had an interesting experience this past month that not everyone has: I was interviewed for the national news magazine Inside Edition. Of course, one hour of footage got shrunk to 30 seconds but it still aired all over the country. The topic was surrogacy. Many readers may not know what this is or have only heard of it in the context of Hollywood.

    Surrogates, or gestational carriers, are women who volunteer their wombs to carry the fetuses of other people. This is different from adoption in which a biological infant is given usually to an unrelated couple previously unknown to the pregnant woman. Surrogates carry someone else’s fetus for them. They themselves have no genetic connection to the baby that is born. They simply supply the embryo with a place to live.

    One scenario is a woman who has lost her uterus to cancer but still has ovaries. She and her husband can make an embryo through in vitro fertilization (IVF) but she has no womb for it to live in. They can place the embryo in another woman’s healthy womb and that woman can carry the baby to term and give birth for them. When the birthing process is complete, the surrogate hands the baby to the couple and her duties are done.

    This is completely different than a woman who gives her baby to be adopted. That baby shares her genetic material and is legally hers. She must relinquish her right to that child and give it to a couple who have no biologic connection to it but who will raise it as their own. The difficult emotional decisions of adoption do not exist with surrogacy. A contract is made to carry someone else’s child. From the beginning the surrogate knows this is not her baby and she can easily turn over that baby to its rightful parents without the emotional trauma a woman relinquishing her flesh and blood incurs.

    This is a fairly new arrangement made possible by the wonders of medical science, specifically the ability through IVF to transport embryos to any location one chooses. I have delivered 4 babies in the past couple years that were carried by surrogates. The Inside Edition story featured a woman who had carried five babies for other couples and runs an agency in San Antonio called Surrogate Angels that matches parents-in-waiting with potential surrogates. While there is some financial compensation, this woman saw her ability to carry children as a ministry. When she had had five of her own, she offered her very gifted womb to help other women realize their dream of motherhood.

    Recently, news magazines have featured stories of surrogates used by Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman, and Ricky Martin. One is tempted to dismiss what celebrities do as bizarre and twisted. At the very least, it seems unnatural and outside the will of God. I will admit that many will argue about gay men using surrogates to have children of their own. And some will say that unwanted children should be adopted before someone makes more children in this world. The truth is adoption can be an uncertain and lengthy process fraught with regret and without the guarantee of success. Many couples have waited two or three years to be placed, only to have the mother change her mind at the last minute. That is certainly her right. But with surrogacy, the gestational carrier has no legal rights to that baby because it is not genetically hers.

    The State of Texas has been especially forceful and clear in its legal opinions on surrogacy. Consequently, people come from many states and even other countries to find surrogates here. I have worked with three different surrogates: one carried two different children for the same couple that were made through IVF of that man’s sperm and woman’s eggs; one carried for a gay man who used a donor woman’s egg to be fertilized with his sperm; and one carried for an older couple whose wife had gone through menopause and they used a donated egg to be fertilized with his sperm.

    This is where we are scientifically and medically. I bring all this up because the Hollywood hype tends to overshadow a very real avenue to parenthood many “regular” people don’t know is available to them. It is not just the rich and famous who can use medical advancements to fulfill their dreams of children. At one time I, too, might have been skeptical of this whole endeavor. But I have delivered these miracles with my own two hands and given them to people who never thought they would hold their own flesh and blood in those arms. It is an awesome experience.

    When I first wrestled with the oddity of it all, the Lord brought a familiar story to my mind. In the first chapter of the Book of Luke, these words are recorded:

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus…"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:26-35)

    Mary was the first surrogate. God did not place some Holy Sperm into her egg and create a half-god, half-human man. Mary’s DNA was not involved or Jesus would not have been born without sin. God simply chose her womb to place His divine embryo and in the fulfillment of time, she handed Jesus back to His rightful Father. That is why in Matthew 12:48 Jesus says to those who announce His mother is looking for Him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"

    God used the gift of a fertile womb to change the destiny of mankind forever. The next time you are tempted to pass judgment on those who go to great lengths to have a child, remember the very great length God the Father went through to give us the most precious Child of all.

Copyright © 2011, Dr. Scott Farhart, M.D. Reprinted by permission. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use or duplication is prohibited.