A Surrogate Mom's Courage: A Baby Is Not a Product
When you pay that much for a baby, naturally you want a return policy. One couple did, but the surrogate said no...to $10,000.
Imagine for a moment you're a young, single mom. You've just lost your job as a nanny for other people's kids. You're in a tight spot. Then another couple offers you $20,000 – or two thousand, two hundred and twenty-two dollars a month – to carry their baby to term. That's a lot of money, and can help solve some of your financial problems.
So ten days after accepting their offer, the embryos are implanted in your womb. A blood test shows one of the embryos has "taken," so to speak, so you're pregnant; you're excited, and so are the prospective parents who call every day as you experience morning sickness.
But then one day, with the couple standing behind you and the ultrasound technician holding the wand over your stomach, you receive bad news. The baby – a girl – has a cleft lip and palate, a cyst in the brain, and a complex heart abnormality. She'll need several heart surgeries. While she'll likely survive the pregnancy, she will only have a 25 percent chance of having a quote – unquote "normal life."
The couple, who already have a couple of special needs children, don't want another one and say the most "humane option" for this child is "pregnancy termination." But this baby girl is in your uterus. They won't budge. This isn't the baby they ordered. They offer you an extra $10,000 to have an abortion.
Well, this really happened to surrogate mother, Crystal Kelley, but she said "no thanks." "I can't tell you," Kelly said, "how many people told me that I was bad, that I was wrong, that I should go have an abortion, and that I would be damned to hell."
When the prospective parents threatened her legally, Kelley moved to another state where her rights as the mother were recognized. She gave birth to the child, known as Baby S., who was then adopted into a loving family that has experience with special needs kids.
"No one else was feeling this pregnancy the way that I was," Kelly said. "No one else could feel her kicking and moving around inside…. I became her mother."
What courage – especially these days, when abortion is a thing expected for disabled children, and when so many things come down to money. We all should be so willing to take a stand for life, even when it costs us something. While Kelley's first choice to be a surrogate mother wasn't a good one, her second choice was. Thank God for this spared life.
And friends, the twists and turns of this case point to how far technology has outrun our ethics. Our concern just can't be about whether we conceive human life, but how we conceive it. Catholic and Protestant theologians throughout the centuries recognized not only the sanctity of human life from the earliest stages, but also the essential relationship between sexual union and procreation. Cavalierly divorcing one from the other carries great risks for individuals, the church and society. The law is struggling to manage our illusions of autonomy. In this case, the definition of who was the mom changed from one state to the next.
Technology without ethics makes things possible that ought not be. And in the case of reproductive technology, a culture of consumerism turns procreation into an industry. Babies become products, and efficiency and choice become the measuring sticks of human dignity.
And the ever-increasing expectation to abort supposedly "imperfect" children reveals we think this way. What happens when you don't get what you ordered… the wrong coffee at Starbucks, the wrong color carpet, the wrong Christmas gift? You send it back, right? You demand a refund. Well, why not do the same thing with babies? It's the inevitable consequence when rampant consumerism meets the culture of death.
I thank God that Christians have been on the forefront of defending the unborn from the immoral taking of life. But as my friend Scott Rae has said, that's pro-life 1.0. We must now concern ourselves with how life is made – that's pro-life 2.0.