As human beings, we are all social animals – something similar was said long ago by a famous author. What is also true that we gravitate towards people who may not be family, or friends and are complete strangers because what bonds us is an individual experience but for a shared cause. Sadly, sexual assault against women is a daily occurrence in our world ranging from countries in Asia, Africa to Europe to Americas. Lot of women who thankfully may not have been a victim of sexual assault but whenever they hear a story about it, a thought that may run through their mind, “What if it were me?” This is what bonds them to the stranger who is a victim and some become activists by demanding protection for women and some maybe silent activists. The point is there is support and a bond based on the cause which is right and we identify with people who may have had a similar experience although not together. Whether the experience is a breast cancer survivor or a marathon runner or a single parent or a caregiver. Rightfully so, there should better protection for women and also education and awareness that women are also someone’s mother, sister, wife, daughter so harming them as such is not right. Similarly, what is common for an intersex, immigrant, IVF father in 2000s? When a person survives after being held against their will, they have forces in common.
As left-behind IVF father of an abandoned IVF child, one could also become a criminal and abandon an innocent, voiceless child and leave them to their fate at an orphanage and provide no answers for them either now or when they grow older into an adult. Perhaps the threat to an innocent child while 6 months pregnant in a surrogate’s womb and faced with abandonment is more similar to the feelings of a pregnant woman who is kicked in the stomach and the risk of threat to her child.
As a person who has constantly been silenced under threats and abused, there are other cases which also bring similarity. The Fritzl case in Austria where an innocent woman was kidnapped and held hostage for 24 years against her will. In a very sad case, a father unleashed horrors unto her own daughter and also fathered children with her. The innocent victim was an adult when she was taken away and held against her will. She found the forces to survive and eventually be freed from a monster. On the outside, we can only gauge what it may have been for her but the true horrors of her ordeal will only be known by her and her innocent children, sadly one of whom died while in captivity. She did not consent to having the children with her own father and captor but the fact remains she is raising the children today and not blaming them because children are innocent and the two discussion are separate. She has NOT abandoned the innocent children.
Another case that comes to mind is that of Ohio man, Ariel Castro who kidnapped innocent women and held them against their will including fathering children with them. Unlike the Fritzl case, he was not a family member but a person in the same neighbourhood. Up until the case broke, his children also spoke of him as a good parent. The women survived and so did their innocent children. Sadly, the true horrors of being held against your will can only be known by the women and the innocent children who suffered. They did not give consent to having a child with Mr. Castro but the fact is there is a child who they are raising and have NOT abandoned the innocent child.
In IVF, there are different kinds of cases of the 21st century which most people are just becoming aware of. There are cases of DNA mismatch and there are cases of intended parents abandoning an IVF child after birth. Just like the women who did not want a child with their abuser but fact is they were being held against their will, what if an IVF father is held against his will and forced to have a child because he happens to be fertile and later is stranded with an abandoned IVF baby? Do you also abandon the child? How did the IVF father who was forced into silence deal with the horrors of a decade? Did the love of the children carry him through? Was it the same love which made him NOT abandon his IVF child?
As time passes, we continue to reach out to people who share a common bond, its natural. After being silenced for so long, it takes a while to get your “teeth again” so to speak. And innocent children and their rights are a strong driver. One begins to discover people in similar plight if not due to the exact same reasons. There was a case of Canadian couple who had an issue of DNA mismatch in India. They did NOT abandon the IVF child but instead moved lock, stock and barrel to India – an unknowing place for them and fought for six years before being allowed to take the IVF child with them on humanitarian grounds. Not just did the child win, the parents won but humanity won. In another case, an IVF father discovered after 5 years there was a DNA mismatch with him and his IVF daughter who happens to be autistic. His wife passed away but he has NOT abandoned his daughter, he will raise her with all the love he has. Humanity wins!
For rest of the world, an abandoned child may be one of millions in the world but for a surviving parent, the innocent child IS THE WORLD, no matter how they were born. To those who are struggling, crying, praying to be freed, hang in there, we have been there and there are forces in common which will eventually free you. And never lose your humanity because it is the greatest gift a human can gift to another.
If a mother can dream of having two lovely siblings growing up together, can a father have the same dream? If an infertile person can dream of having a child thanks to technology like IVF and compassion of fellow human beings, can an IVF father dream of seeing his IVF siblings growing up together? If a woman can ask for equal pay for equal work (which she deserves and has every right), can a man dream of having equal parenting rights in the best interest of children? By continuing to use stereotypes and denying equal rights to a father, are they really hurting the father or his innocent children who are siblings who have never met?
People like Fritzl and Castro are not stereotypes and yet they exist and there are laws to protect and give justice to the ones who suffered, where is the protection and laws for innocent IVF children and families?