Given that for many people today, becoming a parent is no longer an inevitable consequence of marriage, we need to widen our definition of a parent as a person who brings up a child, whether or not she/he is the biological parent.
Giving birth to a child is generally perceived to be the ultimate fulfillment for a woman, and there is still a social stigma attached to one who either voluntarily or involuntarily does not produce a child. Even if a couple chooses to not produce a child, for whatever reason, there is still often a lot of explaining to do and various pressures to face.
Those who wish to have a child and are unable to do so are subjected to tremendous pressures, both in the traditional mould ( being advised to visit various holy places, wear amulets, perform certain rituals etc.) and the modern. Reproductive technology is, no doubt, a worthy field with valuable research and tremendous scientific breakthroughs.
But it often increases the desperation of women who feel that they must conceive, at whatever the emotional and financial cost. Very often, assisted reproduction techniques require more than one attempt, each of which is often very expensive. Repeated failures can become even more soul-destroying for a woman who has set her heart on bearing a child. Such women must be made to understand that if biological motherhood is not an available option, it does not necessarily mean that they cannot experience the joys of motherhood- adoption has to be treated as an available, desirable option. We need to lay less stress upon the biological origin of the child vis-à-vis the way in which he or she is brought up, and our society at large needs to be sensitized towards the needs of both the adopter and the adoptee- the process of adoption needs to be perceived to be as normal a way of having a child as physically producing one. The fundamental message to all those who desire to have a child is that bringing up a child is of far more importance than producing a child. Also, you don’t necessarily have to produce the child you bring up. A more all-encompassing view of children is needed- not just as belonging to a mother and/or father or family, (therefore they are also ‘belongings’ or possessions of that family, and often valued as such-as an investment to be nurtured for future returns), but as members of the larger community. A world view of “our” children, in the larger sense of the word, vis-à-vis ‘my’ child, needs to be promoted.
This, in turn, leads to the question of the sharing of resources that are often limited.
An ethic encompassing caring for and sharing with others needs to be inculcated.
Each child can, and does, in his own unique way, enrich the lives of those who share their lives with him.
PS: I'd written this a long time ago. Reading this inspired me to post.