Sister-in-law and fertility treatments - yikes


#1

My sister-in-law and her husband (my husband’s brother), Katie and Josh, were married in The Church 8 years ago. Three years ago they told us that they’d been trying for a pregnancy for two years without success, and were going to be getting medical workups to see if there was a fixable problem. Since that time, I’ve had two successful pregnancies (for a total of three children.) I know they had always been happy for our blessings, and they are wonderful aunt/uncle to our kids, but we’ve had to be very sensitive around them because seeing our family grow was tough for them. Katie cried at the brunch my girlfriends held for me before my last child was born. It was very sad and I know that the infertility broke her heart and made it hard for her to fully share in our joy, even though she did try.

I knew they were getting medical testing done and still trying to create a family, but I didn’t have a ton of information because they did not offer it and I didn’t want to pry. In September, we learned the wonderful news that Katie and Josh were expecting - twins! We were thrilled for them! The twins were born in February and they are beautiful babies. When they were a couple of weeks old, I went to meet the newborns and gushed over how precious they were. Katie, then, said to me, “And to think - if we followed Church doctrine they wouldn’t be here. How dare anyone say that I was wrong to have these babies and that they should not have been born. It makes me sick that anyone thinks they can tell infertile women not to try to have a baby. They just have no idea how painful and heartbreaking it is to long for a child and be unable to conceive one.” Katie went on to tell me that she and her husband used IVF to become pregnant after learning that their particular medical conditions made it impossible to conceive in the typical way.

I am very torn. The babies are perfect and beautiful and Katie and Josh are loving, intelligent, kind people. They are head over heels about their new son and daughter - and our entire family is thrilled that they have started a family. Having said that, I know that I cannot agree with the way these babies were conceived and that it is wrong to achieve a pregnancy via IVF. Still, I can’t say that those babies, “Shouldn’t have been conceived” or were “Conceived immorally” or “Shouldn’t even be here.” Ultimately, only God can grant a couple the blessing of children and only God can grant each person a soul. So, I have to believe that God was somehow involved in the conception of these two sweet babies.

How can I reconcile my faith in the One True Church and my belief that IVF is wrong with the fact that I am overjoyed to be an aunt to these two beautiful little babies? How can I look at these children and say that they should not have been conceived? I am really struggling with trying to get this straight in my mind, but it’s bothering me a lot. I know the babies are blameless, but were Katie and Josh morally wrong to have them in the first place?

Thank you in advance for your help and support!


#2

[quote="MaryAnne77, post:1, topic:236459"]

How can I reconcile my faith in the One True Church and my belief that IVF is wrong with the fact that I am overjoyed to be an aunt to these two beautiful little babies? How can I look at these children and say that they should not have been conceived? I am really struggling with trying to get this straight in my mind, but it's bothering me a lot. I know the babies are blameless, but were Katie and Josh morally wrong to have them in the first place?

Thank you in advance for your help and support!

[/quote]

We don't have any close family members that have done this, but I've known other Catholics... so I'm sure it must be harder since they're family...

I think if it were brought up in a conversation by them I would encourage them to go to confession - as a first step. Yes, of course, the church clearly lays out that this is morally wrong... but there are also these "caveats" of "full knowledge" that must be taken into consideration before you can truly assume the sins were "mortal" in nature. They may have knowledge that it's considered a sin, but not full knowledge of WHY...
I'm sure this is a very heavy burden for you to have on your mind when you are around them... and I don't think there's any easy answer for how to remove that from your heart and mind other than asking God to forgive their lack of full understanding...* pray for them*.

God bless...


#3

I don’t think it’s an either/or proposition. You can agree with the Church – and look around on this site, there’s tons of information on why we oppose ivf and it’s not about denying nice people a baby – and still love those babies. No one says they shouldn’t be here now that they are. In fact,one of the reasons we oppose ivf isduetoall the “extra” embryos which are destroyed in the process.

I myself have a grand niece who was born out of wedlock when my nephew and his girlfriend were teenagers. Now, that child was conceived through a sinful act,but does that mean we don’t love the baby or that we wish the baby away? No way!

Hope this helps.


#4

This is a hard place to be in, and I'll pray for you.
As for advice...
"You shouldn't have used IVF" is most certainly and explicitly** NOT** the same thing as "those children shouldn't even be here". As you said yourself, the children are blameless.
Of course you can expect to be accused of condemning the children when you oppose what Katie and Joseph have chosen to do. Just try to remember the accusation is mistaken.

May the peace of Christ fill your heart.


#5

Yes, what they did is a sin, but it should not be your burden. If they didn't know, then a gentle bit of education "might" be in order, but apparently, they were well aware they were sinning, though possibly not really grasping the seriousness of it.

So in this incidence, God turned their sin into two beautiful babies. It isn't your job to anguish over other people's sins as we ALL sin, we all make mistakes. What they did was a mistake, a sin. But the babies are not a mistake or a sin.

If asked by someone like your SIL, "how can anyone say it was wrong to not follow the Church to have these babies?", I'd merely smile (not nodding in agreement) and say, "they are beautiful and a great blessing." End of story. Then pray like no tomorrow that the Holy Spirit softens their hearts enough that they go to confession. Perhaps when the little ones start religious education, they will rethink things. That often happens as parents tend to get re-educated (or educated for the first time) when assisting their children through the catechism program.

Saying the wrong thing now could turn this couple against the Church, and that would be a tragedy, no? That is something I would not want on my head.

Having gone through infertility, and a very similar situation (minus the fertility treatments - I turned those down), I know the unbelievable pain your SIL went through. Not everyone is able to endure temptation of that caliber. Just like people will lie and say things they know they shouldn't when tortured. Surely God forgives them as well if they truly regret it later and beg forgiveness?

And for all you know, they have already confessed and have a clean and lovely soul right now? We are not the sin police.

Just my little opinion - your mileage may differ.


#6

Thank you for your responses so far! You are all right - those babies are a beautiful gift from God and my husband and I adore them as their aunt and uncle. In no way would we ever treat them as any “less than” just because of a choice their parents made. And, in no way would I ever chastise or condemn Katie and Josh for their decision - you are right - maybe they have already sought confession and have been relieved of the burden of their sin. (I hope that they did not use IVF knowing they could “just go to confession and erase it” afterward!) Lord knows it is not for me to make people’s lives more painful and difficult by being rude and judgmental.

I guess what I am most struggling with is this: I believe that each person who is conceived was meant by God to be conceived and has a God-given soul. If Katie and Josh (or anyone) did not do IVF, maybe these sweet babies would never have been born. If God meant for these souls to be here on Earth, why did Katie and Josh have t use IVF to get them here? I’m just confused and torn. I am so thrilled for them, but in my heart is sadness at the choice - and yet I believe that God is the genesis of all life.


#7

[quote="sojo, post:5, topic:236459"]
Yes, what they did is a sin, but it should not be your burden. If they didn't know, then a gentle bit of education "might" be in order, but apparently, they were well aware they were sinning, though possibly not really grasping the seriousness of it.

So in this incidence, God turned their sin into two beautiful babies. It isn't your job to anguish over other people's sins as we ALL sin, we all make mistakes. What they did was a mistake, a sin. But the babies are not a mistake or a sin.

If asked by someone like your SIL, "how can anyone say it was wrong to not follow the Church to have these babies?", I'd merely smile (not nodding in agreement) and say, "they are beautiful and a great blessing." End of story. Then pray like no tomorrow that the Holy Spirit softens their hearts enough that they go to confession. Perhaps when the little ones start religious education, they will rethink things. That often happens as parents tend to get re-educated (or educated for the first time) when assisting their children through the catechism program.

Saying the wrong thing now could turn this couple against the Church, and that would be a tragedy, no? That is something I would not want on my head.

Having gone through infertility, and a very similar situation (minus the fertility treatments - I turned those down), I know the unbelievable pain your SIL went through. Not everyone is able to endure temptation of that caliber. Just like people will lie and say things they know they shouldn't when tortured. Surely God forgives them as well if they truly regret it later and beg forgiveness?

And for all you know, they have already confessed and have a clean and lovely soul right now? We are not the sin police.

Just my little opinion - your mileage may differ.

[/quote]

This is pretty much everything I was going to say. It's difficult for those who have not experienced something as difficult as infertility to understand that kind of desperation. Even I, one who chose to just have faith in God rather than doctors, cannot always understand. However, it is not our place to judge.

The only thing in your control is how you choose to react. The act has already taken place. I can tell you that they already know the stance of the Church, so saying anything else about it will only create a rift and possibly hinder your relationship with these children. You can, however, pray for their forgiveness, and pray that they are happy enough not to choose IVF again. You are not her judge, nor are you her jury.


#8

Yes, it is a struggle. I was born to two single teenagers who were not even in love. They did not marry until I was a year old, and it was a brief and tumultuous mistake. Am I a mistake? Some have told me so, but I’ve never felt that God feels that way.

Had my parents followed God’s law the way they were taught, I would not be here. It can be hard to reconcile. But, what is, is. God can take even a wrong action and make it good - he chose to save those 2 precious embryos from a procedure that he could not stop.


#9

[quote="MaryAnne77, post:1, topic:236459"]
Ultimately, only God can grant a couple the blessing of children

[/quote]

This is not accurate. Conception is a biological process and our own free will can certainly create children.

[quote="MaryAnne77, post:1, topic:236459"]
and only God can grant each person a soul.

[/quote]

Yes, God specially creates a soul for each human person.

[quote="MaryAnne77, post:1, topic:236459"]
So, I have to believe that God was somehow involved in the conception of these two sweet babies.

[/quote]

I think this is a misunderstanding of how God operates and how he allows free will to operate.

[quote="MaryAnne77, post:1, topic:236459"]
How can I reconcile my faith in the One True Church and my belief that IVF is wrong with the fact that I am overjoyed to be an aunt to these two beautiful little babies? How can I look at these children and say that they should not have been conceived?

[/quote]

Children are not commodities and they have a fundamental right to be conceived via the marital embrace, not a petri dish. When you look at these little children, think of your other nieces and nephews who died in that petri dish or were discarded in the IVF process, or worse-- frozen somewhere for later-- and the millions of others who die each year to satiate someone's desire to "be a mother" at all costs.

[quote="MaryAnne77, post:1, topic:236459"]
I know the babies are blameless, but were Katie and Josh morally wrong to have them in the first place?

[/quote]

Yes.


#10

[quote="MaryAnne77, post:6, topic:236459"]
I guess what I am most struggling with is this: I believe that each person who is conceived was meant by God to be conceived and has a God-given soul.

[/quote]

So what you are saying is that in the case of a child born of rape, God willed a rapist to rape his victim and conceive a child?

[quote="MaryAnne77, post:6, topic:236459"]
If Katie and Josh (or anyone) did not do IVF, maybe these sweet babies would never have been born.

[/quote]

That is how it should have been, yes.

[quote="MaryAnne77, post:6, topic:236459"]
If God meant for these souls to be here on Earth, why did Katie and Josh have t use IVF to get them here?

[/quote]

This is where you have taken a left turn. God gave these children souls because their praents exercised free will to create them in a laboratory. God did not will these children to be created in a laboratory.

[quote="MaryAnne77, post:6, topic:236459"]
I'm just confused and torn. I am so thrilled for them, but in my heart is sadness at the choice - and yet I believe that God is the genesis of all life.

[/quote]

His permissive will allows all sorts of evil to occur. He will bring good from it when he can, based on our cooperation with him. Therefore, he **permitted **these children to be born, he did not **will **it.


#11

Ah, I understand better now. I have thought about such things too! A wise Monk explained to me that we humans always struggle with thinking that everything that happens was planned to unfold in a linear way, because we live in a linear way and it is how our brains are fashioned. But God doesn't think or act that way. All of time is a moment for Him, and to make things more complicated, he gives mankind free will! So to us it "seems" like cause and effect is the only law.

But God takes those actions of free will and weaves it all simultaneously from all time past to all time future in that singularity that is our great and awesome God. He doesn't have to go in and "fix" our mistakes in a linear fashion. It all exists as one giant, timeless thing.

Before Adam and Eve were created, those babies were already created in God's infinite mind. It is a wonderful thing to meditate on, but don't ever expect to have it all figured out. As the Monk told me, we were not made to fully conceive or understand the immensity of the situation we call life and creation and as we can only think in time, we just cannot know how it all appears to God.

It is so hard to articulate this. But God wanted those darling children to be born. He adores them.

It is also helpful to think about the fact that when we sin, it isn't just the one sin that just then happens. It is the result of all our little sins and misunderstandings that went into our being able to slip at that one time in space. Selfishness, pride, entitlement, jealousy, impatience -- and some of THOSE sins come from the actions of other people. Low self-esteem from being belittled, having had so many needful things taken away from you when you were young, being hurt, discarded, disrespected, not being loved enough, Other people who sinned against you have hardened your heart, or made you stop listening to the Holy Spirit talking to you. Are you really totally to blame in those situations?

And yet out of all this mess, God has everything in hand and your family has two wonderful babies and this couple has the opportunity to have their hearts softened and turn to God in thanks and humility over how good He is despite their sinning.

Hope some of this mishmash helps or something touches a chord.


#12

Your enthusiasm has overwhelmed you.
God “adores” no one. We adore God.


#13

[quote="1ke, post:10, topic:236459"]

That is how it should have been, yes.

[/quote]

Looking at those two precious babies and thinking of all the love our family has for them, it is hard for me to think that they should not have been born. I am going to have to pray about this : ) Thank you for taking the time to respond.


#14

re this from the OP:

"My sister-in-law and her husband (my husband's brother), Katie and Josh, were married in The Church 8 years ago. Three years ago they told us that they'd been trying for a pregnancy for two years without success, and were going to be getting medical workups to see if there was a fixable problem."

In an eight-year marriage, one might wonder what was done to prevent conception
for the first three years - before they sought to have children. Many things can stop
fertility - I'm sure you'd never ask, nor would I. Yet why "blame" God and His Church?


#15

[quote="catharina, post:12, topic:236459"]
Your enthusiasm has overwhelmed you.
God "adores" no one. We adore God.

[/quote]

As a Catholic, I understand your point. But in common parlance, "adores" means to love immensely. I didn't say he worships the little ones. He adores as in loves perfectly, fully and completely. He finds them totally precious and worthy to spend eternity with Him in heaven.

I adore my husband and my child. I don't worship them.

Sorry if you misunderstood, but no, I didn't get carried away though yes, my amazement at how much God loves us really does blow me away.


#16

[quote="catharina, post:14, topic:236459"]
re this from the OP:

"My sister-in-law and her husband (my husband's brother), Katie and Josh, were married in The Church 8 years ago. Three years ago they told us that they'd been trying for a pregnancy for two years without success, and were going to be getting medical workups to see if there was a fixable problem."

In an eight-year marriage, one might wonder what was done to prevent conception
for the first three years - before they sought to have children. Many things can stop
fertility - I'm sure you'd never ask, nor would I. Yet why "blame" God and His Church?

[/quote]

Perhaps they did nothing to try to have children or not have children in the first 3 years. Many people don't have children in the first 3 years with no birth control. And perhaps, they thought as some I know that God was being good to them and keeping children out of the picture before they could handle them.

Those first 3 years of marriage go by awfully fast.

And also - when I first went to the doctor to find out what was wrong, I was told to forget about it, it was waaaay to early to worry. With medical costs the way they are, and a nervous, possibly stressed young couple, the standard wisdom is to "relax and wait."

I'm a bit shocked by the inferring anything other than that?


#17

I can see there is a serious lack of charity here, so I will retreat to a friendlier thread. I will pray for the OP and her situation with her family.


#18

We are likely from different generations, mine the older one.
Adoration, as I know it is one of the four forms of prayer,
applicable only in direction toward God.

Adoration
Thanksgiving
Praise
Satisfaction


#19

So be it.

I’m a bit shocked by anyone saying
that God adores anyone. Go figure.


#20

[quote="sojo, post:17, topic:236459"]
I can see there is a serious lack of charity here, so I will retreat to a friendlier thread. I will pray for the OP and her situation with her family.

[/quote]

Good bye then.

As Pope John Paul I said at the birth
of Louise Brown, the world's first test-tube baby:

"We welcome her to the human family."

That's sufficient, isn't it.


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