Lance Bass, best known as a member of the former boy band NSYNC, has given another interview about his experience with surrogacy. As in previous interviews, Bass made revealing statements about his attitude toward his children as individuals, as well as their attitude toward him.
Previously, Bass and his partner, Michael Turchin, went through surrogacy upwards of 10 times, all while discussing the process as if their surrogates — the women actually creating and bearing their children — were inconsequential to the process. Both men spoke as if they were the ones creating and growing the children, ignoring the women whose bodies were being used and exploited by wealthy men. They even complained that the women’s bodies weren’t performing well enough to create children for them on demand. The mindset seemed to be that these women were not producing enough eggs, or growing the children well enough, for the two men to use.
“We got all the way down the path of about to retrieve their eggs,” Turchin said in a previous interview. “Some just wouldn’t produce enough eggs, some weren’t good genetic matches. If you’re going to be a match, you don’t want to even risk it. This time around, we had to start all over again from the beginning. Not only did we need to get a new egg donor now because we found out she had early lupus, but on top of that, when we did our egg retrieval, we only had two healthy embryos. Normally, the number’s much higher. So we put both in and once she miscarried, we had to start all over from scratch again this past year.”
Eventually, surrogacy was successful for Bass and Turchin, but the mindset seems to be the same. In an interview with Yahoo! Life, Bass complained about the surrogacy process, as well as about his children bonding quickly with his mother and not with him.
“Us trying to get pregnant was a difficult time,” says Bass. “It took us three years to finally get these kids. So, yeah, you do appreciate those little moments for sure.”
Of course, Bass and Turchin did not “get pregnant”; once again, the women involved in the process aren’t even mentioned. He further continued:
There were definitely times where we went to so many different donors, and you start questioning the universe, like, ‘Am I being told that I should not have kids?’ But you keep going forward, and the universe gives you what you need when you need it.
The universe did not “give” Bass what he needed; Bass and Turchin repeatedly, continually, forced children to be created in a lab, and then implanted into a woman’s uterus, over and over again until the process was finally successful.
Bass continued by remarking that he thought it was “crazy” that his son looks like the child’s own biological mother.
Children to Satisfy Parents
After surrogacy, Bass still appeared upset that his children — much like the women whose wombs he paid to use — didn’t perform as he wished on demand.
“The first year, [the children] wouldn’t give me any love,” Bass said. “They never hugged, they never wanted to snuggle, and I was so upset about it. Because they would do that with my mom. My mom would come over and boom, they’d snuggle with her. But now it’s official — they’ve become loving kids, and I get hugs all day long.”
Though the rise of assisted reproductive technology (ART), like IVF, has led people to treat children like products that belong to adults, children are actually individual human beings, with their own rights and dignity. Yet through IVF, children are often robbed of this. In Bass’s case, his children were robbed of their mothers — both the biological mother who conceived them, and the gestational mother who carried them. Yet rather than being understanding of why his children would naturally crave female affection at such a young age, Bass appeared to become jealous instead. It appears he was more concerned about his feelings being satisfied instead of focusing on the needs of his children.
As one man born through surrogacy previously explained:
Something horrible happened to us at birth. We lost our mothers. They did not die, but they might as well have been dead because we lost them in the capacity of mother, and to a tiny baby, that feels like death… That makes us feel very rejected. That leaves a hole in our hearts whether we admit to it or it manifests some other way like in depression or a fear of getting close to someone else…
Sometimes it doesn’t show up until we are in our teens or [are] young adults, and like me sometimes it shows up as a baby when I scream my head off for six weeks and they call it colic… Nothing can console us… I wanted my mother and she wasn’t there… You can’t just substitute mothers and expect us to be OK with it.
This isn’t conjecture based on opinion; studies have found that babies being separated at birth or shortly after from their mothers, whether biological or surrogate, is a “major physiologic stressor” for the baby. This can then permanently alter the child’s brain, putting the baby at higher risk for depression, abandonment issues, and emotional problems related to attachment, bonding, and self-esteem.
Anonymous Us, a group dedicated to the pain felt by people conceived through IVF, has likewise collected numerous stories of donor-conceived children, who feel they have been robbed of their dignity. Yet too often, these children are made to suffer in silence, because — as with Bass — the feelings of the adults take cultural precedence over the needs of the children
“I am a human being, yet I was conceived with a technique that had its origins in animal husbandry,” one person wrote in the Anonymous Us book. “Worst of all, farmers kept better records of their cattle’s genealogy than assisted reproductive clinics … how could the doctors, sworn to ‘first do no harm’ create a system where I now face the pain and loss of my own identity and heritage.”
“This day turned out to be the worst day of my life,” another person wrote about discovering the details of her conception. “I didn’t know who I was and I still don’t… My life now consists of constant struggles and fears. I look in the mirror and don’t know where I got my almond-shaped eyes, my pouty lower lip, my small ears… This is the hardest part: realizing I will never get my identity back.”
Bass’s troubling mindset toward his children is sadly one example in a much larger societal problem. Culturally, we have come to believe that anyone who wants children not only deserves them, but is owed those children, by any means necessary. Meanwhile, the humanity of the children, and the women who carry them, is being lost.