Surrogacy and the American Dream
People from all walks of life yearn for the American dream. This is a national set of ethos in which individual in the United States have the chance to access success and opportunity, in effect also benefiting form upward social mobility borne of hard work. As such, one’s circumstances of birth or social class should not stand in the way for the pursuit of the American Dream. We have witnessed an increasingly higher number of people from various parts of the world seeking for Green Cards to gain entry into the United States and hopefully, become U.S citizens as well. This way, they hope to seize the rare opportunity of pursuing the American Dream. There are many couples from around the world who are not able to conceive but thanks to the concept of surrogacy, you can now find another woman to carry your child on your behalf (Kamp, 2009).
The laws in the United States regarding the issue of surrogacy are not very stringent and for this reason, many couples from all over the world find it easier to make arrangements with women from around the world to carry their child on their behalf. Once the child is born in the United States, he/she automatically becomes U.S citizen for the simple reason that the child was born in the U. S. Therefore, such children have the opportunity to pursue the American Dream, not to mention that they are also dual citizens given that their actual parents are not from the United States. In this paper, we shall endeavor to explore how surrogacy has given people their American Dream.
The American Dream is a term used in reference to the aspect of allowing Americans to enjoy freedom that also entails the opportunity for success and prosperity, along with upward mobility realized through hard work. Essentially, the American Dream should make richer, better, and fuller for Americans of all walks of life, regardless of their circumstances of birth or social class (Lewis-Long , 2012 ). In fact, the U.S Declaration of Independence upholds the notion of the American Dream through its proclamation that “all men are created equal” (Kamp, 2009). The Declaration of Independence further notes that our Creator has endowed each one of us with specific inalienable Rights such as Liberty, Life, as well as pursuit of Happiness.
On the basis of the foregoing argument as upheld by the U.S Declaration of Independence, we can at least identify four American dreams based on consumer culture. One of these four dreams is the “Dream of Abundance”, in which all Americans should have an equal chance to pursue and possess material goods, in effect becoming among the richest society in the entire globe. We also have the Dream of accessing goods democratically, in which every American has the right to access similar products in spite of his/her gender, race, class, or ethnicity (Rhodes, 2011). This notion appear to challenge most of the existing aristocratic norms that characterize other parts of the world whereby only the well-connected and the very rich can actually access luxury. We also have the “Dream of Freedom of Choice”, in which people are free to choose and practice their lifestyle of choice. The “Dream of Novelty” is the fourth dream, whereby the American consumers’ experience has been broadened by the ever changing new models, fashions, as well as unexpected novel products (AFP, 2008). Consequently, they have become more experienced in terms of their awareness of the market and purchasing skills.
Scholars have recognized that there are various conceptions regarding the yardstick with which the American Dream is measured (Lewis-Long , 2012 ). Nonetheless, the quest for wealth and by extension, money, appears to be fairly consistent. There is no denying it that Americans are very passionate about pursuing the dollar. This is further enhanced by the fact that the United States is a capitalist society. Therefore, every one wishes to live in a nice house, drive a nice car, and leave in a leafy neighborhood. These are the measures of success in the American society. However, one cannot enjoy the opportunity to pursue this kind of life if at all he/she is not an American citizen. In order to become an American citizen, one must be born in the United States.
Alternatively, one can acquire a Green Card, thereby applying to become an American citizen through legal means. Another way of becoming an American citizen is if your spouse is an American citizen. In recent years however, a number of children have ended up becoming American citizens through surrogacy. In this case, surrogacy has enabled people to live the American dream in two ways. On the one hand, we have children born of surrogate mothers, whose biological parents are American citizens. These have gone ahead to become American citizens, thereby enjoying the successes and opportunities that goes with the American Dream (Nhi, 2011). On the other hand, we have childless couple, same-sex partners, and single parents who are already successful, famous, and rich, but have no children. To them, the American Dream cannot be complete without a family, or at least without children. Having explored all other options, they realize that surrogacy is the one key that shall enable them to live the American Dream.
In order to purse the American dream, one needs all the time that he/she can get because everybody is pursuing the ever diminishing resources and the few opportunities. It is important to note that the very act of giving birth normally stands in the way of people who would want to pursue the American Dream (Ross, 2010). Therefore, some of the Americans opt to look for surrogate mothers, so that they can carry the baby up to birth, while their parents pursue the American Dream. Surrogacy has also enabled gay couples to enjoy their sexuality and at the same time, have children as well. This is a good indication of the freedom that we enjoy in the United States, in that even gay couples can be parents as well, thanks to surrogacy.
For many American couple, the American Dream cannot be complete without children. For this reason, most childless couple view adopting a child is the most logical thing to do. However, upon investigating the process of adopting a child either in the United States or abroad, they often discover that adoption can be a very lengthy, frustrating, and costly procedure (Li 2012). Furthermore, some of the third world countries such as Vietnam have made it hard for childless couple from other parts of the worlds (mainly the developed world) to adopt children. In a quest to fulfill their desires, such couples end up getting the services of a surrogate mother.
The first IVF baby was born in the United States in 1978 and since then, we have witnessed a skyrocketing of IVF (Gugucheva, 2010). In 2007, the CDC estimates that there were more than 57,000 births in the United States. Policymakers and health scientists have not paid a lot of attention to the market for surrogate workers but available statistics shows that the IVF practice has gained a lot of popularity in the United States, in recent years. For example, between 2004 and 2008, gestational surrogate babies grew by 89 percent.
Indeed, surrogacy has gained a lot of popularity in such emerging economies as China and India. Most of the clients are normally the infertile couples, although we also have single parents, as well as same-sex couples. Normally, a U.S citizen male shall be required to provide a sperm so that it can be sued to fertilize the donor egg through what is known as in vitro fertilization. An anonymous donor could also provide the donor egg for fertilization. Thereafter, the ensuing embryos are often implanted into what is commonly referred to as gestational surrogate mother. Since one genetic parent happens to be a U.S citizen, once the child is born, he/she automatically qualifies to become a U.S citizen as well (Li, 2012). As such, the child can then enjoy the opportunities and successes that often characterize the American Dream, such as the ability to amass wealth regardless of one’s racial, ethnic, or religious background, as well as the freedom to pursue happiness without having to worry about the color of one’s skin or family background.
Lewis-Long (2012) contends that more than 1.2 million women in the US undertake infertility treatment every year. Each year, U.S citizens are estimated to adopt approximately 120,000 children. This just goes to show the extent to which American couples are prepared to go in order to have children. However, even when all these attempts fail, couples can still explore the option of engaging the services of a surrogate mother. Since 1976, it is estimated that over 25,000 surrogate births have taken place in the United States. At the same time, over 250,000 babies have been born in the United States via IVF technique. IVF gives infertile couples the chance to have a child that they share a biological relationship with. This can be a far more fulfilling achievement for many American childless couples, more than even adoption.
As a people, we always work hard and seize every opportunity that we see today so that our future is secured. In addition, we also work hard so that our children can have a better life than we did. This is part of the American Dream. For those couples who do not have children, the very thought of being childless could act as a hindrance to their attempts to pursue the American Dream relentlessly without and hindrances (Lewis-Long, 2012). Some Americans may feel as if there is no need to work very hard for the simple reason that once they are old or when they pass on, there will be nobody to leave their wealth to. However, with the IVF technology, childless couples can now get children. Even same sex couples and single parents can also get children. As such, they all now have enough reason to work even harder so that they can live a better life in the future, as well as provide for their children too.
All of us would want to have a child that we can call “our own”. In other words, we take a lot of pride in children with whom we share a genetic link. However, this does not mean that adopted children are not loved, far from the case. What this means is that an individual is more likely to enjoy a fulfilling life when he/she has a child who possess his/her genetic makeup. It is only when such a strategy fails that the individual may then decide to adopt a child. With surrogacy however, the child and the couple share a genetic link. Through surrogacy, the intended parents are also able to emotionally invest in the surrogate mother’s pregnancy.
Hanson and Zogby (2010) have sought to examine various opinion polls regarding the issue of the American Dream since the 1980s. In their reports, the authors have endeavored to assess what the term American Dream means to different Americans, along with what they expect in the near future. According to the polls conducted by Hanson and Zogby (2010), most Americans ranked the spiritual happiness and general wellbeing of their families ahead of material wealth in as far as the fulfillment of the American Dream is concerned. Most of the Americans recognize that the only way to achieve the American Dream is to work hard and fulfill their ambitions. On the other hand, there has also been an increase in the number of minorities who are convinced that determination and hard work is not always a guarantee of success. Considering that spiritual happiness is widely recognized by many Americans as one of the key pillars of the American Dream, one could then argue that the ability of a childless couple to get a child through surrogacy add to their joy of sharing and enjoying the American Dream.
Although there is also an argument that the American Dream is at best, a mirage, on the other hand, Americans are increasingly becoming optimistic regarding the opportunities that new immigrants and poor people have, and which enables them to improve their lives immensely. Therefore, even poor people who do not have a child now, can hope to work hard and cater for the expenses that often accompany the process of surrogacy, thereby enabling them to have a child that they can call their own. Besides, opportunities abound in the United States, and this has enabled most Americans to amass wealth faster than in other countries.
It is important to note that the health insurance does not cover surrogacy and as such, it can be quite challenging to deal with the financial aspect of the procedure. Most couples end up saving for a number of years in order to accumulate the money required for the procedure (Hinders, 2006). Other couples end up borrowing form he banks or taking a mortgage against their homes. This just goes to show the extent to which Americans are prepared to make sacrifices in order to get a child. Nonetheless, such a process fits in well with the American capitalist culture. Americans work hard in order to accumulate wealth and purchase property even as they could be said to glorify wealth, the joy of having a child cannot be equated with the joy of owning property. The discipline, dedication, and sacrifices that the American people make enable them to replicate the same when it comes to the issue of surrogacy.
In summary, we can argue that the surrogacy has given people their American Dream. The American Dream hinges upon the premise that everyone has an equal chance to access opportunities and attain success in the United States regardless of his/her social background, ethnicity, religion, or gender. The American Dream is largely about material wealth because the United States is a capitalist society. However, it is also about the spiritual happiness of a family. Without children, a family cannot be complete. Although there are very many cases of child adoption in the United States, a couple would enjoy a fulfilling life if they have a child with whom they share their genetic makeup. In this regard, surrogacy enables Americans to share their genetic link with a child. Surrogacy therefore enables childless couples, same sex couples and single parents as well to enjoy the American Dream to the fullest just like other couples who are able to have children normally.
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