Many people, if not most, assume that if someone wants a child, they have a right to a child. Many find out the hard way that this is not the case. My wife and I enjoyed several years of carefree marriage without children. At the time, this is what we thought we wanted. After a while, though, we both started realizing that something was missing. Both of us started thinking about having children, but lo and behold – it didn’t happen.
After trying various forms of fertility assistance (some in line with Church teaching – some not), we finally got pregnant only to lose the baby almost right away. We were devastated. We decided to just not worry about it anymore and accepted that we weren’t meant to be parents.
At this same time (a few months apart), we both had a “reversion” experience and started getting serious about what the Church had to say about birth control, fertility treatments, and children, in general. (Listening to Dr. Janet Smith’s, “Contraception: Why Not?” was a watershed moment in this regard.) This was also a painful experience. We both felt a sense of being cheated. Why wasn’t this taught to us as part of our Catholic education? Why weren’t the pitfalls of birth control and artificial conception techniques pointed out from the pulpit, along with the “whys” (and wisdom) of Church teaching on these REALLY important topics? It struck us that the lack of speaking out on these subjects had led to mountains of pain and bad decisions on the part of millions. In all fairness, though, maybe many of us didn’t really want to hear the Truth.
As we continued our journey back into the Church, we continued to set aside the issue of being parents. We prayed together more, went to Mass much more often than we had in years, and generally aspired to be more faithful Catholics. The idea of adopting had simply never come up as an option.
Then, at a celebration (out west) of my oldest brother’s 50th birthday, I ran across an extended family member’s little girl – adopted from China. I was enchanted from the start. A divine sense of clarity came over me and I called my wife (who had remained back east) the next day and said, “Honey! I know what we’re supposed to do! We should adopt a little girl from China!” Very surprisingly, I think she barely hesitated in going along with this brand new idea. Within 6 weeks, we had the paperwork started and 21 months later, we held our new (1-year-old) daughter in our arms for the first time.
Now, adoption brought about many comments we were not expecting. Make no mistake – we were adopting for 2 reasons. One – we wanted a child. Two – we felt strongly this was God’s will. However, almost to a person, everyone who approached us said such things as, “Oh! That’s so wonderful what you’re doing for that child! You are giving her a much better life than she would’ve had!” It was embarrassing receiving such compliments, because we knew we weren’t worthy of such praise. WE were the ones receiving a better life! She was giving something to US, more so than we were giving to her.
As is often the case, we found ourselves pregnant within 14 months of coming home from China with our beautiful baby girl. A few months later, my wife gave birth to our second daughter – the daughter we weren’t supposed to be able to conceive and carry to term. All of this was totally free of any fertility assistance, and the doctors were baffled.
My wife and I knew the reason, though, and we smiled as the doctors tried to find some logical reason for our sudden fertility. See, the suffering caused by infertility was a necessary part of our journey. That journey led us to China and eventually to something we never fully had before – Faith. So naturally, that’s what we named our second daughter. (We were then blessed with 3 more daughters – all homemade!)
We can’t imagine life without any of these 5 blessings, and we often think of the child of ours lost in miscarriage who smiles down on us from Heaven. Not all adoptions go as smoothly as ours has. However, I suspect the blessings on each family who have adopted are plentiful in every case. God is never outdone in His generosity. He just asks that we be faithful – totally faithful – to His divine will and providence.
Vincent Weaver is the Director of Programs and Training for Family Honor.
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