Skip to comments.Should Christians Adopt Embryos?
Posted on 09/22/2012 8:15:16 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Evangelical Christians, it seems, are adopting embryos at an increasing rate, and the secular media are noticing the trend. Last week, religion journalist Krista Kapralos wrote about the theological and missional underpinnings of born-again believers giving birth to "unused embryos." In a few minutes, I plan to talk to her about whether we should see this as something God calls us to do.
I mentioned, awhile back, that I had received some kick-back from someone who opposed any talk of so-called "snowflake adoption," and objected to such an adoption happening in his extended family.
How, he wondered, could I support this kind of adoption when I am opposed (and I am, strongly) to in vitro fertilization (IVF), donor assisted reproduction, and other technologies that violate the one-flesh union and the relationship between love and procreation. The same thing, he argued, is going on here with a donor embryo being implanted in an adopting mother's womb.
First of all, there is no such thing as a "donor embryo." Someone can donate sperm or ovum or even a heart or a liver, but no one can "donate" an "embryo." No one can "own" an "embryo." An "embryo" isn't a thing; he or she is a "who." Our Lord Jesus is the pinnacle of the image of God (Heb. 1:1-3). He was an "embryo" (Luke 1:42-43). The "embryonic" John responded to our Lord's "embryonic" presence in precisely the same way he responded to his adult presence on the banks of the Jordan River.
These so-called "snowflakes" are brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus and are stored in cryogenic containers in fertility clinics as the "extras" of IVF projects. They already exist, and they already exist as persons created in the image of God.
And there are Christians called to adopt them, to bring them to birth through pregnancy, and to raise them in love. To be sure, the numbers of children who can be adopted in this way are a microscopic percentage of the whole. And the numbers even of those who can be safely brought to birth is even smaller.
Isn't this simply an embrace of the kind of "Brave New World" Frankenstein technology we elsewhere lament? No.
Adopting parents are not complicit in the "production" (I shudder to type such a horrible word in reference to a human creature) of these children. Again, the children are already conceived. The adopting parents are no more endorsing the technologies involved than parents adopting from an unwed mother are endorsing fornication or adultery.
Embryo adoption also doesn't carry with it the violence to the one-flesh union that comes with surrogacy or sperm donation, in which one spouse's genetic material is joined with a stranger's.
Embryo adoption would be problematic if the adoptions themselves became a further commodity in the buying and selling transactions of the reproductive technology business or if these adoptions were a widespread incentive for couples to justify the decision to "create" and freeze additional embryos. This is not presently the case, though, and doesn't appear to be likely to become so anytime soon.
But, most importantly, these aren't "unused embryos" as though they were things or tools. These are image-bearing persons who are endowed by their Creator, not by their "usefulness" with certain inalienable rights. Opening our hearts, and our homes, and sometimes our wombs, to the least of these is a Christ-like thing to do.
Dr. Russell D. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, where he ministers weekly at the congregation's Fegenbush location. Dr. Moore is the author of The Kingdom of Christ and Adopted for Life.
The world is a sin-racked, messy place. It doesn't model God's ideal world. Children are not all conceived in two parent, committed families, being brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
If you believe human life begins at conception, your alternatives are to reject it and watch it die, because it didn't begin according to God's plan...
... or you realize all you can do once it exists, is choose the most redemptive thing now.
It is redemptive to adopt.
It is far, far easier to hide behind white robes and candles, where moral certainties are unchanging, than to follow the lead of the Savior.
I came to seek and to save that which was lost." - Jesus Christ.
It’s a problem, because one of the concerns has always been that embryo adoption would encourage more people to have in-vitro and hence result in the creation and, normally, destruction of more embryos. It’s a difficult question.
“Its a problem, because one of the concerns has always been that embryo adoption would encourage more people to have in-vitro and hence result in the creation and, normally, destruction of more embryos. Its a difficult question.”
I agree that it is a difficult question - morally - until you focus on what is the most redemptive thing you can do.
I do not believe even 2% of frozen children will be adopted - and less of kids in orphanages, etc. Yet people go on procreating outside marriage, engaging in alcoholism, drug use, etc., and abandoning their kids. Current adoption doesn’t stop any of the fallen behavior of humans in any of those conditions, because you cannot change human nature.
Your alternative is to adopt, or destroy - or more accurately, save the few children you can save, or destroy them all.
I do not see anything redemptive about destroying them all - those who were created through no fault or sin of their own. To do so leaves us with the moral problem of automatic destruction, which to me seems to encourage the problem even more, by establishing a right to destroy life routinely - another form of abortion.
As an aside, I notice that we signed up on FR within 3 days of each other. So greetings to a FRiend, from the class of 2000.
This was a serious problem when Muslim pirates prowled the Mediterranean, along the Bay of Biscay and even up the major rivers of France. Over 1 million Europeans were captured by Barbary corsairs (Ottoman Empire) and sold as slaves between the 16th and 19th centuries. It was fueled not just by slave-marketing, but also by ransom-payment.
My point: a systematic organization of prenatal adoption of frozen embryos would, in fact, end up by legitimizing and incentivizing the practice which is substantially at the root of the whole problem.
In other words, the whole IVF industry --- doctors, lab techs, money-seeking investors, clinic entrepreneurs, plus the parents who originally concocted and then froze their embryonic children --- would profit from it. They would be rewarded either financially, or psychologically from the consolation that they "ended up with live babies and therefore we --- the embryo-freezers--- did a good deed."
So it becomes part of the incentive structure for making and freezing even more humans.
If embryos could be adopted with absolutely nobody in the process being reimbursed in any way, that would be a somewhat different matter. But that ain't happening.
It is a heart-rending dilemma. The transactions involved in negotiating the transfer of legal "ownership" of embryos, as well as the laboratory processing thereof, will open up new vistas of exploitation and create a market structure. This will propel the reproductive manufacture and commercial distribution of more commodity- humans. If that's not the future we want, we have to stop these processes now.
How about that! I signed up to have moral support during the first Bush election (I was living in a heavily Dem part of Florida). I was just going to read the occasional article, make the occasional comment...LOL! Now, thousands of comments and probably thousands of hours later, I’m still here. Still looking for refuge from the Dems...
I would hope that people who go through in-vitro do so to ensure their own offspring are available to them when they choose to have children. Such couples, I would not think, would be encouraged to do so thinking strangers are available to parent their "left-overs". I just don't see that women - who must endure invasive procedures to cull their ripe ovum - would do so callously. These embryos are still the couple's biological children and they must consider their own responsibility in the conception and ultimate end of each one. The buying and selling of fertile eggs and sperm is a whole other market than embryos in cryogenic stasis. There are laws that prohibit their buying and selling. Even our abortion-friendly government agencies step back from considering them as impersonal commodities - at least for now.
One other thing, too, is that there are already laws that prevent taxpayer money going to embryo experimentation but unused ones have already been given, or sold, to various laboratories. Maybe a couple would feel more inclined to donate unused embryos for scientific research than they would for couples wanting to adopt their offspring. The idea that their biological child could be out there raised by strangers and the unsettling uncertainty that would bring might make embryo adoption less attractive, not more, so I don't think it would encourage more people to have the procedure.
But the controversy comes, I think on the consideration of serious (though unintended) consequences.
I mentioned that one of these is that it supplies financial and PR-rewards for the industry which created this appalling problem --- freezers full of human embryos --- to begin with. It opens up another income stream for them.
Another serious (though unintended) consequence is that it further splits the two-persons-only unity of marital sexual procreation.
It certainly moves "the new normal" way down the road, in a way that will further legitimize --- for instance---gay family deconstruction and reconstruction experiments via IVF.
Look, I have lesbian friends --- or they *were friends* until I criticized some of their radical advocacy efforts. And one such effort will certainly be redefining procreation just as they've redefined marriage. E.g. Lesbian #1 the genetic mother, Lesbian #2 the gestational mother, some masturbator the unknown unwanted father.
Like I said, it's complicated but heartbreaking. I do recognize the good intentions of those who are just trying to save the poor frozen humans who have already been created and warehoused.
At this point on this thread, I have had cause to remember something that was written back in in 1950...over a half century ago....in a book by Dr. Karl Stern entitled “Pillar of Fire”.
(Karl Stern was a young Jewish psychiatrist when Hitler came to power. Helped by Catholic families in Germany and in France, he managed to escape Germany and to safely enter France and from there, he eventually settled in Quebec, where he practiced psychiatry. The Catholic families left a deep and positive impression on him, and when he settled in Quebec he asked....and his request was granted...to be baptized into the Catholic Church).
I wish that I could give the exact quote, but at this time my copy of that book is on loan, so I have to excerpt it from memory.
In condensed form, what he basically wrote was that there was coming a time when scientific and technocratic advances would so dominate our culture that it would “bring about the end of mankind”.
That was in 1950.
Since then we have witnessed satellite communications, world wide web, wireless hand-held phones that take pictures and can immediately transfer them, cyberspace virtual reality, nuclear bomb capability, drones.....and chemical abortion, embryonic cell research and development and IVF. Of course, this is just a partial list.
Dr. Stern was ahead of his time in sensing the dangers...to the human soul...of our present age.
One might think that, but then reality bites. Women have their three to five embyros implanted, anticipating one or two will "take." But if 3-5 babies begin to grow, away they go, "selective reduction." Or they find that the, er, "fetus" has known or potential health problems. Oops, that's it for him. Or the "relationship" that was hoping to have a child ends. Sorry, wrong-time-wrong-place, that's it for him. Or they wanted a boy, that's it for her.
Once one begins with the concept that a child can be manufactured to fulfil one's personal desires, it's no great leap to eliminate the child ... er, fetus ... er, embryo ... if the desires change or that particular child is deemed unsuitable for the adult's needs.
In order to accomplish an in vitro pregnancy, one must make the conceived child less human than the adults whose needs the child is being produced to meet. As you observed in your earlier post, all sorts of things follow from that.
What reasonable person can't imagine an artificial-reproduction doctor - whose business depends on the eventual production of one live, healthy baby - telling customers, "Don't worry about your dozen frozen children ... someone will adopt them!"?
Yes, Tax-chick, it is truly tragic twisting of conception-—from espousal love and embrace to laboratory machination.
I do not at all support IVF because of the very reasons you described. But we know that it will still go on and there should be a respectful and loving alternative for these precious lives than their anonymous destruction.
Now it seems that for whatever reasons, infertility is much more common. Build it (the clinic$) and they will come? How much has the modern diet and life stresses generated the need? Well that's another issue, but the cultural rot has enabled all manner of perversion and degredation of the original stated purpose for IVF. What was unseemly in the 70's is now SOP... children are conceived whose parents' reproductive cells were joined in a lab, but the "couple" has never even met for coffee. The same is true for artificial insemination, but with IVF the biological mother needn't even conceive and carry the child herself.
For all of human history, humans took it for granted that they had parents who conceived them naturally, even if the union was brief and/or merely a paid service. Now what of these children who are created in a lab and either brought to birth by another couple, or are the products of a random joining of strangers? At least the former could theoretically identify parents who were in a normal relationship, but the latter? I can't assume that children won't mind being created randomly.
In any case, best not to enable. Kind of like unchecked immigration and illegal infiltrations. Once the aliens get a foothold, the natives and properly assimilated naturalized citizens are powerless to reverse the tsunami.
Oh, I see ... I missed your exact point. I agree with you on this. I don't see women's going through the egg-retrieval process to produce embryos for adoption. A significant percentage of those who do it now are doing it for money, anyway.