The news scrolled across the bottom of my screen and I had to scrub my eyes to be sure I was reading it correctly. “Openly gay actor, Neil Patrick Harris, and partner, David Burtka, expecting twins.” Two men “expecting twins?” How, exactly, does that work? Expecting twins to do what?
As I learned more, the facts became clear. Harris, of Doogie Howser and How I Met Your Mother fame, and his lover have retained a surrogate womb to incubate twins. Whose sperm and whose eggs are being used to produce the twins is unclear. In their press statements, Harris and David continually emphasized the word, “normal.” One sentence even had them speaking over each other as Neil begins, “...We get to do it a normal (then David interjecting: normal) way – like people would normally (then David interjecting again: emphasis on the word, 'normal') do.” They used the word “normal” four times within two seconds of audio. Methinks they doth protest too much.
How exactly is it “normal” for two men to retain a surrogate womb (for fee, I presume) to birth twins? Perhaps someone can help me understand that.
In fact, it is deeply concerning. Intentionally creating the lives of two children and then intentionally denying those children the love of a mother is, I believe, wrong. It reeks of selfishness. How can anyone bless as normal the decision to deprive two children of experiencing the ongoing, daily unconditional love of a mother? Many families are forced to cope without a mother as a necessary response to exigencies of life. However, Harris and Burtka are doing it on purpose. No person or couple should ever set out from the beginning to deprive children of the presence of their mother.
In America today, we often have the conversation regarding how fathers matter. Such a conversation is crucial in a culture where over 40% of children were born to single mothers last year. But now, we have to engage in a conversation on whether mothers really matter. There is nothing normal about this.
Mothers are unique. They hold children in ways that men do not. Research demonstrates how a mother's touch nurtures, calms, and soothes. In contrast, a father's touch stimulates and energizes a child. Children need both. Mothers and fathers are not interchangeable parts in an assembly line; they complement one another. When both are present, children thrive. Why intentionally set up a child never to have any chance to experience those complements from the outset of life?Children have rights. After all, they are human beings, real persons in their own right. They are not pets or accessories. They do not exist merely to make their parents happy or to make them look good in public. In the same statements mentioned above, Harris noted how he and Burtka already work all the time, so he guesses that they will just have to give up sleep. In other words, “We are bringing children into the world on purpose, but we do not have much room for them, nor for a mother. Please celebrate this news with us!”
The couple's behavior smacks not only of selfishness but of consumerism at its zenith. Retaining a surrogate to satisfy a desire that they cannot fulfill themselves. Denying the nurturing role of a mother because children in this couple's world revolve around adults and exist to bring satisfaction to the “parents.”
Children thrive when they know who their life-giving parents are. They also deserve to know those parents as fully and completely as possible. After all, those parents serve as the primary source of identity, genetics, and self by virtue of their procreative role. Children also deserve to know that their lives were created in an act of love as the foundation from which their existence springs rather than from an act of selfishness sought on the open market or from a sperm catalog or an egg bank.
When a child's welfare and future are at stake, adults come second. Harris and Burtka do not seem to get that. This is all about them and what they want and their desire to play a giant game of pretend.
We are “expecting twins.” No, really, you are not. Your relationship may be loving and fulfilling in many ways for you, but it is intrinsically incapable of producing a new life. And your selfish actions at the expense of children are anything but normal.