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Mark Lucas wrote:

Hi, guys —

We are parents of a 4-week-old newborn.

My wife and I are both Catholics. Our baby was born with an adrenal condition that resulted in ambiguous genitalia.

Basically, we cannot tell if [he/she] is a boy or a girl. Three doctors so far are split in their opinion. They have submitted [his/her] blood for karyotyping analysis in the hope this will definitively show the gender (XX or XY chromosomes). For now, we have chosen boy as gender and a boy name for the birth registration purposes, as we were required by law to register. (We live outside the USA.)

That said, we would like to have our baby baptized as soon as possible as his condition, while stable now, can turn precarious due to complications. We are concerned that it will take a few more weeks until we receive the karyotype results.

  • If we go ahead and have our baby baptized as a boy now, could this be changed later if we find out our baby is a girl?

We are not trying to deceive anyone nor play God — we just don't know the gender God intended for our newborn.

We are happy to re-align his name through the registration and name change process later if needed (which I am sure will be arduous). We just want to get some advice on the best way to proceed. We will also be talking with the priest beforehand so he knows the situation but would appreciate some advice as well from this forum.

Thank you and may the Lord continue to bless you in your work!

Mark Lucas

  { Because we don't know our newborn's gender, could Baptism information be changed later? }

Bob replied:


You are a credit to your child. God certainly picked the right Dad for this beautiful baby. I will pray for this all to be resolved according to God's Will in the most expedient manner.

You have the best course already plotted. Have the child baptized and, if necessary, modify the paperwork later. Since time is of the essence that should take precedence.

Fr. Jonathan may have other insights, but that is my take.


Bob Kirby

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Dear Mark,

Sounds to me like you are doing everything you can.

If the priest is well aware of the situation, you should have no trouble with the record keeping.

This is the view from the canonical side. At some point, you may need a Catholic ethicist.

Note: If you need a Catholic ethicist try the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

Fr. Jonathan

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