My sister-in-law, Adriana, just told me today that she and her husband are starting the adoption process.
I’m simply thrilled. I have an adopted child, and I am so glad that Adriana will taste that same joy — a joy unlike any other joy. Personally, I could tell you that she deserves it, because she is so good, and she has shouldered the cross of infertility with commendable courage.
But more admirably, she and her husband have carried that cross with the integrity of Catholics who understand and treasure the teachings of the Church regarding marriage and procreation. Even when those teachings came across as complicated, and seemed to block their way to their highest desire: a child.
After two years of marriage and many tests, Adriana’s gynecologist offered to send her to a fertility specialist, for procedures like insemination with her husband’s or even a stranger’s sperm. Or, he said, in vitro fertilization could be a solution for her and talked about freezing embryos and how convenient that could be.
She and her husband resisted all his blandishments. They instinctively felt these artificial means must be wrong and investigated, reading widely on the ethics of marital sexuality and the great gift of procreation. Their instincts were correct.
One day she called me and read a quote from Pope Pius XII about insemination: “To reduce the common life of a husband and wife and the conjugal act to a mere organic function for the transmission of seed would be to convert the domestic hearth, the family sanctuary, into a biological laboratory.”
This rang very true to her. She understood that it was wrong to use her body simply as a conduit for obtaining a child, and to violate her husband’s sexuality, reducing his involvement to “producing a sample.”
To go down that route was to make their child a “project to be realized” by any means necessary, instead of a gift arising from their bodily union. In vitro fertilization, they understood, was exponentially worse. Creating sons and daughters in a petri dish, to be inserted, discarded, frozen for later? Impossible.
In their decision to preserve the connection between the conjugal act and conception, they were swimming against a strong cultural current. In the last few decades, the idea has grown that everyone “deserves” to bear a child, if they want to.
Women as old as 69 have given birth using donated eggs fertilized in a laboratory, their bodies pumped full of hormones their ovaries long ago stopped producing. Women on career paths regularly freeze their eggs so they can artificially conceive when it’s convenient.
And men sell their sperm to banks and become the “fathers” of thousands of children. And with new DNA-tracing technology, their offspring have embarked on soul-rending searches for their “real dads,” sometimes with grim consequences.
But Adriana and her husband chose a better path. First they tried NaPro Technology, an approach to infertility that supports a woman’s complicated and delicate hormonal cycle, seeking to fix underlying abnormalities. Most distinctively, it “assists the couple in achieving pregnancy while maintaining the natural acts of procreation.” Though it works for many, it didn’t help Adriana.
This was a great disappointment, but she and her husband decided to embrace God’s plan — even if that plan was nonparental spiritual fruitfulness.
Today she called me breathless with happiness. “I’ve spoken with the agency and they say that we can expect to welcome our little one within the year.”
I cried a little. I remembered vividly when I spoke to my agency and started the process that would bring me my little miracle-daughter. There were so many luminous moments on that path, all of them pure and good, all of them resting on our family like a benediction. They are all ahead of my dear sister-in-law and her husband, and once again ahead of me, for I mean to live them all vicariously.
Personally, I believe that God’s plan is always good, and blessed are those who follow it.
Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, coming to the U.S. at the age of 11. She has written for USA TODAY, National Review, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, and has appeared on CNN, Telemundo, Fox News and EWTN. She practices radiology in the Miami area, where she lives with her husband and five children.
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