Five years ago today was our courthouse trip. A small host of people came: our pastor, Brit’s future godparents, a handful of close friends. After talking with the judge, it was lunch out for everybody.
Promoting adoption would be one of the best things the Church could do with families and childless couples. Were it not for our age and my wife’s uncertain medical condition, we would consider adopting again.
Over one-hundred thousand children free of legal entanglements await adoption in the United States. Three to four times as many kids are in foster care with little or no hope of returning to birth families because of parental chemical dependencies, abuse issues, abandonment, or neglect.
A good friend of mine once complained that Western culture is youth-oriented, and too much so. She couldn’t have been more wrong. If that were true, children would be cherished in their families and communities, and few children without parents would lack permanence and a stable, loving upbringing. The orientation in our culture is adult entitlement and codependency.
Adults believe they are entitled to children, preferably biological. But children are not slaves and minions of their parents or adults. They are not a right. Being a parent is a duty and a responsibility. There are no rights.
Society doesn’t want children. Media and business want to age our children so they will join the ranks of consumers. In a twisted way, the excesses of our culture treat children like sex predators would treat them: groom them, use them, then mold them to fit the needs and desires of the strong and powerful.
I cannot convince you, readers, to adopt a child. I don’t know you. You may be very worthy and it might be a call. Or you may be unsuited or have other valued commitments. What I can say is that, in general, too many Catholic couples are dismissing the option of adoption. Because if we were truly living the gospel call to generativity in marriage and family, Catholics would choose to adopt more often than they do, and more often than other believers.
It was a personal and intimate sorrow that my wife and I were unable to conceive a child. But we have been called to a path that for us, was even more wonderful. Just like we found and chose each other in marriage, we also found and chose a daughter who also chose us. What we lack in a genetic connection is more than compensated for by the choice, that choice five years ago, that touches deeply on the sacramentality of our marriage. Additionally, it has made a difference in a child’s life. My only regret, if I can call it such, is that hundreds of thousands of children still wait.