There is a fairly recent custom that at a Bris Milah, circumcision, a childless couple is given the honor of carrying the baby boy into the ceremony. This tradition is thought to be a merit for the couple to be blessed with a child of their own.
As the resident childless couple in our family, my husband and I have been asked countless times by family, friends and even acquaintances to receive this honor. During the first few years of our marriage, we were happy to be given this opportunity and did not think much of it. But recently, I have been bothered very much by this custom.
Although there are couples who continue to feel honored to be Kvatter even after many years of struggling with infertility, to me this custom has taken on a new meaning. It is a public display of our infertility, and it has begun to feel humiliating. It is embarrassing for me to walk up in front of everyone holding the baby boy as a sign that says “Hello, I’m infertile.” Additionally, as the years continue to pass and our friends are on to their second, third and forth children, it becomes more painful to be reminded publicly of what we are missing.
I understand that when people ask a family member, friend or acquaintance to be the Kvatter at their son’s Bris, they only have the best intentions at heart. And I understand that it is their way to honor and give bracha to this couple. It is just important to keep in mind the implications of such an offer. Before offering the merit to a childless couple it is important to ensure that the couple appreciates being given the honor of Kvatter. For couples who want the opportunity, there is no greater kindness that you can do for them in their time of need. But for those of us who are not up to publicly displaying our infertility (even if we are willing to talk about it), being asked to be Kvatter is hurtful and a reminder of what we are missing. As I cannot speak for anyone else, I can say that for me personally I would rather that you privately daven on our behalf that we too should merit bringing a child into this world.