Several of my friends tagged me in an article today in People Magazine featuring a family who grew their family through an embryo placed by another family. One friend in particular is personal friends with one of the two genetic mothers mentioned in the article.
Overall, I'm glad to see Embryo Adoption receive positive press. A lot of what the mom interviewed said was life-affirming and she also spoke freely about her faith. I hope the article leads to more embryo adoptions. Their daughter is a cutie. I also think the way the genetic mom has shared her story has paid excellent respect and honor to the difficult decisions and pain and loss that can be felt by the placing family, and also the tremendous blessing and peace that can come to both families.
I take big issue with one major theme throughout the article, and it's not specific to her. It's not even specific to Embryo Adoption. It's the notion that adoption (of any kind) is an answer to infertility. I don't even think people mean to communicate that, but it's so ingrained in our culture that the belief is easily betrayed within a few minutes of conversation.
Embryo Adoption is not a fertility treatment and we need to stop treating it like it is.
I firmly believe that the reason so many children (both frozen and not) are in need of homes is because we've relegated adoption to a "Plan B" for people who can't conceive.
Adoption is a calling, and for the Church, it's a commandment.
It's not a cause or a crusade, either.
Adoption is messy. And hard. And beautiful. And wonderful. But it should not be entered into as an effort to fix a problem in your life. Children in need of a family need to be loved and embraced and pursued and rescued because we want to give them love, not because we couldn't give that love to someone else. We should adopt because we have something to give and we feel the call to give that something to someone, not just because we want to receive something. It's a perfectly wonderful thing to want a child...even desperately so. But adoption needs to be about the child AT LEAST as much as it's about the parents.
The problem with treating adoption as an answer to infertility is that the byproduct is, by in large (I know there are exceptions), that people think of adoption as a backup plan, when there are millions of children worldwide who need us, the Church, to be their Plan A. People shouldn't adopt just because they're infertile, and shouldn't not adopt just because their biology works just fine. The two issues have become intertwined, when really, they are unrelated. The call to adopt can touch anyone with any variety of biological function. Adoption is a beautiful picture of God's love for us, and it is something He asks us to do to take care of the most vulnerable in our world. His instruction has no fertility contingencies.
Often people ask an infertile couple, "Why don't you just adopt?" Well, why don't you, fertile-Myrtle? Biology has no bearing on whether or not someone is called to adopt. Adoption should be considered because someone wants to answer a call in their heart and we should be listening for that call, regardless of if we can procreate. I don't think every person is called to adopt and it would be wrong for those who aren't called to do so. Adoption is too darn hard for that. But if only the 10% of people who are infertile ever adopt, we will never catch up and children will suffer needlessly.
The other problem with treating embryo adoption like a fertility treatment is that it can open the door to violating the sanctity of life. If you think of these embryos as "therapy" or "treatment" rather than people, then it's easy to forget their humanity when making decisions about their future. This is pretty common in fertility clinics, that treat embryos clinically, not humanely. When the whole reason Embryo Adoption was invented was to honor the humanity of these children, we shouldn't be helping the conversation that contradicts that.