[You can ask your own question here.]
I would like to ask a question regarding Karma.
I was wondering, when a mother gives up her child for adoption, does that count as negative karma? What if the child was a result of a violence? would that still count as bad Karma. What should a person do in such a situation?
Conception is a joint venture, not only between the man and the woman, but also with the incoming soul responding to the flash of light in the astral world, which signals the potential for a physical body.
Compared to how often people have sex, conception is an infrequent occurrence. In other words, the karma of the incarnating soul is also part of the equation.
Giving up a child for adoption is not in itself bad karma. It depends on why the parents are acting in that way. (Fathers also have responsibility.) Most biologically mature men and women can conceive a child, but that doesn’t mean that they are also in a position to raise one.
Certainly a child conceived in violence would not be a welcome responsibility. In such a case, adoption would be an obvious choice. Although terminating a pregnancy is also a difficult decision, rape is certainly a situation in which it could be considered.
Children conceived by people who are quite young are often better off being raised by more mature adults. Often it is good karma for teenagers to think first of the child’s welfare and not be swept away by the emotions of the moment.
The incoming soul knows the conditions into which it is being born. Obviously, the biological parents have karma with that soul. But it is not unreasonable to say that the karma could end at birth. The child’s lifelong karma is with the adoptive family.
Later, perhaps, one or both of the biological parents may come back into the picture, but there is no reason to think they have to.
Think how many times the soul incarnates in its long journey to Self-realization. And each time there is a mother and a father, plus, perhaps, adoptive parents, step-parents, or surrogate parents. We live through every imaginable permutation. We have to, because each situation has lessons to teach us.
The “child” is not a child at all, but a soul like any other. The body has age but the soul is ageless. A new incarnation does not mean a clean slate. The conditions of each birth are a perfect reflection of exactly what the soul needs to progress spiritually in that lifetime, based on the accumulated karma of all the lives that came before.
It is the same for the mother and the father. Conceiving a child that they can’t raise is, for them, exactly the karma they need to learn whatever lesson is next for them. Maybe they will learn it; maybe repeated experiences are needed before understanding dawns.
The lesson and the learning are entirely personal. For one person it may be to think first of the welfare of the child. For another, it could be learning to be responsible for the consequences of one’s own actions.
Maybe the lesson is to be less promiscuous. Perhaps it is to be less self-centered, to be willing, in other words, to make the sacrifices necessary to raise a child.
It is important to remember, however, that God is no tyrant. Often we do things without any awareness of the repercussions. We are blinded by many factors and it can be years before we become aware of what we have done.
God reads the heart, not some manual of “Right and Wrong Behavior.” We do the best we can. God knows that.
If, later, you realize you made a grievous mistake, don’t torture yourself with that realization. Look at it objectively, but calmly. Accept responsibility, but rather than feeling guilty, resolve never to make that mistake again.
That is all God asks of us, not to give up, but to keep trying and never to lose faith in His all-merciful love.
[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of Ananda.org.]