I was scanning some news stories, trying to catch the warmth by the window of the break room today at lunch on an unusually cold blustery day, when a headline caught my attention.
Congress passed a bill that would codify a ban on federal funding for abortions. It has no chance of escaping the veto stamp of President Obama, but it shows the Republican commitment to issues related to the protection of unborn life. Yet very few of these same Republicans have fought for a woman’s right to choose life through medical assistance by signing onto a bill that would give hundreds of thousands of couples with the handicap of infertility a financial break in their parenthood pursuits.
I have pondered the reason for the absence of Republican endorsements to this bill, being a conservative leaning Catholic myself. We were brought to the brink of financial disaster trying to bring Elliana into this world, but we were fortunate enough to have credit cards and home equity to bridge the gap. Many couples either don’t want to go into debt for a chance at parenthood, or in most cases, simply can’t financially.
I am not really sure why this subject stuck with me. I haven’t blogged in awhile. I suppose it’s because I haven’t really been sure what I want to say about infertility anymore. I went back to work with the strange feeling that the universe was cooking something up.
A few hours later, I was at my desk finishing up a call when the first text came.
“Family outside Whole Foods with sign that they needed help so Elli wanted to buy them groceries. Really bothered her there was a boy her age plus a baby.”
I thought about the week Elliana had and marveled at what I was reading in Lisa’s text. A rough grade week has knocked her down to Bs in three subjects, threatening her non-stop run of high honor roll, even though she’s barely two weeks into the new quarter.
Some tweenie attitude got her Ipod taken away for the week, and there has been a lot of drama at school with boys and girls and the general angst of being a 12-year-old.
The average adult would have scurried by this mom and her cardboard sign, cynically wondering if they were scamming people out of money, or worried that they were unclean from being on the streets. When I was a kid in Elliana’s state, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed there was anyone there, because I would have been brooding about my own problems.
Then I got the next text.
“So she picked food she thought he’d like and gave them to the mom. Then she hugged the mom, and the mom hugged her really tight. So sweet and kind hearted. The mom cried when she hugged her.”
I pictured that scene, my little girl hugging a struggling mom with her kids, connecting with them, showing her concern for their situation.
“How many people would hug a person holding a cardboard sign?” was Lisa’s next text.
Not me. Sure, I’d given spare change to the guys hawking newspapers at street lights, or maybe put a dollar in the hand of one of those down and out guys in front of a Circle K now and then, but to give them a hug? The thought honestly never crossed my mind.
Yet my daughter didn’t just give this woman and her children charity, she connected with them. Made them feel like they were human. Not people to be pitied or prayed for from a distance, but actually hugged. Physically and spiritually connected with as viable and valuable people in society.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much our formerly frozen embryo is changing the world.
And how there need to be more formerly frozen embryos brought into this world.
Elliana tossed a kind hearted pebble into a sea of indifference and created a ripple of joy.
A struggling mom has food for her children, and the warmth of a hug from a tween-aged girl who acknowledged her existence in a world filled with electronic distractions galore.
Lisa and I have the pride of knowing that we are doing something right, raising a daughter who has the capacity to see beyond her own hardships and difficulties to the needs of others around her.
The Republicans have that same potential to have their day of pride filled joy. If they don’t agree with a woman’s right to choose to terminate a child that has already been conceived, they should have no problem agreeing to give fertility handicapped women a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring life into this world with the help of infertility doctors.
They could even make the argument that they are willing to cross the aisle and join hands for a great common good: to give American couples a little financial help with a chance at the joy, happiness, frustration and crazy heartache that goes along with parenthood. And I doubt it would have any threat of veto from a President so intent on protecting a woman’s right to reproductive choice.
I keep picturing the look that mom must have had as Elliana was hugging her, and wonder how many more scenes like that could be played out if more IVF babies could be brought into this world.
Elliana has told me over the last couple of years of watching me advocate for infertility rights that she really knows how much we wanted her. We were willing to put ourselves through the physical, spiritual and financial pain of infertility treatment and now the rewards of that effort are making the world a better place.
A place where invisible people suddenly become visible at the hands of a child who feels so loved and wanted that she is willing to love and care for those less fortunate than her.
There is simply no reason why the Family Act of 2011 shouldn’t be passed. No reason any fair minded politician can’t see his or her way to endorse a bill that will provide a once in a lifetime tax credit to provide couples with the chance to change the world with the love of their own IVF child.
The final text Lisa sent me conveyed Elliana’s final thoughts on why she did what she did.
“No kid should have to sit on a corner with his mom and be hungry.”
Just like no aspiring mom should ever have to hunger for a future filled with magical motherhood moments because of lack of money.
Please spread the word.
It’s time to get this done once and for all.
Then we can keep changing the world one IVF baby and cardboard sign at a time.