Monday, January 21, 2013

Biological parent vs Genetic parent

I was asked something very interesting the other day in Centrelink. Because my son has a darker skin than I do, people often assume in error that he is adopted. He is not. I was asked by this Centrelink employee 'Are you Nir's biological mother?' I answered 'Yes, I am.' He looked very surprised. I further clarified and said that his father was or is African.
This is an extremely interesting posting and is similar to what I believe.
Here is the transcript of what another woman wrote.
As many of you know, I have been researching donor eggs.  I'm also a lawyer, so definitions of words and precision are something that I am used to considering. I've been giving a lot of thought to the words "biological mother."
Of course, you know that a donor egg recipient gives birth to the baby. But, did you know that a donor egg recipient/birth mother's genes will affect how the donor egg's genes are expressed?  It's true.  Did you also know that a donor egg baby has the blood of the birth mother in him/her and lives off the birth mother's cells while in utero? That's also  true.
My doctor, who is RE, has told me that she believes that a DE Birth Mom is a biological mother.  I've also heard some say that a DE baby really has two biological mothers.   Obviously, the baby only has one genetic mother. 
I have to tell you that as someone who is seriously considering DE that I have become very aware of the different terms - biological and genetic. 
I would suggest to each of you that the most proper, most precise, most sensitive term to call the donor is the "genetic mother."   The birth mother and the genetic mother are also both biological mothers. 
We can look to various dictionaries, regular and law dictionaries, to see what the two words mean. However, I suggest that our current vernacular has not kept up with science and is less than precise in our new world.  Indeed, different dictionaries would yield different results in in this context in what the word "biological means." Science indeed moves faster than our vocabulary does.
Some dictonaries define "biological" to include "related by genetics." But, some define it as to include "related by genetics or blood."  (And, we know that a donor egg baby has the birth mother's blood. But we also know that genes will influence blood type).  Also some dictionaries define "biological" include "related by birth."
The 6th edition of Black's Law Dictionary doesn't define "biological." But it does define "natural child" to be "child by natural relation or procreation" (whatever that means).  Even if you were to think that that means the biological mother is (only) the genetic mother, the law dictionary  also defines "natural child" to include "child by birth, as distinguished from a child by adoption."
Among those of you have experienced RPL or are considering DE's for other reasons, I hope that you will join me on educating people that there is a difference between "a genetic mother" and "biological mother"  and you would urge precision, using the word "genetic mother" instead of "biological" mother when referring to a donor.
My personal belief is that a donor egg baby has two biological mothers  (1) the very special one who delivered her/him and (2) the very special one who contributed her egg (and thus her DNA/genetics).  I find it hurtful when people ask questions that suggest that a donor egg recipient is not also a biological mother.  Clearly she is. 
Also, you should know that in most (if not all states) that legally a donor egg baby is the legal child of the birth mother.
Thanks for listening. 
It is worth reading some of the comments by others in relation to this.
I have found it extremely hurtful at times when people have referred to my son as 'not your real child' or he has been told at school he was adopted and also having dealt with the hurt from an Israeli woman and her children who were 'friends' with us for a while and who continually in a very ignorant way referred to him as someone else's child not mine. I usually just shut up and say nothing, because sometimes when people get an idea in their head they fix on it and you literally cannot educate them otherwise.
The relationship between a ED and the ED recipient is usually a special one and to be honest, one never forgets the generosity and the absolute compassion of a woman who does go through a stim cycle with all the drugs and the other hassles in order to produce eggs that will enable another family to be created.  I went through five IVF stim cycles of my own in Israel and I do know a little of what it is about. Needles in the arm and butt, plus the ultrasounds to check how the eggs are coming along and the blood tests. I think I really hated the blood tests for pregnancy the worst. You would go in with hopes. Really hoping for this to be the one, but to have the girl at the other end of the phone who probably hated giving the bad news as much as the recipient felt down at receiving it, say that no, this time no.
I remember doing three pregnancy tests in one day, just before my blood test in December 2002 to confirm my pregnancy. I got different tests just to make sure and it was mind blowing seeing that heart beat on the ultrasound screen and through out my pregnancy I blessed the woman who made it all possible. I still do and I hope one day my son will meet her again and she will see what a fine young man he is growing up to be.
However, I do not think she would consider herself the biological mother of the children that were created through her generous donations to create families. I consider her a genetic mother, but biological, I do not think so. A lot more research needs to be done. And it probably is being done at this very moment.
A genetic mother means that a small part of the beginning of a new human being was made possible by some person contributing to a child being made. It is very different to sperm donation. A man contributes sperm half the genetic material to create a child , but does not carry that child within him for nine months and have his blood and hormones pumping through the child and nourishing him for all those hours, weeks and months.  I do know that there are people who can give birth to children and abandon them to hospitals or institutions because these children are not perfect or they are 'flawed'. If you ask me honestly, I could not do that.
One of the most painful stories I ever heard while taxi driving was a girl who was left in Shepparton hospital over forty years ago because she had 'water on the brain' and some other health problems.  I used to do a lot of the government fares for people with disabilities and I took this courageous woman several times. The first time she told me her story, I sat in the car by the side of the road and wept for half an hour and thought how could someone do that to a baby. Just leave it in the hospital like something unwanted despite that connection of carrying it within and even a genetic connection. Luckily she was given up for adoption and a wonderful family adopted her and raised her as their own.
There are women who are surrogates and these women are also special women in that they help others to have children. I think it must be a wrench for them to give up the child after nine months.  It is a very difficult and sensitive situation and it calls on the women who do do this to have a lot of love for others. In some countries in the UK women are paid but that does not make it something that others would do without thought or for money. It is more than money and it is more than just being able to get pregnant easily and having babies for others.
If I had been in my late twenties and early thirties and had had a family after being through what I went through, I would definitely do a cycle for a person unable to produce her own eggs for what ever reason.  I think to have a child or to have children and a family is what women are created to do with a man as their partner/ husband / spouse. (I do know and acknowledge for some that my 'limited' perception of what I consider family is repugnant and narrow, but I am not defending that here and now.) It is a natural and strong desire within most of us. Most of us want children and not just for narcissistic reasons. We learn so much about ourselves in caring for someone else. We become deeper and more fulfilled human beings. We deal on a daily basis with situations that broaden and deepen our responses to another through our child or children. We have to. We cannot pull out of the relationship and say, I am outa here, this is in the too hard basket. A small child depends on us for many things and we need to fulfil at least the basic requirements if not much more to sustain that child and help him or her to develop into a whole and healthy human being and he or she depends on us for protection, emotional and psychological nurture.
A genetic parent does not have the responsibilities of a biological parent and it was never intended that they should. That is asking more than should be from an already generous and caring human being who has her own family needs to meet. It is the duty and responsibility of the biological parent to support and nurture the child in every way. The problems start when biological parents feel they cannot deal with what most parents worth their salt, see as part and parcel of being a parent. When a biological parent reneges on his or her responsibility and feels that he or she can just dump a kid because they fall into the 'too hard basket', then that neglect is a form of child abuse. It means that person is a limited and flawed parent and needs help being a better parent. However, they have to recognise that and seek help or allow themselves to be helped to be a better parent. It is when they absolutely deny that there is anything wrong, that becomes very problematic.
I do not want to get people angry, but we are very spoilt in this day and age. There are people who deal with kids with multiple disabilities and those kids are loved and cared for by their families and made a real part of the family. If you cannot deal with your sibling or child or grandchild with a disability, that is your problem. G-D sets each soul, each person into this world for a reason. It is to teach those around him or her how to be better and more caring and deeper individuals on a level that they would not necessarily have reached without the challenges. Einstein was considered stupid and inarticulate for many years.Look what happened there. Plenty of people with disabilities have hidden genuis.  It just has to be revealed and shown for what it is. I read the most disgusting manuscript once and it came across as all about the writer who fostered an aboriginal kid with some health issues and then she ended up giving him up to DOCS when he was nine or ten. I found myself fuming with anger at the patronising and sanctimonous tone of the writing and what she wrote revealed more about her deficiencies as a person and I came away admiring this poor kid for having to endure what he did healthwise and having to deal with the woman who fostered him.
Everything G-D gives us is a test and the thing is not to give up and to see it out to the bitter end whatever is thrown at us. It is all for the greater good and we must pray and hope and pray some more for things to go well for us and that we get work at some stage this year, sooner rather than later. Tests are about refining the soul and to be a better person in all ways. That does not mean putting oneself in danger or others and to keep away from people and things that are detrimental to the health of yours truly and those you love.


marilynn said...

Here is a link from the American pregnancy Association that explains that a pregnant woman's blood does not reach the fetuz. The blood of the fetus does not mingle with the blood of the pregnant woman either. The fetus develops by splitting its own cells. The pregnant woman simply provides a place for the fetus to develop itself and provides nutrition to the developing fetus.

I was confused by all the talk of some difference between a biological and genetic parent. How can there possibly be a difference when genes are biological and biology is inherently genetic? Housing a developing fetus is a biological process for the pregnant woman but if the fetus is not her offspring then whatever biological relationship she has to the fetus won't outlast the pregnancy. Whoever is the female who reproduced is the biological mother she does not loose points for failing to gestate or failing to raise her offspring shed still pass the test for biological maternity of her own offspring. I know you said thatgiving one cell should not make her a biological mother but motherhood starts after her offspring are born not before. That's why they are referred to as expectant mothers or expectant fathers under the law. Their offspring will share 51 and 49 percent of their biology their genetics with each of their parents its just a fact that they are biologically related to their own parents. When doctors ask for their mothers health history or the health of their maternal relatives the doctor means the woman who they share half their biology with not the unrelated woman who delivered them as an infant. Her health might be an interesting as side if she was sick during pregnancy or if she drank but if she had a health pregnancy she would only be allowing the fetus to develop with no negative influence to retard development.

I have reunited a lot of families separated by absentee parents who were gamete donors.I have yet to talk to anyone pining away wfor their gestational carrier. Why would they look for her they are not related to her or her relatives. Her other kids are not their siblings. Nobody remembers being born anyway. They do death hard for their mothers who were egg donors though despite the lack of pregnancy because lack of pregnancy did not alter the fact they are still her offspring. From the perspective of her sons and daughters its the same as if she gave birth and then left them. It is not signifi significant that she let nother woman to carry and deliver them. The big deal is that she let another woman raise them. Why?

marilynn said...

I meant to say they search hard for their mothers, not they
'death' hard for their mothers! Auto correct needs some refinement still!