166. The family is the setting in which a new life is not only born but also welcomed as a gift of God. Each new life “allows us to appreciate the utterly gratuitous dimension of love, which never ceases to amaze us. It is the beauty of being loved first: children are loved even before they arrive”.(Catechesis (11 February 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 12 February 2015, p. 8)
The same is true, of course, of adoption. In many cases knowing the child is already born adds a dimension to the Holy Father’s apt observation.
Parental love is a reflection of God’s unconditional regard for his daughters and sons:
Here we see a reflection of the primacy of the love of God, who always takes the initiative, for children “are loved before having done anything to deserve it”.(Ibid.)
Abuse, neglect, feticide …
And yet, “from the first moments of their lives, many children are rejected, abandoned, and robbed of their childhood and future. There are those who dare to say, as if to justify themselves, that it was a mistake to bring these children into the world. This is shameful! … How can we issue solemn declarations on human rights and the rights of children, if we then punish children for the errors of adults?”(Catechesis (8 April 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 9 April 2015, p. 8) If a child comes into this world in unwanted circumstances, the parents and other members of the family must do everything possible to accept that child as a gift from God and assume the responsibility of accepting him or her with openness and affection.
Overcoming bitterness and resentment that accompanies many of these circumstances is indeed a challenge.
For “when speaking of children who come into the world, no sacrifice made by adults will be considered too costly or too great, if it means the child never has to feel that he or she is a mistake, or worthless or abandoned to the four winds and the arrogance of man”.(Ibid.)
Traditional morality isn’t always a help. Consider the lamentable and outright dumb term, “illegitimate child.”
The gift of a new child, entrusted by the Lord to a father and a mother, begins with acceptance, continues with lifelong protection and has as its final goal the joy of eternal life. By serenely contemplating the ultimate fulfilment of each human person, parents will be even more aware of the precious gift entrusted to them. For God allows parents to choose the name by which he himself will call their child for all eternity.(Gaudium et Spes, 51: “Let us all be convinced that human life and its transmission are realities whose meaning is not limited by the horizons of this life only: their true evaluation and full meaning can only be understood in reference to our eternal destiny”)
For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.