Tyra Banks welcomed her first child, a son, into the world last week. She announced his birth initially via her Instagram; simply a pictures of a newborn hat and a statement saying that the little miracle baby resembles both of his parents. She, then, mentioned the “angel” of a woman who carried this beloved child for the couple.
The best present we worked and prayed so hard for is finally here. He's got my fingers and big eyes and his daddy Erik's mouth and chin. As we thank the angel of a woman that carried our miracle baby boy for us, we pray for everyone who struggles to reach this joyous milestone. York Banks Asla, welcome to the world.
By the time the story was picked up by different news affiliates on Facebook, people were hissing. Rash judgement clogged the internet. How dare Tyra be so selfish and so frivolous with her money to chose to use a surrogate instead of just adopting a perfectly good baby that needed a loving home. People, other women and mothers even, discounted her ability to call herself a real mother.
There seems to be some sort of disconnect and confusion here that seems to need clearing up.
What does a mother look like?
Imagine your life like a flow chart; the top is the question, “Am I a Mother?” and at the bottom are the words “Yes” and “No”.
In the middle are questions that draw arrows to the two outcomes.
Are you a woman?
Are you a person who used to be a man but now identifies as a woman?
Are you a person who used to be a woman but now identifies as a man?
Are you a person who used to identify yourself with one gender but now feels it is fluid?
If you select yes to any of those questions:
Did you carry and give birth to a child?
Did you adopt your child?
Did you donate your eggs to be carried inside of another woman and then receive your child when they were born?
Did you purchase eggs to be carried inside of another woman and then receive your child when they were born?
If the answer to ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS is “Yes,” then you GET TO CALL YOURSELF A MOTHER.
I’m sure at some point on her fertility journey Tyra doubted whether or not she was even supposed to be a mother. Whether she was being punished for something and that was why she was denied this one thing she was “supposed” to do as a woman.
Now, she has been given this gift. She has been given a child that, though she may not have been able to carry in her womb, is her own flesh and blood. Being biologically related to your child is not a requisite for being a mother and surely Tyra, like other mothers, think about the options of adopting versus surrogacy. However, to be frank, it’s none of your damn business.
If I see a woman walking down the street with her children, I am not going to pass judgement on how I think those children came to be.
A mother looks like a woman with a child.
Every woman is entitled to be a mother—some chose not to and that is fine—but it is imprinted in us biologically to extend our genetic line throughout time.
When Jimmy Fallon used a surrogate for both of his daughters, I don’t recall such a backlash of judgement on his part. He was open with his story; he explained how he and his wife had suffered through five years of infertility before deciding to turn to other avenues. No one called him a cosmetic, vain parent. No one chastised his ability to call himself a true father.
People, and more importantly women and other mothers, need to form a protective circle around these dear souls who have had such a wretched time with something that comes so easily to most of us. Instead of extending pointed fingers of accusation, we should be extending hands and arms of encouragement.
“We see what pain you have gone through, warrior. We see what you have endured. Claim your prize the best way you can. Get your baby.”
Most of us become mothers, mentally and emotionally, as soon as we decide we want a child. For some, perhaps most, the turnaround time is quick. However, for those who suffer with infertility are forced to walk a much longer journey. They are mothers with no babies and they need just as much support and love as any other mother we elevate.