By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
At some time or another, we all have felt heartbroken for a couple who has struggled to conceive. Infertility is a very difficult circumstance to navigate! Couples who would make outstanding parents but struggle with infertility can carry the weight of disappointment, grief, and heartbreaking losses.
This compassion and empathy may lead to the amazingly selfless willingness to be a surrogate for others, or these challenging circumstances may lead infertile couples toward finding a surrogate mother. Surrogacy is a somewhat new medical invention, as for most of history, we did not have the medical knowledge to impregnate a woman with another couple's sperm and egg. This new invention, along with many other involved fertility treatments, raises new questions about the ethical implications of these actions. As with pretty much any current event, there are differing perspectives on the morality of surrogacy. We are still grappling with it as believers and seeking God for his wisdom when it comes to our desire to be parents.
Here are a few considerations on this topic:
1. Are the Resources Spent to Facilitate Surrogacy Well Spent
Those who have walked the tough road of infertility know that each intervention costs time, emotional energy, and money. The average cost of surrogacy in the United States is $100,000. This is a staggering number! Adoption in the United States averages between $20,000 and $50,000. Adoption through foster care is typically free for the adoptive family.
Money is obviously not the most critical consideration when determining how to grow your family, but it is something we are gifted to steward from the Lord. We are charged to be generous with our money and use wisdom in managing it. While it is a gift to see your specific DNA joined together to create a life, there are many beautiful ways to become a parent that does not require shared DNA. Allowing God to open your heart to how he could use your pain to create a miracle story that goes beyond the confines of biological parenthood can be one option when determining the best way to spend your resources to grow your family.
2. There Are Many Ways to Become a Parent
As a biological, foster, and adoptive mother, I see an immense privilege and joy that comes with each of these parenting roles. I am in awe at how God made me the Mom of my adoptive children. He did many miracles to put our family together in such a beautiful and unique way. Granted, special work is required to step into this unique role. As an adoptive parent, we always have to embrace the fact that it's our joy to parent our children, but we have to leave space for the grief that led to the need for them to be in our home.
Even though foster care and adoption have stretched me in new ways, embracing my foster and soon-to-be adoptive children has brought me joy, just as I relish being the mother of my biological children. Each of my children is 100% worth all the work. They are each a gracious gift to my life!
Our country has a great need for those willing to love vulnerable children and families beyond what is reasonable. Investigating how God could write a story that expands what your original expectations were coming into your attempt to grow a family could be your next step before considering surrogacy. Reach out to foster and adoption agencies in your area to learn more. Talk to other parents who have walked this road and consider the joy and unique challenges that come with becoming a parent in this special way. God is faithful to lead us through these tough choices!
3. Surrogacy Raises Some Ethical Concerns
The Bible does not speak specifically to the issue of surrogacy as it is a modern medical advancement, but some questions should cause us to pause before considering this path.
What are the implications of a God-designed union between husband and wife?
God made marriage as the means to create families. When we artificially step outside of this design, we are stepping outside the bounds God put on the controls God has placed on our lives. You are also inviting a third party into the creation of a life. God intended that man and wife come together to create a human being. His design did not include a husband, wife, and surrogate.
Do we fully understand the implications of turning conception and childbearing into services for hire?
The concept that we are "renting a womb" feels ethically questionable. Even though the child holds the DNA of the biological parents, the surrogate mother is still intricately connected to the life she is ushering into this world. The surrogate and child are connected emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. When we choose to "rent a space" to grow our children, are we making our children into a commodity?
Pregnancy and childbirth are difficult and risky. Are we carefully considering the health of the surrogate mother?
Even though surrogacy is meant to be a contractual agreement, it is impossible to separate pregnancy from the biological processes that begin in the mother carrying the child. Hormones tell her that this child is hers to protect. Pregnancy is a grueling, physically exhausting nine months plus many more to recover from the ways carrying a life taxes your body. There are many ways a pregnancy can go wrong. Also, there is no easy way to deliver a baby! Can we really set a dollar amount that compensates for the risk and physical strain carrying a child takes on a mother's body? What is your culpability if the mother giving birth is harmed during this pregnancy? These are all tough questions to grapple with.
All in all, this is a new medical possibility, and there is much disagreement about how ethical this practice is. Each Christ follower must go to the Word, find counsel in their spiritual leaders, and ask for discernment from the Holy Spirit when deciding how to grow their family. Many of us have desires that we do not see realized in this life, and as a result, we experience great grief. Even when God says to our hearts a door is closed, he promises to be there with us. He is the great Comforter. We can find peace in his gentle leadership. He walks with us, and this is the hope that every Jesus lover can rely on when we face trials and losses of many kinds.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.