Dear Neighbors to the North,
Several weeks ago, the very first Belgian surrogate mother fair took place in Brussels. Here, especially North-American agencies offered their services to gay and lesbian couples. Surrogate motherhood is not regulated in Belgium, and there are quite a lot of legal issues that are in need of regulation.
That is why Belgian couples with a desire to have children often look abroad to see what is possible there, and how they can enforce regulation in their own country, with or without the necessary media attention. Because that is how the cookie crumbles.
The Belgian press has given the fair ample attention. All the experts and parties concerned that wanted to say something about the subject were given more than enough space in the media. Gay and lesbian couples that want to have children and representatives of the agencies from the USA and Canada spoke, insisting that their noble intentions were not commercial. But because someone says something a thousand times, it does not make it so.
The interviewed wish parents also did not see the services on offer as something commercial. The compensation they have to pay, for which many have to turn to a bank for a loan, would be used to cover expenses for the surrogate mothers. These costs would include maternity leave, health insurance, delivery and hospital costs, etc. The agency also wants a compensation for their services, although nobody seems to know how much exactly. After looking at some of the websites of these agencies, I cannot find any fixed amount, not even an indication. These agencies haven’t heard of financial transparency.
These (commercial) surrogate mother fairs in essence are about the desire to have children homosexual couples have, and how to fulfil this. A desire to have children is something special, both for straight and gay/lesbian couples. Growing up in a catholic family, they made me believe that God had told all the parents to conceive children, to continue life on this planet. Even as a child I thought that was nonsense, until female friends started admitting to their desire to have children in young adulthood.
When I asked them what that was exactly, they were unable to answer the question. Only when I was in my early thirties and was still waiting for an answer, it became painfully clear to me what that desire truly meant, even though I never felt it myself. A desire to have children is a feeling, nothing more, nothing less, that the partner with that desire is secretly hoping that their partnership will continue to last when there are children involved. A desire to have children, at least in my opinion, is deferred separation anxiety.
Marriage as an institution is another example of this. I can no longer count the times I have asked someone why he or she wants to get married, and the answer is that they hope that their partner will no longer cheat after the wedding ceremony. And the number of separations is on the increase.
Then there’s the thought that a desire to have children also seems a very selfish wish. Person X or couple Y wants a child at all costs. No one with a desire to have children has to answer for the calamities these children will have to face. Luckily, there are some individuals who realize that it is neither logical nor responsible to increase the world population. I also think it is irresponsible.