Friday, July 12, 2019

WHERE DO WE COME FROM? WHAT ARE WE? WHERE ARE WE GOING?

ELI BADEN-LASAR

There are a lot of things I don't know and prefer not to know: one of them being the particulars of the buying, selling, and trading in human sperm and eggs for the purpose of engineering the conception of a human being.  

One day not long ago I had tea with the mother of a two-year-old daughter who, I'm still not sure I got this straight, had carried the child to term but was not biologically related to her. (Nor was the mother's boyfriend, the child's live-in acting father). Then, in case the kid ever felt the urge for a sibling, the mother (who btw I totally liked) had frozen a bunch of her eggs so as to dole one or more out to a surrogate in the future.

I know this stuff, and worse, goes on all the time. But how could anyone of reasonable good will and intelligence possibly believe that being born under such circumstances could fail to affect the innocent, unwitting child in unimaginably profound, cruel and far-reaching ways? How could anyone not instantly foresee a trauma to the child on a level and of a kind and degree never before experienced in human history? What much such a child feel upon reaching adulthood? 

Well now we know. In a beautifully-written and curated NYT photo essay, Eli Baden-Lasar, who was conceived by an anonymous sperm donor, was raised by "two mothers" and as it now turns out, has 32 (at last count) half-siblings, tells us: "I had this suspicious feeling that scientists were conducting an experiment, had taken a lunch break and then forgotten to check back."

"I felt both curious and anxious about these people and what they exactly meant to me. The sheer quantity of them gave me a feeling of having been mass-produced."

"If it was an experiment, the variables had not yielded some thrilling result. There had been no instant connection or unbreakable bond, and we easily lost touch when the program [to connect with other siblings] ended."

Reading Baden-Lasar's aching prose (and he's only 20); gazing into the haunted, uncertain faces of his half-siblings, all I could think was: These are the metaphorical counterparts of the immigrant children, living in deplorable conditions, who have been shamefully, reprehensibly, abandoned at our nation's border. 

Don't miss Joan Desmond's terrific National Catholic Register reflection on the subject: "A Family Portrait: Brothers, Sisters, Strangers." 

As Flannery O'Connor observed half a century ago: “[T]he moral sense has been bred out of certain sections of the population, like the wings have been bred off certain chickens to produce more white meat on them. This is a generation of wingless chickens, which I suppose is what Nietzsche meant when he said God was dead.”



Sydney Hall, 18, in her bedroom in Chichester, CT.
"I got in touch with the group about a year ago. I learned that
there are so many of them it's hard to feel included. I'm an only child
and was expecting a sibling relationship,
not just like, "Hey, cool, we have the same blood, whatever."
I told myself that it wasn't a big deal that I had siblings,
just to numb the pain."

3 comments:

  1. Hi Heather-
    I have just discovered your blog after seeing your wonderful Journey Home interview on YouTube. I too am a recovering alcoholic and convert to Catholicism. I saw a movie today and it made me think of you. It is called 'Letters to Father Jakob'. It is a Finnish film (I think), so expect subtitles. It was so lovely, unassuming and spiritually nourishing. I hope you can see it. You are blessing our world. Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Andrea, thank you! I watched the trailer and the film looks incredible. Am trying to figure out how to rent it...I love tips like this. And I'm so glad you discovered my blog and got a kick out of The Journey Home interview--many thanks for your kind words. We are all blessing the world, in our ways...

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    Hello- I hope your bulls eye rash did not evolve to Lyme Disease. I came across this author after reading her graphic novel:
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    That was recommened by my Hospice Volunteer coordinater.
    I love reading your articles and look forward to them in Angeles. You make me appreciate all the little wonders LA has to offer with a spirtual searching eye & beyond.

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