Faithful Politics

Being faithful with our politics, not political with our faith.

The Miracle of Birth

Photo by Chiceaux Lynch/Flickr (Creative Commons)With 264 babies born every minute childbirth is something we often take for granted. A couple expends a lot of effort trying NOT to get pregnant and then, when they are ready to start a family, they expect that it should just happen naturally – right? Until it doesn’t happen. And then they join the thousands of broken-hearted couples who have to deal with infertility and ultimately are faced with a decision. Should we adopt or attempt in vitro fertilization. The decision is not an easy one.

Adoption used to be the only option, but with the development of scientific technology, our world continues to change from new vaccinations to stem cells and cloning, and it seems that anything is now possible. Science in the late 70′s produced the first “test tube” baby using in vitro fertilization or “in vitro” as we know it today. And with that discovery everything changed. What had only happened between a man and a woman suddenly became possible in a laboratory – and the options were endless.

This was also a unique time in history as Roe vs. Wade brought abortion out of the back alleys and into clinics down the street and for the first time abortion was legal. Roles of women began to change as they gained more independence and a louder voice in society.  While adoption had always been the “other” option for families, new paths were being forged and new opportunities were being placed on the table and the trend to adopt began to fall substantially.

In vitro is often the first option people lean towards when facing infertility. Whether the man or woman (or both) are infertile, there remains a deep desire for biological children, and in vitro has bridged the gap to be able to achieve this impossibility for many people. While highly expensive, there is a hope connected to in vitro that no other option can offer. There are plenty of success stories that make it seem the obvious option, enabling women who could not become pregnant, to have the experience of bearing their own children. But conversely, even though there are magnificent successes, many people spend thousands of dollars and walk away heartbroken as their hopes of biological children are left behind.

Adoption is a long standing opportunity to create a family, placing parents who want a child with a child who needs parents. In the 50′s and 60′s and peaking in the 70’s, adoption happened frequently. But the legalization of abortion combined with the new success of in vitro proved an expected drop in adoption. However, once people discovered the irregularity of in vitro, and realized that spending a large amount of money did not guarantee a child, adoptions once again began to increase.

Admittedly, adoption is also an expensive option, but it comes with a guarantee of a child. Whether domestic or international, adoption offers the opportunity for a child who has already been born but doesn’t have a family, to join a family who is longing for a child.

Are there ethical and moral dilemma’s surrounding the choice of in vitro versus adoption? Within the church, there is the knowledge that God calls us to care for the orphaned and abandoned. James 1:27 tells us that “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

So we have a mandate to care for the orphans in this world. Yet, how do we bridge that deep longing of a biological child with our responsibility to those who so desperately need our help?

This is a very personal issue and must be one where we don’t judge others for their choices, but instead choose to support and encourage those who must face these emotional choices. We must remember that ultimately every child is an eternal life, created by God with the need to be loved and nurtured.

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1 Comment

  1. This is a very important issue, and with the continual advances in technology it is only going to get more and more important. I liked your emphasis on the biblical call to care for orphans, and it seems that since it is such a predominant theme in the Bible Christians default position should be to adopt instead of going the IVF route. But, like you said, it is ultimately up to the couple themselves.

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