Mothers – the missing dimension

There has been a welter of criticism following Archbishop Vincent Nicols’ Christmas homily in which he denounced the forthcoming Government plans to introduce so-called ‘gay marriage’, thereby permanently redefining marriage without the democratic consent of the country. Those of us who are married are about to have their status altered to that of civil partnership without our permission. The state has now decided that it is the supreme arbiter of what constitutes a marriage – namely romantic love and a presumption of commitment only.

Catholic Voices deftly dealt with the Archbishop’s vociferous critics here, both Megan Hodder and Ben Trovato offer sound defences of marriage and Fr Ray Blake in fine barnstorming form offers some ideas as to how Catholics can supplement their support of marriage, aside from fulfilling our moral obligation by lobbying our local MPs.

I won’t revisit the arguments previously made on this blog, but there is a missing dimension to the debate, one that is close to my heart and should concern feminists or those who claim to care about the plight of women and children, and that is motherhood.

I am a mother. I nurtured my children in my womb, they were comforted by my unique heartbeat, the unique intonations of my voice, my unique smell; in short I was, and am, their world. I birthed my children, I fed them from my breasts, I sang to them, when they are tired, unhappy, hurt or in need of comforting, it is uniquely me they want – no-one else, no matter how loved, will do.

That is not to detract from or denigrate their father, whom they are lucky to have, who bathes them, who reads to them, who plays with them, who also soothes them, but when the chips are down, instinctively and intuitively it is mummy they want. Despite the fact that Robin is an extremely involved and hands-on father, there is something visceral, something priomordial about a biological mother’s care, that simply cannot be replicated. I can hear my babies cry and just ‘know’ what is wrong and how to sort their problem, soothe their pain, whilst my husband looks on in bewildered awe. It is with good reason that medics pay close attention to the mother and trust maternal instincts when treating a sick child. If one could only bottle the essences that constitute motherhood, those hardwired responses to one’s own offspring and the emotions that flow naturally between mother and child, one would be rich as Croesus. Mothers rarely need to be shown how to love, even if they do sometimes need some external guidance.

A few years ago, when the 3 year old was a baby, Robin used to tease me for “that weird thing you do pulling faces at her”, thinking that it was one of my many idiosyncrasies. Not long afterwards, he went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and on his return, recounted how he had seen a Muslim woman in the airport lounge in a niqab behaving in an identical way and pulling the same exaggerated faces. “It was peculiar’, he said, “there was this woman, she looked nothing like you, she had a different colour hair, a different colour skin, she was a different cultural background, was wearing different dress, spoke a different language and yet when I saw her playing with her baby all I could see was you. The mannerisms, the way you hold our baby, the way you pull those faces, exaggerate your speech and intone when you sing, it could have been your carbon copy. I realised that it was obviously something that women instinctively do, this is how they play with their babies. It’s inbuilt and intuitive”. A practical demonstration, if any were needed that the basic skills of mothering are so primordial, so instinctive that they transcend all boundaries and though men can undoubtedly learn and develop such skills, the way women instinctively mother their children is not an ingrained response that naturally occurs in men. This morning, our twenty month old climbed into bed in the early hours and cuddled Robin, as I was feeding the baby. Upon placing the baby back in her bedside cot, the toddler spied her opportunity, climbed over, muttered “mummy” and hugged me tight before falling into blissful slumber. There are no words adequate to describe the contented and satisfied grin on her face as she snuggled in. It was mummy she needed.

So what has this to do with ‘gay marriage’? Put simply, I am not a “Progenitor A”. I am a mother and I will fight to the death to defend not only my children and their best interests, but my right to be identified as a mother. My husband is not simply “progenitor B”, but their father, to which he brings an entirely separate set of attributes.

What “gay marriage” does is undermine and rip away all notions of natural parenthood and paves the way for children to be cared for and brought up by anyone who is deemed to be in a loving romantic relationship.

By stating that romantic love or attachment is the only requirement for marriage, children are then treated as the optional extra. Whilst that may work for some couples, in a world where a misunderstood notion of equality overrides all other considerations, a gay couple is seen as equally worthy and deserving of a child, regardless of that’s child’s rights to be brought up and loved by both of its biological parents. The act of childrearing becomes rooted in selfishness and the desires of the couple in question.

It is an act of supreme selfishness, cruelty and exploitation for a couple to pay a woman to bear a child, to nuture that child in her womb, even if it is not her biological child, to then rip that child away from her, for a sum of money. There can be no excuse for treating women’s bodies and babies as human commodities. Commercial surrogacy consists of trading upon desperation, human misery and is dependent on the commodification of women. Feminists who align themselves with gay-rights activists need to search their conscience.

Once you make all relationships the same, once you strip away the complementarity of male and female, once you define solely romantic love as being the determining factor in a marriage, then you pave the way for babies to be taken away from their mothers and give implicit approval to trading upon human misery. As a woman who has known the highs and lows of pregnancy, who has experienced the agony and ecstasy of childbirth four times, who knows that biological love has the capacity to conquer all, even the most inauspicious of beginnings, the thought of children being deprived of their mothers, sickens me and chills my blood. I guess one could describe it as a type of homophobia because the act of producing children in laboratories and removing them from the women who birthed them, depriving them of a mother to pass them into the care of two men, no matter how rich or well-meaning, does induce fear and concern for women and their children. It is an unnatural thing to financially coerce a woman to produce a child to order, for the benefit of someone else. As a mother, I cannot think of a worse thing to do to another woman than to deprive her of her baby. It is beyond one’s worst imaginings.

Nobody does it better
Nobody does it better

We are already seeing the dreadful consequences of children bred to order, and the impact this is having upon women. Two men artificially producing a biological child that belongs to one of them is seen as socially acceptable and desirable, and in order to accommodate their whims, not only are women being commodified and exploited and children deprived of their inherent rights, but also the law is needing to be constantly revised and updated. Which is why countries like Spain, are dispensing with the traditional titles of mother and father, to be replaced by Progenitors A and B. I am not a progenitor, I am not simply a faceless biological producer of a factory-produced child to order, but I am a mother and a woman whose children were produced in love. And what happens if or when Progenitor A and Progenitor B split up? Child then has to divide its time between two same sex households and potentially acquires two more same-sex step-parents and that is deemed to be in its best interests? Or what is there to stop the State from allocating extra Progenitors such C or D to a child, deciding what actually constitutes a Progenitor, or stripping a biological parent of Progenitor status? If all a child needs is a loving parent of any gender, why are we seeing fatherless children ask for a dad in heartbreaking letters to Santa?

Children do not simply need a parent, but the complementarity of a mother and father. To state that the sexes are interchangeable, strips and deprives women of a key part of their gender, treats them as little more than mechanical breeding machines and denies the unique and wonderful ability of a woman to mother her own child. Study after study demonstrates how babies feed from the stimuli of their mother, right from the moment that they are conceived and study after study demonstrates that though other types of family can and often do an excellent job in terms of raising healthy and well-balanced children, the traditional mother/father in a committed relationship is the ideal.

We change marriage to being solely about a notion of romantic love between two people of any gender, then we further weaken an institution already damaged by divorce laws that constitute an adulterer’s charter. When we say that a marriage is about reaffirming a romantic love or attachment, then there is little incentive to keep the relationship afloat during the rocky times. When marriages or relationships with children break down, it is almost always invariably, though not always, the women who remain the primary carers and who suffer the most.

And this is, though not the only reason by any means, is certainly one of the driving forces behind the fact that I intent to fight this forced change to the definition of my marriage, tooth and nail. Fundamentally same-sex marriage is anti-children, anti-women and anti-mothers.

I will not allow the Government to strip women such as my four girls, of their biological rights to be mothers, without the fight of my life. I am a mother and by definition the best thing that there is for my children. I will not let my motherhood be taken away from me, or from any woman.

24 thoughts on “Mothers – the missing dimension

  1. Respectfully, your fear of the institute of marriage or motherhood being undermined by granting marriage equality to gays is misguided. There are many kinds of families that produce thriving children that don’t fit the father-mother “complimentarity” you describe. Also, millions of children grow up happy without a biological mother present. Since you are pro-life, surely you want to see the thousands of unwanted babies up for adoption going to loving homes. As for surrogacy, providing a child for a childless couple from one’s own womb is the most profound gift one can give. Some might say that The Virgin Mary acted as a surrogate to the world. How can anyone calling themselves a follower of Christ deny the perpetuation of love and compassion in this world, no matter the form of that love?

    1. As I said, many non-traditional families thrive, but that does not make those families the ideal – far from it. Single parents have to work hard against the odds, as do same-sex couples who deprive the child of their right to both biological parents.

      As for adoption, it can be a wonderful gift, adoptive mothers must be applauded, but a woman should only give up her baby if there really is no other option. Adoption does not come without its fair share of difficulties for all parties.

      As for commercial surrogacy, it is exploitative of poor women, especially in countries such as India.

      As a follower of Christ, I look to the Holy Family, who consisted of a man and a woman, the model into which God entrusted his only son.

      1. I don’t think that I addressed commercial surrogacy at all, but as one who has worked with many women exploited through pornography and prostitution, I don’t condone exploitation at all. However, I don’t know enough about this subject to determine if that is what it is. (I imagine that it can be, but I also imagine that there could be practices that are non-exploitative. Withholding judgment until I have learned more…)

        And there are many babies in this world without their mothers who would benefit from the love and care of a nurturing parent, regardless of gender. Just as there are babies whose mothers do not know how to provide the love and care that they need. And just as there are babies and children exposed to and who experience abuse and violence and neglect in the homes of their biological parents…

        What children need is to be nurtured with love, care, attention, security and wonder. These offerings are not exclusive to the realm of biological mothers.

      2. Not exclusive but mothers are best placed to provide them.

        Though mothers often need help and guidance, they are best placed to look after their own babies and to state otherwise devalues motherhood which is an anti-woman gesture.

      3. On the contrary. I am not only very pro-woman, but highly, highly pro-mother. I would argue that most of our social ills come from the low value placed on women and mothers in our culture.

        However, I think that same sex marriage is the wrong argument. Same sex marriage or same sex parenting does not in any way take away any individual woman’s choice to parent and mother if and when and how she wants to.

      4. I certainly agree with your first paragraph.

        What same-sex marriage does do is to say that marriage is only about relationships between adults and excludes children.

        If all marriages are exactly the same, regardless of the gender of the parties then the logical conclusion is that all marriages are equivalent in terms of providing a safe, stable environment for children.

        Now whilst it is certainly true that a heterosexual marriage is no guarantee of a relationship free of abuse and violence which is a dreadful environment for children to be brought up in, it’s fair to say that same sex relationships also suffer with similar issues of domestic violence.

        http://www.lambda.org/DV_background.htm

        Where the problem lies is that by drawing an equivalence between gay/straight marriages (and that’s not to argue that gay couples shouldn’t have legal protection and civil rights – they should) is that it says that both types of marriage are equal when it comes to children. It is not hatred to state otherwise. Children do best in terms of outcomes when they have a loving relationship with their biological mother and father.

        Gay marriages then, try to negate and overcome the need for a biological mother or a father and in the case of gay men such as, for example Elton John, use methods which involve exploitation of women and deprive the child of a biological mother’s love and care deeming it unnecessary. That is damaging, not only to the individual child, but to women as a whole.

  2. Well said, Caroline. There’s are so many bizarre ironies in this area of support for same sex ‘marriage’. Why do feminists support a measure which denies the importance of women as women (rather than progenitor 2)? Why do Dawkinsians deny the importance of the biological differences between men and women in raising the young when they’re quite obvious in all mammals? Why do conservatives support a measure which rips up the root of human society?

    From the point of view of a father, seeing my children through my wife’s eyes particularly when they were young added so much to my life. I felt (and still feel) privileged to have shared that.

  3. This is exactly what was unsettling and sinister about the channel four sex education programme for children, there were no parents in it, friend, granny, uncle and male partner etc etc etc. Strong grooming overtones, and possible precursor to future legalizing of paedophilia.

  4. Bravo! WOW! Impressive. You are very brave. But please be careful; the forces lining up against motherhoor and fatherhood are gathering in strength. There is a long darkness ahead for people of conscience.

  5. Brilliant post Caroline. And your writing about your own motherhood – quite sublime. God bless you! I pray that God will give you the finance/resources/inclination to remain rooted in the heart of your family, whilst at the same time magnifying your unique voice for the benefit of society and God’s glory. May God and the angels also fiercely protect you, your girls and your husband. Such a joy, this post.

  6. Sorry, me again. Just felt I should qualify that prayer. I didn’t mean to place a burden of a further sense of mission on you at this time! You have your work cut out. St Therese achieved her ends from a baseline of a type of obscurity. What I meant was that some of your thought and writing is of a quality to merit a much wider hearing. But Jesus will take care of that one day when the time is right. I wish you much peace and joy at present with your family. Im sure our Lady is very proud of you Caroline….

  7. While you may have said “That is not to detract from or denigrate their father…”, the following paragraph, and other concepts in your post completely detract and denigrate their father. You sound so high on yourself as a mother, you sound so superior to anyone else, including your husband. I hope he doesn’t read this, you basically just identified him as a glorified babysitter. Isn’t pride a sin?

    What is the opposite of a “loving romantic relationship”? Are you saying you aren’t in a loving and romantic relationship? If not, I am sad for you. Children should be raised in a relationship full of love, where the parents model romance, respect, happiness, togetherness, and everything wonderful about love and family.

    You talk about the “commodification” of women in one sentence, with a grimace in your tone, but in another sentence you talk about how rich you could be if you could bottle your mother essence. What is up with that?

    You say that a child’s inherent right is to have two opposite sex parents, but I think it’s a child’s inherent right to have love from anywhere and everywhere, to be taught acceptance and kindness and love for humanity and the planet and the environment. I fear you will teach your child to hate, as clearly you have been taught.

    Your post left such a nasty taste in my mouth, from every single angle, I can’t believe (well, yes I can, this is what’s wrong with the world) that even a few people applauded you. You have so much disdain in your mind for anything that is not in your personal experience. You don’t even try to walk in anyone else’s shoes, you just judge and judge and judge and judge, very catholic of you, I must say. Isn’t judgement of others a sin?

    Gay marriage has nothing to do with you or your identity as a woman, a wife, or a mother; again it is your pride that makes you feel that this has anything to do with you. Again, your pride that makes you feel like you can judge what’s good for other people’s children, women on the other side of the planet who’s dreams (and their families’ dreams) may come true because they can give the gift of surrogacy, other couples who can finally complete their families, rape victims, children without natural mothers, adoptive families, foster families, women who are unable to breastfeed, fathers in general, and on and on. You say that none of these are “ideal”, but who are you to judge? Nobody.

    If you are such a good mother, why don’t you get off your high horse and go “mother”. Stop sitting on your computer, which you clearly do for hours, and go spend that time with your four children. I know of no “mother” who could have four children and have the time to get into other people’s business like this. Seriously, you should be ashamed of yourself. You shouldn’t even take the time to respond. Shame.

    1. Sickened and sad – clearly you’ve never heard of smartphones, which means it is easy to quickly check/interact on Twitter in brief moments whilst having the odd cup of tea or breastfeeding a baby. However I can see that this issue is very personal for you, given that by your profile you are attempting to use a gestional surrogate to have your own baby in India.

      If you are so obsessed with my internet habits then you’ll note that blogposts tend to go up at night, which is when they are written, when the children are in bed. Doubting my mothering skills is just a stupid ad-hom which adds nothing to the debate, other than to attempt to cast doubt on my character.

      My husband is proud to be a hands-on, interactive parent. What a ridiculous thing to cast him in the role of glorified babysitter, he is proud to bond with his children by caring for them, which is, as their parent, his responsibility and duty, but in any event, given that he works a 5-6 day working week, Mondays to Fridays he leaves the house early in the morning as he has an hour long commute and given that he spends a night a week away due to the demands of his vocation (cue pathetic snides and insinuations by you no doubt) then I am at a loss to see how he could possibly be described as a “commodified babysitter”. What a ridiculous attempt at a personal attack, which has all the sting of being savaged by a pet rabbit.

      If all you can do is attempt to cast aspersion on me on my relationship, then I pity you as indeed I am terribly sorry that you feel you need to resort to the process of renting another woman’s womb. You are right that children should be raised in a loving relationship, as for teaching my children to hate – how ridiculous can you be, my children are taught to treat everyone with respect, regardless of race, faith, nationality, sexuality or gender, I suggest you look up the city of Brighton and Hove which is known for its diversity, but teaching them that certain things are immoral, is not akin to hate.

      I have every sympathy with those who cannot conceive naturally, though I do not have the personal experience of that myself, I can’t begin to imagine the pain and desperation, but what I can say objectively is that paying another woman to bear your baby in inherently wrong – it commodifies her, exploits her poverty, pregnancy is often potentially a very dangerous time for women and leaves her emotionally bereft. Have you done any research as to the conditions of the women in India, who undergo this process who are treated as little more than cattle and not allowed to leave the clinics for the duration of their pregnancy? Yes, they may be given financial recompense, but that is a measure of how desperate they are, few women who have experienced pregnancy and childbirth would be generous enough to do that for someone else unless financially rewarded. Why are you going to India instead of attempting to find a surrogate in your own country?

      Judgement is not a sin. As Catholics we are called to make judgements upon morality – what is right and what is not. You cite a common objection. What none of us should do is cast judgement on the state of other’s souls, therefore I cannot judge how God will see you, or claim that you are in mortal sin (as I note you have done to me), but what I can say objectively is that what you are doing is wrong on many levels. I am sorry that is painful for you to hear, all of us like to have validation, but it is certainly wrong for the woman who will be your surrogate, if you are a same-sex couple it is wrong for your child to deprive them of a mother or father, and it is wrong for your child to be treated as a factory commodity and deprived of the care of the woman who has born him/her in her womb and whose biorhythms they will know intimately. Have you thought about the about of embryos that could be destroyed/wasted in the process? Life begins at conception and on average at least 7 fertilised embryos are wasted during one cycle. That’s 7 lives destroyed for the price of 1. Ethically that is wrong.

      It is not ‘pride’ that leaves me qualified to judge, but numerous academic studies testify that the best outcomes are achieved by children who are brought up by parents of different genders in loving stable relationships. I’m sorry that is difficult for you to hear.

      Shame on you for your vitriolic response (which I almost didn’t publish, but think that the spite thrown at people should be out there) which is clearly borne out of defensiveness. Commercial surrogacy is not a gift, but a financial transaction, stop kidding yourself. And in terms of poking your nose into other’s business, in terms of your nasty attacks, I would point you to the bible passage about motes and beams.

      I am sorry for your situation, I am sorry that you feel so desperate for children that you are prepared to go to such extreme lengths, I am sorry for the woman who will be your surrogate and I am sorry that my post obviously so affected you there in Canada that you took the time to write a nasty piece of spite. My post was written out of a spirit of concern and love. You realise that India’s surrogacy industry is not regulated and if you want any proof as to how India regard women, or the plight of the women in India, then you need only look at the recent rape in Delhi and the worldwide protests underway as to the conditions of women in India society. Do you really think that paying a woman to go through pregnancy and labour for you, does anything to improve the status of women or does it buy into the notion that women are nothing better than breeding machines.

      I shall keep you in my prayers and if you are a hetrosexual couple, could I respectfully suggest trying something like NaPro technology which treats the underlying causes of infertility as opposed to surrogacy/IVF which circumnavigates the symptoms.

      1. ahhh yes, i guess i should say that i replied rather harshly to your post, it was my gut reaction, and perhaps i could have been a little softer.

        i still think your original post was full of pride, and from reading other responses to other posts of yours, i see i am not the first to use the phrase “high horse” when it comes to you. I still think your post was extremely insulting to your husband and minimizing of his ability to have a wonderful bond with your children. i still think your original post was very judgmental and intolerant. i still think you put your nose in where it doesn’t belong, and totally disagree that same sex marriage has ANY effect on heterosexual marriage. if you are safely ensconced in your marriage, why do you feel so threatened by other loving couples getting married that you feel you have to get on a soap box against it? nothing will change in your life when same sex couples get married, nothing. it’s none of your business, and not the business of anyone but same sex couples involved.

        in response to your comment about the recent rape in Delhi, i agree that there is a long way to go in India, but i think the journey has started. the worldwide protests (including in India) show that Indian women, in particular, are to be given FAR MORE CREDIT than you give them, by indicating that they are nothing but victims when it comes to surrogacy or life on the planet. women AND men in India are protesting about what happened in India, and calling for change. this is the same as women AND men protesting in other countries, calling for change to the marriage laws. the concept of marriage only being valid for opposite sex couples comes from religion, as does the concept of women being “less-than”. i for one, do not wish to have my laws be parallel to YOUR religion, or any other. YOU live in your religion, and happily so, but please do not try to impose it upon me or anyone other than yourself. law should not have religious over/undertones, in any country, and it’s time to separate church from state, no matter what the law or religion.

        have you never read any interviews with Indian women who truly feel that they are giving a gift to childless couples, while contributing to the well-being of their own family? do you honestly think so lowly of Indian women that you think none of them can make an educated decision on their own or have enough love in their hearts to be kind to others in need?

        http://todayhealth.today.com/_news/2012/05/28/11883566-a-baby-made-in-india-a-couples-dream-comes-true?lite

        even in your response you cast uneducated guesses at my situation. i did not respond out of desperation, i am not desperate, i am a woman in her early 40s, in a long-term, heterosexual relationship and marriage, and have lived a very satisfied and fulfilled life to date, i have only now decided that i am ready to parent. i haven’t spent my life yearning to have children and having miscarriages and failed IVF attempts, i have had none of that.

        my marriage and relationship are so wonderful, that i would wish the same love and joy to anyone who could find it with another person, no matter what the sex. i would wish the blessing on any child, to be parented by any couple with as much love as my husband and i have. i think the more people who are happily married, the stronger the institution becomes. more love cannot degrade anything.

        i came to your blog accidentally, when i did a search for surrogacy tags in wordpress, and was immediately offended. i guess i was feeling defensive of my many gay and lesbian friends, who are as loving and wonderful people as any others (there literally is no difference between homosexual and heterosexual people, other than who they choose to have sexual relations with), and felt that you had no business discussing what they should and should not be able to do, and how they might be as parents, or how they ARE as parents. i have known same sex couples my ENTIRE life, and have many friends who have grown up with same sex parents, and could NOT be happier, have never felt they missed out on anything, and have intrinsic bonds with their parents.

        good one on the comment about smart phones. bravo. no, i hadn’t heard of them before, congratulations for pointing them out… you have enriched my life 😐

        as far as using smart phones late at night to blog about other people’s business, i still think you could use your time in a more productive way, geared towards your children, your family, and even yourself. from what i understand, parenting goes on beyond bedtime, and there are many, many, many, many things you could be doing to prepare fun and educational activities for your kids late into the night. or perhaps you could spend some time loving on your husband, maybe some romance, maybe just some talk? i know, i know, apparently when my desperate journey to have a child is over, i will learn that mothers need some “me-time”, but if this is what you do in your “me-time”, i feel sorry for you… truly…. but that’s just my opinion. do what you like, it’s your family and life, and none of my business.

        anyways, i have said what i think about your opinion about same sex marriage, you have gotten in your digs about my “desperate” undertaking and what you think of surrogacy in general, and Indian women being commodified, and i have said my piece, we could probably go on forever. i don’t think there is any need to spend more time on this, considering neither one of us is in a same sex relationship, you certainly aren’t in a position to judge my personal journey, and i am not yet in a position to judge yours.

        please try to consider how you make others feel when you post, you are not better than anyone, and your judgement just makes you look bad.

        all the best.

      2. I shall continue to keep you in my prayers. I am sorry you feel so angry.

        Could I suggest or even implore you to do some serious research as to the causes of violence and objectification of women in India. Please research gendercide. Millions of babies and girl infants are routinely killed, starved, abused and neglected on account of their gender. Could you not consider adoption of one of these children?

        Women in India are thought of as chattels, regardless of caste. Girls are thought to be of lesser worth because they bring no money into the family and are expensive in terms of dowry. Can you not contextualise surrogacy and see how exploitative it is. Pregnancy and childbirth are often difficult and dangerous not to mention physically and emotionally demanding. It’s not that women are doing it to be generous, they use this as a justification for their self-exploitation, if so many women do it out of the kindness of their hearts, why are you having to go to a country notorious for baby farming?

        If this blog has made you so angry that you feel the need to hurl invective and silly sarcastic accusations about, then it’s obviously touched a nerve and hopefully it might make you re-think. Its a testament to its efficacy, why did you not simply ignore, in the way that I ignore blogs diametrically opposed to my views?

        As a Christian, poverty, inequality and exploitation are very much my business.

        But God Bless. Please could everyone who reads this pray for this lady.

    2. Dear ?
      Caroline has asked us to pray for you…..
      Like yourself I am childless, (and I’m 44). My entire ambition for the first 20 years of my life was to marry and raise a large family. I always wanted 6 children. At the age of 25, to my amazement I felt called to a religious vocation. As wonderful as that is, the sacrifice was immense and real. I ploughed through years of a type of pain. At one point, just the smell of a babies head could make me cry…But, as with so much in life, the sacrifices that come with every choice, are not the end of the story…and if one perseveres the joy and peace break through in the end. Physical motherhood is not the only type of motherhood. (I agree 100% with Caroline that surrogacy is wrong – wrong for the poor mother, wrong for her child). Spiritual motherhood is very real indeed – and can be incredibly rich and fecund. There are opportunities to use our maternal gifts at every turn. Who, around us, is not in need of tender care and nurturing? In my own life, amongst many other situtions, I helped to care for two little girls whose mother had died, for several years. When they were baptised, they became my Goddaughters. They are grown up and leading flourishing lives now. So amazing and satisfying to have played a part in their life’s journey. Or to take another example, my prayer group is sending money to a school for blind and visually impaired girls in India.
      It is beautiful that you feel blessed with a happy relationship…but I too ask you to re-think how all that you have to give may best be deployed in this needy world of ours. Why not simply gift the money to the lady who would be a surrogate and instead come to the rescue of children who are already born and in such terrible need?
      I will keep you in my prayers
      God bless you
      Anna

  8. Dear Caroline, I can’t take this degree of interest in your every post, but to my mind you have voiced such important issues in this one… Feeling not 100% at work today..so am offering that up for you. You’re one brave lady. The world needs witnesses. We can fight, speak, pray, suffer…but in the end (however long that takes), people are drawn back to the simple joy and beauty of the truth, manifested in examples; witnesses. That is why I so loved the beautiful way you spoke of your own motherhood. Really I feel close to tears on your behalf for the comment that came in after mine. May heaven’s tears bless and protect you today.

  9. I enjoyed and agree with this post wholeheartedly. I admire you for being able and willing to put it out there. It’s unfortunate in my mind that heterosexuals have done so much to undermine marriage that this step of equating so-called “gay marriage” with marriage between a man and a woman was, ultimately, unavoidable. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to support traditional marriage, it just means that for the most part, there’s so much damage done so far, that it’s inevitable in this society that it’s going all the way down this dark path.

  10. I agree that a married mother and father raising their own children in a loving environment is the best way to raise children. However, this is not always possible in the real world. People die, relationships break down to the point where the children benefit from the parents being apart…. or people are homosexual. I know a gay couple (non-British) who resorted to surrogacy after years of trying to adopt but being barred because they were two men. They are great parents, and could have offered a loving, stable home to a child who is, as I type, living in a state institution far removed from family life.

    Imagine if heterosexuality were the minority sexuality, and your options were either to form a lifelong sexual relationship with another woman, or to live a celibate life without the possibility of having your own family (even through adoption), knowing you would never be able to share a fulfilling intimate relationship with someone. Are we really saying that gay people should not be able to have any kind of sexual fulfilment? Do a loving, committed same-sex couple really not have anything to offer as parents, whether genetic or adoptive?

    I can see the case against gay marriage, in particular the argument that it breaks the link with marriage being about raising children. But that link was broken long ago in civil marriage. There is no mention of children in the civil marriage vows, nor even in any – bar one – of the suggested additional vows I have found in a brief online search. They are all about the romantic relationship of the couple involved and quite often seem to be careful to avoid promises of anything lifelong, preferring the phrase ‘during our lives together’.

    Civil marriage and Christian marriage are already two very different things, and there is no suggestion that the Church should be compelled to marry people of the same sex. We live in a democracy; if a significant number of gay people want to get married rather than have a civil partnership why shouldn’t they be able to?

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