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The big decision -- dedicating your life to the most difficult job in the world

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• I read with interest your article on Thursday regarding infertility and the efforts undertaken by individuals in their quest to become parents. The desire to breastfeed, the longing to experience pregnancy, and the fulfilment of a life-long need to become a parent were just some of the motivations cited as sustaining their costly and repeated gruelling efforts.

One can only empathise with the levels of anxiety, frustration, despair and joy that are experienced throughout their gruelling journey.

As a non-parent woman of child-bearing age, I began to reflect on the matter.

During recent times, when our economic survival has come under extreme pressure and scrutiny, our national birth rate has reportedly increased.

Changing lifestyles and higher unemployment are influencing child-care considerations and the sustainability of same.

After years of Celtic Tiger excesses, keeping up with the acquired pace of life, trying to win the perceived race of progression, we have been left bereft of some of our unique, precious, inherent values, which shaped our identities throughout the generations.

Where is the place for the "family"? What is our role? Individually, who are we? My fear is that we have lost sight of our unique value and sense of self-worth and now find ourselves trying to feel worthwhile and needed by other means in our lives.

Is parenthood one such means to this end, in achieving this sense of self-worth and value?

Or is it about the gift of a new life, a new person in our world who will have his or her own unique gifts, talents, dreams, goals and attributes?

Why have a child? To distract from other areas of our lives that need attention; or to welcome a child to a loving, nurturing life, which ultimately will be his or her own life to live as he or she sees fit, without obligation to its parents, or other family members or legacies, moral or otherwise?

Sometimes the most difficult process can be personal reflection, where we truly look at ourselves as individuals and as potential parents and ask ourselves, "why am I considering doing this" or "who am I doing this for?"

I know there are many who may read this and consider a childless life to be a selfish choice.

For some it may be a choice, for others it isn't.

There is a fine line between choice and chance, yet the implications of the difference are massive. Adoption can be a painful testament to this dilemma.

As an adoptee, I feel informed sufficiently to speak about the emotional investments and costs of this path to parenthood.

Children are a gift; becoming a parent isn't something to be considered lightly.

Parenthood is the most difficult job in the world, which, once started, never ends. It means a lifetime of support, worry, fun and unfathomable love for another being, surpassing any other love a person has ever experienced.

We've a lot to learn from those who choose and dedicate themselves completely to the assisted-parenthood path.

Jo-Anne Sexton
Dublin 5

Irish Independent