Embryonic Adoption

Infertility Ethics Symposium – Saturday, November 8th


Calling all LCMS pastors, seminarians, commissioned ministers, deaconesses, and parish nurses!

We certainly live in a “brave new world,” especially when it comes to infertility medicine.

In vitro fertilization, embryo adoption and assisted reproductive technologies…What is the Church to do? How can the Church steer congregations through the ethically murky waters of infertility medicine? What comfort can we as the Church offer to those who suffer from infertility and miscarriages?

LCMS Life Ministry and the Concordia Seminary Life Team are helping start the conversation by sponsoring an Infertility Ethics Symposium for pastors, seminarians, commissioned ministers, deaconesses, and parish nurses on Saturday, November 8, at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Won’t you please join us?

Admittance is free.

Contact LCMS Life Ministry at 314-996-1711 or tracy.quaethem@lcms.org for more info as it becomes available.

Symposium Schedule:

8:30 a.m. – Opening Worship – Rev. William Weedon (Homily: Prof. John Pless)
9:00 a.m. – “Be Fruitful and Multiply: When It Doesn’t Work” – Rev. William Cwirla
10:00 a.m. – coffee break
10:30 a.m. – “Survey of Reproductive Counseling Practices in the Lutheran Church” – Rev. Dr. Kevin E. Voss
11:30 a.m. – “IVF: from Created to Creator” – Rev. Dr. James Lamb
12:30 p.m. – lunch
1:45 p.m. – “Embryo Adoption: Helping or Hurting My Neighbor?” – Rev. Dr. Robert W. Weise
2:45 p.m. – “Pastoral Care for Those Experiencing Infertility” – Rev. Christopher Esget
3:45 p.m. – break
4:00 p.m. – “The LCMS and Infertility Ethics” – Rev. Peter Brock
5:00 p.m. – Closing Worship – Rev. William Weedon (Homily: Dr. Jeff Gibbs)
5:30 p.m. – Gemütlichkeit

Hold Your Horses

horserace start gateTechnology will always move faster than the Church. The infertility medicine industry may insist on creating and freezing embryonic children, but that does not automatically mean the Church should be bullied into adopting and implanting them. She should wait until she can with full, Scriptural confidence say that surrogacy in such a situation is pleasing to God and serves the best interest of her neighbors – all of them, including the statistically doomed 65%.

At the same time, the Church should not be a Levite and cross on the far side of the street from those abandoned to die in the ditch. She should speak on this issue. She should pray for these precious children, advocate for their legal rights, work to stop the creation and freezing of more children outside of the marriage bed in the procedure of IVF, and encourage parents to rescue their children from the freezer.

Help us, Lord God, and save us from our sins, for Jesus’ sake. “Cast us not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Spirit from us.” Amen.

Upcoming Pastors’ Roundtables

Dear Pastors,

We could use your help formulating theological responses to ethical points of contention surrounding IVF and embryonic adoption. Would you please join us for a roundtable discussion of these issues and their effects on all of us in the church?

When: Saturday, May 18th, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Where: Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Davenport, IA

When: Thursday, May 23rd, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Where: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Sherman, IL

When: Thursday, June 6th, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Where: Village Lutheran Church, St. Louis (Ladue), MO

Please RSVP through the Submit a Question page on this website if you plan to attend, or, if you would like to host a pastors’ roundtable discussion of these issues at your own church, please contact us. 

Thank you for your help!

The HRTB Ladies

Fake Laws

Orate Mirror in the Corner of a Room“The devil is a Pharisee,” my husband said to me the other night. “He makes up fake laws for us to keep.”

The devil tries to make us feel guilty. He waves our sins in front of our faces in an attempt to make us despair, and, when that doesn’t work, he makes up fake laws to confuse and damn us.

You need to have a child, or your life isn’t blessed by God.

You need to foster and adopt a child, or you are not a Christian. 

You need to adopt an embryo, or you are not showing the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

You, you, you, you…

That’s what the devil does. He tries to get you to look in the mirror, not at Christ on the cross. He tries to get you to see a lost and condemned creature, not the righteous Christ Who was put upon you in your Baptism.

For, if he can get you to trust in the keeping of Pharisaical laws over Christ’s forgiveness of sinners, then you are damned and he has won.

Embryo Adoption: The Issue of Neglect

Technician Dropping Specimen in DishQuestion Submitted: Could we please consider that perhaps our church should take action by promoting embryo adoption as a viable alternative to “regular” adoption?  Yes, we agree that those frozen embryos are children of God that need a home, so let’s not wait to bicker over how to stop IVF from producing those little lives (which I don’t see as a realistic goal) but let’s turn instead to giving the people responsible for those lives another option besides putting them in the trash…or donating them for research.  But the word is not sufficiently out there in the Christian community because we hold back, worried about ______ (fill in the blank).

I, personally, am worried about the issue of neglect.

A good friend once told me that she could be arrested for neglect if she failed in sheltering, protecting, feeding, or taking care of her children. We have laws in place in this country which protect children who are born into this world, but we do not have laws which protect the unborn (those created in a petri dish or growing in a womb).

Another discriminatory fact is that our government enforces a regulatory system, a filter of sorts, which attempts to make sure children up for adoption are placed in safe, thriving, legally-approved homes under the care of experienced, trained, sanctioned parental figures. Our government does not regulate the wombs which wish to adopt an embryo. Private embryo adoptions and those facilitated through fertility clinics have no legal safeguards in place to make sure the womb into which implantation will be attempted is healthy, safe, and thriving. Some embryo adoption agencies require written notice from a physician that no known contraindications to pregnancy exist in an adoptive womb, but, otherwise, there seems to be no concern about the crime of neglect when it comes to these most vulnerable of children.

And these children, at this point in time, have only a 35% chance of implanting after the FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) through embryo adoption. Remember, a 35% success rate of implantation means 65% of them die in the process.

If we do indeed want to rescue these frozen children, I do not think the best womb for attempting implantation is the one which has yet to bring a child to full health and vitality outside of the womb. I personally think attempting implantation in such a case can be a form of neglect, and that is one reason I have never endorsed embryonic adoption on this site, a site intended for barren women. God in His wisdom has not given some couples the gift of children through their own wombs, and I am fearful of encouraging these couples to adopt embryos. Statistically, at least 65% of them will see the action of their adopting lead to the death of their adopted child. My conscience is burdened by this, and I do not know how to reconcile it.

I know you write to us because you have compassion for the estimated 612,000 embryos currently frozen in our country, and I believe your call to action is a fruit of your wishing for these precious, loved-by-God children to be rescued. Sadly, the embryo adoption industry has chosen to forgo your noble theme of rescue in their marketing and has, instead, turned their advertising campaign towards the unfruitful womb, toward the barren. See for yourself below:


This might be part of the reason why the Christian community holds back. How do we promote rescue without simultaneously promoting the growth of an unregulated industry? How do we protect these children without also putting them at risk? How do we save them without killing them? How do we determine who should live and who should die? Who are we to do such things?

Lord, help us!

In the meantime, all I know in good conscience to do is to pray for these children, encourage couples considering embryo adoption to turn to their pastors for counsel and guidance, urge my church and government to keep these children from being made and abused in the first place, and trust in Christ’s mercy.

(There are other reasons which can be applied to your “fill in the blank” – i.e. Biblical support of adoption but not of surrogacy, the potential breaking of the one-flesh union, promoting an action which we know kills some of these children, etc.  – and I hope to address some of these reasons in future posts. Thank you for your patience.)

Embryonic Adoption

Question Submitted: What do you think of embryonic adoption?

Rebecca and I have spent hours on the phone, on the road, and over our dinner plates talking about this, and here is what we think:

Before we engage in a conversation about embryonic adoption in the Church, we first need to come to an agreement in the Church that embryos should cease being produced and frozen through the procedure of IVF.

In an effort to get that conversation on IVF rolling, we are engaging various LCMS pastors across the Midwest in a series of roundtable discussions on the topic. We’ll check in with you later about embryonic adoption once we’ve listened to what our pastors have to say.

In the meantime, let’s continue to pray for our littlest neighbors frozen in time. Lord, have mercy.