Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On Being Childless in a Child-Loving Church

The Orthodox Church loves big families, which can definitely make an infertile person like yours truly feel a little left out. It took a long time to get over, but I think I've survived most of the difficult feelings associated with being odd-man-out. Chris and I have been through quite a bit in the past seven years of marriage, from the miscarriage to the failed adoption, and I think we've become comfortable with being the thing infertile couples dread most at the beginning of their journeys: a family of two.

I periodically have to reconsider my stance on my little family when I come across things like the pro-choice button I happened upon the other day:

If You End Abortion
How Many Unwanted Children Will You Adopt?

The classiness never ceases. First off, I hate the notion that any child is unwanted, and I'm sure that telling the child they were unwanted would do tons of good for their psyche. But I digress. I ended up sitting up at night thinking about this stupid button and whether or not we should consider adoption. There are lots of things working against us, however: my mental illness is the biggy. But it's so hard to square feeling like we're not supposed to adopt with the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care who need homes. It reminds me of when we chose to end the adoption we'd been working on for almost a year: There was a terrible feeling like we were the only ones who could save these children, yet we (or should I say I) had to let go and remember that their lives are in God's hands, not mine. That's why we must make sure that our desire to adopt has to be out of a genuine desire to want a family, not the guilt brought on by some dumb button. (How many "unwanted" children have they adopted anyway?)

I was discussing adoption with my friendly neighborhood matushka the next day, and she asked me if we'd changed our minds about it (ie, were thinking about adoption again). I said, and this is true, that we're sort of at the point right now where we feel like we can use our childlessness to our advantage to take care of other people like the elderly. St. Paul said (and I'm paraphrasing because I don't have a Bible by my side, but I think I have it right) that husbands and wives worry about how to please each other, but the single person worries about how to please God, and I feel that it's the same way with the childless couple. Yes, I do concern myself with making my husband happy, but without children we can do work that is laborious and sometimes thankless without worrying, "Are we spending enough time with the children?" That's why I want to be a nurse aide--to help the forgotten elderly. Chris has dropped out of court reporting school to become a nurse himself, although he's aiming for higher levels than I am (I just don't want any administrative work and don't care about the money). Together I hope we can be a wonderful dynamic duo with the Unmercenary Healers as our guides. (As a humorous side note, I periodically call them the Mercenary Unhealers, similar to the priest who was famous for saying that Jesus was "baptized by Jordan in the John".) 

So I believe that there's more than one happy ending. Chris and I daily celebrate what I consider to be an unusually good marriage, and we're living full lives without children. I remember a friend from high school who said that couples who didn't have children were selfish, but I don't think that's always the case. (And it's not like children are a cure-all for self-absorption anyway.) 

1 comment:

LSB said...

Beautifully stated.