Monday, December 1, 2008

Insensitivity Via Fertilization

As the economy collapses and millions of children around the world await adoption to a loving home, what does the “New York Times Magazine” (11.30.08) choose as its cover story? Her Body, My Baby by Alex Kuczynski, a writer for the paper – and, unsurprisingly, the author of a book titled “Beauty Junkies” – who laid out 25 grand (in addition to the tens of thousands of dollars she spent on failed rounds of I.V.F.) to “rent” the womb of a surrogate mom, and goes to near apologetic lengths to justify her narcissism. (Longing for a genetic attachment to her child and unable to carry a pregnancy to term, Kuczynski felt it just made sense that Cathy – who has a husband and children of her own and wasn’t living in poverty, hence she had to have been doing it for more than college tuition for the kids – would bear the burden for nine months.)

“She wasn’t desperate for the money, so our relationship wouldn’t have to feel like a purely commercial enterprise, or a charitable one,” Kuczynski writes. Somehow it would be easier to believe her sincerity if the lead photo accompanying the article didn’t include Kuczynski’s African-American “baby nurse,” dressed in servant white and standing at attention beside mother and newborn on their plantation-like, Southampton front lawn.


Matt Maul said...

I agree.

While reading the article, it struck that the author seemed to be afflicted with an ironic twist on Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

A few points:

- The "baby nurse" (Margo Clements) jumped out at me too.

- This statement by Kuczynski seemed particularly lame:

We considered connecting with one woman who lived in the South but changed our minds when we tried to figure out how our child would explain why he was born in a state that his parents had never visited before his conception.

How in the hell would any of Max's friends EVER find out that small detail? It's just absurd.

- Third, apparently being a baby surrogate is a middle-class entitlement:

Lawyers and surrogacy advocates will tell you that they don’t accept poor women as surrogates for a number of reasons. Shirley Zager told me that the arrangement might feel coercive for someone living in real poverty. Poor women, she also told me, are less likely to be in stable relationships, in good health and of appropriate weight.

- Finally, the statement that really struck me as proof of her narcissism:

But extraordinary circumstances, I discovered, bring out extraordinary reactions in some people. I least expected jealousy.

Please lady, get over yourself!

Lauren Wissot said...

Fortunately, judging from the article's online comments section, saner heads prevail. Here's one of my faves from Pupster, NYC:

"It's rather disgusting to give this spoiled brat and her rich sugar daddy such a platform to revel in their sense of accomplishment/exploitation. The NYT should consider that more weighty events are occurring in this world."