Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I have recently been given the heart-breaking news that I will never be a mother. After going through countless testing and treatment for infertility, the doctors do not hold out any hope that I will ever have a child of my own. My husband and I are devastated and can barely speak to each other. At thirty-two I feel like my life is over and I’m sure my husband feels the same. I see how he looks at me, and I know he is being advised by his family to divorce me. But I also know that we love each other and don’t want to think about divorce, although I couldn’t fault him if he did.
Yesterday, a friend of mine suggested that we think about adoption, something my husband is opposed to. My friend told me about a cousin of hers who, like us, was told she would never have children of her own. This cousin adopted, and then, two years later, became pregnant and she and her husband had their miracle biological child. When I told my husband this story, he was still strongly against it, because it wasn’t accepted in my community. What can I do to soften his heart towards this idea? It is our last chance!
Your pain is palpable, and so is your hope and faith in miracles. I almost put your letter aside because it touches on everything I am ill-equipped to deal with. I am not a fertility expert, but judging by what you say, your chances of conceiving are slim to none. I, too, have a friend who received the same prognosis as you, and adopted a little girl. Not long after, we got the miraculous news that she and her husband had a biological child after almost thirty years of being barren. Yes, I believe in miracles.
But there are drawbacks to this mind-set. First and foremost, understand that adopting a child as a vehicle by which you hope to have your own is not the right reason to adopt. Adopt the child with the thought that this is the only child you will have, love him or her as your own and give yourself over to him or her mind, body and soul. This should be a shared commitment with your husband and the child must be made to feel love, cherished and supported by the two of you. If your husband is not on the same page or cannot commit, than it would be terribly unfair to adopt, as the child will always feel his resentment.
Should you adopt and Hashem blesses you with your own biological child, there must never be a difference in your love and treatment of both of them. The adopted child is your child by choice and your biological child is your gift from G-d.
Adoption is not for everyone, but neither is childlessness, so let a little time pass before you sit down with your husband and broach the subject in a compassionate and loving way. You might say that not having a child leaves an empty place inside each of you. Perhaps you were meant to find your child through adoption. While it might take time and lots of soul-searching, if you are both committed to each other and your marriage, you will eventually arrive at the right decision.
We wish you only the best, and some extra miracles. Let us know how things work out.
Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I was sitting in my doctor’s office waiting for my appointment and, while looking through a stack of magazines, I found a copy of The Jewish Press. Skimming through it I chanced to come across the letter from a thirteen-year-old girl whose parents were going through a bad divorce. For a moment, my mind raced back twenty-three years, to when I was fourteen and going through a similar situation. For a fraction of a second, I thought you had printed the letter I had pushed under the gate of the old Jewish Press office on 44th Street in Boro Park. But then I remembered that I had not signed that letter and even asked you to keep my story out of the paper. And you did. But you did answer my letter in the paper in the hope that I would read it. And I did. I still have your reply, and the chizuk you gave me was the lifeline that got me through that period and many other hard times that followed.
I was the oldest of six kids and the matzav in my house was terrible. My father was a cruel man. He was a rebbe in a boy’s yeshiva and a bus-driver and he would come home everyday angry and short-tempered. We would walk on egg-shells so as not to be hit for the slightest thing. Two of my brothers had asthma and suffered all the time because my father smoked like a chimney and the smoke was everywhere. My mother also suffered and we often heard him screaming at her late at night.
I never invited anyone over, so after a while, the girls I was friendly with started leaving me out of the group and didn’t ask me to come over anymore. I had really no one to talk to, and I suffered quietly by myself. But each day, on my way home, as I passed your office, I spoke to you in my head, because I knew that you wrote “that column” where people could tell you their tzaros. So, one day, during recess, I wrote you a letter, which I carried around with me for weeks before I had the courage to push it under the gate on my way to school.
That was twenty-three years ago. My parents never did get divorced because my father passed away from lung cancer three years after I wrote to you. Then life changed.
I married a wonderful man and we have five wonderful children. Your words carried me through and helped me believe that things would get better. And they did, b’chasdei Hashem. When I got home after the doctor’s visit, I took out that old clipping with your reply and read it for the millionth time. I hope you will print it again, so that if there is another child suffering in silence, it will help him or her as much as it helped me. I am asking you again not to use even my initials. Some things never change.
Thank you for your thoughtfulness in sharing what had to be a most hurtful period in your life. I’m sorry I never got to meet you and, while I don’t recall a young fourteen-year-old face stopping to look in on me through the office door, I’m glad the words I wrote brought you strength and comfort. As before, your wishes will be respected. May your life bring you much joy and comfort.
Dearest little one,
Your words touched my heart and, although you left me no clue as to how to reach out to you, I hope you read this. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for you to write that letter and how much courage it took. No child should have to go through such heartache and loneliness, so please understand that I care a great deal.
Fourteen is a difficult age, you are no longer little, but not quite grown up. This is the age when you should be relying a lot on your parents and friends to help you navigate that painful stretch of growing up. But when those people are absent, you need to find the courage and the strength to guide yourself, and try to steer clear of the pain, the anger and the loneliness in order to get to where you want to go. Don’t be afraid that your life will always be this way – it won’t. Set goals for yourself, dream about the life you want and have faith that Hashem will hear your tefillos and answer them. After all, He is Avinu she’b’Shamyim and hears the bakoshos of little children above all others. Be patient and good things will begin to happen.
From your letter I can tell you are a wise and wonderful young lady, who will find her way to fulfilling all her dreams. So don’t ever get discouraged; just remember, there is someone close by who cares deeply and will always be there for you.