Valentina Mennesson, a Frenchgirl born like her sister Fiorella in California eighteen years ago under surrogacy program (GPA), talks about her feelings, struggle for her place in the sun, and asserts: " My sister and I have not yet been recognized as children of our parents.”
18 years ago, two twin girls, Valentina and Fiorella, were born in California, and everything would be like most of the children on the Earth, if not for one “BUT”: they were born to a surrogate. For many years, her parents, Sylvie and Dominique, together with the French association CLARA (Support Committee on Legalizing Surrogacy and ART), fought for the legalization of surrogacy in France, which is considered illegal in this country. And now, Valentina, along with young people like her, takes the baton of this movement, publicly declaring: “I, Valentina, was born to a surrogate, and I would like to stop talking about us as unfortunate victims!”
The topic, which for eighteen years was for Valentina and for children like she, perhaps, the most painful, will be the subject of great debate in connection with the revision of the law on bioethics this year.
GPA is a family story.
My mother had a medical condition that prevented her from having a child; After long surveys, my parents decided to take part in a surrogacy program and 18 years ago in California, met a girl named Mary, who agreed to become a surrogate and gave birth to my sister and me. Since then, my parents have passed the difficult stages of the struggle for our rights, humiliating legal proceedings, in order to obtain documents confirming our birth as children of French citizens. The current situation for me and my sister is that we have French citizenship, but there is no certificate of registration of us as children of our own parents, and the record about us is not in the French State Register. The main thing is that we have not yet officially been recognized as children of our parents ...
Why does the GPA in France have such a reputation?
Like everything new, this practice shocks people and causes them to reject, which takes on the ugly form of prejudice; it is always easier than trying to understand the subject and understand the essence of the phenomenon. That is why there is no progressive movement in this issue. I wrote a book so that those who read it will change their opinion about surrogacy. To find out the truth, you’re want to know it ...
What is most annoying about the status of a young man born to a surrogate?
Questions like: “Is a surrogate your second mother?” or “So you have three mothers?” When it comes to my real mother, surrogate Maria and Isabel, who was an egg donor. But I don’t mind otherwise there will be no end ...
Prejudice Number 1
Many people believe that children born as a result of surrogacy are victims of an immoral attitude to that which is predetermined only by nature. I affirm that children born under the GPA program are no different from others and have no reason to be unhappy. Another truth that I want to emphasize is that a surrogate pregnancy in France is immediately associated with money and bad intentions. In fact, the opposite is true ...
Many GPA opponents are straining the issue of size of surrogate rewards
It is completely normal for me that a person who has been carrying a child for nine months is always under the care of the agency and parents and is constantly forced to take tests, receives money for the work. Of course, remuneration should be adequate, but this is not the first reason that will push a woman to give birth to a child for another couple. The main reason is the desire to help, and this is quite ethical, in my opinion ...
The fact that parents underwent this procedure in the United States, in a country where this issue is quite seriously regulated, does not necessarily indicate a lack of such experience in countries where surrogacy is legalized
For me it is obvious that, speaking of the GPA system known to me from the United States, it is not correct to say that this is the same approach e.g. in Ukraine or India. In any case, in my opinion, the motivation should be the same everywhere, because it is not a business, but a question of morality and human dignity.
How to assess the relationship with Maria, who performed the role of a surrogate?
This is the woman who endured us and gave birth, thanks to her we came to this world. Me, my sister and my parents are eternally grateful to her. When we were born, my parents did not say to her: “Thank you, bye!”. This bond is much stronger than the relationship of good friends. We meet at least once a year, and she continues to be part of our life, but as a soul mate, as a sent angel, and not as a second mother. Moreover, I do not like the expression “surrogate”; I prefer to talk about “gestational carrier” because this person is carrying a child to others. In fact, most of my other "surrogate" friends, even those who are younger, have a constant connection with their "gestator". In the end, they treat their pupils not as anxious as their parents: we spend time together, celebrate holidays in California ...
How to get permission for registration in France of children born by a surrogate, wherein donation of genetic material is anonymous and free?
I do not think that the gestation should be anonymous. On the contrary, for us children, to know who is who, this is fundamentally important, I always felt it. And at least it is necessary to compensate these people for medical expenses and to replenish the spent working time. Legalizing a GPA in France would make it more accessible to parents who cannot afford to go to another country where this practice is under less control and, therefore, may be less ethical.
What do I think about the opinion of the National Ethics Advisory Committee (CCNE) that people like me cannot be discussed?
It becomes just absurd. My parents fought for justice for years. I hope that their efforts will not be in vain. I have never experienced problems with justice just because I am a child of GPA. But I would like to live my full life for eighteen years, instead of constantly thinking that I’m not like that. When you are a child or teenager, you do not want to spend your free time thinking about it ...
What do I hope for?
I understand that the legalization of GPA raises many questions, and it may take a long time. But for me, the urgency lies in the fact that the law is changed in the interests of children already born to GPA abroad. I just sincerely would like to recognize these children, because there is nothing indecent in this! And those who are against, probably just do not want to get into details. In any case, people still used GPA and will use it.
How do my parents feel about my position?
French children born to surrogate mothers should benefit from the benefits of the progressive GPA movement. Since they are the main interested people, they can best say what it is like to live with such a demeaning attitude towards yourself, whether it has affected them psychologically, whether they are happy. Deciding for us our future should not be doctors or officials, but ourselves. When I talk to people who are not familiar with the topic, or with those who have a distorted view, after clarifying many questions and circumstances, they begin to adequately treat the GPA and no longer feel confused.
If the story of my birth is an integral part of me, it does not mean that it defines me as a person.
My position will remain unchanged, and the book I wrote will certainly play an important role in my life. But my hobbies and friends will stay with me forever!
Photo: [email protected]
Based on "Le Figaro"