How will Catholic SIL Respond?

My husband and I are born again Christians that are pursuing IVF. It has been a long hard road to get to this place, and I have read, prayed about all the moral issues. I feel like God is pointing us in this direction.

There is one thing I am concerned about, how will my sister in law that is Cathoilc treat my child if she knows how he or she came to be?

A little background my husband and his siblings were raised with no input from their parents on religion. One became Catholic as an adult, 2 are Born Again Christians, and the fourth I have no idea where she stands…

I was raised Catholic, but I have to admit that I know little of the church or it’s rules. I am fearful that she or her children would be unkind if they knew how our child was conceived. My husband’s parents will no doubt be over joyed and they wouldn’t care how their only son had a child, they would just be thankful for the new life! They know that I cannot have children, so this will be a surprise and there will no doubt be questions. I just haven’t decided on an answer. The answer being either not giving an answer or a direct one. I just want to get a clue what her response would be to that kind of info.

I’m not sure how your sister-in-law will react. The Church’s stance is that every human being, no matter how they are brought into this world, has intrinsic worth, we are all equal in dignity because we are made in the image and likeness of God. We are called to love one another as Jesus loves us.

Here is the Church’s position on why IVF is intrinsically evil:



Every human being is always to be accepted as a gift and blessing of God. However, from the moral point of view a truly responsible procreation vis-à-vis the unborn child must be the fruit of marriage.

For human procreation has specific characteristics by virtue of the personal dignity of the parents and of the children: the procreation of a new person, whereby the man and the woman collaborate with the power of the Creator, must be the fruit and the sign of the mutual self-giving of the spouses, of their love and of their fidelity.(34) The fidelity of the spouses in the unity of marriage involves reciprocal respect of their right to become a father and a mother only through each other. The child has the right to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up within marriage: it is through the secure and recognized relationship to his own parents that the child can discover his own identity and achieve his own proper human development. The parents find in their child a confirmation and completion of their reciprocal self-giving: the child is the living image of their love, the permanent sign of their conjugal union, the living and indissoluble concrete expression of their paternity and maternity, (35) By reason of the vocation and social responsibilities of the person, the good of the children and of the parents contributes to the good of civil society; the vitality and stability of society require that children come into the world within a family and that the family be firmly based on marriage. The tradition of the Church and anthropological reflection recognize in marriage and in its indissoluble unity the only setting worthy of truly responsible procreation.


Through IVF and ET and heterologous artificial insemination, human conception is achieved through the fusion of gametes of at least one donor other than the spouses who are united in marriage. Heterologous artificial fertilization is contrary to the unity of marriage, to the dignity of the spouses, to the vocation proper to parents, and to the child’s right to be conceived and brought into the world in marriage and from marriage.(36) Respect for the unity of marriage and for conjugal fidelity demands that the child be conceived in marriage; the bond existing between husband and wife accords the spouses, in an objective and inalienable manner, the exclusive right to become father and mother solely through each other.(37) Recourse to the gametes of a third person, in order to have sperm or ovum available, constitutes a violation of the reciprocal commitment of the spouses and a grave lack in regard to that essential property of marriage which is its unity. Heterologous artificial fertilization violates the rights of the child; it deprives him of his filial relationship with his parental origins and can hinder the maturing of his personal identity. Furthermore, it offends the common vocation of the spouses who are called to fatherhood and motherhood: it objectively deprives conjugal fruitfulness of its unity and integrity; it brings about and manifests a rupture between genetic parenthood, gestational parenthood and responsibility for upbringing. Such damage to the personal relationships within the family has repercussions on civil society: what threatens the unity and stability of the family is a source of dissension, disorder and injustice in the whole of social life. These reasons lead to a negative moral judgment concerning heterologous artificial fertilization: consequently fertilization of a married woman with the sperm of a donor different from her husband and fertilization with the husband’s sperm of an ovum not coming from his wife are morally illicit. Furthermore, the artificial fertilization of a woman who is unmarried or a widow, whoever the donor may be, cannot be morally justified.

The desire to have a child and the love between spouses who long to obviate a sterility which cannot be overcome in any other way constitute understandable motivations; but subjectively good intentions do not render heterologous artificial fertilization conformable to the objective and inalienable properties of marriage or respectful of the rights of the child and of the spouses.

That was from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

OK, I think I get all that. I have a tubal issue. This would be the product of my husband and myself and I would carry the child. No one else involved in the relationship.

So, does that change it at all?

There is no way to predict how your sister in law would react to your IVF child. If she is a good Catholic, she would certainly try to discourage you from pursuing this course of action.

There are several reasons why IVF is wrong in the eyes of the Church, all having to do with the great respect and reverence that we have for the Sacrament of Marriage and its life-giving power.

To be married is to be a collaborator with God in the very Creation itself. But when we grab control out of God’s hands and take it for ourselves, we kick against the blessings that God has in store for us in this life.

The good news is that when we sin, God can bring good things out of that, as well, and of course He is always wanting to forgive us.

But it is better not to sin, so that we can enjoy the greater blessings that God wants to give to us.

I think it might. Please go to the link I provided and scroll down to Section B - HOMOLOGOUS ARTIFICIAL FERTILIZATION


First off, I am so sorry it has been difficult for you to get pregnant. This is an issue very dear to a woman’s heart, and it can be gut wrenching.

I wonder if you’ve already learned something in particular about IVF. Did you know that for each patient (woman) trying to concieve, the clinic creates, not one, but several embryos? That’s right. A handful of tiny humans is created in a laboratory, and only one of them – the “most viable” one – is selected for his mother’s womb. The rest of these babies are either frozen or thrown into the garbage, unless they are handed off to scientists to be killed, having their stem-cells harvested.

That means that, should you and your husband decide to go ahead with IVF, you will only birth one of your created children, and the rest will be treated in this way.

I implore you, with all my heart, to consider what the Lord must think of this practice of creating tiny lives and then destroying them. If you are born again, then you already know why abortion is such a horror. But what is being done in these fertility clinics is no less horrific. Real, tiny human lives are being formed and then disposed of. This is why the Catholic Church forbids IVF. We love those little lives every bit as much as we love the babies who are unborn, and the ones who are born, and the grown-up humans they become. We love them at every single stage.

And for this reason, if your sister-in-law is a good Catholic, she would never hate any child, regardless of the process that brought him or her into the world. Every life is a miracle. Every single conception is the most masterful artwork of the Lord God Almighty. How can we not love the work of God!

I urge you to consider this. My heart goes out to you, and we do not condemn you for your desperation in this case.

With love,


Will there be destruction of pre-born babies? If so, your SIL would most likely be very sad that lives were destroyed, and love the child that is here.

Prayers that God will direct.

I guess the issue of the remaining embryos is what I meant when I said we had gone over all the issues. Our decision is to pursue an open embryo adoption. I don’t like referring to my child as an embryo, but that seems to be the most concise way to discuss the issue at this point.

I was praying about this issue last night and talked to one of my bible study leaders, I came to the realization that this fear is from the father of all lies. The devil seeks to divide believers any chance he gets. It is for this reason that I intend on making the rest of the family aware that we will be doing an open adoption. I think they should know that there is the potential for there to be additional members of the family, and give them an oppurtunity to have a relationship with them.

I have checked out organizations and found one that makes the adoptive parents committ to very precise guidelines that match with my beliefs on life. My hope is to have my children adopted as quickly as possible.

no real Catholic would harbor any grievance against any child, no matter what the circumstances of her conception.

you did not ask for advice on your personal moral decision so I won’t offer any

Feeling of fear and guilt don’t come only from the Devil.

Sometimes, they are signs from God that something is wrong.

Your SIL and her chidlren should treat he or she as any other child, no matter how it got here.

Here’s more information from a Catholic medical as well as ethical perspective:

You didn’t ask, but why would you tell her? No matter how wrong this is to us as Catholics, I’ve never understood why people are willing to share these personal factors with the whole extended family, in the realm of insemenation, IVF, etc. This is truly personal stuff!!!

There is more to consider. A previous statement was a bit off as to what happens to the multiple babies made in the process. As I understand it, there are usually more than one babies implanted with the hope that one will survive. This means that some are fully expected to die in the whole process. If this is not the case anymore then I’m sure I’ll be corrected.

Another issue in this stems from something you said earlier, that only you and your husband will be involved in this process. That is not exactly true…there will be at least a doctor involved also, if not others assisting him, so this will not really be a morally ordained procreative act.

Additionally, you really need to consider the fact that God is the author of life, not we mere mortals. He is the One who decides when to create, whom to bless with children, when to call us back home and under what circumstances. We should not try to play at being gods ourselves.

I think the best thing you and your husband could do would be adopt one or more children already waiting for a good home to grow up in.

I don’t say all these things to be mean or anything like that…I am in a similar situation, being a paralyzed male the equipment doesn’t respond in the same way a normal man’s does…so i may never have children of my own either. Adoption is one thing that is a possibility for me and my wife.


I will only say that there were many times in my life I believed God was leading me to do something, only to discover after some time that I talked myself into it. We must be very careful when we try to receive messages from God. If it truly is from Him, it will line up with His word and His teachings.

Your SIL will love your baby and any siblings even if she disagrees with your decisions.

I am so sorry that God hasn’t blessed you with motherhood up to this point…I know a little what that is like as I’ve been trying to conceive my first child for 8 months and lost my first child in an early miscarriage in October. It is very hard…especially when you love your spouse so much and want to raise children that you can seem him in. :hug1:

Like the previous posters, I don’t advocate IVF for all of the reasons listed. If my DH and I don’t have children in the next couple of years, we will be actively pursuing adoption. I don’t know if this is something you’ve considered. Yes, the child won’t be biographically yours, but God gives you the love to love them as your own. I guess what I’m getting at is you might want to think of it this way. You could adopt and love someone else’s child that needs a home. Or you can pursue IVF and have a child that is biologically yours and give your other children up for adoption. Isn’t it more like a mother to open her arms to children needing homes than to create life only to give it away unnecessarily (in the event that all the babies “make it”)? I don’t want to seem harsh, but that is the reality that makes me choose adoption over IVF every time.

This is purely personal, and has nothing to do with Church teaching, but I could NEVER, in a million years, hand over my babies to someone else to raise. Not know what’s happening to them, not know if they are being loved like I would love them, not knowing if they are getting healthy food. Not knowing if they are being beaten or abused (even the nicest looking families have these problems…)

Adoption of babies who are already here, who are being given up because their mothers are in crisis or just cannot handle motherhood, or who have already been mistreated and taken away, is a blessing, because you are rescuing precious lives. Creating lives, then saying, oh, I just want this one or two… give the rest away… that seems… wrong. I know infertility is painful, but does even the worst pain in the world justify treating human life like grocery shopping?

That said, if your SIL is an authentic Catholic who values human life, she should treat any and all children like the precious, God-ordained souls that they are, regardless of how they got here or whether she approves of those methods. The child is always innocent.

To the OP…Does your church teach that masturbation is wrong? If so, do you really want your husband to lower his sexuality in this way? From what I understand, a man has to go in a room by himself with pornography to produce a “sample.” I could never ask my DH to do this. That would be demeaning to his body, dignity and our marriage. The ends don’t really justify the means here.

I am so sorry that you have to suffer through infertility. I cannot say I know what it feels like as you can gather from my ticker below. The priest at my former parish used to say that God doesn’t say “No” he says “I’ve got something better.”

I totally agree with this viewpoint. I don’t think I could bear the thought of anyone else raising my children. It’s even so difficult just to think of who we would want to raise them in the event that something should happen to DH and I. How could you pick the one you want and “give” the rest away?

Of course, I don’t know what you are going through. I cannot imagine your pain. But, God can. He has a plan, and no one on these boards is going to agree with what you are planning. But, make no mistake, this is your plan, and not His.

That being said, your SIL will love, love, love her niece or nephew no matter how he/she enters the world.

Take this for what it’s worth…

My wife and I couldn’t seem to get pregnant, while we didn’t have to go as far as IVF we did use the washing and she was on chlomid when we got pregnant with our first son.

I’m not sure where the Church stands on this but they probably would frown upon it.

I understand and agree with almost 100% of Church Doctrine, which is why I’m becoming Catholic (or am just not in full communion yet). However the stance on life issues really makes no sense when this is thrown in like above.

There are a number of people who are having problems because, I believe, the choices they made with ABC and other things. It takes time and sometimes a little help to get their bodies going again. Yes this is a reason that ABC is bad but remember that no other group that calls themselves Christians prohibit ABC so most people do not have any idea God might not want them to do it.

If ALL good things come from God and we are nothing without Him, then He gave us the understanding to figure out IVF. You can’t say that creation of life, outside the marriage bed or not, is the work of the Devil, that just dosen’t logically follow with the rest of our Theology.

Since getting pregnant the first time God has seen fit to bless us with 2 more wonderful sons and lead us home to the Catholic Church. Who knows, perhaps He didn’t lead me home 18 years ago (from my Presbyterian faith) because he knew we might not seek help in getting Pregnant… who knows. Yet there is no doubt in my mind it wasn’t just what the Dr did but also the Will of God that blessed us with Children.

In regards to your SIL, I agree, why does she have to know… if she does though it shouldn’t matter how she treats the child. They are still your offspring, they are still your genetic material and it sounds like you plan to raise them as Christians (hopefully one day Catholic :)) We as Catholics Celebrate Life, we are Pro Life. Once that life beings, I don’t she how she could adhere to her faith and disdain your child.


Anything that divorces the marital act from the act of procreation (in either direction) is “frowned upon” by the Church. The reason is that the husband and wife are an iconic image of Christ and the Church (which is what makes Marriage a Sacrament).

As mentioned above, one of the issues with IVF, apart from the sinful means by which the sperm has to be obtained and the fact that it is procreative without being unitive, is the number of “throw-away babies” that are produced.

Just because humans “figured it out” doesn’t mean we should take advantage of it. Would you say the same thing about the A-bomb? I bet many people in the 1940s thought it was a great thing since it saved many GIs from invading Japan.

You really have a lot of learning to do. There’s more involved with IVF than just taking the marital act outside of the bedroom. Masturbation, pornography and pride just to name a few…

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