Adoption Message for the Day

stamp.jpgI see another Crisis essay on “traditional” marriage here, focusing, as the Right often does, on using children to tug at heartstrings or gall bladder to whip up concern about lesbian or gay people wanting some legal protection. Pope Francis is pulled into it:

The family is the foundation of co-existence and a guarantee against social fragmentation. Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s growth and emotional development.

While it isn’t true of all conservatives, it is true of many that human rights are a convenient prop for advocacy in the culture of complaint. In this case, same-sex unions. I get tired of people who use children for their own political ends.

As a pro-life Catholic, I’d prefer to address the real need which is, as Pope Francis suggests, that all children should grow up with a family. For many reasons, a good father and a good mother are ideal. But many non-traditional families are attentive to the need for extended family or close friends of both sexes to augment either a single parent or, not as commonly, a same-sex couple. Is one parent better than none? If a same-sex couple is willing to adopt a child nobody else accepted, I’d be inclined to think two are better than none. We already see the social fragmentation of people emerging from eighteen years of institutionalized foster care, or the serial homes kids pass through.

And if there are concerns about IVF or surrogacy or the tens of thousands of dollars that can be leveraged to get an infant into one’s empty crib, it seems to me heterosexual couples can manage finances and biology as well as anybody.

But mainly, I’m thinking of the millions of children worldwide (a few hundred thousand in the US alone) who have neither father nor mother, and who, in institutions, know foster care as a way of life. If children are indeed a grave concern here, why aren’t more people who publicly present as anti-LGBT more explicitly pro-adoption? One doesn’t have to be childless to adopt. One doesn’t have to wait for an infant. One doesn’t have to idealize a close ethnic match.

The Church doesn’t have to envision itself as only a supplier of infants. The Church could also promote adoption among couples already with children, assist with home studies, conduct workshops and classes and facilitate foster/adoption certification, and flood the lists of social workers beyond Catholic Charities with willing families ready to receive children who have neither father, mother, nor permanent family of any kind.

I lose patience with the self-styled pro-family advocates who cannot see past their personal square one to get to the issue on which they can actually make a difference. Lots of money and effort is expended on opposing same-sex unions. But I see no comparable campaign to ramp up efforts for adoption. Sad. And likely revealing. For a number of commentators, this is about being against, not being for.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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7 Responses to Adoption Message for the Day

  1. FrMichael says:

    “Lots of money and effort is expended on opposing same-sex unions. But I see no comparable campaign to ramp up efforts for adoption.” Before the State of California started forced Catholic Charities out of adoption services by mandating that we facilitate adoptions by same sex couples, much time and effort, including full time employees, was spent on adoptions. This far exceeds the paltry one-time effort we made to pass Proposition 8, which defined marriage as one man and one woman and placed it in the California Constitution. That was a one time $100,000 per diocese lobbying effort. 3 social workers with benefits for one year exceeds that amount considerably.

    • Todd says:

      It’s about more than money. It’s about pastoral effort: formation, encouragement, and support. Adoption services were closed down in my diocese too. But it was because they placed five children in its last seven years and was no longer worth the time for such few infants. Catholic dioceses in California would have done better to refocus their efforts on flooding the “market” with good couples ready to adopt, rather than fret about the future of the occasional baby sent their way.

      Your state’s attempt to define marriage rather falls short of the Catholic idea, doesn’t it? Don’t we acknowledge the presence of Christ among us? It may take a village to raise a child, but it may also take three to make a marriage. Perhaps it is the Church that occasionally falls short morally and in its orthopraxis where adoption and marriage and family are concerned.

  2. Jim McCrea says:

    The operative word when talking about mothers and fathers is “good.”

    Good parenting is not guaranteed by traditional family structures. Good parenting comes from desire and effort, not gender.

  3. Melody says:

    I have seen the way adoption is carried out change a lot in my lifetime. The birth mother of an infant seems to have a lot more input as to who adopts the child. More adoptions are private as opposed to through an agency. And even if facilitated by an agency they are more likely to be varying degrees of “open” . For the most part this seems to be better for the child, who doesn’t have to deal with an aura of secrecy and sealed records when it comes to learning about his or her biological family. Of course it is a bit different in the case of an older child who is a ward of the state, or whose birth parents’ rights have been terminated for cause. These are the children who really need adoptive parents to come forward.

  4. FrMichael says:

    “Your state’s attempt to define marriage rather falls short of the Catholic idea, doesn’t it?” Indeed it did. It would have been better to have an explicit recognition of the procreation purpose of marriage in the definition. However, since the pervert (of justice and of sexuality) Judge Walker considered the link of marriage and procreation irrational in his ruling, it wouldn’t have done a bit of good in his kangaroo court.

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