Last year brought momentous growth to our family. We welcomed Maria, our sixth biological child, into our family and also finalized the adoption of Joseph. Without the grace of God, and the pro-life ministry of our doctor, none of this would have happened.
Just prior to my fifth pregnancy, my husband Alex and I decided that we would close off our marriage to new life. With a vasectomy on the calendar, our daughter Bethany was conceived, and Alex went through with a sterilization that cost about $800 and took an hour.
And that was it. No longer would we ponder the possibility of new life each month in our marriage; our family had grown even beyond what is considered a normal size and we certainly had plenty of children already, right?
As Protestants at the time, my husband had the blessing of his pastor and many other men in our church who had also taken that permanent step. We didn’t have many regrets for a long time, until the Lord called us into the Catholic Church. For my husband, this was a return to the church of his youth. For me, it was a conversion. Once we accepted that the Catholic Church was where God called us to be and where truth could be found in its totality, our past choice to close our marriage to life became a deep concern.
We spoke to several priests about this, who all agreed we did not necessarily need to reverse the sterilization. We were encouraged to pray about it for a year, which made us rather irritated, honestly. It would have been so easy for a priest to simply tell us to get the sterilization reversed, or to tell us not to. Instead, we needed to discern God’s will and to wait on him to provide the means. I had to eventually admit that this advice called us to a deeper level of discernment and prayer.
Reversing a sterilization is much more expensive than having the vasectomy done in the first place. We estimated it would cost tens of thousands of dollars, as there is no insurance coverage for vasectomy reversals to restore fertility. Our family did not have this kind of money. We continued to pray.
By now, we felt grieved our past decision. We prayed frequently to be able to welcome more children into our family in some way, be it through pregnancy and childbirth or some other means that the Lord may have planned. We had always felt drawn to do foster care.
A friend whose husband had his vasectomy reversed referred us to a doctor in Whittier, Calif., named Dr. Gregory Polito. I did not know if Dr. Polito was Catholic, but he had a well-respected urology practice and offered vasectomy reversals for a greatly reduced fee as part of his pro-life ministry. We could not afford tens of thousands of dollars, but we could afford what he charged. My husband and I consulted with him on a trip to California. Upon walking into his office, we were greeted by a massive image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and I knew this was a Catholic doctor willing to help restore fertility to our marriage.
Dr. Polito explained that there was no guarantee that a pregnancy would result from the surgery. His hope was for us to trust in God’s will, no matter what it was. We could honestly affirm that we were doing this to get right with God, not to tell God what to do.
Alex had the surgery in October 2012. Regardless of our original intentions, in our minds, we would certainly be pregnant by November, right? November turned into December, and Alex gave me the most fantastic Christmas present — the completed paperwork for our foster parenting application, a daunting package which involved several hours worth of essay questions and answers that he had been putting off for many months.
More months passed, and we started taking foster parenting classes. I never got pregnant. I started losing hope that a pregnancy would happen, and I had peace. Finally, after almost a year, our foster license was obtained, and we got our first call about a placement. Joseph moved into our home, a little boy whose brain had been significantly damaged by meningitis and a consequent stroke. It didn’t take long before our whole family fell head over heels in love with this little boy.
A few months went by, and we continued to parent Joseph, as well as welcome in several other foster children who stayed for various lengths of time. Joseph’s parents relinquished their legal rights to him in hopes of easing his path to adoption. We affirmed that we were an adoptive placement, even though adoption had been far from our minds when we decided to do foster care.
Around the time that we affirmed our hopes to adopt Joseph, I realized that I was pregnant.
With a growing baby inside my womb, our family completed the home study to adopt Joseph. A few months later Maria was born safely at home on Aug. 2, an adorable and happy baby whose presence does not fail to invoke gratitude in our hearts. Then, on Oct. 3, the Lord blessed our family with the joy of becoming Joseph’s forever family.
I thank the Lord for His tender mercies to us. He restored the fertility in our marriage so that we can be open to life, and he blessed us with two more precious children, Maria and Joseph.
The writer and her husband Alex live in Eagle River, Alaska, with their nine children, a number which fluctuates as they continue to provide foster care to local children in need of a safe home. Anyone interested in learning more about foster care should contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org