Adoption, An Unsung Blessing

Now that Easter is over I’m hoping I can get back to a moderately normal schedule. I have a few topics on my mind that I am wanting to write about, and there is some ministerial work that I have an opportunity to get involved in that I’m wanting to do. For today though, I want to look at a topic which I don’t think gets enough attention in our world; adoption.

To begin, I would like to present some statistics to put, what is in my opinion, an epidemic in perspective. The following numbers come from the Adoption Network and Children’s Rights.

-There are roughly 428,000 children in foster care in the United States.
-In 2015 there were 670,000 children in foster care. In 2019, 672,000. (That’s more children than the total population of Wyoming… And Vermont.)
-60% of children in foster care spend two to five years waiting to be adopted.
-20% spend five or more years waiting.
-10% of children live in institutions or group homes.
-In 2019 20,000 youth aged out of foster care without permanent families.

Sometime last week I was out of town and drove past a billboard I see regularly. While most people who know me know that I tend to be somewhat stoic in my daily life and I usually have a rough exterior, I have no problem admitting that there are a few things in this world that can make me cry without fail; A beautifully played instrument, the crucifixion scene in ‘The Passion Of The Christ’, and this sign.

I tend to inadvertently give people the idea that I dislike children. I don’t dislike children, true I dislike some most. But, not because they are children, I dislike the ones that are parented poorly. I don’t place the blame on them, I just don’t have the patience to deal with the result of their parents inadequacies.

I suppose there are many things that contribute to my differing opinion to the modern American idea of perpetual-childhood. While some people would constantly bribe their children to behave the way they want, I would beat them with a stick if they misbehave. (No, not literally. Calm down. I can be hyperbolic.) Also, I would prefer for everyone to treat children different with respect to their age. If you’re still looking at your sixteen year old the same way you did when they were eight, I feel like you have a problem. And, at some point, they will also. Boys and girls can never grow into the men and women they are called to be if they aren’t allowed to.

Mis-reared children aside, I have a greater concern for those who have little-to-no parenting at all. What would possess someone to take their children for granted and not want to be in their lives is something I will never understand. I can’t imagine the thought of looking at one of my children and thinking there is anything more important in the world than spending time with them. Not long ago I heard a man say that when his son calls, he usually doesn’t answer because he “doesn’t want to.” I could feel my heart sink into my chest that night. If my son called me, it would nearly take an act of divine intervention to prevent me from answering my phone. And, even then, God and I might have a struggle on our hands. I also remember being at a restaurant one day when a girl, her mother, and the mothers new boyfriend were there. The young girl was continually trying to talk to her mother and be included in what was, apparently, their date night. The mother woman never took her eyes off of her boyfriend. I sat there and listened as the little girl all but pleaded for her mothers recognition, until eventually she sank into her seat and fell silent. I can’t fathom the idea that a romantic partner would ever be more important than my daughter. The cat’s in the cradle and an unfortunate number of people don’t realize it.

Absenteeism aside, the worst yet are those who are neglectful of their children. Whether it be lifestyle, substance abuse, or a relationship, I have no empathy for those who actively choose to abandon their children. I’ve seen too many times children left in the care of others, while parents tell themselves ‘They’ll be fine.’ True, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other family members can do a tremendous job taking on the role of caregiver, and I wholeheartedly commend you all. But, nothing can replace a mother or father. There is nothing sadder than when a young child asks ‘Why didn’t they want me?’ or worse, ‘What did I do wrong?’

We could carry on about the shortcomings of parents and the sorrows of children for days. But, for this day, that’s not what we’re looking at. Instead of speaking about the unfortunate circumstances of children in the world, I instead want to focus on the prospect of the better life they should have, thou few will.

I wish more people in the world would look at adoption as a viable way of building a family. Many times it’s seen as a consolation prize for infertile couples who have exhausted all other means of having children. Even more people won’t even recognize it as something they should consider.

Over the years I’ve heard many men say that they won’t raise another man’s kids, this being in the context of being involved with a woman who has children from a previous relationship. This attitude is one of the many reasons I struggle to relate to men in the world today. Does a woman’s value vary based on the number of offspring she has? What kind of a man (using the term loosely) would say that a woman is ‘damaged goods’ or ‘used’ because she has gone through the extraordinary feat of bringing life into the world? If a man would look at women the way he would cars at a car-lot, is he a man at all? I’m sure there are women who have similar attitudes, but I don’t know that I’m qualified to speak on that.

I also won’t ignore that there are also tragic instances in which women become pregnant in the first place, whether it be by accident, rape, molestation, etc. I will be the first to admit that, being a man, I can’t begin to understand the difficulty these situations come with. I will, however, point out that I have known an unfortunate number of women to find themselves in positions such as these. It’s no secret that I’m unapologetically pro-life, as I’ve laid out here before. I won’t ever tell you that there are times when it’s acceptable to terminate a pregnancy. But, I will tell you, seeing young women choose to raise children after life-altering hardships is one of the most courageous things I’ve ever seen. A child who is a product of rape will laugh just as much as one who is a product of love. And, of all of the children such as this that I’ve met thus far, I’ve yet to see one that was a mistake.

If we move on from the emotional, it’s only fair that we take into consideration the financial difficulties that come with raising children. It’s not something that everyone is able to do. It’s okay to admit that, but it’s not okay to use your finances as an excuse to terminate either. Whatever the reason is, you may not be able keep a child. It may be a hard decision to come to terms with, but it’s reality. I would urge you to realize that what may be a burden for you, can be a blessing for someone else.

One issue I have with many Saints is that they are as pro-life as I am, but they tend to take a step back when it comes time to care for the children they fought so hard to keep alive. I can’t count the number of churches in the vicinity where I live. I honestly tried to just now to make a point, but I can’t think of them all. Can you guess how many adopted children I know? …One. Of all of the local churches, church-goers, and ministers I interact with, I’ve only met one “fire-station baby.” (He’s adorable.)

I made the remark recently that, for me, “church” isn’t listening to a sermon for twenty minutes on a Sunday morning and counting the minutes until you get to go to a restaurant for lunch. Sure sermons are good, but so are the songs we sing in worship. The help we deliver to those in need. Lifting each other up when our spirits are down. Church doesn’t end at noon on Sunday. Also, on numerous occasions I have somewhat harshly pointed out to people that Christianity is a lifestyle, not a weekend activity.

I know choosing to adopt isn’t viable for everyone. But, I wish it was considered more. There are so many children who want nothing more than a loving family to go home to everyday, something most people take for granted. If you would, I would like for you to imagine things from the perspective of a child in need. To be abandoned, and/or abused. To be alone. To know a sadness that few others will. To bounce from foster home to foster home, never really belonging anywhere. Going to school everyday and seeing all of the other happy children talk about their families, yet never having a story of your own to share.

Before you totally write-off the idea, I would remind of you that Jesus said to children, the kingdom of heaven belongs. (Matt. 19:14) Mary conceived and raised a child she never intended to have. Joseph raised a child that wasn’t his own.

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Psalm 127:3

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