March 26, 2015 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
I’ve been researching family issues since 1998, and that of straight men turning to in vitro fertilization or surrogacy to have children without a partner is about as rare as they come. But this article wants us to believe that the practice is becoming commonplace (HLN TV, 3/17/15). It’s not. And there are a couple of good reasons why.
A growing number of single straight men are reportedly turning to IVF and surrogates to become fathers.
Well, I don’t know if the number is growing or not, but I can’t help but notice that the article offers nothing with which to support its assertion. My guess is that’s because (a) there aren’t any figures and, (b) the number of straight men opting for parenthood via IVF and without a partner is vanishingly small. If anyone out there has any figures on this, I’d love to see them.
It was that assisted reproductive technology that allowed Dr. Conrad Cean, a 43-year-old straight man from New York City, to start a family. “I grew up in a very close family with two sisters, parents in Queens and cousins,” he told "Today." “We’ve always been a tight family and I always wanted children.”
Cean, who is a pain specialist, told the morning show his busy schedule has prevented him from finding the right woman — but that was not going to foil his dream of becoming a father. Cean used his own sperm, IVF and a surrogate to welcome twins on Aug. 30, 2013. “I was ecstatic. It’s other worldly, worth a thousand bucks, a million bucks. It’s hard to put into words,” he said on "Today."
Hmm. Here’s a man who’s so busy with his medical practice that he has no time to meet and marry Ms. Right. But somehow he figures he’s got the time to be the sole parent of twin newborns. It’s too late now, but a few months ago I’d have encouraged him to think the concept through a bit more effectively.
Meanwhile, one reason this avenue to parenthood is so little travelled is clear.
Men are willing to pay well over $100,000 to have a baby through surrogacy, but the final cost depends on the number of IVF treatments necessary and how much is paid for by insurance.
Very, very few men can come up with that kind of dough just to produce a child, much less raise it to adulthood. So I suspect the idea that the use of IVF and a surrogate mother is, and will remain, very uncommon.
That’s true despite the fact that many men feel a strong urge to have children.
“The desire to be a parent is similar, whether you are gay, straight, in a relationship or not,” Dr. Philip Werthman, director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Vasectomy Reversal in Los Angeles, told "Today." “For these men, they are getting older, they have the resources and the love to give and they want to go ahead. Technology gives them the ability to have children outside traditional means.”
All true. But missing from any of the happy talk is the concept, long known to most people, that children with only a single parent tend to fair far worse than those with two, particularly biological, parents. What’s been studied almost exclusively of course have been single mothers. That’s because there are a lot more of them than single fathers, since it’s so much easier for a woman to produce a child without a partner than it is for a man to do so.
But there’s no reason to suspect that the outcomes for children of single fathers would be much different than those of single mothers. Yes, single fathers with custody tend to earn more than do single mothers, and money is important when it comes to providing for the needs of children.
But one of the important downsides of single parenthood is the single parent’s inability to provide what Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur call ‘social capital.’ Those are the parent’s extended family, and everyone that comes with them. Not only do two parents have more money with which to support the child, they have more time and energy to provide the ‘Goodnight Moon’ moments, the reading, the playing, the outings, the cuddling, singing, etc. They also have more aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, cousins and the like and all their connections as well. Put it all together, and it’s easy to see why a child is more likely to do well with two parents than with one.
Single fathers have no more magic to work in that regard than do single mothers.
And, just like women, whatever urge men feel to have children without a partner should be resisted. His desire to have a child is understandable, but, starting before he does so, a man needs to put the child’s best interests first. And that may well mean not having one in the first place. Frankly, Dr. Cean looks very much like a man who didn’t get that memo.
Finally, if a man just can’t manage to live life without a child of his own, why not adopt? I know it’s harder to do if you’re single (there’s a reason for that), but the fact is that the world doesn’t need more people and there are millions upon millions of children who desperately need parents. For them — the children in Chinese orphanages who receive tragically little attention from adults — one parent is indeed better than none.
Whether or not there’s a trend toward single men creating children without long term partners, those who do need to think again about what they’re intending to do. They need to set aside their vanity-driven need to have a child who looks vaguely like them and dial the number for an agency that handles foreign adoptions. Or they could adopt a child out of foster care or one with special needs. There are too many children in the world for those men to spend $100,000 to create a new one of their own without a partner.
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