This fall as I was helping to teach a four week course on singleness at our church (note, Way to go church!), we got asked a question that I had never thought about before. And believe me I’ve thought about a lot of angles on this thing the last few years.
The question was essentially this: “Should/can single people adopt children? And what about artificial insemination?”
To be honest I was not ready for the question. There were two thoughts that came immediately to my mind that made me want to lean yes. First, let’s be honest, there are a lot of kids that are in really bad situations. In fact, in our current culture, more women have their first kid out of wedlock than in it. Would it really be worse for them to be with a good Christian single parent? Really?
Secondly, there are a lot of women, and many men who desperately want to have kids. I believe this is biological as well as spiritual desire. Heck, we are supposed to go and multiply. That’s one of the first commands of the bible. It’s natural to want to do that. We’ve of course completely separated this from sex (which we’ve already separated from marriage) in our culture. But that doesn’t make the base desire bad.
But after thinking about it more, I have big reservations.
The first big question we’d better ask ourselves is what are our motives? In other words why is it that you want to be a parent? While it’s great to have that desire, it’s really not about you. It’s not about meeting some sort of emotional desire or fulfilling a dream you’ve had of your lineage going forward. It’s about sacrifice and love. You will be the number one influence (good or bad) on that person’s life. That is not to be done out of some sort of personal need.
Secondly we need to understand that there is an order to things. We’ve kind of been sold in our culture that we can skip parts of the order. Go ahead and have sex without being married. Live together before you get married. So why not go ahead and be a parent. I can’t find someone to marry, or maybe I don’t even want to do the “spouse” thing, but I want to have a kid. Why not just go for it?
But this is flawed thinking. And it’s made worse by the idea that we can do what we want by ourselves. In other words, the whole “I don’t need a man/woman” mentality. But to be married and have a kid the right way, you actually do. That’s part of the deal. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s one thing to have messed up the order by sinning and have a kid as a result, it’s another to go out and create it on purpose.
Third it’s either better for a child to have both of his parents or it’s not. Most people believe that a stable two parent home where both people are married is the best place for a kid to be. Now that doesn’t mean that if a kid doesn’t have it that he can’t do well. If that was true we’d be in real trouble as most kids don’t have that these days. But just because it can be done, doesn’t mean it should be done. The truth is that the number one thing you can do as a parent is love your spouse. That comes first. Kids know.
So what does all this mean practically when answering the question?
I understand there are strong emotions involved here, but here’s what I think.
I think under no circumstance should you as a single person go out and on purpose get pregnant artificially or any other way. This to me is the most clear answer. Choosing to go out and get pregnant and bring a kid into the world with only one parent is wrong. To me that’s about you, not about what’s best. That’s choosing on purpose to bring a kid into a single parent home.
What’s less clear is the adoption question. I think that you could make a strong case for adopting an older kid that is stuck in the system so to speak. But I think we should keep in mind that there are a lot of great ways to help kids without adopting them. You could be a foster parent. You could invest in the lives of kids through an outreach ministry. You could let a kid that is in trouble live with you for a time.
I had a close friend who met a refugee family in our city. There was one young kid who my friend wanted to help get a good education. He offered their family a place to live in a good school district. They said yes, but then bailed. But he went ahead and took the kid in for two years while the mom got things straightened out. He sacrificed a ton for this kid. But once the mom was in a better spot, the kid went with her. My friend never adopted this kid, but the impact was huge. It was about the kid, not about my friend’s desire to be a parent – even though he does have that desire.
My point is if you want to help a kid in a bad situation, there are a lot of great ways to do that, in which you could have impact. You can be a parental figure without being a parent. The number one point is this: It should be about the kid, not about you.