Children Made to Order

Maybe I’m old-fashioned or just plain selfish. If the Good Lord hadn’t blessed us with two terrific kids, I doubt that I ever would have wanted to adopt any. That’s me. By contrast, a long-time acquaintance, having raised two children and survived a subsequent divorce, went on to marry an ex-nun. By the time they got together, the biological clock had stopped ticking. So, at the age where I’m bracing for the possibility of grandfather-hood, they recently adopted a ten-year-old Columbian kid.
Some may consider adopting a ten-year-old to be a little like buying a high-mileage used car. Most who adopt appear to prefer a newborn, but newbies can be hard to get. Even older children are being dangled from an increasing number of bureaucratic strings. For instance, google “Chinese adoption” and you’ll get about 480,000 hits. The first few of these will be agencies claiming to be ready, willing and able to facilitate the acquisition of a Chinese child. All the same, on January 21st the Pittsburg Post-Gazette reported that, “China is forbidding singles from adopting…. The once wide-open door of Chinese adoption is also shutting to obese people (a body mass index or BMI over 40), people with severe facial deformities, those on anti-depressants, people over 50, and couples who do not meet new income, health and other requirements.”
Now a company in San Antonio, Texas, is offering a new alternative to traditional adoption. The Abraham Center for Life has opened an embryo bank. According to Jennalee Ryan, who runs the center, “I’ve labeled it the world’s first embryo bank, although as of yet it’s a bank without anything in it. The reason for that is that… as these embryos become available to families that are looking for children, they’re all taken.”
Ms Ryan adds, “We charge $2500 per embryo, which goes toward the cost of the services, and that includes the medications, the fees that the egg donors are paid, and so forth.”
The Abraham Center has some in the legal world buzzing. Professor George Annas of Boston University, a lawyer and ethicist, commented in the media, “We treat embryos much, much different [from sperm and eggs], and I think rightfully so…. Once we put them together, we’ve created this unique construct.”
“Unique construct” is one way to put it. “Human being” is how some others might classify the combination. If you are one of those folks, you might be interested in Section 25.08 of Texas Penal Code: “A person commits an offense if he: (1) possesses a child younger than 18 years of age or has the custody, conservatorship, or guardianship of a child younger than 18 years of age, whether or not he has actual possession of the child, and he offers to accept, agrees to accept, or accepts a thing of value for the delivery of the child to another or for the possession of the child by another for purposes of adoption; or
(2) offers to give, agrees to give, or gives a thing of value to another for acquiring or maintaining the possession of a child for the purpose of adoption.”
Jennalee Ryan denies she’s selling children. Rather, she says, she’s providing a service. Professor Annas disagrees. “It’s too close to buying and selling children,” he contended on NPR.
Hey, search me. But I’ll betcha this embryo bank will generate a lot of litigation before Professor Annas’s issue gets sorted out.
Meanwhile, a little bit bigger issue pops into my mind. Keanu Reeves said it best in the movie “Parenthood.” “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let” anybody have a kid. He’s pretty much right.
Thirty-four years ago last week the Supreme Court said in Roe v. Wade that a woman’s right to an abortion trumps the state’s interest in the fetus during the first three months of pregnancy. Other high court cases, involving contraception and homosexuality, combine to keep the law out of our bedrooms. That’s just fine with me.
However, when our personal choices involve not preventing conception or birth, but the bringing of a new person into the world, maybe a little more regulation is justified. I’m not suggesting that the Abraham Center is a “people-puppy mill.” I’m only wondering aloud whether we all need to step back and take a hard look at this “embryo bank” idea, before branch banks start springing up.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: