Sunday, December 6, 2009


On page 10, there's an article titled Unplanned pregnancy? Consider adoption.

The article gives several examples of women and couples who gave up or adopted children.

What caught my eye was a quote from one of the women who gave her daughter up for adoption. "Vivian advocated for reform and stream-lining adoption care. 'The Church should have an adoption and information ministry that is even better publicized than anti-abortion right-to-life stuff, because access to adoption is one of the best right to life moves we can make,' said Vivian."

I agree whole-heartedly. People standing on street corners carrying pictures of dead babies and praying the rosary do not seem friendly. They don't give options to young or impoverished mothers. They seem to be only attacking the doctors and nurses who perform abortions instead of targeting the problem of abortion. That's why I think providing more pregnancy planning centers, sex education for teens, and providing more public services for the poor are far more important. But all we see in the head lines is the Vatican's pro-life platform and the USCCB arguing about health care reform initiatives.

If you look on USCCB's website, there is no separate page for adoption. International adoptions are listed under migrant and refugee services. All other mentions of domestic adoptions are lost in the rhetoric of the pro-life page. How are a young mothers or couples going to understand anything about adoption services if the USCCB doesn't even have adoption as it's own ministry? It's already a separate organization on diocesan levels; why isn't it separate on a national level?

The other thing that caught me off guard in the article was when one of the couples mentioned that they had "gone through rigorous fertility procedures." The article doesn't explain what those procedures are, but I have my suspicions. According the Church's teachings, couples can use some fertility enhancements as long as they don't replace the act of sex in order to conceive. So things like IVF, using sperm donors, or egg donors are not morally acceptable. Yet, people incorrectly feel that Church urges couples to "be fruitful and multiply" and have as many children as they can even if it means resorting to IVF.

The Church doesn't have a "be fruitful and multiply stance." In fact, it's almost the opposite. The Church encourages couples to use Natural Family Planning Method. This means that if a couple wishes to not have children, but is open to the possibility of having children and practices NFP, they are still following the Church's wishes. Although many documents state that NFP should be used to control number or spacing, I still see many couples using NFP as a means to not have children. To me NFP is a form of birth control like condoms and birth control pills are. Although I realize many couples don't view NFP in this light, many couples do.

I have a friend who starting charting and taking her temperature before she was married because she and her husband initially decided to use the method. She said that the whole procedure was stressful and that her and her future husband felt more distant because they had to time when to have intercourse including whether or not it would be appropriate during the honey moon. After charting for a month, they decided not to allow NFP dictate their sexual intimacy and she stopped charting.

I don't blame her. I chart when my period is going to occur, but that's it. It's only to let me know if I've skipped a period or if there is some other medical issue. I don't like "feeling the consistency of my cervical mucus" or trying to wake up at the same time every morning in order to take my basal temperature. It makes me feel like I'm a guinea pig and it zaps any interest in my husband if I have to schedule sex. I know the NFP people are all rather angry at me for saying so. I know many who follow NFP say they feel more intimate and closer to their husband.

I saw the video during the "to be married" retreat and slowly slid down in my chair in utter embarassment. I don't think discussing my sex life with a room full of 100 strangers is cool. That should be something that me and my husband discuss or something that I'm given the freedom to discuss or not discuss. I don't think the Church should force me to watch a video on the subject just so I can be married. It's patronizing and embarassing. And I suppose that's my real reason for being mad about the whole NFP thing. I'm a grown up and feel like someone is forcing me to do something that I'm totally uncomfortable with. I understand that some people probably do feel comfortable with NFP and I respect their decision. So why aren't people respecting my family's decision and our right to privacy?


  1. Agreed on the adoption thing. Is definitely an area where we need to step up.

    Sorry charting makes you feel that way... I'm part of one of the couples it makes feel closer, so I can't really understand where you're coming from there. Not saying its not a valid issue, I just don't get it because it does the opposite to us.

    I will say that I know couples who use NFP like you say (flat out not to have kids). I think that's something we need to be careful of if we do choose to practice NFP.

    Sometimes I worry that I'm leaning to much towards that myself even because I'm constantly defending how "effective" the method can be... Gotta love having family that thinks you should only have one or two kids (spaced out 10 years if you have another) and that contraception is 100% acceptable & doesn't understand that you have other feelings. Nothing we say can convince them to respect our beliefs and they harp on how ineffective the "rhythm method" is (don't get me started on that lol) and I go into defense mode. sometimes I really do feel like I'm walking a tight rope between the two though. Very comfortable using NFP to space our kids (esp right now when we need too... there may come a day, hopefully in the next few years, where we loosen up a lot on that) but I worry about how I come across sometimes, esp to the people who I'm not having that issue with or who are more impressionable about it.

    Sorry... rambling... again...

  2. You don't come across to me as pressing everyone to use NFP. You come from the stand point that it works for you and how you feel about it, which I think is great. I have no problems discussing things like birth control with people, but I felt like I was being forced to deal with the issue in front of a bunch of strangers not friends.

    Even my friend who went to classes rather than a retreat said they were there with a bunch of different couples. And the nurse pulls out charts and pictures.

    If the Church thinks that it is important than they should start training more physicians. I'd feel more comfortable sitting in a room with my doctor and my husband and discussing options and asking questions than with a bunch of people that I don't know. And I can tell you not one of those 100 people asked questions about NFP. It was horribly uncomfortable.

    But classes aren't set up to give couples choices in order to be married. It's do this or you can't. Priests should at least give you the right to discuss these things with your doctor or choose not to. I don't have to take birthing classes if I don't want to. No one says you have to sit in a room with strangers discussing viginas if you want to have a child. You can decide to or not to. They are private medical matters. I don't discuss my general health with strangers or priests. But that's me.

  3. Gotcha... The idea of doing the classes doesn't bother me, even around others because I'm pretty open about discussing the concepts. When it comes down to specifics about me I do try to limit what I say unless its to certain people that I trust... but concepts & how it works not so much.

    I haven't taken one though because they cost money & it wasn't required of us. Was a moot point anyway cause we messed up and did things out of order (I was 5 months pg at the wedding). Not regretting end results, but we know we were wrong. Anyways, point being I can't imagine how the classes would have worked at that point lol.

    I do want to take one sometime, but it will prob be at the Birthing Center we're using.. they do them there too. I was so happy when I found that out... I think more dr's & midwives need to start offering it for those who aren't comfortable with the other settings.

  4. Just so you know that you can be more comfortable with your own practice of NFP. It is not necessary to touch the mucus. You can simply look at it on the tissue paper and stretch it if necessary between the layers of tissue paper.

    Also, temp. does allow much flexibility for many women. You may not have to take it in the recommended time range every day. The most important thing is that you take it right after you wake, and that you've had at least 3 straight hours of sleep. I used to work the night shift and would try to get back on a regular sleep schedule the other half of the week. I was still able to take my temp.

    Remember too, the Church says it is okay to postpone children temporarily or even indefinitely for serious reasons, including health, financial, emotional, etc.

    There are a few major differences between NFP and contraception. Most important, there is a world of difference between practicing sexual self control to abstain during the fertile time vs. suppressing fertility so that sex without consequences could be had at any time. Contraception puts the temporary pleasure of the sexual act as a higher good than the health (physical and spiritual) of the spouses. NFP respects the design of the body and the health of the spouses--and works with that design. Contraception sets spouses up for using one another as a source of pleasure. NFP couples typically experience more intimacy partly because it means a lot to a woman that a man is willing to respect her health more than this temporary pleasure at her expense.

    Thank you for your thoughts. As a nurse, NFP teacher and diocesan program director, I take all of your comments seriously. I actively support our physicians and try to get classes into secular locations, like clinics, as well.
    I believe the intro. to engaged couples should be very basic and not focus on any particular couples' sex life. I focus some on Theology of the Body and spirituality as well. I always get much engagement from the groups. People (even guys) are not afraid to have eye contact. They ask good questions. People are really interested if it is presented in a good/appropriate way.

    Batrice Adcock

  5. I suppose every diocese is different. In our diocese you have two options. You meet with a priest once a week and take classes or you go on a retreat. Our priest never gave us the first option. We met with him to fill out paper work and then went on the retreat. The video they used was general information and I believe they had a pamphlet as well. We were never warned that the subject was going to come up and unfairly forced to sit and watch. We weren't given any options. Perhaps because our priest thought we could handle it. I don't know. I never spoke up for myself because he was my boss. I should have married at a different church or gone through the process elsewhere.

    As for abstaining from sex, most health care professionals would also argue that sex is part of being healthy. It's a form of exercise and releases feel good chemicals. I've even heard them encourage couples to engage in sex or sex acts every other day for health reasons. My doctor has already told me to have sex a couple weeks before the baby is born to get things going. So sex has health benefits. I'm surprised that as a health care professional you view abstaining from sex as being healthy for the woman when from what I've read it's not healthy for the man. I view it as a catch 22. What is healthy for one partner is not for the other.

    I'm sure that the Church doesn't mind postponement, but when I went through the process the subject did not come up. In fact, I was told to sign a paper agreeing to "being open to children" without explanation and to raise them Catholic. Furthermore, while I was working at the church people would get suspicious of my trips to the bathroom and make comments about pregnancy.

    Needless to say, I left my job and I don't regret it. I did not get along with the priest and some of the staff members at that church. The comments about pregnancy being one of the many things that I thought were inappropriate.

    I understand that you probably are a kind and caring person about NFP. It's just that my experience where I live was horrific. I'm glad that I no longer attend that Church. I didn't get into their personal and sexual lives, but they seemed to think it was fine to invade mine.

    I've forgiven them, but that doesn't mean that the hurt goes away. I'm slowly letting things go and just avoiding being very involved in a church anymore.


I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!