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Chronic Illness - Chronic Pain Articles Available to Read and Reprint

When You Have a Chronic Illness and Decide Not to Parent

By Lisa Copen

Some of us have children… some of us do not. Some of us plan to have children, some of us adopt… some of us listen to God and He says, "let the dream go."

"If I take a couple of years off after graduation and go back to college, I could have my masters degree by the time I'm 25," I enthusiastically told my mom. Despite raising me to believe I could do anything I put my mind to, her heartfelt response was, "But I want you to have a baby by the time you're 25."

Well, I am pushing 32 and the baby has yet to arrive. I married at 27, tried to have the baby in the following years and my husband and I have now been waiting for eight months to adopt. They say the "average wait" is a year and a half.

So why an article about not having children? As the director of Rest Ministries I understand that there are many husbands and wives who have made the difficult choice to not pursue parenthood. It's a choice that is more than difficult, because they wanted children. Illness may have made bearing a child impossible. For some, the idea of caring for a child seemed like a burden too great to bear. Above all else, though these men and women feel that God did not say, "Not yet," but rather, "no."

I believe that since we are a ministry that encourages people in the various aspects of their lives, we are called to address the ups and downs of parenting when you have a chronic illness. However, for those of you who pick up this newsletter and read about parenting, this article is an attempt to provide you with a feeling of "someone understands," and not a twinge of pain of not having a child.

I do not feel qualified to write this article; the sacrifice and surrender that has been made by those who have decided to not parent is something that I have not experienced firsthand. However, I have experienced infertility. I have felt the grief, the frustration, the darkness and the feeling that no one understands how much strength it takes to get out of bed and paste a smile on my face, when babies seem to be multiplying everywhere I look. Women who are qualified to write this article have not been able to emotionally commit to putting their feelings down on paper and having them shared with so many. I understand. So I have asked them questions and have agreed to share their feelings with you without sharing their identity. I hope this helps you know that you are not alone.

Sharon's Story: I have always wanted children; It was a matter of when, not if. When I was diagnosed with lupus my first question to the doctor was "what about children?" He assured me that children were still a possibility and that he would monitor my pregnancy carefully. My husband and I decided to wait until I got a handle on my illness and started to feel better. That time never came. After many long talks and a lot of prayer, we have decided to put this dream aside and start the grieving process. More than anything in this world a child should want to be wanted, to be loved. I know it sounds selfish, but as much as I want a child, my life is a mess and just being a wife drains me. I don't believe it's God's will for me to be a parent. I don't know why or how He's going to get me through accepting this, but I am confident that in time it will make some sort of sense. I know God's providing a peace about my decision for my husband and me despite the fact that it still hurts.

Christi's Story: "You've got plenty of time." "Just relax and it will happen." "You're letting your illness win if you don' have a baby." "You can always get help." When you asked me to share my story, I had just received an email from an old fri that said, "Are you every going to have that baby? You're not getting any younger!" I don't even know where to begin to explain it all to people-and then I get mad because I really don't owe anyone an explanation. I don't have plenty of time. While a healthy person may, my illness gets worse every day. Every year that passes means that I am going to have less quality time with a child and more "down time" having to make excuses about why mom can't play. Secondly, I have relaxed, as much as one possibly can while being poked and prodded, tested and drugged. I've been given dirty looks by lab technicians and doctors that have told me I have no business having a child. Thirdly, my illness is not winning. It's taken a lot from me, but I've always made my own choices based on what is best for me, not on what my illness dictates. Lastly, while some people may be able to freely hire help, we can't afford it, and likely never will. If I have a child, I want to raise him or her.

For now, I believe that it is not in God's will for me to have a baby or even adopt an older child. I simply cannot care for a child in the way that I believe God wants me to. He has allowed me to be a "big sister" for an eleven-year-old girl next door who has a difficult family life. I feel like God has given me the chance to make a difference for her and be someone special in her life. For now, I am learning to find peace about not being a mom; but I'm not putting God in a box-I open to Him changing His mind.

Donna's Story: You asked me to share a bit about deciding to not be a parent. I am honored to share this with you, but I don't feel like I am in the position to share any words of wisdom because I am still learning how to cope with it every day. My husband and I truly wanted children, but as the years passed and my illness progressed, both us begin to wonder if children were going to be a part of our future. We got a puppy and I'm it's mommy. For now, unless God sends us a sign we are not going to pursue having or adopting a child. It still hurts. I will go days without thinking about it and then wake up one morning and suddenly remember that I won't ever hear someone call me mom. The grief will hit me so hard, I will stay in bed half the day. I cry and pray and eventually get up and get on with the day. I still allow myself to grieve. I still ache when knowing that all my friends are seeing each other at MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) and I am at a doctor's appointment figuring out which medication to try next. It's not fair. It's not easy. I am just taking one day at a time and relying on my faith that God will get me through it.

Many of us have felt the words spoken by Rachel. "When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, "'Give me children, or I'll die!'" Genesis 30:1. While a part of our dreams may die when we decide not to have children due to our illness, we do not die. We live on. And despite the paint hat we may experience, God still calls us to serve and to be faithful.

God has given us people to care for and reach out to. He has given us children as neighbors, nieces and nephews, and we are to teach these children about His lovingkindness. Even though they are not our own, they are His, and we may be the only example of God's love that they see.

Lisa Copen is the founder and director of Rest Ministries. She lives with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia and is the author of When Chronic Illness Enters Your Life Bible Study.

Reprinted from ...And He Will Give You Rest
monthly support newsletter, Volume 5, Issue 5. ©

Hannah's Prayer also offers encouragement and support while on the path of infertility.

If you have chosen not to parent, but are still grieving the loss of not having a child, this may be a source of comfort for you.

For more information and support about living with infertility, we suggest visiting the website of Hannah's Prayer at, Christian Support for Fertility Challenges. There is a special discussion group even for those with chronic illness. 775-852-9202.







Don't forget! This article can be reprinted for free or syndicate Lisa's new articles.