Is it time to start discussing about the issues faced by IVF parents, children and families? Is it time to discuss the shaping of future together in the best interest of innocent, voiceless children?
In 2011, after 6 years of a gut-wrenching ordeal, a Canadian couple was allowed to take their non-biological IVF child back to Canada. They gave up their life in Canada, stayed in India for 6 years fighting, waiting, and praying. International IVF laws are in its infancy and creates situations which are rare and unique and due to NO fault of the IVF child or the intended parent, the IVF children and families are SPLIT. The IVF couple fought TOGETHER to keep the IVF siblings UNITED and they WON.
In 2009, a US father on green card could NOT take his IVF daughter to the US without a “legal US mother”. He gave up his life in the US and is living in EXILE in India fighting, waiting, and praying. In his case, he also has an IVF son born similarly and he is the only known biological parent (legal requirements) who is in the US and has NEVER met his biological IVF sibling. Now the IVF father is fighting to UNITE his IVF children – 4 years and counting.
“This was not a crime of greed, this was not a crime of vengeance, but it was an act of selfishness, a crime of selfishness” – said Judge P. Kevin Castel of Federal District Court.
There are some similarities between these cases like laws catching up with technology like IVF OR parents giving up everything to be with their IVF children and fight for their rights OR asking for UNIFICATION of IVF children and families based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds OR family forced to be SPLIT on two continents OR intent of parents was to give birth to life and have children, NOT to abuse life. There are some STARK differences in the two stories between the IVF siblings on two continents in this still developing legal chasms of international IVF.
As an immigrant IVF father and a spouse of intersex in 2013, one IDENTIFIES more with women of history THAN men. Susan B Anthony, Rosa Parks, Mothers, Erin Brockovich, the surrogate in California, the women of baby scoop era are HEROES and INSPIRATION even though an IVF father is judged with bias against men as parents. Sadly, the bias against a male who happens to be an IVF father is passed on and punishing innocent, voiceless IVF siblings. As a parent, one has to speak up if not as a man. Men like Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. helped in getting this far but it is understanding the struggles of women which will take it forward from here. People abuse a spouse of intersex, abuse an IVF father because we are a minority within a minority but we are still HUMAN with existential issues like moving forward with IVF children in LEGAL LIMBO. The abuse only emboldens that we need to speak the truth with compassion to educate and spread awareness. It may take a few years, decades, or generations just like parents of gay rights or intersex rights but TRUTH will remain constant. We are NOT against intersex marriage, we are against LYING, breaking the laws and using LIES to HURT innocent, voiceless children and other unsuspecting victims. If a rape survivor does not report a rape but is forced into silence under threats, does that mean RAPE did not OCCUR? Does that mean they are not a victim?
If infertility is a medically identified disease, what is “causing harm” to the treatment (IVF child)? When organ transplants occur, the rights of both humans (typically adults) are protected; why is there NO protection for the IVF child when infertility is treated? Does an IVF child DEMAND and DESERVE the basic respect and dignity of a human being and not be treated like “property”?
1) Accidental Vs. Pre-meditated
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 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.
Moral of the story : Stay together, say the TRUTH, follow your heart and be UNITED.
In the US case, the immigration laws are similar to Canada but the US case is slightly more complicated. The IVF father was an immigrant to the US and NOT a citizen at the time of the birth of the IVF children in India. So different set of immigration laws apply for IVF children born outside the US to US immigrants and is based on gender. Historically, the physical mother and legal mother of a child are always the same and so laws are written like that. IVF presents unique situations where an IVF child will have a physical mother but “no legal mother“. In this case both the anonymous egg donor and surrogate were Indian and had no “Legal standing in the US”. Without a “legal US mother”, an immigrant IVF father cannot bring an IVF child to the US even though a “biological link” exists. Where was the non-biological parent for the IVF child? Only someone with intimate knowledge of these laws could have used them against the IVF father and his IVF children. The result is two IVF siblings have NEVER met. The IVF sister cannot go to the US and the IVF brother is NOT allowed to come to India.
Moral of the story : Stay together, say the TRUTH, follow your heart and be UNITED. The Canadian IVF parents proved its NOT the biology, its the LOVE of a parent, where was the non-biological parent of the IVF child in this US-India case? If the situation is accidental and not pre-mediated, what efforts have been made to UNITE the IVF brother and sister?
2) Divorce happens; should IVF siblings UNITED or SEPARATED?
In another case, the biological parents had commissioned an IVF pregnancy in the US but later decided to divorce mid-way and abandoned the IVF pregnancy. The result is the surrogate who legally is considered a “non-biological” parent was “left-behind” both with the twin IVF children and non-payment for her services. The compassionate surrogate has her own children to raise and despite the emotional and financial trauma decided to raise the IVF twins herself and is slowly getting back on her feet. What is the difference between such parents and deadbeat parents? Any technology can be misused and abused by a few bad apples, where are the laws to protect and ensure the rights of such IVF children and left-behind families and surrogates?
Moral of the story : Divorce happens, siblings should NOT get hurt and some compassionate human being is always around the corner. Luckily it all happened within the boundaries of USA (no immigration laws complications) and the IVF siblings are together and the surrogate, now the mother, has both emotional and financial help and support. We need protection from IVFphiles.
In the US-India case, a divorce was filed in the US by the non-biological parent who ALSO agreed to the second IVF child and surrogacy. When the divorce was filed in the US, there was NO mention of the ongoing IVF pregnancy in India, its like the IVF child was DELETED from legal existence in the US and thus denying any LEGAL rights an innocent, voiceless child is normally given in the US – a leader of human rights and child rights. The IVF father was placed in a situation of either staying in the US and contesting the divorce on FACTS or go to India and raise his abandoned IVF daughter. Thus he has NO practical custody of his biological IVF son. Thus the IVF son has NO right to grow up with his sister he wanted, he has NO right to grow up with his biological family, he has NO right to know the TRUTH. While a gay father can tell his 10 year old daughter he is gay, an IVF father cannot tell his IVF son the TRUTH, WHY? The IVF father gave up his life in the US and came to India to raise his abandoned daughter. The family opted for IVF because of the spouse’s infertility and the IVF father did NOT see an “I” in infertility during a marriage. He arranged for the finances to pay the surrogate as per the agreement, it was NOT the surrogate’s fault. As a “left-behind” parent, the IVF father is struggling emotionally from the separation of his IVF son for whom he was the primary care provider, he misses his son missing out on growing up with siblings, he is struggling financially despite having paid into US socially security for almost 20 years. Today the IVF children are in a LEGAL LIMBO. The validity of the divorce based on prevailing laws is in question. Lying and breaking laws to give human rights to one person HURTS other innocent, unsuspecting VICTIMS and their human rights. There has to be a better way.
Moral of the story : Divorce happens; siblings should NOT get hurt. Living a life of secrecy and lies can be used AGAINST you, worse, it can be REPEATED to ABUSE and HURT innocent, voiceless children. The right answer is to say the truth with civility, humility and dignity.
IVF is very traumatic – its a journey that drains you emotionally and financially, sometimes rewarded with an IVF child and sometimes not. Only folks who have been through an IVF journey can understand like the Canadian IVF parents who gave up EVERYTHING in a heartbeat to stay together as a family with the IVF children.
3) US citizen Vs Indian Citizen
In 2009, a US citizen child who was abducted to Brazil was united with his biological father in the US with support and help from US President Obama and then US Secretary of State Clinton who said, “A child belongs with his [biological] family“. Despite the 5 year gap between father and son, the last report says they are BONDING great and loving each other’s company after being reunited. The family in Brazil was the maternal biological grandparents who were raising him and providing him food, home, clothes, toys, schooling, education, and other things for growth and development. There was NO sign of ABUSE other than not allowing the son to travel to US to meet his father and have a PRACTICAL father-son relationship. Its the “right thing to do”.
Moral of the story : The US is capable of doing the “right thing” where laws sometimes fall short.
In 2013, 3 years and counting, an Indian citizen IVF son has been reverse abducted to the US and is NOT allowed to come to India. The courts in the US have been lied to and the facts have been suppressed resulting in FORCED SEPARATION of innocent, voiceless IVF brother and sister who have NEVER met. A father who misses his son dearly and vice versa because of the CLOSE BOND they have since the father was the primary care provider until uprooted. JUSTICE seems distant and forgotten, relief for VICTIMS is what we are seeking. An IVF daughter in India is in LEGAL LIMBO and is STATELESS and cannot travel outside India. How many lives have to be RUINED to give life to one person and their LIES? When asking for justice, one has to listen to statements like, “thats what you get for doing IVF…”. So the IVF parents deserve the punishment, why are we punishing innocent, voiceless IVF children by placing them in LEGAL LIMBO? Do IVF children have rights? And for the record, if you have the GUTS like an adult, come say the same thing after you see the two LOVELY IVF children, I dare you. And for the record, we opted for IVF because of infertility in the marriage due to the intersex person, where are they? Just like being gay is personal but NOT having gay rights is a public policy issue; so is being IVF parent is personal but NOT having equal rights for IVF children and families is a public policy issue.
Moral of the story : Dealing with 4 Is – intersex, IVF, immigration and invisibility is exhausting in 2013. Somehow, still being alive is a miracle and largely a thanks to the parents and their upbringing. Quitting, detering, running away from the issues is NOT in the DNA. Doing the right thing, truth, moving forward is in the DNA – the same DNA the two IVF children will have FOREVER – can’t LIE to them forever, can we?
Just like sometimes a hunter becomes the hunted, sometimes a fertile person becomes infertile due to the trauma and experiences of IVF even though biologically they may be fertile.
Intersex is a naturally occurring condition and is not in an individual’s control, however, lying about it and reducing the rights of an unsuspecting spouse and children is in their control. It is NOT about one’s GENDER, or RACE, or RELIGION, or CASTE or … but its about the CHARACTER of an individual. This case is from the future where if equal rights for gays existed; this case would NOT have happened, if equal rights for immigration existed for IVF children and families; this case would NOT have happened, if equal rights for intersex existed; this case would NOT have happened. Slowly but surely, things are changing. LGBTI immigration was not allowed till 2013, now it is. Intersex families are largely living in secrecy and invisible with their issues, but recently Germany, the FIRST European country legally recognized the “third gender” and thus providing an environment for people to live freely and honestly. Will others like US, UK, Canada follow? In another case, a FIRST in the US, a court determined the intersex surgery as unconstitutional, what about the same surgery during marriage? In another instance, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture called for a STOP to the intersex surgery. What are the effects of such surgery which is torturous and/or unconstitutional when done in secrecy and lies during a marriage on unsuspecting people – both the intersex patient and the spouse and the children? In the future, the effects will be analyzed and understood and there will be more openness to the FACTS including lack of laws. Patience and time always allows for the TRUTH to prevail.