The Corner

re: IVF@30

There are some intimately honest e-mails coming in; here’s one:

Your observation that there is something good about giving yourself

totally to your spouse struck a chord.

My husband and I confronted a case of “unexplained infertility”

for seven years. One particularly caring doctor recommended IVF,

saying that while she could never guarantee anything, she felt certain

that with IVF we would be holding our baby within a year. Those were

enormously powerful words. Our parenthood quest had gone on for so

long and had become so sad and consuming. IVF didn’t sound right,

though, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church had recently been

published in the US. I went home and compared its advice against the

doctor’s … several times. I am a lawyer, “I’m a professional

loophole finder,” I said to myself. My husband was agnostic, so I

thought, “I can’t demand that he choose between his hopes for

fatherhood and his desire to marry only once.” On my last reading of

those passages of the catechism, the words struck me as beautiful,

almost poetic, and it occurred to me that there is beauty in obedience

for the sake of obedience.

Long story short, I vaguely mentioned some hesitance by the Church and

my husband cut me off, announcing that we would have nothing of IVF because

he didn’t want me to do anything that would violate my beliefs. That’s

giving yourself totally!

We left the dismal fertility road. Some time later, I heard a story on

NPR that led us to adopt a child from China. While we were at the

orphanage, that child (… who just this week turned 13, won a

tennis semi-final and placed third in a regatta!) took my husband by the

hand and pulled him through forbidden corridors to another child, who

is now our eldest daughter… (whose credits are too numerous

to mention and who is heading to high school in the fall). The next

day, my husband told me that he finally understood why we’d been unable to

have a child … “because God had our baby waiting for us here.”

Our daughters are the most wonderful girls in the world. No

exaggeration! What interests me most about that line of yours is

this … I, too, was adopted. I remember my mother in an unguarded

moment, saying that she thought that her own marriage might have been

better had she and my father had biological children. She didn’t

elaborate, but I think I understand why she said that. I had begun to

wonder the same in fits and then your line made me stop. It must be

almost magic to see your spouse in your child, mixed with you. That

must be a pretty powerful daily reminder of the love you owe. But it’s

also awfully cool to have the daily reminder of a face that doesn’t

look like yours. It just reminds you of different things; one is total

giving in the physical sense and the other is total giving in, for

lack of a better word, the deeper sense.

I’m probably not explaining this all that well and I don’t want to

take the time to edit because I’ll never send this if I do, but you

probably get the point. So, thanks for those words. Thanks for

yelling, “Stop!” or at least “Pause!” For what it’s worth, there is no

power on earth that could convince our family that we were not always

meant to be.

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