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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Spiritual confirmation plays important role in fertility choice

She has four beautiful children of her own, but for Kara Ford, a desire to help others enjoy the blessings of parenthood has led her through an amazing journey.

Ford, 31, an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been a gestational surrogate for two couples. Last year she delivered a baby girl for one couple, and is currently carrying twins for Chris and Sarah Tuttle. All are Latter-day Saints as well.

Ford didn't exactly understand surrogacy, but read an article about it just after she had her fourth child. "I woke up in the middle of the night and knew that is what I was suppose to do."

Ford was talking about "gestational surrogacy" -- the fertility process when a couple's combined sperm and egg are fertilized and transferred into a gestational carrier to be an incubator for the baby as it grows to term.

Another form of surrogacy -- where a man's sperm is combined with the surrogate's egg -- is actually not legal in Utah due to the extended legal requirements. With no genetic ties, the intended mother of the baby would need to go through an adoption process.

Ford was grocery shopping soon after her early-morning experience and met a couple there. They started visiting and by the end of the conversation, she had offered to carry their child.

"I prayed about it, and went to the temple," Ford said. "I needed to make sure I was doing the right thing."

She went to her LDS bishop. He went to the handbook. There was one line for guidance: "The church strongly discourages surrogate motherhood."

"[The bishop] told me that he was not going to tell me that I could or couldn't do it," Ford said. "He was leaving it up to me."

Ford went ahead with the pregnancy. Soon a new bishopric was put into place. Her old bishop was now in her Stake Presidency. She was 15 weeks pregnant.

She was called to the stake president's office. He was inclined to not let her have a temple recommend, but took it to higher authorities for direction. The inquiries made it to the First Presidency, Ford said.

"They wanted to make sure they were doing things right," Ford said. "Every situation is so individual."

Ford was doing what she was inspired to do. A few days later she was called to her bishop's office.

"My bishop said, 'We got word back. What you are doing is great, and we have been told to give you your temple recommend,'"Ford said.

It was important for Ford, and her leaders, to hear the First Presidency approve of what she was doing, she said.

"When it's right, I think Heavenly Father wants it," Ford said. "I have received blessings doing it. It's service. It's a miracle."

Ford never thought she would do it again, but then Chris and Sarah Tuttle came into her life. The Tuttle's had been trying various fertility treatments for seven years.

"It was Heavenly Father's plan for us," Sarah said. "I am one of those people who love and respect priesthood leaders, but I believe in personal revelation. We told our bishop what we were doing and he was incredibly supportive."

To read the Tuttle's journey and for more information, photos and stories visit

Not all Christian beliefs are the same when it comes to fertility treatments. The LDS Church's handbook is very limited. The four words most used are, "The church strongly discourages ...

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, John M. Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center said, children are a gift from God. A document known as Donum Vitae addressed the morality of many fertility procedures. It concluded that some methods are moral, while others -- because they do violence to the dignity of the human person and the institution of marriage -- are immoral.

On the official website for the Jehovah Witnesses it said, "The development of the IVF opened the way to other procedures that definitely conflict with God's thinking as reflected in the scriptures. When fertilization involving eggs or sperm (or both) from someone not within the marital union occurs, this amounts to what the Bible terms as sexual immorality."

In visiting protestant websites the consensus is that God's gift of children through science is good, should be used and explored for those unable to have children and is not considered a sin.


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