Monday, May 16, 2011

A Picture of God's Love for a Lost World

There was an interesting discussion in the combox at Adoptio about transracial adoptions the other day, which, like so many other posts, suffered in the Great Blogger Crash of May 2011 (the original post is back up now, but the original comments have been washed away).  In it, Mrs. C asks her readers for advice on how to address racial issues with her daughter, due in just a few weeks, who may be racially different from her husband and herself.

The first time she posted, several readers mentioned that the magazine Adoptive Families tends to have good information about these things, but that they had cancelled their subscriptions because of other subject matter in the magazine that was offensive to their faith as Catholics (these comments are now gone).  I have read several issues of Adoptive Families myself, and I agree that its editorial position in favor of gay adoption and surrogacy and egg donation (which, it seems to me, are hardly appropriate topics for inclusion in a magazine about adoption) is dismaying.

In order to verify what I recalled about the magazine, I went hunting around for an issue, the most recent of which I found lying face down in a pile of other neglected reading material on my desk.  I was surprised and impressed to find on the back cover a full-page ad for liberal whipping-boy Focus on the Family's adoption ministry, I Care About Orphans.

I poked around on the Focus on the Family adoption website, and found that the organization has spearheaded an initiative to encourage Christians to adopt -- especially to adopt waiting children out of U.S. foster care -- and to provide resources and support before, during, and after adoption.  One of Focus on the Family's spokeswomen, Kelly Rosati, speaks eloquently in a video about how her family's commitment to the sanctity of human life inspired her to adopt four children out of foster care, and notes:

Adoption is God's idea.  It comes straight out of the Scriptures.  We read that all of us who are believers in Christ have been adopted into God's family through faith in Christ . . . . Adoption is a picture of God's love for a lost world.

Rosati goes on to talk about how Focus on the Family partnered with the Department of Human Services in Colorado to encourage Christians to adopt out of foster care, and that, as a result, the number of children waiting for families was reduced by more than half.

This is wonderful.  I wonder why the Catholic Church is not involved in any sort of similar effort.

13 comments:

Calah said...

That really is wonderful! I've been doing lots of thinking on adoption lately. It's something I'd so like to do one day when we are slightly more financially stable. I'm so happy that they are encouraging people to adopt here in the US.

Pentimento said...

I just wish our own church would get more involved. There is so much celebration of women who have the ability to be "grand multiparas," and not enough attention paid to those who strive to reflect God's adoption of us in their own lives. Sadly, some fringe-ortho-Cath types are even *against* adoption.

eaucoin said...

Within the Catholic church many people are focused on being "environmentally responsible" by limiting the number of children they have and further having only as many as they can afford (and one mustn't have a disabled child cause nobody can afford those). The false assumption people make is that if we "take control" of our lives, we will be able to eliminate suffering, pollution, etc. That we profess to believe and trust in God and the fact that underpopulation is more of an issue in our part of the world is completely lost on most people (not to mention the damage caused by all the birth control pill residue being flushed into the environment). There is a lovely family with eight children who go to our church (they are clean and well-behaved), and people are always commenting as if their circumstance represents the cardinal sin of losing control. In their next breath they will tell you that they don't want to judge anyone who's not Catholic (so evangelizing is out--why that's like claiming we're superior). I guess I hear more of these comments because I'm more sensitive to them (being the 7th of 15 children). The other issue is that such work as you are recommending was done in the past by sisters, and while we have fewer vocations, laypeople are slow to fill in the voids in community outreach and justice. I'm convinced that the pope will have to ask for lay orders of married people to mobilize our parishioners.

Kimberlie said...

I've been a bit sad too at the Catholic Church's lack of involvement in orphan ministry and adoption ministry. I guess even missions in general. It seems as though Catholics in the US are content to let priests and religious orders serve in this way but lay people not so much. As a former Protestant, it's something I find most puzzling. Why don't we go on missions? Why don't we encourage and support the care of orphans? Why isn't there more actions behind the words of caring for "the least of these" as in encouraging adoption? It all just puzzles me.

Pentimento said...

Eaucoin, reading about your parish's attitude to the large family in its midst is distressing.

Perhaps, as you suggest, we are too used to the idea of religious taking care of the social problems in our midst.

Dobrovits Family said...

Yes my sister in Christ!

I have 6 bio kids and God has led us to baby #7 in the world of international special needs adoption...

A world where our Protestant brothers and sisters greatly outnumber Catholics...

I think adoption is seen by most Catholics as a "second" choice, not quite as "good"....

On the other hand, it seems like many Protestants adopt after sterilizing themselves after a predetermined number of children...

We are open to life (I had an early miscarriage this morning) but at age 43 God may not bless me with more biological children, but My DH and I have heard His call to travel far away to love and care for one of the "least" of his children, abandoned and alone...

But not for long!!

Blessings,
Carla
www.bringinghenryhome.blogspot.com

Pentimento said...

Carla, thanks for your comment, and welcome.

I'm very sorry about your loss. I've been there many times.

That is rather horrifying about Protestants sterilizing themselves. You don't have to be closed to the idea of welcoming new life, after all, in order to want to welcome the little lives who are already all around us.

I myself never thought of adoption second-best, though many do. It was always part of the background in my life. My aunt placed a child for adoption as a teen mother, and later that child came back into our lives as an adult. My best friend in grade school was adopted as an older child out of NYC foster care.

I think that if God has not allowed me to have more biological children (I have one one earth and several in heaven), it is *because* he wants my family to turn its attention to the little lives in our midst (we are also doing an international special-needs adoption, but I still consider that "in our midst"). It's not a consolation prize, it's just a different path. It is, however, much more difficult, even at this point, than pregnancy and childbirth, and, I'm guessing, than parenting bio kids in most cases.

At the same time that it's not worse than, it's also not better than. It's not for everyone, and, though after all the reading I've done for Hague-compliance, I would love to see everyone I know adopt, I can see that it's not everyone's calling. It's not saints who adopt, just like it's not saints who do their best to parent special-needs kids (my biological son has special needs). You just try to hear the voice of God and do your best, and not mess up dramatically every single day. (I don't know if parenting typical children is like this, but it's certainly been my experience parenting my little R, and I assume it will also be with Jude.)

Nonetheless, adoption is a calling, and I would be delighted if there was some support and encouragement for it in our church. If there were missions, informational seminars, etc.

At the same time, can you imagine what the press would be like? "Church tells pregnant single women not to abort, wants to take their babies to give to infertile couples, who Church forbids from doing IVF," etc. It would be pretty grim.

Melanie B said...

"You just try to hear the voice of God and do your best, and not mess up dramatically every single day."

Yep. That pretty much sums up my parenting experience. Add in the fact that I usually do mess up just about every day.

I've never felt particularly called to adopt; though I'm open to the idea. I don't think I'd be very good at it. Then again, I think that if God called us to it, he'd provide the grace we needed to do it.

Pentimento said...

Melanie, I don't think anyone's innately better at adoption, or being an adoptive parent, than anyone else. It's probably not that different from parenting biological children in that respect.

ex-new yorker said...

I am just catching up on your blog but this comment: "Melanie, I don't think anyone's innately better at adoption, or being an adoptive parent, than anyone else. It's probably not that different from parenting biological children in that respect," made me think of Jennifer from Conversion Diary saying (possibly quoting someone else,) "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called." I guess, though, how you figure out whether God is calling you to adoption is a bit different from figuring out whether He is calling you to biological parenthood, since the latter is in the typical course of events for married people.

Melanie B said...

"I don't think anyone's innately better at adoption, or being an adoptive parent, than anyone else. It's probably not that different from parenting biological children in that respect."

Oh I agree. I don't think that I said exactly what I meant. I know it is a silly feeling but it's just that I feel like I'm not exactly good at parenting to begin with. I have such a short temper, am impatient. I know my faults too well. Somehow although I know God equips those he calls, I almost feel like the faults I have would be magnified, would somehow be worse to inflict on an adopted child. Ok now that I've written it out I see how silly it is. They're bad. Period. But I remember reading something else that Jen Fulwiler wrote back when they were hosting an orphan for the summer about realizing she couldn't have her usual outbursts with their guest child there because she wasn't used to them, had probably had traumatic experiences. I guess it sort of stuck in my imagination as a warning sign: if you acted with an adoptive child the way you do now, it could do serious damage. As if somehow it does more damage to them than to the children I already have?

Like ex-new yorker says, I think the discernment is different. But maybe I'm just making excuses for why I don't want to change my bad behavior? Pretending it's beyond my control as opposed to something I can decide to change.

Pentimento said...

Dr. Ray Guarendi, who writes at the National Catholic Register, is a family therapist and the father of ten adopted children. He has written that all children, adopted or otherwise, need firm and clear rules. His gist is that it's best for adoptive parents not to shirk discipline because they feel sensitive about the hardships in their children's pasts.

Melanie, you make it sound as if you are a very poor parent, which I KNOW is as far from the truth as could possibly be! Now that I've done all the Hague-training reading, I want everyone I know to adopt orphans -- but as you and Ex-New Yorker suggest, it's all about discernment. Not everyone is called to it, and it's certainly a lot easier and more fun to build your family on the natch, if you can swing it.

Mrs C said...

Well put my friend!