Rose has always wanted children, but since she is afraid to date and works sporadically (she quits when things become stressful), she has never had a serious relationship or been in a position to make children happen. Now that she’s approaching 40, she realizes that she’s running out of time. She recently asked me to lend her $12k to freeze her eggs so that she can use them later when she’s self-sufficient.
At first I felt like it was something I had to do; it’s heartbreaking to think that if I don’t, I might be standing in the way of Rose becoming a parent. But after thinking it over more, I just don’t know if it’s the right thing to do. I’m extremely doubtful at this point that anything is going to change in her situation. And I feel that in giving her the money I’ll be making the same mistake my parents have made. Finally, in her current state, I just don’t think she’d be a stable/healthy parent.
Ideally, I’d love to help her get to a stable point and then help her with fertility, but I’m not sure there is time for that. And my efforts to help her in the past haven’t panned out.
Thank you for any advice you can offer! — My Sister’s Keeper
I think you already know what the “right” answer is here, as much as a situation like this can have a “right” or a “wrong” answer. It’s all terribly unfair. It’s unfair that Rose struggles with mental health issues. It’s unfair that the ability to become a mother is dependent on so many things out of one’s control and that the ability to provide for a child is also dependent on many things out of one’s control. It’s unfair that you’ve been tasked with a moral dilemma that threatens your relationship with a close family member. There’s so much that is unfair in this situation, and I’m sorry you’re in it.
You already know what you have to do, but it doesn’t feel good, and those are always the hardest decisions to make – the ones that feel so hard. It may help, then, to think about both the likely scenarios and the worst-case scenarios in each choice you could make and consider what would be less awful to live with. The likely scenario is you loan Rose $12k and you never see that money again and it doesn’t result in your sister becoming a mother. That’s something you might be able to live with just fine, especially if it meant preserving your relationship with Rose (which could only happen if you truly gave that 12k to her with zero expectation of its being returned to you and little anxiety of its resulting in a child your sister would be unable to care for adequately).
I don’t need to tell you what the worst-case scenario would be if you give Rose the money, but what would be the worst case if you don’t? Maybe she refuses to talk to you again? Maybe she harbors resentment against you for a long time? Maybe she’ll blame you for her never becoming a mother and, maybe worse, you’ll blame yourself for standing in the way of Rose’s lifelong dream? All of these are possible outcomes, and they’re all heartbreaking. I can understand any desire you might have to avoid them. But avoiding these outcomes is not dependent on your actions, your behavior, your giving your sister money to freeze her eggs. More than anything, the outcomes you wish to avoid are dependent on your sister achieving some emotional stability and self-sufficiency. In fact, you hardly have any power in this situation at all. Whether you give or don’t give your sister money, a positive outcome can only be achieved if your sister gets the mental health help she needs. Your giving her money is not going to nudge her in that direction at all, but telling her no just might.
You need to tell her that you want to support her in pursuing her dreams, as your past efforts have proven. Tell her that the kind of support you’ve offered in the past still stands, and if and when she’s ready to address her mental health needs, you’ll be there for her. But until then, you cannot in good conscience support her pursuit of motherhood when you haven’t seen evidence yet of Rose taking the first steps toward prioritizing her mental health, which would enable her to better care for a child. This won’t feel good, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The path of least resistance often fails to lead us in the best direction.