Another Guest Post by Hadassah Sabo Milner
Over Shavuot we had an interesting discussion around the table at a friend’s house. I have heard of some single women in large religious communities who are still unmarried in their mid to late thirties and feeling the tick tick tick of their biological clock, and have spoken to their rabbis about the ethics of having a baby through sperm donation.
I totally get these women – they desperately want a child, and Mister Right has not shown up, (or he has been and gone without them realizing it) and their child bearing years are coming to a close. What to do? In the secular world, many women would not think much more than twice about going to a sperm bank, or even (following a coronation street story line – I watch ‘em all) have a male friend help them out donation wise. Single mothers by choice are not the anomaly they once were. Plus these days we are so part of the NOW generation. I want a baby, I want it now, there is no man on the horizon, nor is there likely to be, I am out of patience, let’s go get me a baby.
(Let me just say that it is another thing if one finds oneself in a situation where one is pregnant and the father walks away from the responsibility. To me this is a totally different kettle of fish)
But this is the religious world I am talking about. There must be so many halachic issues here. So, the baby will have a Jewish mother, that makes it Jewish. It won’t be a “mamzer” because that only applies to the child of a married woman who becomes pregnant by a man other than her husband. The woman isn’t sinning because she is not having premarital sex. Does she have to ensure that the anonymous donor is NOT Jewish? Because if the donor were to be Jewish, then maybe one day the child may meet a sibling, not know it was a sibling, and fall in love.
Then, what would she tell the child? How would the child be treated in its religious school? The “acceptable” Jewish family is mom, dad and kids. Other children can be so mean. Would she be setting up her child for a lifetime of aggravation from his/her community. Would the child be accepted? What about the child’s emotional needs? doesn’t every child have the right to two parents, at least to start off life properly?
I also wondered, where is this woman’s emunah, faith, in G-d? Does she not trust that He will send her a husband when He decides it’s the right time? That if G-d decides she should have a child, then He will make it happen in the right way?
I have so many concerns about this, and am so curious as to what others think about it. Those of you who live in Israel (or other places with a high concentration of Jews) – have you heard of cases like these? What have been the reactions of the community and rabbis?
Please let me know your thoughts – I am sure this is a complicated topic.