A notorious YouTuber has begun the surrogacy process with his fiancé, but past behavior and comments he has made about the embryos have some concerned about the well-being of the children he is creating.
Shane Dawson and his fiancé, Ryland Adams, have begun speaking about the process, with Adams appearing on “The Sip” podcast with cohost Lizzie Gordon. “We finally looked into, like, we started the process of trying to figure it out, and even with, like, a surrogacy agency, the waitlist is 18 to 36 months if you start today,” Adams said. “And that’s not the only stop. Then you also have to have a fertility clinic — that’s where you find the egg — and then you also have to find the surrogacy, then you have all the legal work.”
CONTENT WARNING: Disturbing quotes below may be particularly upsetting for readers.
IVF and playing God
In a video from March of 2022, the couple joked about hitting “purchase” on a surrogacy contract, saying how they would tell their future kids, “We bought your mommy!”
Since then, the couple announced that their embryo retrieval process has started, and they had created 12 embryos altogether — each man has six children. In another video, posted two weeks ago, they went public with the results — joking about which embryos to keep, and which to destroy. (Emphasis added below.)
Adams: Wait, one, two, three… I have four girls.
Dawson: Four girls, and two boys.
Adams: So we’re opposite … It’s so weird too, because our babies have barcodes. It’s very interesting! So, we need to write this down. So I have four girls and two boys. You have four boys and two girls. This is so confusing! Follow along, everyone. I can’t do math like that!
Dawson: So in total, we have six of each … how is that even possible? Now we have six boys and six girls? It’s cheaper by the dozen, baby! So we have options. What are we going to do?
Adams: Well, it’s interesting though, because it is flip-flopped. Like, the majority of yours are the opposite of what you initially, like, preferred.
Dawson: Well, it’s not preferred. I thought, oh, maybe it would be fun to have a daughter because we don’t really have many girls in my bloodline. That sounds creepy, but we don’t, like, it’s a lot of sons. That actually makes sense, now that I think about it.
Adams: OK, I’m curious, I want to talk to our doctor and know, like, OK, of the four boys, which boy do we choose? You know?
Dawson: I don’t like playing God.
Adams: I don’t either! But no, I’m just saying, like, I wonder if there’s the biopsies, or the lab results tell them which one —
Dawson: We can spin the wheel, and we’ll put a barcode on each side.
Despite claiming to not want to play God, that’s exactly what Dawson and Adams are doing — and it isn’t harmless. Children born through the IVF and surrogacy processes have spoken openly about the pervasive sense of loss they feel.
“Something horrible happened to us at birth. We lost our mothers,” one man, born through surrogacy, said. “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… ”
Katie Breckenridge, operations manager of Them Before Us, also said that children are being turned into products through IVF. “When you are commissioning and swiping your credit card for a product, even one that you want badly, you are participating in commodification, regardless of whether the intended parents are the biological parents of the surrogate-born children,” she said. “In this case, the products are human beings.”
A Harvard Medical School study found that a whopping 62% of children conceived through donor technologies, like surrogacy and IVF, consider it to be immoral and unethical.
“Somehow, somewhere, my parents developed the idea that they deserved to have a baby, and it didn’t matter how much it cost, how many times it took, or how many died in the process,” one woman told Them Before Us. “They deserved a child. And with an attitude like that, by the time I was born they thought they deserved to have the perfect child… as Dad defined a perfect child. And since they deserved a child, I was their property to be controlled, not a person or a gift to be treasured.”
Dawson has a long history of pedophilic comments and sexualizing children, which has led some to question why he should be permitted to go through with the surrogacy process — essentially allowing him to purchase not only a woman’s body, but a child to go with it. If he had attempted to adopt a child, it’s likely he would have been prevented from doing so, due to his history of treating children as sexual objects.
“Here’s your reminder that (unlike adoption) adults who procure children via [surrogacy] undergo no screening or background checks,” Them Before Us founder Katy Faust tweeted. “Dawson ‘shared an older clip of himself admitting that he searched for child pornography and even typed in ‘naked baby.'”
Here's your reminder that (unlike adoption) adults who procure children via #surrogacy undergo no screening or background checks.
Dawson "shared an older clip of himself admitting that he searched for child pornography and even typed in "naked baby." https://t.co/xDOa2KNlaj
— Katy Faust (@Advo_Katy) March 5, 2023
Faust linked to an article in Evie Magazine, which spotlighted his extensive history of inappropriate remarks. “In 2020, a clip of Shane resurfaced that showed himself pretending to masturbate in front of a poster of Willow Smith,” Gina Florio wrote. “She was 11 years old when she released her single ‘Whip My Hair,’ and in the clip, he said, ‘Whip your hair back and forth.'”
Smith’s family members slammed Dawson for those remarks, but they were just the beginning.
“In 2014, Shane was recording an episode of ‘Shane and Friends,’ when he recalled a conversation with a 6-year-old fan. He referred to the child as attractive. ‘She shows me her Instagram, and first of all, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but she was kind of sexy,’ he said about the [six-year-old] fan,” Florio continued, adding, “’Having sex with children or touching children is terrible, and you should not do it,’ he responded. ‘But, here’s my thing – people have foot fetishes. People have fetishes about everything.’”
In an apology video, he further admitted to searching for images of child sexual abuse.
[H]e shared an older clip of himself admitting that he searched for child pornography and even typed in ‘naked baby.’ He said he couldn’t understand why anybody could be turned on by that, then followed that up with, ‘But… it was sexy.’
Twitter user @belugasong shared a long thread of many other moments where Shane was caught sexualizing children. In one clip, he was video chatting with a young teenager who was a fan of his. He kept telling her to twerk, and after she finally did twerk for the camera, he told her to ‘show herself.’ In another video, he showed a series of photos featuring young girls wearing some of his merch. He said, ‘I would rape all of you.’
Even worse is an audio clip from ‘Shane and Friends’ where he recalled a moment of asking someone to have sex with his dog. ‘If I had a child, which is the same as a dog to me,’ he said. ‘Well, I guess when they’re a baby you don’t want to picture someone f*cking them.’ His co-host shared a news story of a man who raped a 4-month-old infant and killed her.
Shane laughed and declared, ‘Amazing!’ Then he speculated how exactly the baby would have died during the sex act.
despite all we now know about shane dawson, there will STILL be some people who will say "it's just jokes, he'd never be sexual towards an actual child in front of him."
well, i saved the worst for last. shane dawson sexually exploiting a real-life child: pic.twitter.com/a4FBX6QHvr
— 🥀 (@belugasong) June 26, 2020
But Dawson’s depravity wasn’t limited solely to the online sphere. There are also instances of Dawson sexualizing children in person.
“One of them was only 12 years old,” the article continued. “He asks one of the children to eat a ‘cocktail weenie’ because he checked his statistics and knows he has ‘a lot of child molesters watching.’ He later coerces the child into doing a lap dance on someone else while playing a sexually explicit song in the background. The child’s face has been hidden to protect her privacy. In the next video, he places a pair of large fake breasts on the girl and jokes about how he didn’t know that 12-year-olds could develop so quickly. He asks the dog to lick the fake breasts. He asks the girl inappropriate questions about her genitals and then forces her to dance on top of a table. The video ends with him forcing the girl to ‘breastfeed’ on his chest and asking a woman with large breasts to ‘breastfeed’ the girl.”
Embryos are human beings
With IVF, many shrug off the notion of destroying embryos as essentially throwing away useless tissue. But these are human beings, who only need to be given the opportunity to be able to grow. Currently, it’s estimated that there are one million embryos frozen in the United States alone.
Human embryos are scientifically unique living human beings. They have their own individual DNA from the moment of fertilization, with their genetics, eye color, hair color, gender, and more traits already fully determined.
Yet rather than being treated as human beings, they are treated as products to be created at a person’s whim, to the specifications they desire, and then left to be frozen indefinitely — or destroyed. People frequently treat them as nothing more than products, turning embryos into jewelry, using them to trade for other embryos, and even winning them through lotteries.
The embryos that Dawson and his partner have created are children who are at risk of destruction and abuse.
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