Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Philosophical Question...or, a Question of Priorities

First, I want to say that I had a lovely 4th of July and managed to not almost kill or maim anyone the whole time, except for a couple of Japanese beetles who had, unwisely, flown into my pool. Are you listening, wretched shiny, pinching beetles?? STAY AWAY FROM MY POOL OR I WILL SMITE YOU.


Yesterday, as I was lounging in the hammock, listening to Husband playing with the children in the pool, I was reading a book. (Are there too many active verbs in that sentence? I think there might be.)

The book is fiction, but, it's about a woman who embarks on an international adoption. I'm not going to tell you which one it is, because, I don't think the question I'm going to ask would really ruin the book for anyone, especially considering I am only about a third of the way through it, but, if you are senstive about such plot twists I don't want to upset you. (Although, I suppose it is possible that you will leave this post feeling that I have ruined the potential reading experience of any number of fictionalized accounts of international adoption. Yeah...sorry about that.)

Okay, the adoptive mother in this book, after having struggled with infertility, eventually convinces her husband to pursue an adoption (although he is reluctant, having two nearly adult sons from a prior marriage.) The couple loses their original referral, and they are offered a new referral almost immediately by their agency. (This is where the book feels very fictional, because the referral is from an entirely different country, and I was left thinking, "But what about their DOSSIER???" But, that's neither here nor there.) At that point, the husband tells his wife he cannot go forward with the adoption. He cannot. He does not feel that he has it in him to raise another child. And so, the wife gives her husband an ultimatum - essentially, "adopt this baby with me, or I will adopt the baby alone, but, if you refuse the adoption I will leave you."

And he says he cannot do it, and she says she is sorry, and so it seems it is all over between the two of them. (I keep hoping for a happy ending, but, I don't honestly know. I'm not done with the book yet.)

And I, the reader, felt like I had just been kicked in the shin by the character I was starting to be kind of fond of.

Then, the book goes on to describe a conversation that the novel's main character has with mother, explaining why she is separating from her husband. She says, "I need to be a mother more than I need him [her husband]." And she says essentially the same thing to her sister, and her sister says, "I know."

This whole description takes place over less than 5 pages of the novel, so, really, even though it's an important plot point, I don't think I'm ruining the story.

What I found quite shocking was that anyone would leave an otherwise happy marriage over this. And so that is my question - would you leave your spouse, for refusing to adopt a child with you?

Let's take it one step further - would you leave your hypothetical spouse (your otherwise loving, supportive spouse with whom you have an hypothetically healthy relationship) for refusing to have a child with you, regardless whether it was through birth or adoption? (Because it's just too easy a question if the hypothetical spouse is lying, abusive, drunken rat bastard).

I'll answer first, and my answer is "no". I honestly cannot conceive of a such a thing, for *myself*. To contemplate that one might feel a need to mother a hypothetical child, more than one might need one's actual husband is kind of astonishing to me. But, then, I have been accused of being somewhat self-absorbed. And I've also never known any great, all-consuming drive for motherhood. (I love my kids, but, I don't remember feeling a driving NEED to have them before I had them, and I didn't really have to work that hard to get them. I wanted to have a baby, and a year later, I did. I wanted to adopt a toddler, and about a year later, I did. I never felt like options for parenthood were being withheld from me, so, it's possible that my answer is empty.)

So, I'm curious. Would you leave a loving spouse for a hypothetical baby?




Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting question....
I am deeply in love with my husband. He is the light of my life. We balance each other well and love each others company....
I was born to be a Mom. I ooze with maternal instinct and nurturing. I can never remember a time in my life that I didn't DREAM of being a Mom.....
Now for the question, would I leave my husband if he decided he no longer wanted a child? No. No way. No how. Absolutely not. And, there are many reasons why I wouldn't but, that would take up your whole blog comment area :-).

PAP waiting on referral

Thursday, July 05, 2007 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger maxhelcal said...

This is interesting. I can't imagine being in this situation though as my husband and I talked about having children, wanting a large family and even possibly adopting as a way of building our family before we were married. I mean we talked and talked and talked about it A LOT. One of the reasons I fell in love with my husband is because of us both wanting the same things and looking at family as the most important thing for us. I could tell he would be the most caring and gentle father and that was very attractive to me.


Thursday, July 05, 2007 1:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Christina said...

Good question! The only way I could see leaving a husband over children is if we didn't discuss such an important topic BEFORE we got married. And I was one of those women with an overwhelming driving need to have kids (and me with 4 kids, I know, you'd never guess, right?) ... so anyway the topic of having kids came up many many times over and Hubby knew good and well that I wanted a baby more than anything when we got married.

When it was time to adopt, I was ready to start long before Hubby was. But I never considered leaving him over it. I prayed and waited and brought the topic up and gave him books to read and prayed some more, and one day he was ready. And he loves our foreign born kids every bit as much as our homegrown kids and so I know it was right to give him the time to come to that decision in his own way. (ok, with lots of prodding from me!)

So, really long way of saying, NO, I would never leave my loving husband over a hypothetical baby.

Thursday, July 05, 2007 2:30:00 PM  
Blogger niobe said...

This doesn't really answer your question, but just playing the percentages, I'd tend to think a kid is a lot better bet than a husband in terms of sticking around and providing love and support and something like happiness in the long run.

Now, I know everyone thinks something to the effect of: well, that might be true in theory, but my husband and I have such a truly close, loving relationship and we really know and trust each other, so those odds don't apply to us.

To those people I say: "You never see it coming. Until it's gone."

Thursday, July 05, 2007 2:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Just me said...

Very likely I would. I have wonderful hubby of 16ys, he is everything a husband should be and more. However, I have always had a strong maternal instinct. After 6 yrs of failed fertility treatment we have began the adoption process. I am amazed how overwhelming the need for motherhood has become in the last couple of years. So, if my my only choice for motherhood were about to be ended by the man I love, I would most likely leave him.

Thursday, July 05, 2007 2:58:00 PM  
Blogger Space Mom said...

If the husband is Jay? no way in hell. I can't imagine it being that way, but then again, when we went through infertility, we also went ahead and discussed adoption as a possibility.
So... I couldn't see the drastic change in mind that you describe....

Thursday, July 05, 2007 3:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes I would. In fact a similar thing happened to me. I am not married but have been in a long term relationship (15 yrs) with an amazing man.

I had always talked about wanting to adopt but never had the chance. When I did have the chance to adopt he thought things would not work out so he mainly remained just slightly negative in the background. When things did work out and I could travel he gave me a bunch of stuff and was aghasted and horrified when I took the maybe baby with out hesitation.

He did come around in the end and is a wonderful person in my daughters life. For me, I didn't even have to think on this one. My daughter took my nice little life and made it supper nova. She is great.

My guy is nice, but my baby is my world.

Thursday, July 05, 2007 3:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Nicki said...

Great questions. It is impossible for me to say since I have never dealt with infertility, I have never dealt with the fear and real possibility of being childless. I really can't imagine, being the fertile myrtle that I am, it has just never been on my radar.

I think if I had married a man who had agreed to have children with me and he later backed out, I am not sure I'd be able to continue the marriage unless my own needs changed. I would feel very deceived, like our marriage was based on dishonesty. And regardless of the source of the dishonesty, it is often very hard to overcome especially when the results of the dishonesty are something you will literally be reminded of every day of your life.

Very interesting question.

Thursday, July 05, 2007 6:05:00 PM  
Blogger S. said...

To me it is a ridiculous circumstance--I can't imagine marrying someone without first discussing children. I just can't even begin to imagine it. If my husband initially said he would have kids and then changed his mind, yes, I know that would be a deal-breaker for me--not because I expect my kids to "stick around and provide love and support"--but because I have always, always wanted to be a mother.

Thursday, July 05, 2007 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Mia's Mommy said...

hmmm...what a thought to ponder. I remember writing in a letter (that dh read thinking I didn't know {long story}) that I wouldn't ever forgive him if something happened to the little girl I'd fallen in love with and was presented the opportunity to adopt. I knew that if he said no for financial reasons I would have resented anything that was purchased costing over a hundred bucks. But, it all worked out and he said yes and he fell head-over-heels in love with her too, so... I guess I may not leave. But, I'd probably be such an unbarable pain in the kicker that he'd end up leaving me!!!

But, having been a single mom of three before marrying dh, I can say that kids are definately easier than a husband. I won't get into that on your comment section here!

Thursday, July 05, 2007 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

In my hypothetical world I would have already discussed this with my husband and he would have signed a legal contract in blood before we got married.

Really, I don't know. Maybe I would just go and get knocked up and see what he did. Throw the ball in his court.

Can you tell I am so thankful that this is not my life and I don't have to make this decision.

Friday, July 06, 2007 9:02:00 AM  
Anonymous E. said...

Interesting question. My answer would also be no. Like others have said, this is something that should be discussed before you get married anyway. Even if my husband had later changed his mind about having kids (bio or adopted) I would not leave him. Sure I'd be mad and grumpy about the whole thing, but the fact is I made a commitment to him first, before any children. So many thoughts swirling in my head . . . basically, would his selfishness (meeting his need/desire not to be a parent) justify our selfishness (meeting our need/desire to be a parent to the point that we leave)? I guess I come from the school of two wrongs don't make a right.

Friday, July 06, 2007 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous kathy said...

Interesting discussion. I would not marry someone who didn't want children. I struggled for a long time over a relationship in which my boyfriend did not want a child and eventually did end it. If I was married to someone who initially agreed to have children and then changed his mind, well, I think I would leave him...loving me and knowing me he would know how non-negotiable that was. If he could change his mind over that knowing how important it was to me, then he just wouldn't love me enough. I do think not wanting children is a valid position, but it needs to be out in the open from the start

Saturday, July 07, 2007 2:47:00 PM  

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