CONDITIONS OF BAPTISM OF CHILDREN BORN THROUGH SURROGACY

The Russian Orthodox Church has formulated the conditions of the baptism of children born through surrogacy.

The Church is open to all who seek salvation. Baptism is the sacrament of the entering into the Church and implies the accordance of baptized people with its faith and doctrine, as well as their subsequent participation in church life. The sacrament of baptism is performed in the Church both for adults and for children.

The adults, parents, and godfather give the consent for baptism instead of the child. As a condition of the child’s baptism is also considered his upbringing in the Christian faith and in accordance with the rules of Christian morality, which involves parents’, children’s, teachers’ regular participation in religious ceremonies and sacraments.

As for the question of the possibility of baptism of children born through surrogacy, then answering to that question it is necessary to bear in mind the following factors: on the one hand, any child can be baptized according to their faith, who aims to baptize him. The child cannot be responsible for his parents’ actions and he isn’t guilty for the fact, that his birth is related to the reproductive technology, which is condemned by the Church. On the other hand, parents and godfathers are responsible for the child’s Christian education.

If the parents do not obviously repent for the action that they have done, and the godfather actually consents to the sinful deed, then how we can speak of Christian education. In such a case, the Church’s refusal of children’s will comply with the Orthodox tradition, which requires the consent of the person being baptized, and in the case of children, their parents’ and godfather’s concent with Church teaching.

Such rejection will also have pastoral meaning because with that the society will receive a clear signal of the Church that the use of surrogacy is intolerable from the Christian point of view.

A child born through surrogacy can be baptized by desire of persons who bring him up if these persons are his biological parents or surrogate mother, but only after they realize that such reproductive technology is morally reprehensible from the Christian point of view, and will repent, whether consciously or unconsciously they have ignored the position of the Church. Only then the Church can expect that the baptized child will be educated in true faith and Christian moral concepts will be given to him.

If there is no such consciousness, the decision of baptism is postponed until the child’s conscious, personal choice. In the last case, the fact of surrogate birth is not in itself an obstacle for the baptism of a man because he is not responsible for the behavior of his parents.

In cases when the baby, born through a surrogate mother, is brought to the church, the question of his baptism may be resolved in accordance with the instruction of the diocesan bishop who have to be guided by the provisions of ecclesiastical document. In case of a danger of death, children’s baptism is permitted, regardless of birth circumstances.

The official views of the Russian Orthodox Church clarify enough the issue of baptism of children born through surrogacy. In the document of the Russian Orthodox Church, however, one factor was not considered.

When the parents bring their child, born through surrogacy, to the church for baptism and tell about the circumstance of child’s birth, that fact can be one of the signs of their repentance or remorse because the Church, no matter how much announces the official opinions on that issue, how can carry out the actions in accordance with its position if the parents do not declare the child’s birth form?

Sometimes may be some cases with resonance in the society, by which the special circumstance is known,  but the Church cannot have information about the history of the birth of all people.

In recent years many children are born in this way, according to the specialists, doctors. However, it is very rarely, when the parents declare in the church the form of their child’s birth. Isn’t it right that many parents who have children, born with the help of surrogate motherhood, can very easily refuse to announce about it, because in the church nobody asks: “How is born your child, from natural, in vitro fertilization, or through the surrogate mother”. And if the parents, in a special way, inform about it in the church, it means that there is a sense of regret, remorse for having done a wrong deed.

Such parents should not be immediately reproved, but the fact that they reveal the situation must be considered as the beginning of repentance. The clergyman has to explain and speak to them with pastoral care; to assign penance and also to urge them to upcoming joy on the occasion of the baptism of their child.

The fact that the way of children’s birth is not known in the church, in present conditions, considering the existing problems, already brings the need of more careful practice, in case of doubt to inquire about the circumstances of child’s birth and to provide adequate pastoral instruction and treatment.