Surrogacy Versus Adoption

I have written often before about surrogacy and the many concerns one can have over the practice. As it gets more and more popular, many more adults are checking into it. Indeed, with an increasing number of celebrities using surrogacy, it seems like just another safe, acceptable and justifiable procedure.

Some of the celebs and Hollywoodians who have availed themselves of surrogacy include Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Dennis and Kimberly Quaid, and Giuliana and Bill Rancic. Also, we are now having plenty of homosexuals getting into the act, including Elton John, Neil Patrick Harris and Ricky Martin.

But as I have said elsewhere, many reasons can be offered as to why we need to proceed with caution here, including my most recent piece on this:

However, it is quite common when discussing these matters for others to come along and ask why surrogacy is so bad, if we allow adoption. Indeed, I was just asked this moments ago on another social media site. I knew I had already written on this, but when I checked my website, I found little on this particular aspect there yet.bioethics 1

So let me offer this, which is part of a forthcoming book I am working on about the life issues. It pretty well explains what some of the key differences are:

But, it might be objected, what about adoption? Is this not similar? Indeed, it might appear that the arguments against surrogacy can be equally used against adoption. However, there are a number of major differences between the two. A main difference involves the children themselves. As one relinquishing mother put it, “In adoption, a family sought a child in need of a family. In surrogacy, you are creating children for adults’ needs.”

Moreover, in adoption legislation, the interests of the child are clearly paramount, something which is not the case in surrogacy. “Adoption standards and practice have been constantly revised and refined in the light of new understandings developing in the field. . . . It is illegal to take a consent to adoption prior to the birth of the child, for the reason that a woman cannot be expected to make a lifelong decision for herself and her baby in the vacuum of the non-existence of the child.”

As Kevin Andrews has remarked: “Adoption is a community response to the necessitous circumstances of a child already conceived and born, which differs markedly to the circumstances of a child conceived and born for the purpose of transfer to another couple”.

Ethicist Leon Kass says this: “We practice adoption because there are abandoned children who need good homes. We do not, and would not, encourage people deliberately to generate children for others to adopt.” Or as Maggie Gallagher has put it:

Surrogate contracts and adoptions are not comparable. Adoption is the fulfilment, not the negation, of parental responsibility. Especially in a country where abortion is cheap and easy, when a woman gives her baby up for adoption she has thereby acknowledged her obligations to her child. Almost always, adoption is part of a conscious attempt to do what is best for the child. The surrogate mother does not admit she has any special obligations to her child; she does not admit that it is hers. The child cannot obligate her, she obligates it: It is a product, conceived for sale and use.

David Blankenhorn also adds his voice to the fundamental nature of adoption: “Adoption is a wonderfully pro-child act. Adults respond to a child’s loss with altruistic, healing love. . . . Adoption does not deny but in fact presupposes the importance of natural parents. For this reason, despite all the good it does, adoption is ultimately a derivative and compensatory institution. It is not a stand-alone good, primarily because its existence depends upon prior human loss.”

Finally, we should let the children so conceived themselves make the case. Jessica Kerns, a product of surrogacy, also explains why we are dealing with apples and oranges here:

It really is the buying and selling of babies, and the commodification of women’s bodies. There’s a huge difference between the adoption world and the donor-conceived world. [The] institution [of adoption] was not … created for the parents, to give them a kid. It was created for the opposite, to put children in a home, because they’re here already and we’re responding to a catastrophe. Donor-conceived [children], we’re creating them with the intent of separating them from their biology, and you know … it’s vastly different.

These then are some of the key differences between adoption and surrogacy. The two processes may seem to be similar, but this is really a case of apples and oranges. So those who wish to make the case for the benefits of surrogacy are welcome to try to do so, but appealing to adoption will not be an option available to them I am afraid.

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5 Replies to “Surrogacy Versus Adoption”

  1. Good food for thought there.

    If there were enough children put up for adoption rather than aborted things would certainly be different. Governments may look at surrogacy differently in light of finding existing children a home, rather than then making another one.

    In the same way, these children up for adoption would quite possibly be changing the minds of those who are thinking of obtaining a child through surrogacy.

    I note there are some 35 people in Victoria this year who have been through the lengthy and difficult scrutinizing and screening process’s who are still awaiting children to be put up for adoption, and there is a long list of people still going through the process right now…..simply amazing that there is a shortage of children available when thousands and thousands are being aborted.

  2. Robert O Lopez at covers adoption and surrogacy at his blogspot quite a lot. He rightly argues for the separation of SSM and Gay Adopton, as no-one, not even heterosexual couples have a RIGHT to adopt children.

  3. Thank you Bill for this teasing out of differences between the two.
    Adoption is certainly part of God’s merciful provision for the dreadful results of sin he knew were coming. Spiritually, we also enter His kingdom through adoption
    Your discussion about celebrities choosing to have children via surragacy filled me with an anxious thought. One can almost have sympathy for people who desire to have their own biological children but have a disease preventing them from carrying a baby through to term as I heard about this morning on the health report and of course the emotional draw card is always used by those who want to push these suvjects to acceptance past the none thinking public. But, do you know, I pray the answer is no, do celebrities choose this so they don’t lose their figure or even because they could spare themselves the discomfort of pregnancy?
    Sadly, all these wrong things we are discussing, ssm etc. spring out of cases that may appear at first emotionally justifiable but then move very quickly from there to the purely convenient and that which satisfies self.
    My question to the couple using a surrogate mother on the health report would have been, “seeing you have to make decisions re the children you would like to have, why not spare a child the burden of having this genetic defect and welcome a healthy, but otherwise forsaken child into your family?” As you said, the idea seems to be to have the child they want rather than considering the child’s need. On top of this of course to be considered is the 3rd person involved, the surrogate mother. It may appear to be easy to pretend you can be a vessel for a baby that will be someone else’s altogether, but I believe reality to look quite different. Once again, there will be scars left behind in people’s soul that the uncaring and the unthinking will be happy to denie for the sake of their own satisfaction.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

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