From Catholic News Service, the story of a Catholic couple who have had three children through embryonic adoption:
In the document "Dignitas Personae" ("The Dignity of a Person") -- released at the Vatican Dec. 12 -- church leaders did not condemn frozen embryo adoption, but said the practice raises serious ethical concerns.
Vatican officials insist no fully moral solution exists for dealing with frozen embryos, not even the idea of adopting or "rescuing" abandoned embryos to bring them to full development and birth.
"If the church did come out and say you can't adopt frozen embryos, we wouldn't openly challenge church teachings," said Timothy Smith, 44, whose wife Dawn, 40, has given birth to three children who were adopted as frozen embryos and believes their road to parenthood was morally righteous. "But, the door is still open a crack here. Until that is shut, we would like to say we think this is a very good thing to do."
The Smiths ask a very important question:
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, current president of the academy, told reporters that "the discussion is still open" and the Vatican has not completely ruled out the possibility of embryo adoption, although it is leaning toward an entirely negative judgment because embryo adoption involves the future parents in an immoral process.
But according to that reasoning, Smith said, "How is the traditionally adoptive couple not also participating in an immoral act -- in many cases they're assisting the unwed mother who had sex outside marriage."
"I believe the church not only condones adoption; it helps carry them out," he added. "Should not the church not only accept, but actively support, the rescue of frozen embryos?"
Regarding embryonic adoption, Dignitas Personae (PDF document) says:
unacceptable because they treat the embryos as mere “biological material” and result in their
destruction. The proposal to thaw such embryos without reactivating them and use them for
research, as if they were normal cadavers, is also unacceptable.
The proposal that these embryos could be put at the disposal of infertile couples as a
treatment for infertility is not ethically acceptable for the same reasons which make artificial
heterologous procreation illicit as well as any form of surrogate motherhood; this practice
would also lead to other problems of a medical, psychological and legal nature.
It has also been proposed, solely in order to allow human beings to be born who are
otherwise condemned to destruction, that there could be a form of “prenatal adoption”. This
proposal, praiseworthy with regard to the intention of respecting and defending human life,
presents however various problems not dissimilar to those mentioned above.
I'm certainly not a moral theologian, but I know that good moral theologians have differing views on embryonic adoption. I also know, that for me, the above statement not only needs to be expanded and address in more detail, it doesn't make much sense. Is there not an obvious difference between using embryos for research or for the treatment of disease/infertility and bringing (so to speak) those embryos to full term and allowing them to have what the Church teaches all embryos deserve: life? The Smith's point about traditional adoption is a good one.
My two children, both adopted, were conceived and born outside of wedlock. Have my wife and I, in adopting them, somehow involved ourselves in an immoral act? Have we condoned said act? Or, to put in a somewhat different light, does the victim of rape who decides to have the baby resulting from that gravely sinful action somehow condoning what happened to her? Of course not. It seems to me (again, not being versed in all of the nuances and complexities of embryonic adoption) that embryonic adoption is, in fact, an act of keeping and protecting what is good and sacred (as Dignitas Personae notes)—that is, life—in a situation that came about because of immoral actions.
My guess, in reading that section of Dignitas Personae, is that (of course) the CDF is well aware of the ongoing discussion and debate and is not yet willing to render a final judgment. Until then, the question remains open: "Should not the church not only accept, but actively support, the rescue of frozen embryos?"