Do I have an obligation to adopt?!


If my wife and I cannot conceive, do I have a moral obligation as a practicing Catholic to adopt?

Is there anything in Church teaching or scripture that suggests I do?


You are not obligated by the Church or scripture. Although it is a blessing that you can consider :wink:


As Christians we have an obligation to care for orphans and widows in their distress - whether this means adopting or not is up to each family to decide.


CCC 1654 Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.

Nothing about adoption there.

Hope that helps.


You can possibly seek to foster...but whatever, I ask the Lord to help you and your wife to live out whatever the Lord wishes of and for you both! May you both flourish in His love.


Thank you all for the initial responses!

Let me add more detail now as this may flavor the discussion . . .

God didn’t gift us with children. Fine. I can live with that. My spouse is less accepting of His will. She would like to adopt, but I don’t want to.

So begs the question: despite a lack of direction in the Catechism or scriptures on this matter, can it be argued that I -as a devoted Catholic husband- should acquiesce to my bride’s lifelong desire and enter into the adoption process?

Noteworthy baggage:

I don’t fully understand my lack of paternal drive. My dad was checked out on booze and asleep by 8PM every night. My mom was consumed with a handicapped sibling (who could blame her?). As such, I grew up with little direct parental involvement. I didn’t feel acknowledged, that the miracle of my birth wasn’t fully appreciated. I am an educated, well adjusted adult with a good career now, but I have never envisioned myself as a dad nor am I convinced I’d be a good one.

My fears:

Damned if I do/damned if I don’t. If a adopt and don’t bond with the child, he/she suffers the same fate I did. If I don’t adopt, my spouse may grow to resent me for standing in the way when she still had “time left on the clock” (we’re both in our mid-40s and most adoption agencies won’t let people a whole lot older than us adopt, so it’s now or never).

I feel much trepidation. This has been a long process. We’ve discussed in with secular counselors and the ordained as well. I’m not sure what to do. How do I reconcile a desire to show my wife true, selfless, giving love with my own preference not to 60 years of age when my son or daughter graduates from high school?

Continued discussion is much appreciated.


I think it definitely changes things since your wife so desperately wants a child. I also don’t think good parenthood is based on having some special inborn trait. Maybe some men and women are more instinctually tuned into a maternal or paternal drive but really I think being a good parent is mostly a desire to do a good and loving job, plenty of hard work and a whole lot of help from God. Having a difficult childhood certainly makes it harder since you don’t have a role model from your own family but it certainly doesn’t bar you from being a good, bonded and loving parent.


Personally I understand your position, as I also don’t think I want children, and I definitely wouldn’t want children who aren’t biologically mine (although I’m a woman).

Do you think you would hate being a father? I’ve yet to hear a person say they wish they didn’t have their children, but plenty of stories of people who didn’t want to have children, had them, and were very happy that they did.


I don’t think you are condemned to be the same sort of father your dad was. My dad is deaf and never learned sign language, so he didn’t communicate with any of us. My mom was not a very good mother – she ignored us. I used to joke about being “raised by wolves” because I wasn’t even taught to say “please” and “thank you” or any other basics when I was growing up. I taught myself all that stuff in college when I realized I was a loser.

But I’m not the same kind of mother that my mom was. My kids are being raised to know the things I had to learn the hard way. I take them the church. I make Christmas ornaments with them. I teach them to fold laundry and ride bikes and draw hopscotch and clean bathrooms and change the trash can liners.

You can be a good dad if you choose to be. You can avoid getting drunk and checking out at 8 p.m. quite easily, can you not? You can treat children with respect and honesty, and that’s a great deal of love right there.

I’m not saying you MUST adopt – I’m saying that you shouldn’t assume that you’d be a lousy dad. I’m not perfect, but I’m a sight better than my own parents. Every adult has the opportunity to do a better job than their own parents did.

Also, there’s no need to assume that something would be missing without a bilogical connection. My husband was adopted, and his dad really loves him like any man loves his biological son. It is very, very possible for a man to love a non-biological child with all his heart.


You don’t have an obligation to adopt. And you do have baggage. However, you’re well aware of this baggage…which is a GREAT start.

Reality is that you may not bond with the child imedatly. You may take several years to really bond with the child. And this is something the movies often have right…that you won’t realize what this child means to you until something happens.

You are not your father and your wife is not your mother. Alcoholism and neglect is PURELY your choice. It dosn’t matter if you’re a “fun” dad or not. A child in foster care isn’t you, either. They will likely not be grateful for all the things you give them…just like any child, but they will not even get a chance to be raised in a 2 parent home…absentee Dad or no. Heck, they won’t even have one parent.

You could also consider older children and not babies. I don’t think that the US gov is as tight with foster/adopt as separate agencies are both in respect of the $$ it takes and your own ages and status’.


I appreciate the encouragement, friends.

I trust I have enough integrity and sense of duty that were my wife to wind up pregnant, I'd rally and be a responsible, attentive father. I don't know why it's so much less compelling given the specter of adoption.

The crux of the matter, however, isn't so much whether I could rise to the occasion or not, but rather my bonafide lack of desire. I just don't want to be a daddy. Never really have wanted to. :shrug: Yet, I don't want the guilt of being the final obstacle in a woman's lifelong dream of being a mom.

We're going to see our pastor, a man we know well, love and trust, in a few days. I have a hunch he's going to tell me self sacrifice here is the true measure of my love for my wife. I suppose the same statement could be posed in reverse to her, that she could put her wants aside for mine.

It's a terrible predicament. I feel either way it shakes out, one person or the other will rue the day the decision to go left or right was made . . .



How would you feel about letting your wife adopt but not being particularly involved in the child’s life? Maybe that could be a compromise. Would you mind having a child living in your house that much?

I guess your issue is that you would feel pressure to be an involved father, but I don’t think it’s necessary. It would be better for your wife to have a child than not even if you’re not involved, it would be better for the child to be adopted rather than not, but would it be okay for you to live in the same house with another person? Or is that something you would also resent?

Plenty of fathers aren’t close to their children anyway as they spend most of their time working.


[quote="opdsgt, post:11, topic:181195"]
The crux of the matter, however, isn't so much whether I could rise to the occasion or not, but rather my bonafide lack of desire. I just don't want to be a daddy. Never really have wanted to. :shrug: ...


Why would you get married if you already knew that? I sure hope that wasn't news to her after the wedding. :confused:

In your vocation to married life, you have already accepted the task of parenthood. It should have been asked of you in the rite during the sacrament.

"Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?"

Each answers the questions separately.

Rite of Marriage/Ordo Celebrandi Matrimonium Intra Missam
Statement of Intentions/Interrogationes ante consensum

Personally, I would adopt. Your reasons for not wanting it are personal and not practical. These are fears expressed by every new parent that fade away with each experience with a child. Having said that, take your time. Make sure your wife understands that you cannot simply adopt the first kid available. Do the research and move forward if an opportunity presents itself. Your relationship with your wife will only improve. :thumbsup:

You'll be just fine.


OK, this is me just wondering, **not saying **this is what the OP or his wife should do.
I wonder, would this constitute grounds for annulment? His wife married him with the desire to have children. From what the OP has said his wife is still open to children through adoption. Personally I believe that this is something that couples should discuss during pre canna. I know my husband and I did. Honestly, if my DH told me that he would not be willing to adopt (if we had children of our own or not) I would not have married him. If he would have changed his mind after we married, I would have been speaking to my priest in regards to this. By the grace of God, I didn’t have to have that conversation.

I guess being an adopted child and hoping to be an adoptive parent. I just don’t get how people are SOOO against adopting. Children are children of God. Biology has nothing to do with it. I won’t go on with my RANT about this right now. I just wonder what these people plan to tell God when they get to the gates of heaven??? :mad:


I cannot conceive but I recently went on the Florida site for children that were looking for adoptive homes that the state puts out. In it was everything from babies to even older teenagers. One that struck me was a 17 year old that stated that he did not feel he would be able to start a family unless he ahd come from one. If you can look on that site and not want to help one of those kids in some way than adoption is probably not for you. I have also included the link.


Speak with your wife…Women are more inclined to children then a lot of men are…Look at my exhusband if he could he wouldn’t have had any kids at all, lol, it’s normal…But if you could just let yourself, with arms wide open invite this child with charity, love, and support for your wife, you might be able to see yourself loving a child whom is not yours as much as you would if he/she was yours…

I know many fathers whom didn’t want to be fathers, when they first hold their adopted children they fall in love immediately and I know a couple whom have been working really hard with open arms and heart to love those children as their own…Not an easy job or task but they are at least trying…

My fiance loves my 3 children, and because I was told I couldn’t have anymore children, he stopped wanting children of his own, and decided to just help me raise the 3 I have…As his own… Hasn’t been an easy situation nor task but he doesn’t give up at all…He’s still trying, loves my kids and treats them as his own…

But again you must be willing with an open mind, heart and arms…Give the child a chance, even if you don’t think you will be a good father…Let you and your wife bond together in parenthood, learn from each other and the child, try to be a better parent than your parent’s were, isn’t that what most of us strive to do anyhow?! Where our parents failed we want to succeed?!

Just don’t give up if you don’t bond with the child…But be supportive and patience with yourself, talk to your wife and let her know if you are willing to give things a try and ask her for patience, and you will try to be patient with her and the new child as well…

Remember a father isn’t just a man whom helps create the baby, a good father is also the one whom raises a child…

you are a good Catholic man, with a great wife, I am sure you two will be great together…If all else fails try counseling, someone whom can emotionally and mentally and physically and economically help you sort things out and prepare you for a new bundle of joy even if the bundle isn’t biologically yours…

I know that in the near future if we would not be able to have children I would like to adopt at least foster children and I know even though my fiance might have not approved he would have given things a chance and been supportive of me…Isn’t that what love is all about?

When you have so much love to give, there are so many out there that need it, why not share it with those children whom don’t have any?


IMO the very fact you are so concerned and have thought about this so much is evidence that you will make a GREAT Father. When i counseld couples I was always more concerend about the Men who looked upon Fatherhood as easy and never really thought about the responsibilities & difficulteis it entailed.

You have a unique opportunity to fullfill Gods plan for a parentless child. You have the opportunity to put all the lessons you learned about how not to be a Father to use.


flyingfish, that’s an interesting take. I think my guilt would take over and I’d not leave all the work to my wife at some point in the evolution, but it remains a worry that I would be doing things out of guilt rather than pure love. Anyway, what you said provokes thought.

ahollars, it sounds as if your position is an infertile couple have an obligation to their Catholic faith to adopt rather than remain child free if God doesn’t bless them with the ability to conceive on their own. I remember being asked that question during the sacrament of marriage, but I guess I didn’t even think to consider that it applied to adoption if we couldn’t get pregnant.

justanotherthou, my wife and I did discuss the notion we would probably wind up childless when we entered into the premarital training we were required to take before the wedding, but we remained open to God’s will should He decide to miracle us with a birth. We didn’t discuss adoption before marriage. I don’t think either of us had the presence of mind to even broach it. This is a relatively new development in our relationship.

joandarc2008, I’ll review the site, thank you for the link.

iluvmybabies, you’re right, counseling is vital at this point - and we’re seeking it. This matter has not been put to bed yet and the feedback I’m getting here helps me sort through my emotions on this front.


It amazes me too that we are always so black and white in our thinking. You can always try fostering too for a bit and see how it works out for BOTH sides.


I strongly feel that adoption is a calling not an obligation. I also feel that I was called from an early age to do so. I have a strong maternal drive though being women it’s part of my nature I guess. Since I’m not a man I couldn’t tell you how the paternal drive should feel but I would think that if you’re meant to be a parent you should have some sort of feeling for it…baggage aside. I’m also not one of those that believe parenthood should be forced either even if you wife disagrees. A child should always be wanted and loved by both parents anything else is a disservice to the child. I would pray about it and see where God leads you.

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