Patrick and I have been married almost two years now, which means we’ve started getting the inevitable question “when are you going to have a baby?” As annoying as this is, we don’t mind so much. This ward knew Patrick when he first started his graduate work, while he was single and dating women not as cool as me, and then they watched as I starting investigating, then joined the church, as Patrick and I became friends, started dating, and finally got married. They’ve been with us the whole way, so it’s only natural that they’re waiting for the next step.
So a few weeks ago, we were talking about the next step and Patrick mentioned that he wondered if adoption would be more ethical than having a child. I was floored. Initially, I think I was insulted. I mean, come on. I am woman, I have the potential to create and bring forth life. Bow down to me!
His argument was that there are millions of children who have been orphaned, abandoned, abused, etc, who could benefit from good parents, shelter, security, and being raised in a Gospel oriented home. Kids who basically would have no chance otherwise. So say we want four kids, we’re looking at two basic options, assuming we’re able to have children: a) have our own kids, leaving four other kids out in the world who have little chance, or b) adopt four kids, which essentially lessens the number of orphaned, abandoned, etc, by four. Looking at it this way, it’s pretty clear that the more ethical thing to do would be to adopt those four kids.
But I want my own kids. Why? Well, some of the reasons I could think of made me feel a bit selfish on further examination. Of course, the Lord commands us to multiply and replenish the earth, and that by itself should be good enough for me (assuming it’s possible to have kids, obviously infertility would change things). But aside from that, I want to personally participate in the act of bringing life into the world. I want my child to be mine from the moment they are born. And yes, I want pasty little red-haired kids that look like my husband and me. But don’t these last few motivations sound selfish–it’s about me and wanting my kids to be and even look like me–don’t they almost seem like self-worship? On examining these initial reasons I thought of to having a (biological) child and realizing that they seem self-centered (or I’m self-centered), it would seem that adoption is a more selfless option (for me, in theory).
Let me insert some disclaimers, because I can just imagine people jumping all over me. I’m not saying everyone’s reasons for having children are selfish, nor am I’m saying parenting is selfish. On the contrary, I think parenthood is one of the most unselfish acts/roles we can perform on this earth. This is just a reflection of thought I had about my own involvement with the subject.
Also, I realize I’m looking at this from a non-theological point of view, because frankly while I’ve heard many things, I just don’t know which bits of doctrine are true or rumor. I don’t know if we’re “assigned” specific children, Saturday’s Warrior-like spirits waiting to be born into our families, or if we get extra points for bringing as many children into the world as we can, as I heard suggested in Relief Society. Any concrete church statements would be welcomed here.
So the things I don’t know aside, I have concluded that adoption would be more ethical than having biological children. Thoughts?