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Unformatted text preview: Adopting embryos in America: a case study and an ethical analysis* John Berkman Department of Theology, 125 Caldwell Hall, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064, USA [email protected] Abstract In 2001, on behalf of two Christian couples, a Christian adoption agency in the United States arranged an open embryo adoption. In addition to ethically analyzing this specific case, this paper situates the case politically and medically and distinguishes a number of general moral considerations relevant for reflection on this case. The paper concludes that while the choice to adopt embryos is morally appropriate and even praiseworthy in some circumstances, troubling features in this specific case rendered this particular adoption morally problematic. In the summer 2001 issue of the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly , JoAnn L. Davidson published ‘A Successful Embryo Adoption’. In this article David- son, who directs a program for adopting embryos at a Christian adoption agency in the United States, describes a case of embryo adoption handled by her agency. 1 The case presented is of an open adoption, in which the genetic parents have a role in choosing the adoptive parents and may have continued contact with any adopted children that are born. The ‘Smiths’, who have nine extra embryos, contact the adoption agency and compile a profile of criteria to be used in selecting the family they would like to adopt their embryos. Meanwhile, the ‘Johnsons’ have contacted the agency wanting to adopt embryos. The agency matched these two couples in November 2000, and a contract was signed on 23 December 2000. The contract allowed the Johnsons to thaw and implant the embryos, and 438 * I am grateful for the comments of W. Barbieri, C. Crysdale, D. Ferris, J. Grabowski, R. Johns-Danes, J. Komonchak, F. Moloney, J. Utz, and H. Watt on previous drafts of this paper. Thanks also for support from the CUA Grant-in-Aid program during the beginning stages of research on this paper, and the Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life for support during the final stages of writing. 1 Davidson is the program director for the Snowflakes Frozen Embryo Adoption Program, one of the services of Nightlight Christian Adoptions, located in Fullerton, California. Nightlight Christian Adoptions, a charitable not-for-profit adoption agency licensed by the State of California to provide domestic and international adoption services, has an evangelical Christian orientation and is supported by American evangelical groups such as Focus on the Family. As of June 2002, more information on this program could be found at www.snowflakes.org . SJT 55(4): 438–460 (2002) Printed in the United Kingdom # 2002 Scottish Journal of Theology Ltd included a stipulation that after six months embryos that had not been implanted would be relinquished to the Smiths, unless a further agreement had been reached. On 15 January 2001, the embryos were shipped by Federal Express to the Johnsons’ fertility clinic. The embryologist selectedFederal Express to the Johnsons’ fertility clinic....
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- Fall '09
- Theology, Embryo, human embryos, In vitro fertilisation, Embryo transfer