Immorally Conceived Children

Many parents have conceived children through immoral means (IVF, AI, premarital, etc). Some of those parents have repented and are now determined to live a moral, Catholic life. So, how do they teach their children that the way they got here is wrong, but they themselves are beautiful creations of God? How does one teach children that morality is the way to go when an immoral act is the cause of their very existence? How does a parent express regret and remorse for sin while simultaneously celebrating and loving the result of that sin? How does the parent help the child not to feel like a “mistake” while raising them in the Catholic faith?

On a similar note, my wife and I are friends with two different couples that are struggling with infertility. One has tried (unsuccessfully) IVF, and another is considering IUI. Neither are considering adoption as a viable option. I’m struggling with being supportive of them and their plight, but not condoning immoral behavior. One of the couples isn’t Catholic, so they don’t understand the Church’s position on artificial means of conceptions

It’s even harder because my wife and I are expecting our first child. It makes it seem like “Well, that’s easy for you to say, but if you were in our shoes would you feel the same way?”. And I don’t know. I can’t honestly answer that. I say I’m sure my wife and I would pursue adoption, but I guess until I’m in that exact situation I can’t be 100% certain.

I am unaware of any necessity to explain to any child “that how he got here was wrong” or why he needs to know “how he got here” at all. Explain the normal means of human reproduction in the context of teaching Christian morality and don’t go into cases. When the child asks a direct question, answer directly. Mom how come my birthday is 4 months after your wedding date? Because we did not follow God’s plan to marry first and then have children, but even though we did wrong and God has forgiven us, he chose to bless us with the gift of you. Use it as a teaching moment on how Christ makes all things new and turns all things to good. Kids don’t need or ask for nearly as much detail as you think. I am in a time warp because my generation did not discuss the how to and how we did of reproduction in casual conversation with casual acquaintances, in what seems to be dinner table chat these days. Why on earth should I know anything about how your child was conceived any more than you, if you are not my doctor or husband, need to know anything whatever about my own fertility history? I think it would be a fine thing if we went back to teaching children that some things are private and questions and discussions of them are out of order.

I know what you mean. I know a couple that got married Protestant, but one of them reverted to Catholicism during the years they were trying to conceive. In returning to the Church, the Catholic began to realize the moral implications of IVF while the Protestant just couldn’t understand it. Not wanting to “force” Catholic beliefs on the other, and since the biological clock was ticking fast, the Catholic gave in to the idea of IVF as long as there was a limit placed on the number of eggs to try and avoid the need for frozen or disgarded viable embryos. Now they have twins, and no embryos were frozen. The Catholic still struggles with it.

For the record, I was born out of wedlock and adopted by two devout Catholics. They alway told me I was special, made by God, and it didn’t matter how the heck I came into the world because I had no control over it. They NEVER talked about how I was created.

I’ve felt stigmatized a few times-some old line Catholics think I should be treated differently or something. They are wrong and stupid. However, in the rare case it does come up (it never does, but it did when I was younger a bit) 99.9 percent of people don’t care.

I like the idea of using it as a teaching moment, thank you. I also agree too much is said about private matters. I have noticed recently that new parents especially love to chat amongst themselves about pregnancy, and issues of fertility are common themes. It is rude to ask someone how much money they make, but “did you do IVF?” is just fine to ask.

Why would anyone want to tell their child that! Is it going to make that big of a difference in that child’s life to know how they were conceived (either right or wrong)?

Just raise the child or children in a moral Catholic way true to the magisterium!

I don’t tell my kids how or where they were conceived (naturally I might add)…

… those are the thing that my great wife of 21 years and I share from time to time :wink:

My point is this… children really don’t need to know if they were conceived in a dish or any other way.


I agree with you. I suppose there is the chance that a child would discover the fact without the parents telling them, like from a relative or something. “Loose lips sink ships” sort of thing. But you are right…raise them in a moral way.

I agree with Paul. There is no need telling your kids all these. Just teach them the right way of living so that they don’t make the same mistake you made. Telling a kid how immorally they were conceived may have psychological effects on them especially if they are below 21.

Thanks for sharing. Very helpful. :slight_smile:

I agree. If it was me, I wouldn’t tell them. That doesn’t mean they won’t find out some other way and ask questions about it. So, maybe a parent should at least be prepared with an answer so as not to be blindsided.

No child is immoral. To attempt to explain such a thing to a child would be nothing short of cruelty.

It is so easy to say that IVF, etc is “immoral”. Almost everyone that says such things is a person that has never had difficulty in conceiving a child, or is someone that will never have a child (a man, who also has no wife, no real knowledge of marriage, etc.).

I firmly believe that God gives us the ability to develop such technologies for a reason. I can not, and will not accept the idea that their use is automatically immoral. Can the use of such technologies be immoral? Of course, anything can be utilized for wrong purposes.

Of course I also have a wife that had 5 miscarriages, ended up hospitalized for severe depression after it was determined that she would never be able to carry a child to term. I only wish that there had been some alternative that could have given us a live child. We were also denied adoption of an undamaged child, or of a very young child, because my wife is a paraplegic. We were offered children that were severely emotionally disturbed, such as one 7 year old girl that had set fire to her last 3 foster homes. That was the youngest child that we were ever offered.

I frankly do not care what some man, who has never had a child or been married, has to say about this subject. That includes Pope John Paul II, who I greatly admire for most of his teachings.

Yes, telling your child they were conceived in a sinful way is immoral. The child is NOT to blame for the parents’ mistakes. Also, telling a child these things has the potential to mess them up and make them feel that their existence itself is wrong.

You might want to take a look at the NaProTechnology (Natural Procreative Technology)** website. The founder of the Pope Paul VI Institute, Dr. Thomas Hilgers, has been helping couples with their infertility issues in a natural way that’s in line with Catholic teaching. He’s been more successful in many cases than “traditional” methods of fertility treatment sucha s IVF, etc. Maybe this information could help your friends.

Hope this helps.


I’m very sorry for your lose and your situation. I don’t want to come off as callous but children should not be thought of like a grocery list or like shopping for a used car…
… bad transmission, flat tires, ripped interior, etc… adoption is not a perfect process
and in most cases takes years to complete. Not like shopping for lunch meat or something.

Here’s a great question answered by Fr. Serpa… good reading. Listen to how he words things and remember that the fruit is not the problem here.


I dunno…I think when they’re old enough you can just be completely honest and say, “we did this and it was wrong. But God has a way of making good come from wrong and that’s why we have you. YOU are a blessing. Conception is God’s design, the Dr’s and your mom and I misused it.”

I was conceived in rape. For years my mom told me she had conceived me out of wedlock in a consensual relationship. Then when I was about…12 I think and had an understanding of what rape was, she told me the whole story. She always made it clear to me that how I was conceived though it was a wrong, and a crime, had NOTHING to do with my worth as a person. I’ve never questioned that. :shrug:

I think if you’re honest and forthcoming and clear then kids are smart enough to ‘get it’. (at the appropriate age/developmental stage of course):twocents:

While I would agree that for most of these “illegitimately” conceived how they were conceived does not matter, how about those who come to be by means of a sperm donor?
It is conceivable (no pun intended) that they could meet and marry a half sibling and not know it. Some groups of children by a single sperm donor have actually searched each other out and formed an association with each other. :slight_smile:

This is a classic instance lighting what is a role of the Church in modern western society.

The Church does not command the loyalty and fidelity of more than a small fraction of Western Europeans. If we, as we should, ignore nominal Christianity and look at real belief our worldview is based on a majority acceptance of liberal humanism mixed with material determinism.

Against that background Man is a product…a high worth product but a product nonetheless. It is our role to be a counter cultural witness to the profound lie therein. In re children born as product if I may put it like that it is our role to point them to the infinite love of God for all His children whilst standing firm for the truth however irrelevant it may be in forming post modern policy and moeurs.

Ok, I have the same question. My youngest is 8 months old and the result of a mistake with an unknown man(she doesn’t remember, alcohol was involved). He is my boy, there is no question about that. but I am concerned with this question since people talk, and I have 3 older boys. It is only a matter of time before everyone starts asking why Mikey is darker than daddy(so far we have told them that God chooses what color peoples skin is, they are still young). This question is huge, and there isn’t always an easy answer. It seems like many people respond with haste, and do not consider that it just may “bug” the child forever. The Catholic faith is true, I know that(so no responses about the d word). Good thread, I look forward to more posts here. Thank you and God bless.


In a way this is a specific case of the question which so many ask today, “how can you tell your kids that doing X is immoral when you yourself did X when you were young?”
Itself a specidfic case of the question nonbelivers often ask “how can you say that X is wrong when you/other Christians do X?”
Of course these questions are groundless. Knowing what is the right thing is dioffrent to always doing the right thing. (cf Romans 7:14-25) And certainly different to having done the wrong thing many years before when one may not yet have realised that it is wrong.

God does not make mistakes. He finds a way of bringing good even out of the most evil things which man does. The case in point is that He creates a unique, good and infinitely valuable human being resulting from a sinful act. “Do not punish a child for the sin of his father” Ezekiel 18:20.

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