“The fact that connects us all, as human beings, is the fact that everybody comes from a mother and a father.”
Alana Newman speaks in today’s clip with a forceful rhetorical statement, that if we tweak this fundamental fact of human existence, we are “robbing [someone] of their humanity.” She speaks from personal experience of the pain of a child who is denied the right to know her father. Did you know that children who are born of third-party reproduction do not have any rights to know who their natural father (or mother) is? Alana speaks about this later in the video, saying that when she learned that the sperm donor was Polish, she flew to Poland so that she could know something of her heritage in that way. Her experience led Alana to start a project called Anonymous Us, a story collective of children from third-party reproduction. She also put a number of these stories into a book that was recently published.
Today, take the opportunity to think about what knowing your natural parents, and thus their families as well, has meant to you; or, if you have been unable to know one or both of them, consider this loss and how you have been able to overcome it. Think of a single parent that you know, and ask yourself if there is a way for you to help them as they raise their child, particularly if you can act as a mentor in the place of a missing parent. While you can never replace that loss, you could help the child navigate it.
 Third-party reproduction is the term used to describe when the reproductive faculties or material of a third person (whether this person is known to the person/couple or not) are used in some way to “make” a child for the other person/couple. The most common form of third-party reproduction is artificial insemination, in which a man “donates” his sperm (he is paid for this), which is then used to fertilize a woman’s ovum. Other forms use a “donated” egg or even an embryo of another couple.
In today’s clip, Ryan Anderson addresses three truths that should serve to undergird society’s upholding of the unique relationship of marriage. They are:
- Anthropological (men and women are distinct and complementary)
- Biological (procreation requires both a man and a woman)
- Social (that children deserve both a mother and a father)
Ryan notes that these truths have been cross-culturally acknowledged. People from many different times and places recognized that the relationship between a man and a woman, the only one that naturally leads to the birth and upbringing of children, is unique and worthy of protection. The natural family is not something that society made up; rather, laws and culture recognized it as a fundamentally human reality. We are each born to a mother and a father, and we deserve to have a relationship with those people who brought us into existence.
While this is a basic truth of humanity, the understanding of it as such has been gradually chipped away through societal changes. Increasing non-marital childbearing, divorce rates, separation between sex and procreation through either (on the one hand) contraception or abortion or (on the other) in vitro fertilization, scientific experiments on embryonic human life, etc. have all served to dull our sense of the relationship that should exist between men, women, and their children. Despite any thoughts or feelings that two people subjectively may have about their relationship, when they come together in a sexual act, they are participating in that-which-creates-life. And at that point, when life is created from an act that they chose, the man and woman are no longer the only people involved or the only people who get to define their relationship. They have a responsibility to the person they created by virtue of the simple fact that they created them. The child did not choose to come into existence, and he or she becomes the recipient of whatever heritage his or her parents offer. When this heritage is stability and a dedication to the child’s growth and education, it is no more than what the child deserves. Marriage provides justice for the child.
If you have children, spend a little time today in prayer recalling that they are gifts. Think about how they were not owed to you and that you did not “deserve” them or have a “right” to them. If you do not have children, pay attention today to the way that others speak of their children and seek to remind them that they are gifts.
Another idea is to tell a family story (or two) at lunch about your parents and some of their interactions, and/or how you seek to be a good mother or father to your children.