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When toddlers attack

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How's your love life?

The following notice was posted on the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center's family services webpage.  It's a Bay Area-based study of gay male parents of new babies, and what effect aforementioned babies have on their sex lives.  I'm guessing... not a positive one?


Participation from Male Same-Sex Parents Requested for Research Study


My name is Felix and I am a Ph.D. student of Sexology at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS) in San Francisco. I am currently working on my dissertation and conducting a qualitative research study on male same-sex couples who have had their first adoptive or biological child and are within their first year as new parents. The purpose of the study is to explore any changes in sexual patterns or behavior that male same-sex parents may have experienced during their first year of parenthood and determine what sexual factors, if any, may have come into play in their relationship as well as in their parenting experience. 

I am looking for nine male same-sex couples who would be willing to participate in a single's and couple's in-depth interview, as well as in a one-time focus group to openly discuss the potential changes they may have experienced in their sexuality as new parents. The total time commitment would be approximately 4 hours.

The participants will have to meet five criteria for inclusion in the sample:
1. Must be first-time parents 
2. Must be the parents of only one child
3. Child must be 18 months old or younger
4. Must have a minimum of six months of parenting experience
5. Couples must have been in a relationship for a minimum of two years prior to becoming parents

Interested or inquisitive gay parents may contact me by phone at 415-531-4969 or send e-mail to me at chakool666@gmail.com. You may also contact the Dean of Students, Dr. Thomas E. Gertz, at 415-928-1133 ext. 33 for any other questions.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hooray for Saveypood

It was an achingly beautiful weekend here -- 80 degrees, brilliant sun and crystal clear air.  Adrián and I loaded the doberman into the car and headed up to Runyon Canyon, a collection of undeveloped peaks and trails above Hollywood.  It´s sort of like L.A.´s town square, where porn stars, Russian mafia, gay gym rats and Vietnamese grandmas all rub elbows.  From the hilltops you could see all the way from the still-snowcapped San Gabriel mountains to the east to the Channel Islands off the coast. 

My family's lived in L.A. since 1915 or so, which would make us one of the city's oldest landmarks... if anyone knew who we were.  L.A. has a depressing fondness for tearing down notable landmarks, usually favorite hangouts of us locals, so they can put up more multi-level faux Mediterranean strip malls.  Now, it's not the Parthenon, it's not the Eiffel Tower, but the Hollywood Sign is all we've got (well, now we have the Disney Concert Hall but it loses international icon points because it looks just like the Guggenheim in Bilbao).

 So it was nice to to look across Cahuenga Pass, just east of Runyon, and see this:

A coalition of environmentalists and preservationists draped L.A.'s ersatz icon with letters reading "save the peak," trying to raise 12.5 million dollars to purchase the land just adjacent to the Hollywood Sign so evil developers can't build six luxury mansions right next to the "H."  So far, they've come up with eight million and are hoping private citizens will contribute the rest:  http://www.savehollywoodland.org/

Evidently, for about a day, the sign read "SAVEYPOOD" until they finished draping the letters.  It gave me a five minute attack of the giggles.  It still makes me laugh.  I don't know why I find it so funny. 

I can see the sign today from our office window and it's back to "HOLLYWOOD."

Now that I think about it, isn't Saveypood a city near Bangalore?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Article in "El País"

Evidently, the Spanish government ruled last year that it will recognize children born to surrogacy overseas -- if only for the good of the children and not their pesky, irresponsible parents.  El País is generally excellent but, like all Spanish media, they have an unfortunate fondness for the term "madre de alquiler;" that is, "rent-a-mom."

This article ran last year in "El País:"

Los hijos de 'madres de alquiler' se pueden inscribir en el registro



Justicia rectifica y permite la inscripción de dos niños concebidos por una pareja gay por gestación subrogada en California


EMILIO DE BENITO - Madrid - 10/03/2009

Son hijos de españoles y viven en España, pero estaban a punto de convertirse en sin papeles. Los dos niños -de los que los padres no quieren dar más datos- nacieron en octubre en San Diego (California), pero el consulado español no quiso inscribirlos en el correspondiente registro como hijos de españoles. La razón: en el certificado de nacimiento que les dieron no figuraba ninguna madre y sí dos padres, el matrimonio de dos hombres españoles que había donado su semen para que una mujer llevara a cabo la gestación por ellos.

Según dijo entonces la directora general de Registros y Notariados, Pilar Blanco-Morales, como esta práctica está prohibida en España, los padres habían cometido un "fraude de ley" al recurrir a la técnica en California, donde es legal. Hoy se ha sabido que la misma dirección dictaminó en febrero que los niños podían ser inscritos.

La resolución, que firma la propia Blanco-Morales, establece que "siempre es preferible proceder a dicha inscripción en nombre del interés superior del menor". Con ello se abre la puerta para casos futuros, ya que hay al menos media docena de parejas de gays que, ante las dificultades para adoptar, han recurrido a esta técnica para tener sus hijos.
But of course, it says nothing about what happens when a Spaniard has a baby via surrogacy in India and tries to bring the baby back to his home in the U.S.

No good answers

We're still trying to figure out exactly what situation Spanish intended parents would face in India -- the article below says that they basically face a legal vacuum.

Vientres de alquiler, una opción en alza
Ethafne


La maternidad subrogada, comúnmente conocida como “vientre de alquiler”, es una opción en alza. Una práctica prohibida en España pero no en otros países como Estados Unidos, que reciben anualmente a cientos de personas en busca de su sueño. La única salida para todos aquellos que ven en ésta la oportunidad de formar una familia.


Más de 4.000 mujeres son las que han recurrido en Estados Unidos a un vientre de alquiler para ser madres, según datos estadísticos; entre ellas, la conocida actriz Sharon Stone que, a sus 47 años, optó por la maternidad subrogada para ser madre por segunda vez.

Una técnica que consiste en la estimulación ovárica de la mujer y como consecuencia a ésta la extracción de los óvulos que son fertilizados con los espertamotozoides del padre, lo que da paso a la formación de embriones. Estos embriones son implantados en el vientre de alquiler. En este caso, se procede a la fecundación in Vitro (FIV) con los óvulos de la madre biológica y con los espermatozoides del padre elegido o donantes en su defecto. Cuando los óvulos de la madre biológica no son óptimos, se procede directamente a la inseminación artificial (IAD) del vientre subrogado con el esperma del padre o donante.

En España todavía esta opción es ilegal según la Ley de Reproducción Asistida, ya que para nuestra legislación, la madre es siempre aquella que pare. Sin embargo, después de la aprobación en la Ley de reproducción asistida española de la gestación de la mujer de forma individual, quedaría por cubrir un importante hueco a la paternidad en solitario o el mismo derecho del hombre a ser padre solo, dado que igualmente un hombre tendría derecho a su libre paternidad y en igual de condiciones que en el supuesto de una mujer sola. Sin embargo, dado que en España esta opción no está permitida, al igual que muchas parejas (heterosexuales u homosexuales) que no pueden concebir, se encuentran excluidos de estos derechos. Hoy, en España se puede ser madre sola, pero no padre solo.

Estados Unidos es, por tanto, la gran puerta abierta cuando el derecho a la maternidad o la paternidad choca con obstáculos. De hecho, las estadísticas apuntan a que en Norteamérica las parejas homosexuales que recurren a esta práctica son cada vez más.

Su prohibición en la mayoría de los países europeos hace que muchas personas tengan que pasar por viajes nada ajustados al bolsillo y que tan solo unos pocos se lo puedan permitir. Tener un hijo con un vientre alquilado cuesta como mínimo 100.000 dólares, de los cuales la madre sustituta cobra unos 25.000 y la madre biológica, que aporta el óvulo, entre 4.000 y 10.000 dólares. El resto va para la agencia especializada, los gastos médicos y los abogados.


También figuran como habituales en la maternidad subrogada países como Gran Bretaña, Israel, Rusia, India o México. Ahora bien, excepto EE.UU., el resto de los países mencionados figuran como habituales en esta práctica pero se desconoce hasta qué punto las leyes gubernamentales de éstos la respaldan y, sobre todo, si dan garantías suficientes en la protección de los derechos de ambas partes.


Aunque Estados Unidos sea uno de los países más permisivos en este sentido, no todos sus Estados lo permiten; aquellos en los que la maternidad subrogada está prohibida son Washington, Michigan, Utah, Arizona, Nuevo México y Nueva York. California es considerado el Estado más liberal en este ámbito.

En India, también es posible. El ICMIR (Consejo Médico de Investigación de la India), organismo que rige la carrera médica en el país, controla que las madres de alquiler no superen los 45 años, que pasen la prueba del VIH y que no tomen drogas, entre otras características. En este país el precio oscila alrededor de los 30.000 dólares. Eso sí, las mujeres que alquilan su vientre en India corren el gran riesgo de ser rechazadas por la sociedad. Y las garantías no son las de las agencias estadounidenses.

Por otro lado y, aunque parezca mentira, debido al control de la natalidad por parte del Gobierno, en China también prolifera esta práctica y eso que desde 2001 el Gobierno dejó claro su prohibición. El diario “China Daily” publicaba tiempo atrás que son, sobre todo, las parejas de clase alta las que demandan esta forma de tener hijos. Quizá porque son los únicos que se pueden permitir pagar los más de seis mil dólares que cuesta el proceso. Las parejas chinas pagan por una madre de alquiler cerca de los 30.000 euros.


El hecho de recurrir a una madre de alquiler para que lleve en su vientre al bebé hasta el momento de su nacimiento, ha demostrado ser una elección que ha dado muy buenos resultados para poder ayudar a las parejas infértiles a tener bebés. No obstante, este procedimiento también ha resultado ser bastante controvertido y, en algunos casos, conlleva problemas emocionales.

Una opción que revoluciona nuevamente la idea de familia tradicional y una práctica cada vez más difundida que cuestiona la actual Ley de Reproducción Asistida. Con todo esto, solo se puede decir que la realidad es la que es y el dilema está servido…

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nocturnal admissions

Adrián initiated our first, really serious "wow, maybe we're really going to do this India thing" conversation the other night.  Trouble is, he chose when we were already in bed and I was already cleared for takeoff for a good night's sleep.

We talked for about an hour about how to finance the baby-making project.  We've signed the papers to unload our horrible shack in Sacramento, where we met and lived for five years before moving down to L.A.  For three years we've been hemorrhaging money on the first of the month as we pay the mortgage on a house we no longer live in nor want. Because we bought at the top of the market when I was swept up in the buy-a-house epidemic ("honey, we HAVE to buy a house or we'll be permanently priced out!"), we could never rent it out for anything that even approached what we paid each month.  But now... just maybe (and the documents ARE all  signed and faxed)... the bank has agreed to sell the hateful structure for much less than what we paid.  YAY!  (I hope.)

So surrogacy is something we can consider, once we undo some of the past five years of financial damage the dreaded blood-sucking house has been in our lives.  Our financing options:
  • We save (yeah, in a perfect world, but that takes time and we're OLD, if I had a biological clock it'd be clanging, and the price of surrogacy in India keeps climbing)
  • We take out a loan on my mom's house (hey, she WANTS a grandchild, right?  Besides, the house needs landscaping)
  • Hey!  I know!  We'll put it on a credit card!  (Uh... no.)
 So we decided that we could work out the specifics at some future date and that financing would probably involve a combination of the above options one and two.  Within five minutes Don Dormilón was twitching happily in his sleep and my mind was turning a thousand revolutions a minute.  Are we too old?  Almost everyone going through the process is more or less our age, including our friends in Pasadena who now have a baby son through surrogacy.  But what's it like to be 70 with a son or daughter just graduated from college (wait... that was my dad's situation, he was 43 when I was born). 

And then there's our genetic material -- are our sperm past their expiration date?  That's what a friend of mine said when I told him we were considering surrogacy.  "Oh, don't do that," he said.  "They keep the women in tents... and fathers over the age of 40 are more likely to have autistic kids."  Sure enough, I found the report online... older dads have been linked to autism and all sorts of other nasty congenital conditions (hee hee... I said genital).  My friend went on to suggest that we don't make enough money to have children, since it costs $20,000 a year to send children to school in Los Angeles.

I told him that middle-class people are entitled to have children too.  I still want to do this.

I finally drifted off to sleep, after 20 minutes of playing mahjongg solitaire.  At four a.m., Argos, our 120-pound doberman, decided that he was a little chilly and our bed looked SO much warmer.  He wedged his way between us, pulling the blankets off me.

I gave up on sleep and staggered to the kitchen to make coffee.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A new beginning for an old blog

This was originally the blog we used to help get people from the States to Spain for our wedding.  I promised to post wedding photos on here, but somehow, one thing led to another and the pictures were never uploaded.  Besides, everyone had already seen them on Facebook, aside from Adrián's Tía Eulalia, who rides a Vespa at age 75 but doesn't have a computer.

Blogging -- especially when I've tried it -- has always seemed the ultimate in navel-gazing.  Some people -- political analysts, presidents and prime ministers, Nobel Prize winners -- have very interesting blogs, I'm sure (though if they're that interesting, how do they have time to blog?).  But I'm not sure anyone is all that interested in how I cleaned up the dog poop in the back yard this morning or wants to hear my observations on L.A. traffic (though I imagine both topics will creep in here occasionally as they each occupy quite a bit of our time).

This is different.  In the past few weeks I've read all the blogs I could find dealing with Indian surrogacy and have found them enormously helpful as we contemplate a process that is at best daunting and expensive and at worst heartbreaking -- and fucking terrifying.  The surrogacy industry in India is relatively new and as yet fairly unregulated, so the best source of support and information I've found is the worldwide community of people who have gone or are going through the process.  That's why I'm offering forth my brain droppings for all to read, to solicit help and support, and to offer it to anyone going down this road after us.