Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 15, 2008
Teaching family planning, adopting a child fills empty arms
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
FOXFIELD, COLO. - Terri Vyner and her husband Owen tried to have a baby for years after their wedding in 2000.
They first thought Terri couldn't conceive because of stress, so they waited. When three years had passed, they started "to look into things."
In 2005 they came upon the Pope Paul VI Institute, based in Omaha, Neb.
Under the direction of Dr. Tom Hilgers, the Paul VI Institute is perhaps the only Catholic institution of its type in the world that is dedicated to the development of morally and professionally acceptable reproductive health services.
"The way the institute looks at infertility is that it is a symptom of a bigger problem," Terri explains. "The fact that you don't have a child is not the biggest focus. The biggest focus is restoring the woman's health."
So Terri began treatment at the institute. "For the first time, I experienced a holistic and Catholic approach to women's health and really to respect the dignity of our marriage (and) my body."
Despite the treatment, which included a couple of different surgeries, Terri was unable to conceive. But she was so impressed with the methods used by the institute she became a teacher of the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning.
"The whole approach of this model is based on a medical model and so basically I teach them to chart their cycle," she explains. "Then they take that chart to a doctor who is trained in the medical aspects of infertility."
Does it work?
"It's very, very successful because many couples conceive," Terri says. "In fact the last couple that we had they had about 10 years without having a baby and she just had her first little one at 43, after three miscarriages."
The Vyners wanted a baby and in November 2007 they decided to adopt. A seven-month old girl is due to come to their home in August from Korea. They only know her by photos and videos but have already chosen a name for her: Laura Benedicta.
"We feel so blessed just thinking that someone has given us this baby," Terri says. "It couldn't be a better gift from someone."
Infertility can be a difficult cross for a lot of couples, especially in our society that sees a child as something a person has a right to, notes Terri.
"There are a lot of different responses (from infertile couples).
"Sometimes it can be a big test of their faith, especially in the Catholic Church where children are seen as such a blessing and, sometimes, family size can sort of be equated with holiness, unfortunately."
The Vyners, being people of deep faith, faced infertility as a couple and never saw their marriage threatened by her condition.
"Over the years we began to look at our infertility as a gift. We've seen God's hand in it and probably about two or three years into it we started to realize that there was a fruitfulness within our marriage that came through our infertility."
At that point the Vyners decided, as recommended by Pope John Paul II, to make a gift of themselves in a different way than through biological parenthood.
They started doing different things like helping friends who have lots of children and supporting others who were facing struggles. Then they realized that through the Church and through her natural family planning ministry, they were living a form of parenthood and fruitfulness that was different than biological parenthood.
"We prayed about it for a long time. . . . We prayed about where God was leading us with children and we actually came to the point were we thought, 'You know what, if we don't have children biologically, that's okay. And even if we don't adopt that's okay.'"
The Vyners, however, really did feel that God was calling them to adoption. So some three years ago after Terri's last surgery at the institute, the Vyners set a date and said, "If we haven't conceived within a year then we are going to look into adoption.'"
Terri thinks it's important for couples to set a date to re-evaluate things and to talk about where God is leading them. "Things can kind of go on for a long time and then suddenly you are 45 years old and you are kind of past the window for a lot of things."
The key for couples struggling with infertility is to communicate with each other and to try to bear their cross together, Terry said. It is important not to close down toward each other or blame each other.