why can’t some people have children?

walking through the airport earlier this week and seeing this article made me freeze in my footsteps. as someone who is sterile, there is something so callous and cold about it.

it made me angry.

people are obsessed (mostly infertile people) on why some people can have children (as many as they want) and why some cannot have as many as they would like (or any at all).

even the economists are saying they have the answer.

recently, a blog reader asked me something one of her friends asked her.

Why does God allow righteous women to miscarry or not be able to have children? I have friends who have experienced miscarriages, I have had several miscarriages, and I have many other friends who can’t get pregnant. Why does God not allow righteous women the opportunity to have children while there are so many unwanted pregnancies around the world?

Doesn’t it seem beyond unfair?

from what i read in The Economist, and i admit i could not stomach to spend too much time on it, the answer is the save the earth. (insert a hearty annoyed eye roll.)

my answer that i gave (which i will share later) was a little more spiritually based.

what do you think?
what would you tell this friend?


  1. Heather says

    ha! I think there are million things that could be said… the truth, who knows! Life isn't fair, at least mine isn't.

    There are so many things this concept applies to though; why are some people more successful than others even if they both want it just as much, if not more as the other?

    The answer, it's cliche: There's a reason for everything, even if we don't understand it.

    Maybe it's because all of those babies born into harsh circumstances will have a chance at a beautiful, healthy, thriving life.

    One day I truly believe we will get to sit down with our all knowing & caring Father and ask him these very things & I think then & only then we'll truly grasp the eternal nature of all that we do on this earth.

    Line upon line. Precept on Precept!

    Oh, & also that if you dwell on it for to long it will drive you crazy, you just have to make peace with it, however you can & keep moving along.

  2. Denise and Brandon says

    I don't remember if it was from you or somebody else's story that I was reading about who felt that God made some couples unable to have children so there could be a home and a family waiting and wanting those children born without one. I liked that answer.

  3. Melisa says

    This very question has shaken the core of my faith. Everything I felt about personal revelation, and Heavenly Father taking care of His children, I couldn't imagine the Lord with holding children from me or my husband. It is in God's nature to want to have families grow, and give them joy.

    That being said, I feel like the Lord is bound by his own rules. It's the same idea behind, "Why did my father die during heart surgery and another patient was saved?" I think that the Lord is willing to send us children, but He has to work around the reality of the fallibility of the human body. Just like some people get cancer, others die of heart failure, some people's bodies struggle to create life inside of them.

    It's a hard thing to deal with, for sure. One that has sent me to dark places within myself I never want to visit again. But the answer to myself for this is that the Lord loves me, and as a parent I know that in order to grow there has to be struggle. The Lord may not have "given" me infertility, but it is something that is in my path right now. The trick is to show the Lord how I'm going to deal with it. Am I going to sit and dwell on the fact that I may never be pregnant again, or am I going to be proactive about strengthening our family?

    Great question R house.

  4. Dawn-Marie says

    One of my friends and I both struggle with infertility. My friend now has a 2-year-old after 3 miscarriages and a stillborn. She is LDS, but isn't active in the church. One of her friends once told her that if she lived more righteously she will be blessed with another baby!

    It's even harder being active in the church and having people lecture you on how you should be "multiplying and replenishing the earth"! Yes, my old institute teacher said that and then felt horrible when I explained why I had been married for 2 or 3 years and didn't have kids.

    I have only questioned God once so far in our trying. It was 2 years ago, we are doing foster care and also trying to adopt. DCFS had us meet a little 2 year old boy and asked if we were interested in him. We meet and I fell in love with him. It felt so right. A few days later DCFS told us that they decided that he was going to a couple with 10 kids! Yes, 4 biological and 6 adopted! I was crushed, how could God let them have another when I was still childless! I try not to question God, I remind myself that everything happens for a reason. Some reason we may never know in this lifetime.

  5. Ashley says

    I've been told several times that it's my bad attitude or lack of faith that kept me from getting pregnant. Which tells me they think that infertility is a punishment and my own fault.

    In our house, we have a saying; "In the Rittman Home, we go for quality over quantity." Doesn't make a lot of the hurt go away but it reminds us that although we may not have the ability to have the large family of seven children we wanted, our two are more amazing and special than a whole school of kids.

    In the Bible, there are examples of many women who are "barren." Every single one of them were righteous.

    After studying these women, I began to notice a trend. While these women didn't have a ton of kids, their children changed the world.

    Rachel, who was barren, only had two sons as opposed to Leah's 10, and one of them was Joseph who became a great prophet and leader. Many of us are his descendants. She was a righteous woman, beloved by the Lord.

    Hannah was a righteous woman. The second wife of her husband actually made fun of her infertility (who hasn't been there?) to the point where she would make constant trips to the temple to beg for a child. She finally began to promise the Lord that if she could just bear a child she'd devote him back to the Lord. She conceived and had Samuel. Who became a great prophet and leader.

    Elisabeth was barren and a very righteous woman. She was actually completely unable to have kids because she would have hit menopause by the time an angel appeared to her husband and told him that his wife conceived. I have to say that I don't blame his, "Yeah, uh huh, SURE." response. Nine months later, she bore John the Baptist, the man who Christ asked to baptize him.

    My point is that these women were ALL righteous, faithful and good women. Their infertility was not a punishment. It was to build faith to astronomical proportions so that they could be the mothers these amazing people needed. These infertile (and sterile) women raised some of the most influential people in history.

    To the reader who asked; take heart with the words that Gabriel said to Mary;

    "36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
    37 For with God nothing shall be impossible."

    Lots of love and please know you're not alone.

  6. Timber says

    I fielded a similar "life's unfair" question in my seminary class last week. As has been mentioned in previous responses, there are *lots* of questions like that. Here's a summary of the answer I gave my class.

    Elder Niel A. Maxwell, "Petitioning in prayer has taught me, again and again, that the vault of heaven with all its blessings is to be opened only by a combination lock. One tumbler falls when there is faith, a second when there is personal righteousness; the third and final tumbler falls only when what is sought is, in God's judgment–not ours–right for us. Sometimes we pound on the vault door for something we want very much and wonder why the door does not open. We would be very spoiled children if that vault door opened any more easily than it does. I can tell, looking back, that God truly loves me by inventorying the petitions He has refused to grant me. Our rejected petitions tell us much about ourselves but also much about our flawless Father." ("Insights," New Era, Apr. 1978)

    *Life* is unfair. That's what I signed up for before coming here. BUT, I have grown because of my hardships. The Lord has literally opened the windows of Heaven in my darkest moments. I have gained more than what was taken away. And having children taken away from me was something exponentially huge, and yet, I have gained more.

    I'm always sad when I hear about people who fall away from their religion when trials hit. It is exactly those trials that have made me unshakable in my faith. It was DURING the trials where God felt so incredibly far away, that I realized how very close my Savior was.

    Is life fair? No.
    And I'm better for it.

  7. I am blessed! says

    I have written a series on my blog on being quiverfull. In this series I address the fact that the Bible calls children a blessing, so how could they be detrimental to society? I found a handful of demographers who are very worried about the fall in birthrates and the coming economic collapse that could signal.

    As to why brithrates are falling? Many women delay having children due to age of marriage or career. Maybe there are other environmental factors like diet, etc., but I think age is the major one. It seems like these women who give up their babies are usually having them at a very young age. Just some thoughts. Check out my posts on becoming quiverfull for a more thorough treatment of this issue.

  8. Corey says

    I am blessed that my husband and I don't have fertility problems. We do have 6 children, 5 of whom we adopted from Haiti.

    Our son, when he was 6, sexually assaulted one of our daughters for a period of months, and molested another of our daughters. We have been to hell and back with him. Now, 2 years later, we have come to the realization that there is no safe way for him to live in our home, and we have had to find a new family for him. This is the single most painful experience of our lives.

    Our 10 year old daughter suffers with reactive attachment disorder and PTSD as a result of her traumatic past. Life with her is a daily BATTLE.. yesterday we had to have to the police come to our home to speak with her about the dangers of sneaking out of the house at 1 a.m.

    Life is hard. HARD! For me, what I cling to is Isiah 55:9. "For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts." I have to believe that God is so big and his comprehension of the big picture is so much better than mine.. and trust that He has a plan.

    Without that, how can you get through?


  9. Marianne says

    That magazine cover is incredibly offensive even to me- a fertile person. Who says there is a population problem???

  10. Que and Brittany's Adoption Journal says

    It's easy. Heavenly Father doesn't reward personal righteousness with children. The number of children a person has is not an indicator of how much He loves that person.

    We're on earth to be tested and to learn to submit our will to His.

    It took us a long time to accept His promptings to look into adoption. And once we let Him guide us, it gave us hope.

  11. Marie says

    I appreciate the responses to this blog, and I agree that this article made me angry. But I do have to point out that in the article the author is talking about CHOSEN reduction in fertility. People who could have 7children choosing to only have 2. He is not saying there is an increase in medical infertility (although I wouldn't doubt that either.)
    That said, this is a question I have been pondering a lot over the past 6 months, and all I have to say is, I don't know. I don't know what I'm supposed to do at this point. The sure thing I hold on to is that at some point I am supposed to raise children. I just don't know how we're going to get them into our family yet.

  12. Jewls says

    Life's not fair, no one promised us that it would be. However, usually our biggest trials turn out to be our biggest blessings and we have to remember that we don't see the whole picture like Heavenly Father does.

  13. mwheatley says

    I read this article for my econ class and thought it was interesting. I disagree with it. I think that a lot of the falling fertility rate is more based on the falling infant mortality rate. In poor countries the children are making it through their first years. This is a good thing. So to have a family with four children you only need to have four not six. This is just my opinion and I have little or no statistical evidence to back it up! Just a "maybe" to why the fertility rate has fallen.

  14. Ashley says


    W.O.W. I read your response to my husband whose family brought in three foster children from pasts that no child should should have. Two of those children allowed his family to adopt them and one they had to say "no" to. They couldn't give him the home that he needed. It takes a lot of courage and love to do that and I see the love you have for all of your children in your words.

    My husband's mother relies on Phlip. 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me."

    I love your heart and attitude. Thank you for sharing with such honesty.

  15. Lechelle says

    I chose to come to a world where disease, disaster, accidents, and bodily imperfections would be everywhere. I chose to come to a world where God allows the laws of nature to do their thing, even when that means my imperfect body lost two precious babies. There are times when the Lord will intervene, but even when he does not intervene he always is there to bring peace when we are ready to ask for it.

    I have been told that my babies died because I didn't have enough faith, that God took my babies from me so it must be his will, and that I don't have my babies because God didn't want me to, and that 'everything happens for a reason' as if God didn't want me to be a mother. To all of them I say How dare you accuse my God of being so heartless. I wished with all my heart that it was his will to intervene and save my children, he had the power to, but just because he didn't doesn't mean he didn't want to. He ached with me when I ached. He reached out to comfort and cry with me when I needed it. He has nothing to do with the pain, but everything to do with the healing.

    I chose to come to an imperfect world, and God will not interfere with that agency of mine. Having everything we wanted was Satan's plan. Becoming the woman I am today because of relying on the Lord's healing through these trials is my God's plan, and I am so grateful he continues to walk me through it.

  16. Brittany says

    I can't believe people have the audacity to say something so horrible…like that you guys didn't have enough faith or you're being punished..that is horrible. I have a friend who is going through a hard time right now, trying to have a baby and I have never once even thought that for even the tiniest second. I can't believe some people. I haven't had to go through the heartache of being infertile, but I have also wondered at times why certain people are allowed to have so many children that they don't take care of as well as someone who really wants one would. But God wouldn't be God if he stepped in to fix everything for us. If we didn't have trials we would never know blessings. "I never said it would be easy, I only send it would be worth it."

  17. Tyler and Anna and Family says

    My answer would be something like this…

    I truly and honestly believe that some women need to appreciate their children more, whereas others may need to have their lives turned around, and nothing will do that besides focusing on another, helpless, more innocent life.

    I know that this was the case for me when I became pregnant… I needed to turn my life around and suddenly realizing that I had the sole responsibility to care for and make the right decisions for this little innocent life. Not much else would have done that for me.

    Also, I think that sometimes people go through things so that they will be more understanding and will be able to help others. Sometimes it's so they will meet other people that are supposed to be their friends and they would not have met them otherwise.

    Yet another thing I've learned from my experience with my unplanned pregnancy. I placed her into the loving arms of another family (a family I felt she belonged with) and then kind of thought, "Now what?". So, since I was almost 18 at that point, my bishop and I decided that it would be best if I went to the singles ward for my area. It was there, about 8 months later, that I met my husband. I would never have met him, since he started going to his home ward again shortly after we met, if I hadn't gone to that ward when I did. (Do I think that was the only thing I was supposed to get out of my adoption experience? Heavens NO! It's just one of the really BIG things.)

    I also became much closer to God and to my Savior during all of it. And now, facing some weird fertility issues myself, I am better able to understand others who are going through this, and I am again becoming closer to my Father in Heaven and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am also becoming closer with my husband. Our relationship is becoming stronger because we're choosing to spend a little more time with each other and strengthen our relationship instead of letting this tear us apart.

    I could go on, but these were the two things that I really felt that I should share with you…

  18. Michelle says

    I wouldnt have an answer for that friend…because Im struggling with the question my self. I found out our 20 year old birth mother is pregnant again, 3rd time, with yet another guy so no longer sees. How can she get pregnant and I cant? Yet I am so grateful for the little girl in our lives that she gave up for us…I cant imagine life without loving her…but I would love more children and cant….

  19. Holly says

    I think it's hard – very hard – to understand why you're experiencing a trial when you're in the midst of it, and although sometimes when the trial has passed you can look back and see the bigger picture, often it will still not make sense.

    As many people have said already, I knew when I chose to come to this earth that I would experience heartache and trials that would almost break me. It's possible I knew then that infertility would be one of the things I'd face. It took me a long time to see what there was to rejoice in because of this trial, and I'd get bitter and angry. Then I read the part at towards the end of the Book of Alma that mentions two groups of people: one who had been hardened by the length of the wars and their tribulations, and one who had been softened because of the exact same trial. I realized that I had a choice (as we do in all things) and that if I could turn around and keep the trial from hardening me, then I'd be able to draw strength from Heavenly Father and be better for it.

    I can't think of anything I've ever wanted more than being a mother, and I think that desire only increases throughout infertility, rather than decreasing. I believe that Heavenly Father knows me perfectly, though, and that He knows how great my desires are. Do I desire motherhood more than I desire to do the will of my Heavenly Father? Am I willing to sacrifice my relationship with Him because of my frustration with a blessing withheld? Heavenly Father knew that I desired motherhood so more than anything, and that, as such, it was THE BEST way to teach me to rely on him. If it were any lesser desire, something I didn't want as much as this, then I might have given up when times got tough, and not endured the fire a little longer, and would not be nearly as strong as I am now. I can even remember the time when I was feeling depressed and was crying, and was seconds away from curling up on my husband's lap and crying it out, when it occurred to me that I should turn to the Lord for comfort instead. It took at least 4 years to learn that one (seemingly) little lesson, but it has made the biggest difference in my life.

    It's taken a long time, but I can truly say I'm grateful to have gone through the trial of infertility, something I feel like I am still dealing with now, even though I'm pregnant. I know the reasons why I've experienced the trial is completely different than another person's, but I have learned that the Lord really does have a plan for us, and is right beside us, even when we feel He has never been further away.

  20. Sean and Sierra says

    Being infertile is not a punishment from God. Being adopted AND a birth mom, I get to see both sides. My mom was crushed when she found out that she could not bare children, but her identical twin sister could. My parents were able to adopt 4 children. My mom knows that was her calling before she came to this earth. She has a strong testimony that because she was righteous enough, the Lord blessed her with the ability to adopt.

    I am a birth mom to a little boy. My husband and I miscarried last year. We have been trying for a few months to get pregnant again…and nothing. While it is hard, because when I was living bad, I got pregnant right away, I know the Lord has a plan for me. I always say that not every woman faced with an unplanned pregnancy is cut out to be a birth mom(even though I wish they were). I also say the same thing about adopted parents. Not everyone is cut out to be adopted parents. Heavenly Father doesn't "punish" women of the church with infertility. If that were the case, why did I get pregnant when I was inactive and living a bad life? Kinda contradicts itself right? Don't you think that every time a woman cries because she cannot bare a child of her own, that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are crying with them? I believe they are. They gave women that great motherly instinct. Why would they just allow infertility and miscarriages cold heartedly? They wouldn't. There is a great purpose behind everything. We don't understand everything that happens in this life, but thats why we have to have faith. Do I think it's unfair that other women kept their babies while I placed my for adoption? No. Do I think it's unfair that at 26, I'm now struggling to get pregnant while other women younger then me have 3 kids? No. It is hard….I'm not saying it isn't, but we are here to learn. Learn from our struggles. Learn how to be more Christ like. Since I've miscarried now, I now have a great empathy for women that have had the same loss. Heavenly Father is keenly aware of all of our struggles. And while I can be a cry baby myself and have my own melt downs over my trials, I am grateful for them. My trials just continue to make me a better person.


  21. Cassie says

    I think it is especially important that some righteous women can't get pregnant. This way they can save those sweet children who weren't wanted, or whose mothers wanted a better life for them. I of course have no room to talk because I am blessed with the ability to bring children into this world. But if I couldn't I would feel the desire to adopt and love someone who's already here.(taken from a quote from The Martian Child)Think of your sweet Tyson. Yes, he would have been loved, but you and you alone can give him the family that will make him THRIVE in this world. That's why he was meant for you.

  22. Angie says

    Infertility is NOT FAIR. But then, do we really consider any of our trials fair at all? One thing that has helped me is the knowledge that we came to this earth knowing and willingly accept the trials that we would be given here…some of us even volunteered. Many times throughout our fertility battles and when my husband was diagnosed with cancer, I remarked "how could I have volunteered for THIS?"
    There are two things that really helped me..the first was that even when I'm angry, bitter, or upset I STILL PRAY. I simple tell Heavenly Father how I am feeling and I let that be part of how I lean on Him by allowing Him to hear me when I am so vulnerable. The second thing is that I KNOW that Heavenly Father has a plan for each and every one of us. I cannot imagine a different child in my life other than the one we adopted. He may look nothing like us but it makes no difference beacause I can tell you as sure as the nose on my face that he was MEANT (and by that I mean that Heavenly Father planned it this way) to be in our family. He may not look like us but the similiarities end there. He is SO much like us in every other way that it amazes me! In order for him to come to us, we had to be sterile..otherwise would we have considered a lengthy and expensive adoption? I can tell you the answer would probably be no. the experiences we have while we are here on earth are meant to shape us and make us stronger, of course it also depends on how we take to those challenges. The gospel is here to help us with that. As a convert of 6 years I can truly attest to how sincerely grateful I am for the knowledge I have now. Infertility and Cancer are two major trials I would never wish upon another person but would I change anything looking back? NO WAY! These trials have strenghtened my relationship with my husband and brought us closer together as we recongized the love our Savior has for us. They have have made us who we are and I love who we have become!

  23. Sara says

    Boy oh boy – I'm excited to read other responses to this question. =) It's a toughie, for sure, and it turns out that knowing the answer and feeling better about the problem are two very different things.

    Here's what I know:
    -God does not cause the unexplainable bad things in our lives, but He does allow them to happen.
    -While we might hope that certain challenges – infertility among them, certainly – are temporary tests of our obedience, faith, and love for God, sometimes they're just not temporary. Sometimes the test is really about endurance and/or adaptation.

    When I spoke to my former bishop about a problem that was ravaging my heart and seemed never-ending, he told me something I'll never forget: "I know you didn't ask for this problem, but at some point or another, I believe that you asked Heavenly Father to make you into the woman He needs you to be. This is how He's doing it. This is how you're going to become the best version of yourself. This is an essential part of your journey."

    That never-ending problem still isn't over for me, but I've already seen pivotal moments where I've had to decided to let the problem change me for the better.

    Miscarriage is so, so hard. My mom suffered three, the first of which was incredibly challenging for her and the whole family. As her daughter, though, I'm grateful for the pain we went through as a family and the tests that came at that time. I don't know what blessings will come for anyone else, but I see how tremendous my mom is and I know that the trials she experienced served as a turning point for her.

    I guess what it comes down to for me is that awful, awful stuff happens, and that stuff will change us to the core, but we CAN choose to change for the better.

  24. MEG says

    When I get to work tomorrow I'm going to read through the answers of the people who left comments.

    Life isn't fair. What is the answer? My husband's brother just recently committed suicide. This man left a beautiful son and wife behind. He battled depression and bipolar disorder. My husband has been spending the last few months asking "Where is God in our lives? Why wouldn't he be there to prevent such a horrible thing from happening? Where was he to help my brother feel peace at that time?"

    I think at those low times we can't help but to ignore the blessings that God has also poured over us generously. The truth is there is no answer. Would we know true joy and bliss if we hadn't experienced such pain? Probably not. It's easy for someone to say that isn't going through a great trial though huh?

  25. Ashley says

    People have already written some wonderful things, but I'd like to add mine. I actually wrote a post this last summer while I was thinking about the "unfairness" of life.


    Here is one of my favorite quotes that I would share with this friend:

    "There are three parts to the plan. You are in the second, or the middle part, the one in which you will be tested by temptation, by trials, perhaps by tragedy….
    Remember this! The line "And they all lived happily ever after" is never written into the second act [of the play]. That line belongs in the third act, when the mysteries are solved and everything is put right….
    Until you have a broad perspective of the eternal nature of [the plan], you won't make much sense of the inequities of life."

    -President Boyd K. Packer
    The Play and the Plan
    CES Fireside
    May 7, 1995

    You can find the entire talk here:

  26. Wes and Dani says

    I asked that same question over on my trying-to-conceive blog. It haunts me every day…I don't know what I'd tell your friend, but I DO know that there seems to be no harder question in the world to come to terms with than that one: Why will God not grant me my most righteous desire?

    Someone once told me that it is just the trial I've been called to endure. That makes sense…but it also makes me a little bitter. I guess I need to get over that, though…people don't CHOOSE their trials….

    Sorry…I'm rambling.

  27. Mike & Amanda says

    Ashley – wow! I love your comment! What a wonderful way to look at such a difficult thing. And I love how you don't make it exclusive (like, ONLY barren/infertile women created great sons etc.). I love your insight – makes me want to go back to the Bible and reread those stories!

  28. Mike & Amanda says

    Ashley – wow! I love your comment! What a wonderful way to look at such a difficult thing. And I love how you don't make it exclusive (like, ONLY barren/infertile women created great sons etc.). I love your insight – makes me want to go back to the Bible and reread those stories!

  29. Mike & Amanda says

    Ashley – wow! I love your comment! What a wonderful way to look at such a difficult thing. And I love how you don't make it exclusive (like, ONLY barren/infertile women created great sons etc.). I love your insight – makes me want to go back to the Bible and reread those stories!

  30. The Sanderson Fam says

    The answer seems pretty obvious to me…So that those children who are in desperate need of a good home and forever family have people looking and hoping for them… For myself I think it's also a trial of my faith and a better appreciation for the sweet little ones in my home.

  31. Mikaela says

    I have loved reading your blog, Mrs. R, but I've never posted. Something with the question posed touched me. This morning I was reading a blog of a friend of mine. Her 4 year old has to have open-heart surgery. They've known since infancy that he had a hole in his heart, but they didn't know if he'd ever need surgery. They are now saying he does need surgery, and this friend is 32 weeks pregnant. She's scared and worried about her son. As I thought of this trial in her life and in the life of her family, how different is it to MINE with my inability to conceive children?! I agree with what others have said. Life just isn't fair. I also think that sometimes God gives us trials and problems to humble us so we can grow closer to Him. I do not always think that infertility is easy. There's good days and bad, but I know there is a reason. I know God doesn't give us more than we can handle.

    Now to step off my soap box and answer your question, I would tell your friend that God loves us all. We signed up for the trials we face in life. He will make it up to us, whether in this life or in the next. He loves us! We are His children. It's not fair that one can have this and another can't, but it is part of the plan; the plan WE signed on for. Oh how great is the plan of our Father to give us our agency!

  32. Tricia says

    I believe what the Bible says…that God will turn all things into good for those who love Him. I take you as an example…what if you were able to have kids. Would you be such an advocate? Would you fight for others as hard as you do if you haven't been in that dark place? Would others be inspired without the strength, grace and emotion exhibited through your trial?

    Isn't it difficult to appreciate the sunshine if you've never been through rain? You, my friend, are seeing the glimpses of sunshine…how sweet is that?

    God bless,