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Title: Adoption: The 'Catholic Alternative' to In-Vitro Fertilization?
Subtitle: Reflections on a Marginal Topic of Theological Ethics
Author(s): WALSER, Angelika
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 25    Issue: 2   Date: 2019   
Pages: 148-161
DOI: 10.2143/INT.25.2.3287503

Abstract :
Facing global inequities with impoverished families and children struggling for survival versus a privileged minority that can afford infertility treatment, the author explores challenges regarding responsible adoption procedures from a theological-ethical perspective. The contribution questions traditional Catholic and Christian arguments approving adoption as a 'morally superior reproduction choice' for infertile couples. It identifies major psychological and ethical challenges for everyone involved in the adoption setting. Starting from the child’s initial position as a particularly vulnerable 'strange guest', the author highlights issues that arise from traditional family models and individual expectations, both in the biological and the adoptive family. However, adoption is more than a question of private arrangement. As the state is present to secure the welfare of the child, an ethics of institutional justice is required to provide 'institutional hospitality' for adoptive children. In this context, social workers play a vital role in accompanying children and families with supportive measures, emphasizing responsibilities, and mediating between the two families. Building bridges is exceptionally relevant due to recent insights into the advantages of open forms of adoption, which concentrate on honest and open communication regarding the birth family as well, offering strategies to cope with stigmatization, and preventing identity conflicts for the child. Additionally, an open approach can empower birth mothers/families often bound in asymmetric situations towards the adopting families. The contribution outlines the resources of Christian biblical tradition and virtue ethics for contemporary forms of adoption with regard to securing human dignity for the members of the adoption triad (child, birth family, adoptive family). Ultimately, this approach seeks to overcome the notion of adoption as a mere substitute for reproduction, shifting the focus to the aspect of adoption as a legitimate constellation of living together as a family, which is not restricted to genetic-biological relations. Adoptions offer an opportunity for a lifelong emotional relationship and can succeed, resting upon a voluntary decision for unconditional commitment to a child in need. Considering findings and arguments not only on an individual level but with a distinct focus on the institutional level, this approach sets the framework to unfold a viable and comprehensive ethics of adoption, particularly from a Catholic perspective that has so far been missing.

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