or bilaterally to advocate and spread awareness on this sensitive issue. The current state of “non-existent laws” at an international level is a “wild west” approach which is inadvertently victimizing innocent IVF children and families.