There are many ways to become a parent, each with its own pros and challenges. This journal discusses parenting by focusing on traditional birthing, assisted reproductive technology, surrogacy; adoption; and foster parenting. In addition, it explores the pros and challenges associated with each parenting method, as well as child’s perspective on each parenting method.
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Parenting by traditional birthing
Parenting by traditional birthing constitutes a principal percentage of child-raising. Couples get their own children, having the parents’ genetic makeup, in a natural way. Legal, ethical, and psychosocial issues are relatively harmonized due to the social endorsement given to this type of parenting by many societies.
The following are some of the apparent relative advantages of parenting by traditional birthing that have made it widely practiced globally throughout the history of mankind. First, human being is social creatures, and the basic element of communal living is a family. Conventionally, nuclear families are made up of married couples that together get children. Therefore, aspects of normalcy and relative lack of controversies leverages this parenting method.
Secondly, legal provisions for parenting by traditional birthing are not as complex in relation to other parenting methods. Parents are required to provide children with all the needs and safeguard their rights. However, legal complexity may arise in cases where divorce and separation happen.
Third, strong psychological bond between biological parents and their children is probable. Biological parents normally take their children as their responsibilities while children tend to be indebted to their parents.
Nonetheless, parenting by traditional birthing faces a number of challenges. First, the number of divorce and separation cases has been on the rise. As mentioned earlier, the basic pillar of this parenting method is normal marriage. Therefore, divorce or separation subverts the normal process of rearing children.
Second, natural birth processes are associated with physical and psychological changes, especially to birth mothers. Consequently, other alternatives are constantly gaining popularity, especially in the postmodern era.
Child’s perspective of parenting by traditional birthing
Since the child is born traditionally and in a natural way, they tend to have a sense of belonging and acceptance. Their genetic origin is elaborate and noncontroversial and, therefore, the child is likely to be contented to belong to a traditional family. However, abusive parenthood may lead to rebellion, and children neglecting or disowning their biological parents.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
For the past four decades, medical technology has played a vital part in parenting. This is especially for parents in incapacitating reproductive situations. A substantial percentage of couples desiring children need medical intervention and, therefore, necessitating the rapid development of ART. Some of the inevitabilities that compel couples to consider ART include infertility, age of mothers, and particularity in treatment methods, among other factors.
Consequently, development in medical technology has led to techniques that help couples that require medical intervention to become parents. These techniques include fertility drugs, artificial insemination by donors, ovum transfer, gestational surrogacy, IVF combined with ICSI, and In Vitro Fertilization/Embryo Transfer (IVF-ET).
In most cases, medical intervention is done to help medical-related infertility. Nevertheless, social aspects like single women desiring to get children are considered. As expected, most of the ART techniques raise legal, social, and moral queries. However, the legal and ethical issues associated with ART have been given substantial attention. Additionally, media have given the ART theme ample attention popularizing it as a practicable and conventional alternative. Therefore, ART has become popularly accepted, and parents are no longer secretive about it.
Opinions in favor of ART techniques include allowing infertile couples and single women to have children of their own, preventing birth defects by the scientific study of fertilization and embryonic development.However, ART faces a number of challenges in spite of its relative popularity. As mentioned above, most of the ART techniques raise ethical, legal, and psychosocial controversies. For instance, couples and parents opting for ART must make tough decisions regarding embryo selection and preservation. Additionally, involving surrogate parents further complicates legal and moral issues, raising more questions like how to compensate donors or surrogate mothers; disclosing the information to children conceived using this technology; and ensuring that children from the same donor do not intermarry among other pertinent queries.
Second, ART success is not guaranteed and, therefore, setbacks are bound to be realized. Most of the ART techniques are emotionally demanding, physically exhausting, and need considerable financing. Consequently, many parents suffer emotional setbacks when the techniques fail. Therefore, a good emotional and counseling support system is required.
Child’s perspective of ART
The use of ATR generates possibilities of a child having more than two parents. In some cases, the number of parents may be up to five: an egg donor, a sperm donor, a birth mother who carries the pregnancy to terms, and the two social parents who raise the child. Therefore, ART parenting is bound to impact a child’s psychosocial and emotional development significantly.
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The two major contributing factors of ART impact are technological procedures involved and gamete donation. While the technological procedures influence biological development, the gamete donation aspect impacts the social upbringing of a child. However, some parents raising ART children have succeeded. These parents tend to create an environment where psychological attachment between them and their ART children thrive.
Today, most couples and individuals hope for a child. However, in some instances, getting a child may not be possible because of specific medical conditions, past miscarriage, or advanced age of women. In such situations, couples may opt for surrogacy. Surrogacy involves the use of a third party, a woman to bear the child until birth. While it is an alternative for couples to have a child, surrogacy remains a controversial means of parenting.
Choosing a surrogate mother could be a daunting task for a couple (Bigner & Gerhardt, 2014). A common practice has been identifying a potential surrogate mother through surrogacy agencies, but others may opt for a close friend or relative to be a surrogate mother. Surrogacy agencies normally conduct interviews and assess would-be surrogate mothers before recommending them to parents. Nevertheless, parents may raise concerns about a stranger bearing their child. In addition, the issue of surrogate mother is often faced with medical, emotional, and legal challenges if poorly handled. Some pros and challenges associated with surrogacy include the following.
First, couples with infertility challenges or a gay couple could still have children irrespective of their status. Second, several professional bodies, such as Worldwide Surrogacy, are available to assist parties in managing surrogacy challenges. Third, advanced technologies have improved the chances of a successful pregnancy. Fourth, surrogate mothers are considered ‘best mothers’ because of the screening processes. Finally, surrogacy experts will assist surrogate mothers and parents to overcome emotional, medical, and legal issues during pregnancy and parenting.
On the other hand, surrogacy presents critical challenges to the parties involved. First, parents must understand the intricate of surrogacy and, therefore, must carefully select their professional team, which is a difficult task for many couples. Second, surrogacy is an expensive affair for parents. In fact, some parents may opt for lending options such as American Healthcare Lending. Third, parents will experience emotional challenges because another person is bearing their child. This situation could lead to much dependence on the professional team. Fourth, families and friends may disapprove of surrogacy. Finally, surrogacy laws differ, and they could be difficult for many parents from different states. Thus, a competent lawyer, preferably a member of the American Academy of Assisted Reproduction Technology Attorneys, is required.
Given some pros and challenges associated with surrogacy, it is imperative to understand it from a child’s perspective. Some children may have simplified views of surrogacy based on what their parents have told them. It is imperative to note that children may not be able to comprehend some intricate issues associated with surrogacy. Nevertheless, they present opportunities for parents to understand the challenges and complexities of surrogacy. From a child’s perspective, surrogacy may just be another way of having children, albeit with assistance from another person. While some children may understand, others may be receptive than imagined. Hence, it is vital to understand their perspectives and seek professional assistance. Overall, surrogacy is about giving and assisting parents who are unable and less fortunate to start a family.
A child of surrogacy may, however, deal with social issues, including labelings such as a child of ‘interesting biology or social experiment.’ Nevertheless, most children appreciated all efforts, intense processes, and intended parenting that their parents had considered before having them. It is also imperative for children of surrogacy to understand their relationships with their surrogate mothers. Most importantly, parents must let their children understand their origin in a manner that makes such children feel comfortable such as ‘we are so blessed to have you’ and not ‘you are so different,’ for instance. Surrogate children may also need professional assistance to guide them during periods of confusion and self-discovery.
Parenting may also be realized through adoption. In adoption, parents assume the parenting of another child from the child’s biological or legal parents. In so doing, adopting parents acquire all rights and responsibilities to the adopted child, as well as filiation from the child’s birth parents. Thus, adoption results in a permanent change in the child’s status and, therefore, parents must obtain social recognition. Various forms of adoption exist, including public adoption; private adoption; closed, open or semi-open adoption; transracial adoption; and international adoption. All these forms of adoption have advantages and drawbacks to all parties involved.
The major advantage for the child is that adoption offers opportunities for a better life. The screening process is meant to identify good parents who can handle the process effectively. Such parents tend to be loving, supportive, and can offer a better childhood. The child will have new experiences and create new long-lasting bonds in a new family. In some instances, adoptees may be rescued from abusive homes or come from neglecting families, and they will experience peace and tranquility in a new home provided through functional family structures.
Adoption also offers some advantages to birth parents. Single, struggling parents may greatly benefit from adoption. At the same time, parents who are emotionally and physically unable to raise children may also benefit. Birth parents often seek support for their children and must make the tough decision of terminating their parental rights. Birth parents do not face the economic burden of adoption processes.
The adoptive family also benefits from adoption. Some families consider adoption as an altruistic, civic, and religious duty to foster family growth. Parents with infertility issues often opt for adoption to ensure completeness and attain satisfaction obtained from rearing a child. Adoption also allows parents to avoid challenging pregnancy and continue with their careers.
Conversely, adoption may also present some challenges. The process of adoption is known to belong and complex. Once parents opt for adoption, they must start the application process, meet state requirements, and conduct a home study to determine child raising ability. Parents can then obtain certification to be eligible adoptive families and placed on a waiting list that can take between a few months and several years. Moreover, parents may also get notification for available children for adoption, but they may be frustrated when birth parents change their mind or focus on restoring their parental rights.
Adoption is a costly process. While there are the least expensive ones, specifically foster care adoptions, they can still cost over $2,500. Licensed agency adoptions are even more expensive as a means of parenting. Parents may receive tax credits to contain these costs.
Finally, adopted children also face critical challenges. Some adopted children are known to suffer emotionally, including depression and low-self esteem, particularly when such children believe that they are a hindrance to the family’s progress. Some children adopted through a closed method may not have opportunities to meet their birth parents, while family dynamics could create relationship issues with birth children.
Adoption from children’s perspective is seen as a source of great opportunities for love and home environments, education, and care they might have never otherwise got from their birth parents. While positive outcomes can be observed for all parties, adopted children may have different perspectives based on their experiences. These perspectives may be related to emotional and mental issues. For instance, children may deal with the issue of identity formation, specifically during adolescence. Besides, children may be more focused on sources of their personality traits and physical features, among others. They may fail to develop important relationships and overcome anxiety on missing information about their past or origin.
Foster parenting has become an alternative parenting for abused or neglected children. Well trained, licensed adults offer substitute parental care to children.
Foster parenting is considered a means of helping children who lack nowhere else to go. Foster parenting offers love and care to such children. Second, foster parents may receive fiscal compensation. While this should not be the main motive, it helps parents to cope with financial difficulties. Third, several resources and assistance are available to assist foster parents. For instance, parents may receive education on parenting and child support to aid them as new foster parents. Fourth, parents may form a strong bond with children taken in under foster care. The family bond created for a lifetime is extremely beneficial to parents and children.
On the other hand, foster parenting has some drawbacks. First, it involves emotional strain, particularly when children return to their birth parents. Parents who are attached to children experience such emotional strain and may not be able to return the children. Second, much paperwork and training are involved in foster parenting. The application process is tedious, while training requires considerable time for several weeks. Third, foster parenting may require more financial resources than some compensation provided. Fourth, parents whose backgrounds are checked feel that they are judged while birth parents may be angry about the loss of their children. Finally, foster parents are often under test to determine their parenting abilities, particularly if they can take care of emotional abused or neglected children.
In most cases, children’s opinion on foster parenting is not sought. However, both biological and adoptive children have critical views on the issue. Biological children are concerned about parental attention and the sharing of parental time. Moreover, children require more information about foster children and explore possible behavior issues while others express the possibilities of being foster parents themselves later. Overall, ambivalent feelings are associated with foster parenting in biological children.
Foster children have often experienced their appreciation and speak poignantly on the critical roles of their foster parents. Such children learn about parenting, care, safety, love, and opportunities to cultivate positive behaviors. Conversely, children in foster care miss their biological parents, feel as if they are going to ‘jail,’ and perhaps do not like raids by police and caseworkers at their homes.
Several alternatives are available for individuals to become families and parents. Nevertheless, it is imperative to explore the pros and challenges, as well as children’s perspectives associated with each parenting method.
Bigner, J. J., & Gerhardt, C. (2014). Parent-Child Relations: An Introduction to Parenting (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Publishing Company. Web.