Surrogacy Versus Adoption

Barb Wire

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 (click here).

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.

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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.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Bill Muehlenberg
Bill Muehlenberg, who was born in America, lives in Melbourne, Australia. He runs a web-based ministry of pro-faith, pro-family activism called CultureWatch: Bill is widely sought out by the media for comments on social issues, faith issues, and family issues, and has appeared on all the major television and radio news shows, current affairs shows, and debate programs. He is the author of In Defence of the Family; Strained Relations: The Challenge of Homosexuality, and several other books.

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