Meet Rita Buettner:

“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” After struggling with infertility, my husband and I were blessed to adopt our two sons from China. I’m a working mother who writes about family fun and faith. Oh, and I own hundreds of flyswatters. Join me on Twitter, say hello at, or follow me on Facebook


May 2016
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Recent Comments

Oh, Alexandra. That is just beautiful. I love your son's joy at receiving the Eucharist for the first time.


Love that you are still counting, Susie! I don't know how long we will count. Congratulations to Madeline! :)



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7 Quick Takes Friday: A flat tire, cocktail meatballs, athletic fun, First Communion gifts, and more


Our big excitement of the week may have been our flat tire. My parents had let us borrow their extra car, and the other day one of my colleagues pointed out that one of the tires was going flat. I filled it up with 50 cents’ worth of air at the gas station, but it went flat again a day later.

If it goes flat, my father tells me, it is just going to keep going flat. There has to be a reason.

He was right, of course. Here’s the reason.

Or maybe it’s a coincidence.


My father drove the car with the spare tire to a tire store and Daniel and I followed along behind. The windows were open and the evening was beautiful—after many, many evenings of rain and rain and rain and gray.

“Ah,” I heard a little voice from the back seat. “This is the life.”

And so it is.


For our older son’s First Communion party last weekend, I decided I wasn’t going to cook anything. But then he made one request: cocktail meatballs. So I bought bags of frozen turkey meatballs from the store, threw them into a crockpot with chili sauce and grape jelly, and cooked them on high for four or five hours.

They were so good. It gave the impression I had actually done some work for the party. I could easily have skipped the deli tray. And the house smelled so good when people arrived.

So there’s my party planning tip for the day, thanks to our astute 8-year-old. Serve cocktail meatballs.


I am not sure I’ve made enough of our younger son’s return to the baseball diamond after eons of rain and his weeks on the DL for his broken thumb. He’s back now and he loves, loves, loves playing baseball.

I was worried that maybe he’d be a bit behind the other players, but they’re all so little it really doesn’t matter. It’s just a pleasant surprise when they run the right way or field the ball without too much advice from the grown-ups. Sports for 5- and 6-year-olds are so much fun. Maybe we could just freeze time.


Wondering what to give the First Communicants in your life? Our son received the most wonderful books, including Dear Pope Francis, Once Upon a Saint, The Action Bible, and The New Catholic Picture Bible.

He also received rosaries, a 3-D puzzle of St. Peter’s Basilica, and some other wonderful gifts I am forgetting right now.

Let’s just say I’d better start beating the thank you note drum this weekend.


For the past few weeks whenever Daniel and I go for a walk—which isn’t that often because Baltimore has become Seattle or Ireland and all it does is rain—he talks about how much he wishes he had a basketball net. But we don’t have a good place to put one.

Then a few days ago he noticed that our next door neighbor has one. He wanted to go start playing right away, but I said we needed to ask for permission. So as soon as he saw his chance, he asked, and he received a very kind and generous yes.

He is so happy and wants to play basketball there every day.


The other evening we couldn’t agree on how we wanted to spend our evening, so I decided to create a scavenger hunt.

It was successful in that it got us outside on a beautiful night, and we did some exploring.

It was not a success in that no one actually completed the task, which was apparently too arduous.

But this is the kind of thing I am going to keep in mind for this summer.

Read other quick takes at Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum.

May 19, 2016 11:31
By Rita Buettner

Don't mind me. I’m just the delinquent Mystery Reader who barely makes it to kindergarten on time

As I’m skimming my calendar for the day, I see meeting, meeting, meeting, Mystery Reader, meeting….

Mystery Reader? Wait, what? In our younger son’s kindergarten classroom? TODAY?

Why would I have signed up to be the secret, surprise reader in kindergarten during the busiest work week of the year? I think I thought my husband could do it, but I must have had my weeks confused. May is our busiest season of the year, and neither one of us has time for anything extra this week.

There is nothing to be done. It’s the last week of Mystery Reader, and I just can’t miss it. You can let a whole kindergarten class and a teacher down, but you simply cannot ever ever ever ever let your very own child down that way.

So I run around the house on the way out the door to grab a few books and duck when my kindergartener says, “What are you doing with those books, Mama?”

“What? Um, oh, you know, I just thought we should get things organized.”

“Mama,” he said sternly. “Only Baba does that with the books.”

He’s right, of course. Mama has no sense of organizing anything--least of all her calendar. And I’m not sure how I’m going to slip out of the office to be a Mystery Reader and still finish everything on my plate. But here we go.

The work day zips by, and suddenly I realize I’m running late for my appearance. I jump in the car and get to the school, but I know I’m already a minute or two or three late.

I’m buzzed inside the school and out of breath as I call out, “I’m the Mystery Reader,” to my friend sitting at the front desk.

“They’re ready for you,” she says. Then she grins. “Hey, Rita. Did you buy those books on the way?”

She knows me so well. We laugh, and I head back to the classroom.

Our little boy's head is down and his eyes are covered. And when the children peek, they are all excited to see me.

“I thought it would be Andy’s mom!”

But it’s not. It’s the running-late mom who forgot about Mystery Reader until this morning.

I sit down and we read. We make our way through a few pages of Dear Pope Francis, which is a lovely, lovely book, Trashy Town, and Library Lion.

My kindergartener stands next to my chair. He’s proud and pleased that I am there. He helps pick which books in the pile of six we will read and he loves that it’s our moment in the spotlight together. As his mom, I'm a celebrity, and he's one for having me there.

Then we’re finished, and it’s time to go.

As I’m walking out of the school, I think of when I was first a Mystery Reader for our older son. I spent weeks deciding which books to read, visiting the library, and making sure they were cool enough to bring to his class. Then there’s today when I am just happy I got there and had books and that our younger son was happy to see me.

Somehow, though, both visits were equally successful. In fact, today may have even gone better because I didn’t have time to be nervous about reading to a whole class. I was just so happy to make it.

Every child in a family has a different set of parents, a psychologist told me once. It’s so true. I am parenting our two sons in similar and different ways—and not on purpose. It’s that they are different people and I am a different parent of two children than I was as a new parent of one. And it's that I apparently don’t know which week of the year not to schedule anything else in my life.

As we are driving home, I ask our little guy, “Were you surprised to see me?”

“No,” he says with a smile. “I saw you getting the books this morning.”

But he was still happy I was there. And that, at least, is no mystery.

May 17, 2016 11:25
By Rita Buettner

Our son’s First Communion: A day I didn’t want to miss

Even before our kindergartener got out of bed yesterday, he said, "This is one of those days I just really don't want to miss the day.”

He was so right.

Reason #1: It was the day of his first baseball game—because thanks to rain, rain, rain, and a broken thumb, he had not been able to play in a single game.

Reason #2: It was the day his big brother would receive the Eucharist for the first time.

The morning was a blur. All of a sudden we were at the church greeting family and friends who had come to celebrate the man of the hour. Our First Communicant wore a gray blazer and a tie with chalices on it, khaki pants, and a pair of Star Wars socks I didn’t notice until I saw one of the pictures hours later. He was so handsome and focused and ready.

Some of the children had roles in the Mass. Our son’s job was to carry the book to the altar for the priest to use for the consecration. The red book, which I believe is called a sacramentary, looked huge in his hands. He carried it carefully to the altar, bowed reverently, and walked down the steps to our pew.

I didn't take this picture because we were told not to take photos during the Mass.
But it exists, thanks to a rebellious relative of mine, so here it is.

Seeing him participating so fully in the experience of the Mass was amazing. As I watched him walk down from the altar after carrying the book, my eyes were full of tears. And toward the end of Mass when our pastor told the children to turn and thank their parents, my eyes filled again.

There is something so beautiful about watching your children grow. And seeing our children grow in our faith is extraordinary, easily the most rewarding aspect of parenthood. I don’t know how well I’m doing with this parenting thing, but at least we’ve made it this far.

As wonderful as our children’s baptisms were, those days were a sign of the faith we were choosing for them. Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is a huge step on our son’s own individual faith journey. It reminds me that my role is an important one, but ultimately this is his path. I feel so blessed that my husband and I are walking alongside him as he grows.

That evening I was thinking back over the day. It hadn’t been the day I expected. We were surrounded by family and friends, and our children had a wonderful time. All four of their grandparents were with us, which was such a gift, one we definitely do not take for granted. So many, many blessings.

But, as with any day where you have too many expectations, I had a few disappointments, too. I didn’t actually get to see our son receiving Communion because there were so many people in the church, and I was a few people back behind him in line. We weren’t able to take a single family photo the whole day or even get a picture with one of the priests. Come to think of it, we didn’t even drive to and from the church as a family. But the focus of the day was the Eucharist—and our son’s encountering Jesus in that way for the very first time. So the day was absolutely a win.

During Communion at Sunday Mass today, I received just before our son did. As I walked away, I glanced over my shoulder and saw him receiving the host, Our Lord, into his palm, for the second time in his life. He looked so mature, so natural, so at ease. It was as beautiful and as miraculous as any moment I experienced on his First Communion day.

I thought, maybe, just maybe, seeing him make his second Communion was better than seeing him make his first. His First Communion was, after all, just a beginning.

Besides, it’s not the first time I’ve missed a “first,” and I wouldn’t trade any of the times I have been there only for the seconds or thirds or sixteenths.

His little brother is so right. This is a day I really don't want to miss.

And so is tomorrow.

May 15, 2016 07:50
By Rita Buettner

7 Quick Takes: Flowers, pronunciations, Mother's Day fun, swimming, bunnies, and what we're looking forward to this weekend


When Daniel came out of the shower the other day, I said, “Ah, fresh as a daisy!”

“Mama,” he said, very seriously. “Why do you always say, ‘Fresh as a daisy’?”

“Um…I just like saying it, I guess.”

“Why don’t you ever say, ‘Fresh as an azalea’?”

Maybe now I will.


Our last name is Buettner, and you could pronounce it many ways. It could be BOOT-ner or BYOOT-ner or BUTT-ner, which our boys think is hilarious, as long as they are the ones saying it and not someone who is teasing them.

The truth is that it’s BITT-ner. In German it would be spelled “Buttner” and the u would have an umlaut over it. So it would be said more with a short I than a U.

I found myself explaining this at work one day this week and came home to find that John had been explaining it to our children the same day. But I have never explained it here. And if you're wondering what it means, it's the German equivalent of Cooper, which means barrel maker. So now you know.


I don’t expect huge celebrations for Mother’s Day. I like to have a meal I didn’t cook, and I like cards from my children.

And we have a family tradition of going together to buy a hanging plant for our back porch, so we did that together on Sunday after Mass.

This Mother’s Day was fantastic. The boys both made me cards featuring drawings of us together.

We had sushi for lunch and we invited my kitchen-less parents over for dinner. There was no cake, but we had root beer floats, and I didn't hear any complaints from the mothers present.


On Mother’s Day we also said goodbye to the Our Lady of Fatima statue we had in our home last week. We handed it off to our friends who were signed up to host her the next week. We met them in the church parking lot as they were leaving one Mass and we were arriving for the next one.

We had a wonderful week with the statue and really enjoyed praying the Rosary together. I am sorry to say we have not continued that this week, but I am hoping we can get back to it. It really didn’t take long or much attention span.


Weeks and weeks ago I had signed our children up for swimming lessons. I don’t like signing anyone up for anything. Life is busy enough and none of us get enough time at home. (And I like this piece I read this week about living an un-busy life.) But learning to swim seems important, especially in a state with so much water, as our pediatrician points out, and also for boys who will be invited to pool parties soon enough.

So I signed them up forever ago and put it on the calendar. Then I forgot until I was at work on Friday. Oops.

I ran home to get their swim trunks and towels and went to school to pick them up at the end of the day. It was Friday night, we were all tired, and no one thought going swimming was a good idea.

We went anyway, grumbling all the way.

They loved it. They ended up with a male swim teacher, and they were excited to tell me about him afterward. (“And he’s Chinese, Mama, but he wasn’t born in China.”) They loved swimming so much that they begged us to go swimming the next night. And even though I am not much of a swimmer, and there are many other ways I would rather have spent the evening, I put on my suit and got in the pool. We had so much fun.

And when I got out, I felt fresh as an azalea.


The other day Daniel saw a rabbit run through the yard. He grabbed a butterfly net and sprinted after it. Naturally, he didn’t get anywhere near it. But it made me wonder.

"What will you do if you ever catch a bunny?" I asked him.

"Mama," he said. "This is just catch and release."

We have to take this child fishing—and soon.


Last Friday at our school Mass our second grader took the gifts up to the altar. This weekend he will help prepare the altar before receiving Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time. I think he is excited and a little nervous and ready.

I am so excited for him. I can’t believe he is taking this step on his faith journey.

I can’t wait.

Read more quick takes at Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum.

May 12, 2016 10:58
By Rita Buettner

Remembering my Grandma on Mother’s Day

I wish you could have known my Grandma.

She was the kind of person who connects with people instantly and permanently. She would meet a stranger from India and say, “I know one person who has spent time in India,” and of course the stranger would know him. Grandma was like that with everyone.

My grandmother, Gertrude Rita Fay Sullivan, was born and raised in New Bedford, a whaling town, so everyone always gave her whale items. We still give whales to my mother, her daughter, today.

After my grandmother graduated from Simmons College in Boston, she worked as a secretary to James Bryant Conant, who was president of Harvard. He was involved in the Manhattan Project, and I imagine my grandmother had access to all kinds of interesting confidential information. But she would never discuss any of that, even years later when my father assured her it had all been declassified.

My grandparents met at a Newman Club event when he was at MIT and were married in 1941. They moved to Baltimore 70-some years ago so my grandfather could be a naval architect and marine engineer for the Sparrows Point shipyard. She loved this city and made it her home.

After Grandma raised her four children in St. Matthew’s parish in the city’s Northwood neighborhood, she became a teacher, teaching business courses at City College. When she died, 25 years ago today, some of her students came to her funeral even though it had been years since she had taught them. I think of her often, but especially at Mother’s Day because May 8 always seems to fall around—or on, as it does this year—Mother’s Day.

Grandma always joined us for family vacations and trips to Boston to visit her brother, who was a Jesuit priest there, and she was a constant presence in my childhood.

She was also a devout Catholic, attending daily Mass, making wonderful friends everywhere she went, and welcoming them into the family, too. One St. Patrick’s Day after Mass in the chapel at Good Samaritan Hospital, she overheard someone saying it was her birthday. She turned and invited the birthday girl to dinner. That friend, Regina Soria, became one of our closest family friends.

When I think about Grandma, I remember her as a source of calm and comfort, always listening, always loving. When I meet someone with a New England accent, I always think of her. I loved listening to her talk and tell stories. I wish I remembered more of the stories themselves.

What I remember above everything else, though, is feeling so loved. I knew that Grandma loved all of her children and grandchildren so completely, so proudly. I feel so honored and grateful to have her name. And, even though I miss hearing her voice, I feel so blessed that she is still in my life.

Who is on your mind this Mother’s Day?

May 08, 2016 03:25
By Rita Buettner

7 Quick Takes Friday: Our visit with Our Lady of Fatima and a stuffed lion, baptism photo skills, bandaid fashion, a holy door, and Mother’s Day


We have a special visitor this week! Our school has an Our Lady of Fatima statue you can sign up to bring home, and I signed us up for the first week of May.

The Blessed Mother is in a place of honor in our home and Daniel and I cut azalea branches to put around her. Every night we are saying one decade of the rosary as a family. We could probably say more, but I wanted to keep it light and not have it be yet another evening chore.

We have really enjoyed having her, but it’s our friends’ turn to have her visit them next week, so we will pack her up with the rosaries and instructions that come with her and send her along.


Daniel was so good at school on Monday that he was allowed to bring his classroom’s stuffed lion home. The best part? That was the whole assignment. We didn’t take pictures or write down how we spent the evening. We had no pressure to show the lion the time of his life. We just had him here.

“What was the lion’s favorite part of his visit?” I asked the next morning.

“Seeing the statue of Mary,” Daniel told me.

Good thing their visits intersected.


Our sons behaved beautifully for their cousin’s baptism last weekend. My mother had suggested that we let them take photos during the ceremony, and she mentioned that Grandpa might be willing to pay for any good photos they took.

You would have thought they were professional photographers. They took their jobs very seriously and captured all kinds of great angles.

Some shots were blurry, but some were fantastic.

Their photos also have a rawer, more candid feel—and some of the grown-ups’ smiles are bigger than usual as they look at the child photographers.

We probably aren’t ready to publish Basilica postcards based on the images, but they certainly captured plenty of the day.


We were driving home from school yesterday and I realized the giggling in the backseat was getting raucous. I turned around at a stoplight and one of the boys was covered in bandaids.

You might have all kinds of questions about where the bandaids came from and why anyone would want to be covered in bandaids. I just wondered how soon we would be home so I could snag a photo. And I did.


Many, many projects come home from school, and our kindergartener brought home a beanstalk a few weeks ago. I’m not sure what the goal is or whether we’re supposed to transplant it, but I’m mostly amazed that it has lasted this long.

The boys decided it would be more exciting with a Lego figure climbing up to the giant’s house in the sky. Isn’t everything more exciting with Lego figures?


We went through a holy door! On our way to our niece and cousin’s baptism, we went through the holy door at the Baltimore Basilica.

I was so excited because I haven’t passed through a holy door since I walked through four or five in Rome back in 2000. That must sound so long ago to our children, and yet it seems like just a few years ago to me. I must be getting old. But at least I got to pass through another holy door.

Our sons staged photos with the banner showing the holy door, and they are so much fun, especially since I didn’t get photos of us actually walking through the door itself.


Will you celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend? We keep things fairly low-key for Mother’s Day here, and that’s just fine with me. I don’t need a big celebration. Just being a mother is celebration enough for me. I’ll be off to school with the boys for Munchkins for Moms this morning, and then we will enjoy a weekend of baseball (because the splint is finally off!), Mass, a trip to the florist to buy my hanging plant together, some work for me, and other time as a family.

If you are celebrating Mother’s Day, I hope you have a wonderful day. And if Mother’s Day is a difficult day for you, as it is for so many, please know that I am praying for you.

Read more quick takes at our gracious hostess Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum.

May 05, 2016 11:20
By Rita Buettner

To my goddaughter on her baptism

Dear Baby Girl,

You won’t be able to understand this for a while, but you just had the most extraordinary experience—with oil and water and a candle and a white garment and the Holy Spirit.

Now you are baptized, a child of God.

You were so peaceful as the priest poured the water over your head. Your big sister was quiet, too. Your cousins—my sons—took pictures through the whole baptism. So your first sacrament is well-documented, and I know you’ll enjoy seeing their pictures when you are bigger.

I don’t remember my baptism, but I’ll always remember yours. And I wanted to tell you how blessed I feel to be your godmother. It’s a real job, you know, to help a child grow as a Christian and a Catholic. Good thing you have an outstanding godfather, too. I hope that I’ll be everything you need me to be. You deserve the best.

Today I have a few things I want to tell you:

God loves you. He loves you so much that He sent His only Son to die for you. And He loves you so much he created you.

I hope that for you life will be amazing and wonderful, full of beauty and joy. When life is difficult, though, remember that God is always with you. And know that you can always turn to me for help.

God also gave you a whole bunch of cousins and aunts and uncles and two wonderful parents and a big sister—and your big brother, Georgie, who’s up in heaven. He’s a special part of our family, and I know he will be your friend, too.

There is no one else on earth who can accomplish what God wants you to accomplish. We can’t wait to see what that is.

I am so excited to watch you grow and learn and come to realize that your favorite aunt is…well…Aunt Shai. Because she’s everyone’s favorite. But maybe I’ll be your second favorite. That would be fine, too.

Congratulations, little one, and welcome to our faith and our family. We love you so much already.


Aunt Rita

May 02, 2016 09:56
By Rita Buettner

7 Quick Takes Friday: My kitchen is yours, discovering a family heirloom, what to give a 13-year-old, a sweet smile, and more


For years my parents have talked about redoing their kitchen. After a while, I stopped listening—well, until my father said, “We’re thinking we will just move in with you while the construction is happening.”

That got my attention.

The construction started last week, but my parents have not moved in with us—much to our dismay. But we told them they were welcome to use our kitchen and laundry while theirs are inaccessible.

Yesterday my phone rang at the end of the work day and John said, “Do you need me to pick anything up on the way home?” I told him dinner would be ready when he got there.

And it was. But no thanks to me, of course.

My mother had let herself into our house and cooked a delicious chicken and stuffing dish. She pulled it out of the oven about five minutes after we came home. She even served a warm loaf of bread, olive oil for dipping, and a bowl of peas.

I folded a couple napkins and called people to the table.

“It’s great that you’ll be coming over to cook and do laundry,” John told my mother. “Just let us know when you’d like to come do the cleaning.”

Hope those construction workers take their time. I could get used to this.


One night I stopped by the store and bought sandwiches and a few items on the salad bar and met John and our boys for a spontaneous picnic.

“Do we have a picnic blanket?” our kindergartener asked.

I didn’t think we did, but I opened my father’s trunk—it’s only fair that I can use his car while he uses my kitchen, right?—and there was a blanket. Perfect.

I pulled it out and spread it on the ground and we had a wonderful picnic.

It was only later when my father saw the pictures of us picnicking that I learned we were sitting on a family heirloom—a quilt my father’s grandmother made for him when he was 12. He has held onto it and kept it safe since then, taking it to basic training when he was drafted into the Army, and carrying it in his car for years. I had no idea.

I never met my father’s grandmother, but her great-great-grandsons really enjoyed her gift to their grandfather as we sat on it for our first picnic this spring.


My oldest sister’s oldest child turns 13 this weekend. How did that happen?

We celebrated when my sister brought her children to town last weekend, and I realized I had forgotten to order a gift. We could have gone out shopping, but…well, it was Saturday. And we were really enjoying our lazy morning.

So I counted out $13.13 for the birthday girl, and then we dug up some of her favorite things—Parmesan cheese, noodles, cinnamon sugar, onions, and a few other things we knew she would enjoy.

It might not sound like much of a gift, but you should have seen her smile—and try to juggle the onions.


We keep our sugar in one of those great plastic Domino Sugar containers, and I just refill it as needed. When I poured new sugar into it this week, I stopped and realized the sugar was looking up at me.

I’ve never had that happen before. My sons and I thought it was so funny, especially because our sugary friend looks so disgruntled.

He looked even unhappier after a certain 6-year-old stole one of his sugar-lump eyes.


It’s not even May, and we are all having summer fever here. Doing kindergarten homework has become this enormous chore. Yet somehow we are able to find the time and energy to construct nearly life-size paper cannons.

And we’ve been playing quite a bit of Minecraft—and not always on the screens. The boys make up wonderfully creative Minecraft stories themselves.


My littlest niece is being baptized tomorrow! Have I mentioned how excited I am to be her godmother? If you think of it, would you say a little prayer for this precious little baby girl, that she will grow in faith and love for Jesus every day?

And would you maybe say an extra little prayer that the children who are attending her baptism (two-thirds of whom are mine) will stand in reverent peace during the baptism? Or at least not cause too much of a ruckus?


Oh! And we are going to walk through one of the Holy Doors for the Jubilee Year of Mercy tomorrow! Have you been through one yet?

Read more quick takes at Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum.

April 28, 2016 10:57
By Rita Buettner

Winning Election Day

Our 6-year-old and I went and stood in line to vote.

“Are we voting for the president of the United States?” my son asked.

Yes, I told him. We are, but we have to vote again in the fall before we know who the next president will be.

“Of the whole United States?” he said.

Yes, the whole United States.

You have to admit. That is pretty amazing. Then I tried to explain how lucky we are.

Not everyone gets to vote for their leaders, I said. Voting doesn’t mean the person we vote for wins. But it means we get to stand up and say who we think should be picked. That’s not true everywhere in the world, but it’s true here in the United States of America.

Who knows whether that made sense to our kindergartener?

But what I’m hoping he’ll remember is that today was special. Smiling volunteers greeted us at every turn, sent us to different lines to still more smiling people who pointed us to a high desk where we could color in our circles and make our decisions.

I have to admit that today I didn’t have any passion for the candidates. And the one I voted for didn’t win—at least not in our state. No surprise there. My candidates rarely win.

But as we walked out to the car, I was happy and proud that I voted. And I was even happier that I took our little boy with me.

Because, in the end, deciding to take him was a more important decision than picking that name on the ballot.

So let's just call that a win.

April 26, 2016 11:29
By Rita Buettner

How to support loved ones who are struggling with infertility

Maybe it seems like a strange thing to think about at a wedding. But every time we watch couples exchanging their vows, I worry that the smiling newlyweds will have trouble creating their family.

Infertility is a heavy cross to carry in a marriage.

It’s lonely and painful. It forces couples to navigate challenges together, often early on. It doesn’t always have a solution—or even an explanation. And the medical solutions that are presented as easy fixes by society can raise moral questions and pull couples away from the Catholic faith and from God.

This week it is National Infertility Awareness Week. If you have loved ones who are experiencing infertility—even if you suspect they are, but don’t know for sure—here are a few thoughts on how to support them.

1. Don’t ask when they will have children. They may not feel ready to share their infertility journey with you. They may never be. When my husband and I were realizing we were not likely to have a child by birth, we kept that close, not telling family or friends until we had decided to adopt—and were practically waiting to be matched. Other couples want to talk about their experience. But I would let them initiate the conversation.

2. Pray—and don’t just pray for them to give birth to a child. Pray for them to be open to God's will. Pray for them to become parents, but pray that if they don’t, or if it takes longer than expected, they will have the strength and the patience and the courage to stay strong and together. Pray for their marriage. Pray for wisdom for them on their journey together.

3. Be gentle sharing your own baby news. If you’re expecting, you might want to consider whether it would be best to tell them before you broadcast on social media, or whether to tell them by phone or email rather than in person, where they may struggle emotionally.

4. Don’t offer advice unless it’s requested. This is one of the great rules of life, right? And don’t assume that just because they are experiencing infertility, they will decide to adopt. It’s not that simple, and adopting is not an option for every couple.

5. Keep in mind that infertility is a very personal, individual experience. Even in the same marriage, a husband and a wife may experience grief in different ways. Couples who have given birth already can experience secondary infertility. Some couples know they will never be able to give birth, others have conceived and lost children, and others have no explanation for their infertility. There is no one answer or solution.

It can feel particularly difficult for Catholics to face infertility. The Catholic Church often seems better prepared to celebrate the large, growing families carrying the gifts up to the altar during Mass than to notice the childless couple sitting quietly in a back pew. But being open to life, of course, doesn’t always mean holding a child in your arms.

I hope this week you will join me in prayer for all those couples who are facing infertility. And, if you are reading this and currently on this journey, please know that I am praying with you.

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Finding hope through infertility

April 25, 2016 11:20
By Rita Buettner

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