Guest Post by IVF Dad
“All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” ~ Helen Keller
Being an in vitro fertilization (IVF) parent is a blessing. We are not going to discuss the hours, days, weeks, months, years spent dealing with infertility either as a single person or as a couple in a marriage. It is very traumatic and only the person who has undergone the trauma truly understands it because each journey of infertility or dysfertility and IVF is unique and different. We are going to discuss the dos and donts of international IVF. What are some of the issues that may come up when engaging in international IVF? We will look at specific cases, the different laws in different countries on who the “parent” is and how immigration laws can affect you and your IVF child as an IVF parent? Sometimes in our hurry and trauma in dealing with infertility, we deal with emotions rather than laws and that may leave a situation which is even more traumatic than NOT having a child. The simple fact is there are NO consistent set of international laws for IVF/surrogacy unlike international adoption. We are still in its infancy and hopefully before the end of this century, we will have EQUAL rights for all including innocent, voiceless IVF children.
What is so special about IVF pregnancy?
A typical profile of an IVF parent can be summarized as below. This is not an exhaustive list but tries to capture the “moment in the journey” of an IVF parent.
1) First, a person becomes an IVF parent because of infertility issues which in itself is very traumatic to deal with. There should be no added burden on an IVF family with UNEQUAL LAWS for the IVF child and family.
2) Second, an IVF pregnancy requires co-ordination, efforts, assistance, finances, and above all blessings from multiple people and agencies. With current success ratio of about 33% for IVF pregnancies resulting in children, it is a very emotional, traumatic, anxious time for an IVF family.
3) Third, if you are engaging in an international IVF then immigration laws kick in and the local laws of the country where you plan to do IVF and how immigration and the local laws “define” parentage.
Below is a chart describing the different scenarios to have an IVF child. There are eight different ways to have an IVF child, do the current laws adequately address ALL the eight ways to define parentage? Are we trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? And as you can begin to understand, when you cross international boundaries, it only gets more complicated. Depending on the local laws and immigration laws, the “parentage” is defined separately. This can deeply affect a parent-child relationship including separation requiring very tough decisions which may be more traumatic than dealing with the trauma of infertility or dysfertility.
Socially our beliefs maybe that “biological link” and “gender” of a parent does not matter for a child, it is the love for the child. However, the immigration laws are not the same. And this is a key difference to understand in international IVF as it can have a lifetime of implications on the IVF parent and the innocent IVF child.
“It is a brave and honest person who can stand apart from the masses and openly challenge its most treasured beliefs.” ~ Donna Evans
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 law.
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 because his IVF child cannot come to the US. 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?
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.
As per a June 2011 US government report, the right answer is for the laws to catch up with IVF technology.
In this article, we have discussed about IVF parents and how differences in laws affects their relationship with their IVF child and them. Equal rights for IVF children is a separate discussion.
"If you agree it is time to have equal rights for IVF children and families,
please sign the petition and become part of CHANGE."
Guest Posts that are published are solely to supply information to others that might find a post beneficial for informational purposes only.