I can't overstate the imprint on my psyche and my soul those barren years produced. For a young woman who gave casual assent to damaging sexual ideals, it was fairly shocking not to have children right away in married life. In hindsight, I am grateful for every necessary step, especially praying together and the painful conclusion that we may not ever physically bear children. At that conclusion, the only thing we had to overcome was our own egos, in order to consider adoption. Birth mothers (fathers too) who entrust their babies to another family have self-knowledge and courage of a caliber I can only ponder. God love them.
Our kids are healthy, my husband earns a strong income, and life is stable by most measures. None of these are factors in our openness to the gift of new life. I don't even like babies, generally! (Love my kids, love your kids, I'm just bothered and intimidated by the delicate, dependent and darling responsibility of it all. It's overwhelming.) I exhale around the seventh month, when my anxieties are replaced by a sturdy little pal who is eager to see around every corner, meet every stranger, and wield their own amusements for just a moment while I stare slack-jawed at the coffee pot and dream of library visits that bypass the children's floor entirely.
Real life began when we became parents, and I still find equal parts encouragement and panic in Peter De Vries idea that “the value of marriage is not that adults produce children. but that children produce adults.” The day may come when our circumstances merit actually learning the NFP method, and I don't moralize over other couples' decisions or struggles in this private matter. In the meantime -- limit this? No thank you. I'm called to limit everything else: material excess, leisure time, heady solo pursuits and even predictable sleep patterns. But another eternal soul may be called forth, and my family is at the service of a God whose generosity I know to include grace. Children are the visible sign of marital love fulfilled, which makes them a sacramental of sorts. It's also the way we all started out, so let's not get too big for our britches. If you're raising kids or at a stage when this makes sense to you -- just for today, envision your home with one more child, whether biological or adopted. Ask God to make the way clear. I offer my free advice with a handy money-back guarantee, as usual.
"The greatest gift you can give your child is another sibling."
Bl. John Paul II