Rocco whispered on proposed edits to the synod’s instrumentum laboris. Behold, a whole section on “Adoption and Foster Parenting.” The start is worth reading. First because of the acknowledgement of the problem of children who lack families:
138. To provide families for the many children who are abandoned, many ask that more attention be given to the importance of adoption and foster care.
Yes, because this has been given insufficient attention, both pastorally and theolopgically.
In this regard, it must be emphasized that raising a child has to be based on the differences between the sexes as in procreation, which also takes place in the act of conjugal love between a man and a woman, both of whom are indispensable for the integral formation of a child.
Well … a father and a mother are optimal. But one can recast this statement to suggest that good parents are indispensable as compared to poor, neglectful, or abusive parents. The truth is that mom-and-dad couples, with or without biological children, have not stepped up to the plate in terms of adopting every available child. Unless and until they do, single parents and same sex couples simply must be considered as viable alternatives, if for no other reason that any good single parent is better than none. And two are usually acknowledged to be better than one.
I should also point out that remarriage for an abandoned parent, based on this passage alone, seems to be part of the logical consequence of this consideration. I feel for the bishops, especially the rigorists: this is a serious boondoggle of pastoral practice and theology to untangle.
I noted that there is a nod to adoption as a “cure” for childlessness, or to a person’s desire for a child to satisfy something perceived as lacking:
In those cases where a child is sometimes wanted “as one’s own” and in whatever way possible — as if the child were simply an extension of one’s own wishes and desires — adoption and foster care, properly understood, illustrate an important aspect of parenting and raising children, in that they help parents recognize that children, whether natural, adopted or in foster care, are “persons other than one’s self” and, therefore, need to be accepted, loved, and cared for and not just “brought into the world.”
This surprised me somewhat, as there are significant strains in the Christian West that value a child as part of the family labor force, as inheritors of an aristocratic legacy, or as some fulfillment amongst one’s neighbors or clan. “Natural” is a word that needs to change, but otherwise, this section is a very welcome development.
On this basis, adoption and foster care should be appreciated and further treated, even within the theology of marriage and the family.
To be sure, the United States, despite its half-million children in foster care, does take the lead among the world’s nations in terms of understanding adoption and the need for provision for families for children.