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Motherly Love with Conditions

I listened to a woman talk about wanting to adopt a child. Normally, I am very supportive of those who want to adopt. However, as I listened, the motivation behind her desire to adopt troubled me. She never spoke about what she could do for the child. It was all about what the child was going to do for her. She was physically unable to have children of her own. However, she had always pictured herself with a little girl that was dressed in ribbons and ruffles. Therefore, she only wanted to adopt a girl. She couldn’t wait to be able to send out photo Christmas cards like all her friends did and have her little girl posed by the Christmas tree. She would feel like a more complete woman once she was a mother. She definitely did not want a foreign child because she didn’t want it to appear obvious that her child was adopted. As far as I know, this woman and her husband have not adopted a child yet. I hope whoever does the screening for adoptive couples sees this woman may not be ready to selflessly give herself as a mother to a child.

Wesley Smith at Secondhand Smoke points out a development reported in today’s Washington Post that reminds me of this woman. Great Britain has approved the screening of embryos for the propensity to develop cancer as adults.

The new decision expands that policy to include some genes that significantly increase the odds -- but do not guarantee -- that a person will get cancer. The policy also for the first time includes diseases -- primarily breast, ovarian and colon cancer -- that do not strike until adulthood and often respond to treatment…

The kind of testing in question, known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, is conducted on one or two cells removed harmlessly from a three-day-old test tube embryo created by in vitro fertilization. If a cell is found to harbor an unwanted gene, that embryo is not used.

Just like the woman I encountered above, parents can seek to have a made-to-order baby. Right now the intent is avoiding cancer. What if we find a gene controlling diabetes,obesity, intelligence, or depression? This is what happens when the focus is on the utility of a life. Rather than accepting all life as a gift and acknowledging the intrinsic dignity of all life, this kind of policy encourages arbitrary measurements to judge the worthiness of a life.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, say a special prayer for all the parents who open themselves unconditionally to the gift of life.


bookstopper said…
As far as the racial thing goes, I can understand not wanting the child to grow up having to answer lots of questions about that. It is troubling though, when someone always speaks of children in terms of themselves and their own needs, rather than the needs of the child.

I knew someone online once that did have the right attitude for adoption, but she wasn't married. I counceled her that a child has the right to have a mother AND a father, and her future husband (not yet in the picture) also has the right to have a say in the adoption.

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