Sep 15, 2008

An Odd Question. Do You Know The Answer?

OK, this is going to sound kind of odd, but my parents were discussing a hypothetical situation and wondered whether the Church would approve or not. They said this is a question for The Faithful Dissident. Problem is, I have no idea. :)

Let's say you have a married Mormon couple who can't conceive. The problem is with the mother. Her eggs are not viable, or they are too old. The father's sperm is OK.

So this couple wants to have a baby but has to use a donor egg to do so. Is this OK for an upstanding, moral Mormon couple?
  • Mom says yes because it's basically like adoption, except the child shares DNA with one of the parents. The difference is that the mother will be giving birth to the baby.
  • Dad says no because it's "going outside of the marriage." Even if in a non-sexual way, the egg is coming from a stranger and being fertilized with the husband's sperm. It's immoral.
I know that the Church doesn't approve of single sisters going to sperm banks, but I figured the reason for that is that you have single sisters raising babies without fathers. In this case, the baby will have two loving, married parents.

What do you think?

PS: I can assure you, my parents, who are in their 50's, are NOT thinking of doing this. Thank the Lord for that! :)

18 comments:

Mormon Heretic said...

I don't see a problem with it, but of course I am a heretic. ;) I can see why someone would hesitate, but to me, this is quite similar to the test tube baby, which I don't have a problem with either.

I will add one more even stranger twist to this. My brother got married almost a year ago. His wife is definitely much more liberal than I am. She had a married friend who could not conceive. My brother's wife offered to be a surrogate mother for her friend. Luckily, just as she was beginning preparations, her friend conceived. Then she met my brother, and they got married in the temple last year. (Of course, this whole surrogate mother thing was happening before she met my brother.)

I know I'm liberal, but that's just a little too weird for me. I'll put the conservative hat back on for that topic. I love my sister-in-law, but I don't really agree with that.

The Faithful Dissident said...

See, I think some people would actually have less problem with the surrogate situation because in that case, the baby is the couple's 100% biological child, probably conceived in a test tube, and then implanted in the surrogate uterus that they're "loaning" for 9 months.

I'll have to ask my dad what he thinks of that situation. :)

I'm with you, though. It's all a little weird for me when adoption is an option. But I guess I can understand that some people really, really, really want to have a baby.

Christine said...

Very interesting question. Look forward to hearing the comments on this one.

Mormon Heretic said...

My next door neighbor has adopted 2 children, because of difficulty maintaining pregnancies. She is RS president.

She is a wonderful mother, who dotes on her children, but that is still a tough situation. One child has learning difficulties, probably due to poor pre-natal care of the mother. The child is challenging, and is in some special ed classes, and has some emotional outbursts.

The other child is pretty well adjusted, and nearly a teen. He is starting to ask questions about his birth mom, and feels somewhat rejected by her.

My neighbor says it is challenging. She loves them both, but also says she doesn't really feel like they are truly hers, even though they've been sealed in the temple.

I am glad I have my own kids. My sister is in process of becoming a foster parent. I'm glad we have people adopting, and fostering kids, but that is a challenge I do not want. My kids are challenging enough for me--I'd hate to add more difficulty to raising them. But I am grateful for others who are more loving and Christlike than I am.

Mormon Heretic said...

One other thing--don't you think the surrogate mother is outside the bonds of marriage?

Dan Knudsen said...

I remember reading something about this 45 years ago, and think it was in Answers To Gospel Questions by Joseph Fielding Smith (my volume 1 is missing and I went through vols. 1-4 and it wasn’t in those). As I remember, he was against sperm donations, saying that would be adultery and would also mess up the genealogical lines; so, I would assume that he would’ve been against using a donor egg, or renting a surrogate mother, for the same reason. If anyone has Joseph Fielding McConkie’s ear, ask him about it.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Somehow, it worries me when I hear people worry about "genealogical lines." As long as we're not talking about incest, stewing over DNA or genealogical lines is such a trivial matter, in my opinion. It brings back memories of hearing that interracial marriage was wrong, or how black "seed" shouldn't be mixed with white, etc, etc. We're all humans, does it really matter what genealogical line we came in on?

Fifthgen said...

My understanding (but do not quote me) is that sperm and egg donation is "strongly discouraged," but ulitmately left to the prayerful discretion of the (potential) parents. Me? In the abstract, I would not have a problem with a husband and wife using sperm or egg donation as fertility therapy. My sense, however, is that it could be a very complicated decision for a couple to make. Which is probably why it is best to leave it to the couple.

Mormon Heretic said...

I've got to agree with FD regarding genealogical lines, seems kind of like a ridiculous argument. And we're having big issues with "Mormon Doctrine" over at my blog too, so I don't know that is authoritative either.

Incidentally, my bishop showed me in the bishop's handbook that vasectomy's are against church policy. I was shocked. I can't say I have a testimony of that policy either. Of course, if anyone is planning one, I wouldn't ask your bishop, unless he is a fertility specialist, is more liberal, or misplaced his bishop's handbook....

The Faithful Dissident said...

MH,

You probably just made the day of any Mormon man whose wife is getting ready to make that appointment. I'm going to pretend that I never saw this. LOL.

Wow, I have to say that I'm shocked as well. I'm guessing, then, that women getting their tubes tied are against Church policy as well?

I would have thought that a vasectomy would fall into that "pray about it, it's a personal decision" category, and not be downright illegal. Same as with other methods of birth control.

Are you sure your bishop is using the most up-to-date handbook? :)

Clint said...

The Church seems to generally balk at any family situation outside of the standard nuclear family. True, LDSFS does do adoptions, but only to young married couples who can't conceive on their own. They have a "don't ask" policy on birth control, but they also preach that you shouldn't put off having a family for any reason, which suggests their tolerance for birth control is a compromise at best. The whole vascectomy thing I completely believe and don't find shocking.

The Church is a church of families: biological families made in the "standard" way that can be sealed in the temple.

As I've pondered my future in the church as a gay man, I've thought about the potential for family. I want a family someday, it's just the whole "wife" part that I'm not really on board with. People have suggested adoption, but I seriously doubt the Church would approve such a situation. Much has been made of the Church's statement that some gay members of the Church may not marry in this life. They are quick to point out, however, that they will have the opportunity to marry in the next life. There has to be a nuclear family formed sometime before the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom. It's Church doctrine.

This comment probably sounds more bitter than I intended, but I guess the gist of what I'm trying to say is this: the Church is a church of nuclear families and that isn't going to change anytime soon.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Clint,

This might be a personal question, so feel free to answer or not to answer. But if the day comes that under the law of the land you would be allowed to adopt, as a single gay man, would you decline to do so if the Church was opposed to it?

My mom was telling me about a sister she's friends with in her ward who is in her 30's and really, really wants to have a baby. She knows her biological clock is ticking and no man in her life, with no current prospects. If she were able to adopt, she would probably do so, but it's really hard to adopt when single. As well, she just finished school and is just starting work, so that makes adoption even more difficult. Part of her really wants to go to a sperm bank so that she has the chance to be a mother before it's too late.

I have no problem with the Church preaching ideals. I think we can all agree that the IDEAL (a mom, dad, sealed in the temple) is the best. I had that and I wouldn't trade it for anything. But not everyone is able to mold themselves into the IDEAL, whether because of personal circumstances, or any other reason. IF these people can provide a loving home for a child and raise that child with values in the Gospel, is it so bad for them to pursue a family, whether through a sperm bank or adopting as a gay single? I don't know.

I used to be adamantly against gay adoption, but I realize it was based solely on my religious views. From a temporal/earthly perspective, I see that singles or gays can raise children just as well as anyone else, even if the circumstances aren't ideal. The way I look at it, why compromise or sacrifice completely the potential for a loving, safe, earthly life for the sake of eternity? Does our time on earth have so little meaning? When I think of all the poor, starving orphans in this world, who would give anything for 1 loving parent, let alone 2, is it worth it to not pursue it just for the sake of what's IDEAL?

Any comments or opinions from anyone else?

Clint said...

There are only two states that ban adoptions by gay people (single or in a committed relationship): Florida and Maine. Adoption by single gay men is not unheard of (since gays can only get married in a couple states).

Point being, it's already legal according to the "laws of the land".

Would I decline to do it if the Church was opposed? Honestly? I don't know...but probably. Homosexuality aside, I'm actually fairly conservative (since, according to some blog aggregators, being gay classifies me as liberal).

I don't know why the Church does some of the things it does. Some things I see them potentially changing on - others I do not.

There are a lot of your questions that I haven't answered, but it is mostly because I simply don't know. One day I will, but that day is not today.

Mormon Heretic said...

FD,

Yes, I would assume tube-tying is against the Bishop's Handbook as well. My Bishop loves the Handbook, and loves to quote from it, so I'm pretty sure his is up-to-date. A while back, BiV posted some info about the Handbook that was quite interesting. (She also quotes from it in her current post.)

I hope you'll allow another sidetrack regarding the Handbook. My brother was killed in an auto accident 2 years ago. When his wife remarried, I found that the church outlines a very unusual situation, that was applicable for my sister-in-law.

She married a divorced man. Because he had been divorced, and because she was sealed to my brother, they were not allowed to be married for time in the temple.

I have a friend who was sealed to a divorced woman in the temple. I have a cousin who was sealed to a divorced woman in the temple. I also have a sister who passed away 10 years ago from a brain tumor. Her husband was sealed to a new wife who had been divorced.

I have been to temple weddings where both fiances' had previously been sealed to deceased spouses, and the new couple was married for time (but not sealed) in the temple. Why the Handbook chose to outline this specific scenario in my brother's wife's situation seems rather strange to me. This policy just does not seem consistent to me. I read the policy in my own eyes.

---

I have to say that the pragmatic part of me says that a child raised by a gay man is preferable to many of the abusive homes that many children are raised in. I agree with Clint that the church is focused on the nuclear family, and I don't see that changing. I am quite traditional in my beliefs on this particular topic, and have always been supportive of the church's position on gay adoption. However, I will say that I am softening somewhat on that stance.

The Faithful Dissident said...

"She married a divorced man. Because he had been divorced, and because she was sealed to my brother, they were not allowed to be married for time in the temple."

MH, do you think the "problem" was that she had already been sealed to your brother, or that the man she married had been divorced? Or both?

I heard once that if a man has been divorced, that automatically disqualifies him from ever being able to become a temple president, even if he had gotten married in the temple later in life. Not sure whether it's true, but seems kind of unfair if his wife ran off with the mailman. :)

As far as gay adoption is concerned, I don't really think about LDS adoption services, but all the other non-Christian agencies, who can't find homes for kids that are hard to adopt out, such as minorities and those with disabilities or behavioural problems. These kids often get moved from one foster home to the next until they become adults and have never had "real" parents. Of course, if there is a traditional, nuclear family wanting to adopt them, that would be my first choice. But when there isn't, and your options are either bouncing from one foster home to another, or a stable gay couple who has been together for years who is willing to take such a child, it's hard to say no. Isn't it?

Mormon Heretic said...

I suspect the problem is both. I have heard, however, that if a person has been divorced, that person can never be married for time in the temple, only eternity. That logic seems really strange to me, but I suppose there is some logic to it.

I have nothing but praise for foster parents. Foster kids have to be some of the most difficult to raise, and anybody who becomes a foster parent should get special recognition in the next life.

Gay LDS Actor said...

I see nothing wrong with the getting a donor egg if they can't conceive without it.

Steve said...

I'm a little surprised about the Church's policy against vasectomies. After our third child was born, my wife was diagnosed with H.E.L.L.P. syndrome. We're pretty sure this caused our second child to be born 14 weeks early. After fasting and praying about it, we received a confirmation of the spirit that me having a vasectomy was the right thing to do in our situation. It never occurred to me to go ask the bishop about it, but finding the policy probably wouldn't have changed things