Marriage as a human institution is constantly evolving. But in all
societies, marriage shapes the rights and obligations of parenthood.
Protecting marriage to protect children
By David Blankenhorn
Los Angeles Times
I'm a liberal Democrat. And I do not favor same-sex marriage. Do those
positions sound contradictory? To me, they fit together.
Many seem to believe that marriage is simply a private love relationship
between two people. They accept this view, in part, because Americans
have increasingly emphasized and come to value the intimate, emotional
side of marriage, and in part because almost all opinion leaders today,
from journalists to judges, strongly embrace this position. That's
certainly the idea that underpinned the California Supreme Court's
legalization of same-sex marriage.
But I spent a year studying the history and anthropology of marriage,
and I've come to a different conclusion.
Marriage as a human institution is constantly evolving, and many of its
features vary across groups and cultures. But there is one constant. In
all societies, marriage shapes the rights and obligations of parenthood.
Among us humans, the scholars report, marriage is not primarily a
license to have sex. Nor is it primarily a license to receive benefits
or social recognition. It is primarily a license to have children.
In this sense, marriage is a gift that society bestows on its next
generation. Marriage (and only marriage) unites the three core
dimensions of parenthood -- biological, social and legal -- into one
pro-child form: the married couple. Marriage says to a child: The man
and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and
raise you. Marriage says to society as a whole: For every child born,
there is a recognized mother and a father, accountable to the child and
to each other.
These days, because of the gay marriage debate, one can be sent to bed
without supper for saying such things. But until very recently, almost
no one denied this core fact about marriage. Summing up the
cross-cultural evidence, the anthropologist Helen Fisher in 1992 put it
simply: "People wed primarily to reproduce." The philosopher and Nobel
laureate Bertrand Russell, certainly no friend of conventional sexual
morality, was only repeating the obvious a few decades earlier when he
concluded that "it is through children alone that sexual relations
become important to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a
Marriage is society's most pro-child institution. In 2002 -- just
moments before it became highly unfashionable to say so -- a team of
researchers from Child Trends, a nonpartisan research center, reported
that "family structure clearly matters for children, and the family
structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two
biological parents in a low-conflict marriage."
All our scholarly instruments seem to agree: For healthy development,
what a child needs more than anything else is the mother and father who
together made the child, who love the child and love each other.
For these reasons, children have the right, insofar as society can make
it possible, to know and to be cared for by the two parents who brought
them into this world. The foundational human rights document in the
world today regarding children, the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights
of the Child, specifically guarantees children this right. The last time
I checked, liberals like me were supposed to be in favor of
internationally recognized human rights, particularly concerning
children, who are typically society's most voiceless and vulnerable
group. Or have I now said something I shouldn't?
Every child being raised by gay or lesbian couples will be denied his
birthright to both parents who made him. Every single one. Moreover,
losing that right will not be a consequence of something that at least
most of us view as tragic, such as a marriage that didn't last, or an
unexpected pregnancy where the father-to-be has no intention of sticking
around. On the contrary, in the case of same-sex marriage and the
children of those unions, it will be explained to everyone, including
the children, that something wonderful has happened!
For me, what we are encouraged or permitted to say, or not say, to one
another about what our society owes its children is crucially important
in the debate over initiatives like California's Proposition 8, which
would reinstate marriage's customary man-woman form. Do you think that
every child deserves his mother and father, with adoption available for
those children whose natural parents cannot care for them? Do you
suspect that fathers and mothers are different from one another? Do you
imagine that biological ties matter to children? How many parents per
child is best? Do you think that "two" is a better answer than one,
three, four or whatever? If you do, be careful. In making the case for
same-sex marriage, more than a few grown-ups will be quite willing to
question your integrity and goodwill. Children, of course, are rarely
The liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin famously argued that, in many
cases, the real conflict we face is not good versus bad but good versus
good. Reducing homophobia is good. Protecting the birthright of the
child is good. How should we reason together as a society when these two
good things conflict?
Here is my reasoning. I reject homophobia and believe in the equal
dignity of gay and lesbian love. Because I also believe with all my
heart in the right of the child to the mother and father who made her, I
believe that we as a society should seek to maintain and to strengthen
the only human institution -- marriage -- that is specifically intended
to safeguard that right and make it real for our children.
Legalized same-sex marriage almost certainly benefits those same-sex
couples who choose to marry, as well as the children being raised in
those homes. But changing the meaning of marriage to accommodate
homosexual orientation further and perhaps definitively undermines for
all of us the very thing -- the gift, the birthright -- that is
marriage's most distinctive contribution to human society. That's a
change that, in the final analysis, I cannot support.
David Blankenhorn is president of the New York-based Institute for
American Values and the author of "The Future of Marriage."
Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage: What is at Stake?
by John Spritzler
There are good people on either side of the same-sex marriage debate.
Unfortunately, however, it has been one of the most divisive issues in
society. Opponents of same-sex marriage perceive the other side as part
of a cabal of gay activists and social-engineering judges and
politicians, intent on making a mockery of important social values.
Proponents of same-sex marriage often perceive the other side as
"homophobic" bigots or religious fundamentalists who want to deprive gay
or lesbian couples of a right enjoyed by others because they hate
The debate over same-sex marriage has divided people who share common
values and beliefs on many fundamental questions--war and peace,
economic security, democracy versus the increasingly anti-democratic and
repressive nature of American society. This divisive debate cripples the
ability of ordinary Americans to unite around the things that we agree
on. Many people who describe themselves as liberals or leftists
unfortunately use the issue as a litmus test, and treat anybody who does
not support same-sex marriage as an enemy. This article attempts to turn
a divisive debate into an evidence-based discussion in which both sides
appreciate the fundamentally decent values that motivate the other side.
There are reasons why negative perceptions of people on the opposing
sides in this debate prevail.
Opponents of same-sex marriage typically do not give persuasive reasons
for their opposition. Often they simply cite the Bible or make vague
declarations to the effect that same-sex marriage is "obviously crazy"
or "against nature." Many of them seem to feel that everybody already
knows what's wrong with same-sex marriage, or should know, and those who
don't already know never will, so rational arguments are not called for.
Proponents of same-sex marriage, knowing that large majorities have
voted against same-sex marriage in statewide referenda (2004 election:
Arkansas 75%, Georgia 76%, Kentucky 75%, Michigan 59%, Mississippi 86%,
Montana 67%, North Dakota 73%, Ohio 62%, Oklahoma 76%, Oregon 57%, and
Utah 66%) try to keep the question off the ballot, hoping that judges
will make it legal by a court ruling, as happened in Massachusetts, the
only state where it is legal today. In so doing, they have appeared to
the other side as a social-engineering elite contemptuous of the central
idea of democracy--that ordinary people are fit to entrust with the
important decisions in society.
There are also reasons, however, why these negative perceptions of
people--on both sides of the issue--are unfair and misleading.
Proponents of same-sex marriage presumably don't think of themselves as
elitist social engineers. They simply believe that, as they put it,
"It's wrong to vote on rights." They see no reason to oppose same-sex
marriage other than bigotry, and think it is as wrong to let people vote
away same-sex couples' right to marry as it would be to let people vote
away the civil rights of racial minorities or to vote against allowing
mixed race couples to marry. It's not that they are against democracy;
it's just that they are for fairness and justice even more.
On the other side of the debate, people are not the irrational
fundamentalists they are portrayed as. Take the fact that opponents of
same-sex marriage often cite the Bible as their reason. Does this show
that they have no rational basis for their beliefs because they believe
anything if only the Bible says so? If somebody cites the Bible against
same-sex marriage, does he or she also believe that, to take examples
from sarcastic put-downs of such people, it is ok to "possess slaves,
both male and female," as long as they are purchased from neighboring
nations (Leviticus 25:44), or that one should put to death one's
neighbor if he works on the Sabbath, as prescribed in Exodus 35:2?
Clearly, people who cite the Bible against same-sex marriage do not
believe in Biblical authority in general. People pick and choose from
the Bible to defend only things that they believe independently of the
Bible. People don't believe in slavery so they don't cite the Bible in
support of it. They do oppose same-sex marriage and so they cite the
Bible on that topic.
Typically a person who selectively cites the Bible against same-sex
marriage may have reasons that he or she cannot articulate well. People
are not used to spelling out clearly why they believe ideas (like the
rightness of the Golden Rule or the wrongness of same-sex marriage) that
for thousands of years of human history have not required defending.
Does society have a legitimate interest in defining who may marry?
Is there anything about marriage that makes it legitimate for society to
legislate who can and who cannot marry? After all, nobody says that
society should legislate who can be friends with each other, or who can
be business partners with each other. So what concern is it of society
who marries each other?
The answer to this question, as almost everybody agrees, is that, in
contrast to a friendship or business relationship, a marriage
relationship can (which is not to say "should") produce children, and
society has a legitimate concern with the interests and welfare of
children. The point is simply that there is only one fact about a
marriage relationship that both distinguishes it from other kinds of
relationships and gives society a legitimate reason for legislating who
may enter into this relationship (i.e. marry each other), and that is
its potential for producing children with society's formal approval.
When society allows people to marry it is endorsing their right to "have
a child of their own" (which used to be equivalent to the right to have
sex.) All of the benefits society confers on married couples are
essentially ways that society promotes and encourages certain
potentially child-producing relationships.
Thus, the reason society does not let siblings marry is because it is
concerned that the children produced by such a marriage are at a higher
risk of genetic harm.* The reason nobody objected when the British
government recently ordered the dissolution of the marriage of a man and
woman, who found out only after they married that they were siblings
separated at birth, is that virtually everybody believes that the
welfare of children trumps the desires of adults. Nobody believes that
the prohibition of sibling marriage is motivated by hatred of siblings.
By the same token, society has no objection to siblings being friends or
business partners--relationships that are not called marriages for the
simple reason that they are not relationships within which people have
society's formal approval to "have a child of their own."
It is not logical to dismiss the entire question of whom society should
allow to marry by declaring, as some do, that, "The government should
not be involved with marriage at all--it's a private (or religious)
issue that is none of the government's business." Even those who think
the government should stay out of people's private affairs would surely
agree that it is proper for the government to protect the weakest
members of society, and that when people harm the weakest members of
society then it is, by definition, no longer a "private" affair but a
public one. No reasonable person, for example, would argue that the
government should not prevent people from molesting their children or
abusing their frail and elderly parents on the grounds that these are
"private" family affairs. By the same token, nobody who believes that
the children of siblings are at higher risk of genetic harm would argue
that the government should not prevent siblings from marrying, on the
grounds that "marriage is none of the government's business."
When society allows same-sex couples to marry, it is, therefore,
officially endorsing their right to "have a child of their own." But
such couples can only do this by means of test-tube conception, by which
term I am referring to babies conceived by means of donated (often
anonymously) sperm or egg. This method of conception necessarily entails
depriving the child of a normal family connection (and often of any
connection whatsoever) with its biological mother or father, in order to
satisfy the desires of a homosexual couple who cannot naturally conceive
on their own. Making same-sex marriage legal therefore means giving
formal social endorsement of this practice. If test-tube conception is
harmful to children, and if we agree that the welfare of children trumps
the desires of adults, then it follows that society should not make
same-sex marriage legal.
The question then becomes, is a child harmed by being deprived of a
relationship with its biological mother or farther?
The Psychological Pain and Damage Due to Being a Test-Tube Baby
There has never been a thorough public discussion about the possible
harm to children caused by their being conceived as a test-tube baby. We
all agree that society should protect its weakest members, especially
children. But we haven't yet, as a society, thoroughly discussed or
decided how to apply this principle to the question of test-tube babies.
(Go here for some background facts and statistics about test-tube babies
in the United States and other countries.)
There is considerable evidence of the psychological harm done to
children by being deprived of a connection to one of their biological
parents by virtue of their being test-tube babies.
Ellen Singer, LCSW-C, at The Center for Adoption Support and Education,
Inc., in her article, "Talking with Children Conceived Through Donor
Insemination, IVF with Egg Donor or Surrogacy," writes about the
"painful feelings" that a test-tube child will naturally have:
"Just as an adopted child may wish he had been born to his adoptive
parents, a child conceived with donor assistance may experience a sense
of loss that he is not biologically/genetically related to both parents.
Rather than protecting children from painful feelings through secrecy,
parents who disclose information need to believe that children can be
helped to cope with painful feelings."
Katrina Clark, in her Washington Post article, "My Father Was an
Anonymous Sperm Donor," writes about "the puzzle of who I am." She
writes, "I'm 18, and for most of my life, I haven't known half my
origins. I didn't know where my nose or jaw came from, or my interest in
foreign cultures. I obviously got my teeth and my penchant for corny
jokes from my mother, along with my feminist perspective. But a whole
other part of me was a mystery. That part came from my father. The only
thing was, I had never met him, never heard any stories about him, never
seen a picture of him. I didn't know his name. My mother never talked
about him -- because she didn't have a clue who he was." Ms. Clark tells
us that she feels harmed by being a test-tube child:
"I was angry at the idea that where donor conception is concerned,
everyone focuses on the "parents" -- the adults who can make choices
about their own lives. The recipient gets sympathy for wanting to have a
child. The donor gets a guarantee of anonymity and absolution from any
responsibility for the offspring of his "donation." As long as these
adults are happy, then donor conception is a success, right?
"Not so. The children born of these transactions are people, too. Those
of us in the first documented generation of donor babies -- conceived in
the late 1980s and early '90s, when sperm banks became more common and
donor insemination began to flourish -- are coming of age, and we have
something to say.
"I'm here to tell you that emotionally, many of us are not keeping up.
We didn't ask to be born into this situation, with its limitations and
confusion. It's hypocritical of parents and medical professionals to
assume that biological roots won't matter to the "products" of the
cryobanks' service, when the longing for a biological relationship is
what brings customers to the banks in the first place.
"We offspring are recognizing the right that was stripped from us at
birth -- the right to know who both our parents are."
Ms. Clark makes a powerful point when she notes that a child's longing
for a biological relationship can hardly be dismissed as unimportant
when it is precisely such a longing by adults that "brings customers to
the [sperm] banks in the first place."
Another child of donor insemination writes of her feelings in the BMJ
(formerly known as the British Medical Journal) in her article, "How it
feels to be a child of donor insemination." She describes how, as a
pre-teen she fantasized about her biological father being a famous star
or a prince, but that "As the turbulent teenage years passed the fantasy
lost its appeal. I began to think increasingly about where I came from
and became angry that I had been deprived of what I believe are my basic
rights." She explains that,
"I thought more about my genetic father, a welcome distraction from the
tedium of revision. I would stare in the mirror analysing features that
I had not inherited from my mother. I would scour faces in the street,
in the supermarket, and at school, desperately searching for
similarities in othersolder men could be my father, people my age
my half siblings. I lived in a surreal world wondering if one of the men
passing or teaching me was my genetic father. All I wanted was some
information, not necessarily to meet him and never for him to feel any
obligation towards me.
"I am curious about himhe provided half my genes and I have a
natural desire to know about my biological origins. I am fascinated to
find out more. Why did he donate? What does he look like? What are his
interests, his job? Who knows, he might want to know more about me."
Adopted** children provide more insight into the kind of suffering that
is caused when a person does not know his or her biological parents, no
matter how loving the adopting parents may be. One such adopted child,
Betty Jean Lifton, as an adult wrote Journey of the Adopted Self: A
Quest for Wholeness. She recounts:
"As I played my role of the good daughter--repressing a natural need to
know where I came from--I was unaware that the secrecy inherent in the
adoption system was shaping and constricting the self through which I
organized my perception of reality...Having repressed my real feelings,
I was not consciously aware of my pain. And as a consequence, I was not
consciously aware of myself, except as someone unreal pretending to be
real. I did things that my human friends did, even looked real in my
high school and college graduation pictures, and in the photographs
taken at my wedding..." [pp. 4-5]
"Why," Lifton asks, "do adopted people feel so alienated? Why do they
feel unreal, invisible to themselves and others? Why do they feel
unborn?" [pg. 7]
Brian, the 17 year old son of a surrogate mother, writes online, in an
extremely moving and powerful article, how angry he is at being sold, as
he views it, by his mother.
"My name is Brian and I am the son of a traditional surrogate, a
biological father, and an adoptive mother. I think all of you here need
to know how I feel about surrogacy...
"How do you think we feel about being created specifically to be given
away? You should all know that kids form their own opinions. I don't
care why my parents or my mother did this. It looks to me like I was
bought and sold. You can dress it up with as many pretty words as you
want. You can wrap it up in a silk freaking scarf. You can pretend these
are not your children. You can say it is a gift or you donated your egg
to the IM. But the fact is that someone has contracted you to make a
child, give up your parental rights and hand over your flesh and blood
child. I don't care if you think I am not your child, what about what I
think! Maybe I know I am your child. When you exchange something for
money it is called a commodity. Babies are not commodities. Babies are
human beings. How do you think this makes us feel to know that there was
money exchanged for us?
"Lets look at this from our point of view. Here is our biological mother
our flesh and blood the woman who would naturally be raising and loving
us totally denying that we are her child. I'm sorry but you just
can't do that. We are your kids. We're your kids just as much as
your own kids, but yet you only think of us as some sloughed off egg
that you are giving to a substitute mother who no matter how much love
she has just can't be the same as you? For 25 thousand dollars or
whatever? You don't bond with us when you are carrying us and you
deny that we are yours because you have deluded yourselves and deny who
and what we really are. That is so totally not right that I can't
believe anyone would think this is normal! And why are you doing this?
For the most part its money from what I understand. Some of you have
already admitted that in other posts. Would any of you do it if you did
not get compensated for it? Or maybe if you didn't get that feeling
of belonging or acceptance that you never had as a kid? How do you think
that makes us kids feel? You may be able to deny us but we don't
want to deny who you are. That makes us feel very rejected. That leaves
a hole in our hearts whether we admit to it or it manifests some other
way like in depression or a fear of getting close to someone else.
"Sometimes it doesn't show up until we are in our teens or young adults
and like me sometimes it shows up as a baby when I scream my head off
for 6 weeks and they call it colic. They call it stomach gas or an
immature neurological system. Nothing can console us. Bull. The truth is
that nobody is able to explain it because babies can't talk.
It's the only way a baby knows how to express itself and its rage
and grief and morning is to scream. I wanted my mother and she
wasn't there. I just had to accept it after a few weeks so I quit
crying. Just wait. The evidence of babies having stress and knowing who
their mothers are at birth is just beginning to come out. You can't
just substitute mothers and expect us to be okay with it. You can have
all the love and good intentions in the world but that doesn't make
it okay with us."
Note that the kind of pain these individuals (and many more) describe,
due to the broken bond between themselves and their biological
parent(s), is not something that would necessarily be manifested as an
obvious failure to thrive, or in behaviors such as poor school
performance or criminality etc. that would be easily measured by social
statistics and written about by academic researchers. And yet the pain
is nonetheless real.
Scientific sociological studies also provide insight into another aspect
of the harm that is done to children when they are not raised by both of
their biological parents.
In "The Impact of Family Disruption in Childhood on Transitions Made in
Young Adult Life" by Kathleen E. Kiernan in the peer-reviewed journal
Population Studies [Vol. 46, No. 2 (Jul., 1992), pp. 213-234], results
are presented from a major longitudinal study of 17,000 children born in
1958 in Britain. The study assessed, among other things, the effect on
children of being raised in a family with one biological and one
step-parent versus two biological parents. Of note, this study took into
account that there are economic and other influences that may make a
step-parent family different from a traditional one, and so the outcomes
for children in various family structures were compared to one another
only after "controlling" for these extraneous factors. The study reports
"Young men from step-families were more likely to form partnerships and
become fathers at an earlier age than their contemporaries from intact
or lone-mother families. For young women from both step and lone-parent
families the propensity to form unions in their teens, to have a child
at an early age and to bear a child outside marriage was higher than for
those who came from intact families."
In the peer-reviewed journal, Pediatrics ["Household Composition and
Risk of Fatal Child Maltreatment", Vol. 109 No. 4 April 2002, pp.
615-621], Michael N. Stiffman, MD, MSPH et al report results from a
case-control study to evaluate household composition as a risk factor
for fatal child maltreatment, using data from the Missouri Child
Fatality Review Panel system, 1992-1994. They report that "Children
residing in households with adults unrelated to them were 8 times more
likely to die of maltreatment than children in households with 2
Martin Daly and Margo Wilson at the Department of Psychology, McMaster
University (Canada) write in "The 'Cinderella effect' is no fairy tale"
that "we proposed long ago that step-parents might be over-represented
as child abusers, and analyzed U.S. data, which confirmed the
hypothesized overrepresentation. [Wilson, M.I. , Daly, M. and Weghorst,
S.J. (1980) "Household composition and the risk of child abuse and
neglect," J. Biosoc. Sci. 12, 333-340]...In reality, there are now
dozens of confirmatory studies. In one striking example, we reported
that the rate of fatal beatings of Canadian preschoolers by (putative)
genetic fathers between 1974 and 1990 was 2.6 per million children at
risk per annum, whereas the corresponding rate for stepfathers was 321.6
per million [Daly, M. and Wilson, M. (2001) "An assessment of some
proposed exceptions to the phenomenon of nepotistic discrimination
against stepchildren," Ann. Zool. Fennici 38, 287-296]."
The importance of large-sample studies like these is that they tell us
about differences, on average, between children raised by both
biological parents versus one biological and one step-parent, and they
provide evidence that, on average, children from intact families fare
better. Of course some children from intact families fared worse than
some children from step-parent families, and vice versa. But whenever a
social policy decision needs to be made, we make it by comparing a
typical or average result for one choice versus a typical or average
result from the alternative choice; we don't compare the best result
from one versus the worst result from the other and choose the worst
alternative on the grounds that, "some people do better with that choice
than some people did with the other choice."
Results like those from these studies suggest that it matters whether a
child's parent is the biological parent or not. Granted, these studies
did not compare same-sex parents of test-tube babies to traditional
parents. One could speculate that conclusions about step-parents versus
biological parents drawn from these studies might not apply to a
same-sex couple in which the non-biological parent (the step-parent)
participated in the decision to use a test-tube baby conception. But the
fact remains that the widely held perception--that biological parents,
on average, care more about a child than a non-biological parent, and
that, no matter how loving a step-parent is, children develop a
healthier frame of mind, on average, when they are raised by their
biological parents than when they are not-- is consistent with
large-sample scientific studies. And the assertion that some people
make--that biology counts for nothing in determining the benefit or harm
a child experiences from having an adult in a parental role--seems to be
contradicted by the data.
There is certainly sufficient evidence that test-tube babies are harmed
by this method of conception to warrant a serious public discussion of
the matter, and to conclude that it is too early for society to formally
endorse or in any way promote the practice of bringing children into the
world by means of donated sperm or egg.
We Need A Rational, Evidence-Based Public Discussion of Same-Sex
We need people on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate to focus
some of their attention on the question of test-tube baby conception and
its connection to the marriage question, and try to reach an informed
conclusion on this topic, based on evidence and logical reasoning, that
gains the respect of most people, even if not their full agreement.
We need the anti-same-sex marriage side to do more than cite the Bible
or simply assert that same-sex marriage is just plain wrong and crazy.
We need the pro-same-sex marriage side to acknowledge that there are
reasonable grounds for doubting the wisdom of legalizing same-sex
marriage that have to do with a concern for the welfare of children, not
bigotry, and that these concerns need to be addressed. A discussion
along these lines would be unifying, not divisive.
Part of the reason why such a discussion is not happening is that the
corporate/government elite don't want it to happen. They use divide and
rule to strengthen their power over the rest of us in society, and they
have discovered that the same-sex marriage question can be used to turn
people against each other. When people try to discuss same-sex marriage
along the lines proposed above, they find their views barred from the
letters-to-the-editor page, or the op-ed page of their newspaper.
Name-calling and other irrational arguments, on the other hand, are
given plenty of exposure.
The fundamental problem is that we don't have a real democracy. If we
did have real democracy we'd have, among many other very important
things, the opportunity to discuss important issues with each other in a
constructive manner. Our mass-media would promote this, not obstruct it.
It is high time that people on opposite sides of this and other critical
questions that confront us as a society come together to find a common
ground of mutual respect and support to discuss and deal with them.
* I am introducing the topic of sibling marriage and genetic harm to
children from such a marriage merely to illustrate that laws about who
can marry are motivated by a concern for children; I am not suggesting
that genetic harm to children is a concern in same-sex marriage.
** I am introducing the topic of adoption merely to illustrate some of
the consequences for children of the bond between them and their
biological parents being broken. I am not suggesting here that same-sex
couples should not be allowed to adopt a child. Nor am I suggesting that
there is anything wrong with people adopting a child whose biological
parents are, for some unfortunate reason, unable or unwilling to raise
A key difference between adoption and test-tube baby conception is this.
In the former case the adopting parents are in no way responsible for
whatever breaks the bond between the child and its biological parents;
the cause is something like the death of the biological parents, or
their physical or mental incompetence to raise the child, or their
refusal to raise it, or extreme poverty etc. In the latter case,
however, the couple themselves are the cause of the broken bond between
the child and one of its biological parents because their decision to
conceive a test-tube baby is, necessarily, a deliberate decision to
break that bond.
Another difference between adoption and test-tube baby conception in
relation to marriage is this. Adoption doesn't create the child, it
merely is a way that people help a child who already exists (and who
cannot, for some unfortunate reason, be raised by its biological
parents.) Test-tube conception, in contrast, creates a baby. It is
because of this difference that marriage--a relationship that society
reserves for people whom it approves creating a child--is not a
requirement for adopting a child but is a requirement for having
society's formal approval and encouragement to create a child. Anybody,
married or not, can receive society's approval and encouragement to
adopt a child, for example a single grandmother adopting a grandchild
whose parents cannot raise it.
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