QUESTION: We are a couple, married eight years and would love to have children.
Medical tests indicate there is nothing wrong with either of us but still
no offspring. One of us wants to adopt and the other does not – we’ve reached that proverbial “brick wall” in our discussions, and the subject is affecting our marriage. Could you help us get beyond this impasse?
~ Jack & Jill
Dear Jack and Jill,
I understand your dilemma and sympathize with the painful emotions you must feel. Bearing and raising children is a noble endeavor and I commend you for making this a goal of your life together. Having children and raising them to become good, hardworking, positive members of society are a blessing of the highest order. Despite all of the challenges that come with childrearing, few things in life are more fulfilling.
Although adopting children is equally rewarding and accomplishes the same objective, people tend to want biological children as a first choice. I suspect this has more to do with natural instinct than anything else – and there is nothing wrong with that. At some point, however, couples that want children but cannot conceive on their own should strongly consider adoption. If doctors determine a physical cause for infertility, then the sooner one can adopt, the better; in your situation, however, this is not the case. I feel that waiting as you have done until now seems like a wise course of action. In my view, how long to wait before adopting depends on two factors: the woman’s age, and how the length of time in which you have been trying to conceive. I would suggest that you wait 10 years from when you first tried to conceive, or until the wife’s 40th birthday, whichever comes first. After that moment, I encourage you to adopt a child. You should love and raise that little boy or girl as it was your own – because that is precisely what he or she will be. Ultimately, parenthood is really determined by nurturing, loving and caring, not by biology. And as you know, there is no shortage of wonderful children just waiting to find a welcoming home and the embrace of a family.
Finally, I would counsel you to turn to God and pray. Pray that He gives
you the blessing of children, and pray that He guides you in raising those
children – however they come to you – to be decent, honest, and peace-loving
Rabbi Simcha Backman
Dear Jack & Jill,
As a couple who wants to have children, I know it is disheartening when that does not happen as you planned – particularly when you know that there are no clear medical reasons. You don’t say how old you are, but one thought is simply to try to reduce stress about getting pregnant. It seems that anxiety often adds to the difficulty of successful conception. But you probably know a lot about that already.
The immediate problem is your disagreement about whether adoption is a possible way to have the family you want. My strongest advice is to seek outside support. Often someone not directly involved in the situation can help you to gain clarity and perhaps agreement. That person could facilitate your understanding about what is getting in the way of reaching a compromise – discovering the underlying reasons why one of you is so inflexibly opposed to adoption. Helpful mediators could be marriage and family counselors or, if you are part of a religious community, the clergyperson in your congregation.
Another important step would be to get the facts about adoption. We often have feelings about adoption based on past experiences or information that we have heard. Finding out what is really involved may help you make an informed decision, either for or against that choice.
Whatever you decide about adoption, I hope that you will be proactive in working through your impasse and gaining consensus. If one of you simply gives in to the other, the results will be unlikely to bring about the result you are hoping for. So please do not take a shortcut to an answer. The future of your marriage is important, and the investment of time you spend now can make all the difference.
I will be keeping you in my thoughts and my prayers.
Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford, Minister Unitarian Universalist Church of the Verdugo Hills – La Crescenta firstname.lastname@example.org
QUESTION: I watched TV news last night with deep sadness as the rioting went on in Los Angeles, incited by the Zimmerman acquittal. I observed that several of the demonstrators wore T-shirts with Christian logos; one of them was “Jesus Saves.” Violent demonstrations obviously are not Christian nor basic to any other faith’s tenet, either. I don’t believe anything is accomplished with violence.
I have two questions: 1) Do you believe that positive action could have been taken to prevent the riots? and 2) What do you believe must take place to improve inter-racial relationships?
~ Peace Loving Citizen
Dear Peace Loving Citizen,
There are so many factors influencing my response to your question. First, I want to respond to the sadness you felt as you witnessed the riots. It can be discouraging to view what we deem negative behavior. From what I have researched on the protesters and the riots themselves, I understand that some of the violence may have been a follow up to the acquittal. However, the riots the following day have not been evidenced to be linked to the Zimmerman verdict. There were peaceful protesters as well and I am not certain what group those wearing Christian t-shirts belonged to or if they were linked to the violence.
But let’s presume for a moment that it was the Christian T-shirt wearing group that was violent. What does God say about violence? Well, we know that we are to obey the laws of the land. We also know that certain laws go against our faith, but that does not mean we are to go beyond the law ourselves … if that makes sense. However there are always times when there is a higher good to breaking a law or moral standard (remember Rehab “lying” to save the Israelites? Lying is a sin, right? But here, what she did was considered as righteousness).
So there are laws of land and greater goods. I am not applying those terms to this incident, but simply trying to illicit pondering on what human motives and actions may be stemming from, hoping to lead people to consider ethical and moral choices we make by analyzing these riots. I can in no way link a Christian to the riots themselves unless I directly see that, and know the motives.
I am not sure if there is one positive action that can be taken to prevent riots. Unfortunately, people have a sin nature, strong feelings about injustice (which I would not place under the label “sin nature” but rather humanity and emotion), and then there is freedom of choice. Add to that a person or group’s worldview, life experience, culture and subculture, temperament, and psychological genetics – and we are a diverse species indeed.
As far as what can be done to improve interracial relationships, [pay attention to] those speaking out with wisdom, not emotion, and to people coming forward publicly in love, building a platform to educate on issues troubling humanity – much as individuals and groups have done throughout history.
We will always face these issues in our broken world. They were never promised to us to diminish. But we can make a small change within ourselves and causes we choose to participate in.
Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian
Dear Peace Loving Citizen,
I, too, would love to see a little more peace. Unfortunately we live in a world of discord that’s ready to explode at a moment’s notice. There’s nothing wrong with protesting injustice, and it’s not un-Christian to participate; in fact, Christians should speak up. However, those willing to throw violent tantrums at the drop of a hat and harm their innocent neighbors become worse than whatever they protest; they only inflame dormant prejudices on every side.
Christians shouldn’t be involved in such, and it’s bothersome that demagogues with ministerial titles like “Reverend” (rarely church pastors) would incite racial discord because of personal displeasure with verdicts of legitimate jury trials. Would it have been preferable that the man found innocent had been killed instead, simply because of his race? There’s only one race – mankind, and we need to realize together the colorblind society that Martin Luther King envisioned.
Generally, our legal system has kept America in relative peace, but that’s all it ever is and will be – relative. It doesn’t always work to our advantage, but until all the kinks work themselves out (relatively speaking), we should be somewhat grateful for what we have. Would we prefer anarchy?
As far as positive actions that could have been forthcoming, they could have been what they should be now. Leaders should endeavor to quell discontent by encouraging American unity rather than fomenting racial or foreign nationalistic divisions. We’re Americans, not Africans or Mexicans, so let’s be that now and support the law.
Improving inter-racial relationships requires determination. It’s a choice, and that’s why it’s never certain. But thankfully, most protestors didn’t smash things, and you know that just because some wear “Jesus Saves” T-shirts doesn’t make them genuine Christians.
The only peace guaranteed you in this world is peace with God through Jesus Christ. As He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).