A reader writes:
Dear Heidi: I am looking for a support group or blogs or books that deal specifically with people who want to grow their family but have a serious risk of having children with disabilities – and they know this before conception. I am really having a problem with this – there are so many “odds” out there, and I don’t know how to reconcile that with God’s plan for us.
Thanks for writing!
I found this article from “Catholics United for the Faith” on ectopic or “tubal” pregnancies. One line in this article really struck me; the author points out that when a couple seeks to tend to the health of the mother without deliberately ending the life of the child, they must educate themselves about the options, prayerfully discern … then make a prudent decision relying on a well-formed conscience.
I think this may apply to your situation as well. While there are some clear boundaries — it is never acceptable to abort a child once he is conceived, or to use artificial contraception to avoid pregnancy, for example — God expects us to embrace His plan for family life while recognizing that this plan is not the same for every couple.
Some families, even those open to life, are small; others are resplendent. Some are formed through childbirth, others through adoption or foster care or kinship care. Many families have children who have special needs of one kind or another, and have come to see these children as a special kind of gift from God — even those who, before that child arrived, never thought they had what it takes to be the parent of a special needs child.
God speaks to the heart of each couple, giving them signs along the way. We can plan just so much … so much of life is really beyond our feeble control. All we can do is entrust ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and place our lives in His hands.
After gathering information about options that are open to us, along with the pros and cons of each, we make the best choice that we can based on the information that we have, praying that the Lord will open or close doors as He sees fit. God does not expect us to drift along passively, waiting for Him to speak from a cloud. He created us to be intelligent, spiritual beings who reflect God’s love in the world through the choices we make. In the words of the late, great John Paul II: “Be Not Afraid!!!”
Gathering information is a critical part of this process. Have you heard of the Pope Paul VI Institute? They may be able to refer you to someone in your area who can discuss your situation with compassion and practical advice. The Natural Family Planning website offers other good resources.
If any of my other readers has faced this issue, and found some helpful resources, please chime in the comments section. Have you read any books or come across any websites you found particularly helpful?