Hazel McHaffie

Nicole Kidman

Do I want … or do I need?

Little did I think back in 2005, when I wrote Double Trouble, that surrogate pregnancy would hit the headlines in quite the way it has.

Don’t get me wrong, I have huge sympathy for people who are genuinely unable to have children. Goodness, I’ve written two novels on the subject already. And I do believe surrogacy may well be a viable option for some couples. But what’s exercising my mind right now is the dividing line between a desperate ‘we need’ as against a petulant ‘I want’ – with real live children pawns in the game. And I guess it’s the juxtaposition with celebrity and wealth and selfish attitudes that’s disturbed me most.

First gay 64-year old Elton John. And now, married 43-year old Nicole Kidman. Positively flaunting the production (and I use the term advisedly) of children by this means.

Of course, I don’t have the ear of Kidman and her husband Keith Urban; there may be intimate factors about which I know nothing. But their story does prompt all sorts of questions. Off the top of my head:
a. What will baby Faith Margaret feel in years to come when she sees the news clippings of her parents thanking their ‘gestational carrier’ for her?
b. Is it right for anyone at any age to be encouraged to have children?
c. Should limits be imposed on assisting conception or pregnancy?
d. What sorts of circumstances justify ‘renting a womb’?
e. Does money buy happiness for children?
f. Should babies ever be saleable commodities?
g. Or the latest must-have accessory?
h. Are there doors which fame and fortune shouldn’t be able to open?
And I’m sure you’ll be able to think of plenty more.

I’m feeling the impact of these cases powerfully this week because I’m back to editing my forthcoming novel, Saving Sebastian. Sebastian Zair, is just four years old, a beautiful child, bright and lovable. But he suffers from a serious blood disorder. He requires frequent unpleasant treatments; his prognosis is grim. His parents, Yasmeen and Karim, are desperate to save his life. In order to give him a chance they’re seeking to create a matched child by IVF, using their own eggs and sperm. But the embryo will need to be carefully selected, other potential lives will be destroyed in the process, there are no guarantees. And consultant fertility expert, Justin Blaydon-Green, is juggling all sorts of competing interests; there’s already a shadow hanging over his unit, awkward questions are being asked. Campaigners are on the warpath. The press smell a story. But for the Zair family, time is running out …

Well, stack that against a convenient gift-wrapped bundle bought by celebrity parents … I rest my case.

Not good for my peace of mind, or my creative flow!

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