No more posing in front of photographers who were eager to capture her with her sister in front of her elementary school or on a swing. Nice shots of little girls born of surrogacy. This sulphurous GPA. Valentina Mennesson, twin of Fiorella, is now major (since October). And in this month of January, she looks at the goal alone. Without her media parents, Sylvie and Dominique, the now famous husband Mennesson who for eighteen years run the courts, cashing and relentlessly contest the court decisions to be fully recognized by the French civil status as the two parents of their daughters . Indefatigable fighters. Today, the girl takes over in her own way by appearing with her face on the cover in a book-testimony for the title as sober as cash: Me, Valentina, born by GPA. A story thrown in the face of the Manif for all and his images of babies in wagons to better curry the famous pregnancy for others yet mentioned in the Bible. And all those who shout at the "commodification" of bodies. Without nuance. Without worrying about those who are so born. Valentina and her sister Fiorella, it's a story to many. The two girls were born in California in 2000 thanks to their father's gametes, of course, but also to the oocytes of a donor, Isabelle, a friend of Sylvie, and the belly of an American woman, Mary. But since always, the duo claims to have only one mother. The one who wanted them and raised for eighteen years: Sylvie, victim of a bodywork of life (Rokitansky's syndrome) has no uterus.
Mutilated face well made and nails made, jeans with holes in the knee (despite the cold), big sneakers and long haired fashion jacket, Valentina, jerky phrasing of young who oscillates between the "At the base" and the "basic" to better support her story, tells a coffee, a few days before returning to London where she studies business at the university. A few days before the release, Thursday, of his book which offers in preface the words of his mother summarizing "Eighteen years of joy and happiness" with his daughters "But also sentences, mainly due to judicial harassment", while dad signs an afterword rendering thanks to a "Happy banality", «Baptism, strolls, hugs, the first day at the pool with baby swimmers …» before concluding on some sort of "if I had known, I would have lived quiet in the United States. And not in France, which is hostage to the recognition of children by the French civil status to better dissuade couples (heterosexuals or homosexuals) to use the prohibited GPA in France since 1994. "
Why this book-testimony? Your parents have already told their story in books (1).
Those who oppose GPA say that children are unhappy or have problems. I wanted to answer them. Once and for all. Not in yet another interview. In a book. For a long time, the door was open at Michalon's, who publishes my parents. But my sister and I were too young. We were waiting for the right moment. The age to be clear. It came. Initially, I had to write this text with Fiorella. But I started alone last summer. She read me again. Told me she thought exactly the same thing and had nothing to add. So I continued solo.
Your message is to say: I am normal. That's it ?
Absolutely. I like going out with my friends, shopping, watching shows, eating sushi … When I see my girlfriends, I see that the only difference is that I was born differently. And frankly, I am far from thinking every day that I was born thanks to a GPA. In fact, it comes back to me when my father talks about his fight with the judges or talks about it in interviews. Everything is much simpler than we imagine. My parents always told me the truth. They always told me about it. And it's like I've always known it. There was the woman who brought my sister and me (we were two different embryos) and the friend of my mother who gave her seeds: Isabelle. When I grew up, I said "oocytes" and no longer "seeds". That's all. Very clear. And I have only one mother: the one who wanted me, cut the umbilical cord and raised me. Besides, I do not like the term "surrogate mother", which makes the GPA go for something strange, even unhealthy. It suggests that there would be two mothers in the case. This is not the case.
What relationship do you have with Mary, who carried you?
Since we were born, we regularly go to the United States on vacation. So, we see Mary very often. In fact, I am especially close to his children. She had four before we went. I'm laughing more with them. I do not have a photo of Mary in my room but my mother put some in the living room.
Mary was paid to carry you, it bothers you?
It seems normal to pay a person who carries a child for nine months, must report to the agency that put it in relation with future parents, future parents and the clinic! Time is money. In the United States, the carriers that are retained by the agencies are not in need. I do not understand that in France we speak only of the price, that of money. Even when it's 30,000 euros, there are easier ways to win them. Those who talk about "commodification" caricature. And put all GPAs in the same bag. Me neither do I endorse the GPA when women who do this have no choice, only do it for the money and at the chain, as in Ukraine. I defend a well-supervised, medically safe GPA with the assurance that the women who do this do it for the gesture, not just for the money.
Did you ask Mary why she carried you?
We talked about it. Mary was adopted. She saw her mother suffer from infertility. She was also inspired by a friend of her mother who had been a gestational surrogate. She wanted to help a couple to have a child. It is she who, after registering in an agency, chose my parents on photos, according to their motivations …
And Isabelle, the egg donor, do you still see her?
Much more often than when she lived in Washington. Now that she is back in France, as soon as my mother does something at home, she invites him. She, too, is especially the friend of my mother. She is serious sports, not at all like me. She does marathons all the time. I tell myself, I have her genes but I can not, the sport is my worst average at school.
You still see similarities?
She's funny, I think I am, but there are a lot of people who are funny. I have a little Asian look, but otherwise … For me I say it again, it's clear: Mary and Isabelle are not my mothers but my mother's friends. I'm a little nicer to them than to my mother's other girlfriends. When they are there, I do not go up to my room.
Would you have liked to have your mother's genes?
I would have liked, but it was not possible. Besides, I think that when the mother of intent can not provide her oocytes, resorting to an independent donor is essential. If the woman who had brought me had also given me her genes, in short that she had been my genetic mother, it would have been too complicated. And not ethical. There, the fact that Mary did not pass on her heritage to me, and that she did not want me, allowed her to let me go.
The question is probably annoying, but would you have found it simpler or more "moral" to be adopted?
I discussed this with my parents. At first glance, adoption is better because it is about saving a child from distress. But first, there are very few children to adopt. And my parents explained to me that they wanted a child to have together at birth. Adoptive children often have a past. And that's not easy. My parents had no children before us, I do not think they felt comfortable with that. Already they galèrent with us. It must be said that we are quite capricious … In short, I understand very well that this question of adoption. And that we find it more "moral". But what annoys me is that one dares to ask me often if my mother is my mother, which one does not do with an adopted child. I also have the impression that there is more questioning whether the children of GPA are fine, if they are normal, if they have suffered a trauma, whereas it is considered that through the adoption of a child who was Unhappy is now necessarily happy.
Do you have other children born from GPA?
I meet a lot when my parents do their annual conference with their association Clara (Support Committee for the legalization of GPA and assisted reproduction assisted). But most are small! Otherwise, I know the daughter of the lawyer of my parents in the United States. She was born like that too. She is 25 years old. She is nice. And normal too.
So you have few people to talk to?
My close friends know it. And if the subject comes I explain. But once I said that I was born by GPA and that I explained, there is more to add.
How do you live the legal and media fight of your parents?
All that is law, legal, it annoys me. I'm fed up when my father talks about it at dinner. I then ask that we talk about normal things. I do not really have the age to be interested in all that and not really want. But at the same time I understand that they continue to fight. When we raise and love a person for eighteen years we want to be recognized as parents on the family book. And that, we do not have it. For now, I have an American passport, recently a French passport. That's all. So it's true that I hope my testimony will help. Our family, and others too.
Do you dream of having children?
Yes and a lot. Four or five. I must catch up with my mother.
(1) Forbidden children (2008) and Surrogacy, the improbable debate (2010)
Catherine Mallaval Photo Rémy Artiges