Monday, October 22, 2007

I Don't Want to Bring Another Child Into the World ...

While Claudia and our two new boys were at the theater preparing to watch The Game Plan, we saw the preview for Martian Child. Any movie that has adoption-related themes is interesting to me, but I was particularly struck with one of the sentences I heard this afternoon.

The main character, the adoptive father figure, explains his plight in wishing to parent a “Martian child”: “I don’t want to bring another child into the world, but how can I argue with one that’s already here?”

This one sentence sums up eleven years of my life experience as an adoptive parent. I have never been too confident about the possibility in bringing into the world through birth another child. If such a child were to be born with both Claudia’s and my best attributes, it might be a worthwhile endeavor. But, based on my observations over the years, very few children are born with their parents’ best features. Many times they have one or more positive qualities, but the risk is pretty high, especially for parents like Claudia and me who have some glaring irregularities. I must confess that it is kind of sad that on both sides of our family it looks as those there will not be another birth generation proceeding forward. Neither my sister nor Claudia’s two brothers intend to bear children, so we have the sole responsibility of providing grandchildren, which I believe we have done rather well, if I do say so myself.

But, I digress. It is easy for me to justify our lack of childbearing, whether from sheerly personal reasons or from the likes of those who talk about the overpopulation of the world and the anticipated perils it will introduce to civilization as we know it.

It is not easy, however, for me to ignore the reality that in the United States in any given year there are over 120,000 “older” (age four and over) children who are legally free for adoption, and many of whom will age out of foster care without a permanent family resource. Especially as a person of Christian faith, a tradition which has since our Judeo beginnings championed the cause of the widow, the orphan and the stranger, it is hard for me to ignore the children in our world who need permanency.

There are those who ask us, “Are you really adopting again? How many kids do you already have?” While I almost always respond as graciously as I can, what I often want to say is, “Yes, we are adopting again, because you are not.” If only 10% of those who claim the name Christian in the United States would choose to heed the scriptures’ admonition to care for orphan, the permanency crisis we currently face as a society would be eliminated.

Sometimes the junior high school students I work with in our confirmation program are less tactful in their questioning. On more than one occasion, and in more than one church I have served, I have been asked in a less than delicate way: “Why do you have so many kids?” or “You guys must be loaded to have all those kids!” or “Are you really doing this again?” My usual, and sincere response is, “As long as there are children in the world who need a family to love them, and as long as we are able to do it, how can we stop?”

It is a different lifestyle, to be sure, but we have found it to be one honored by the God we serve. There is a certain joy and delight in knowing that we are contributing in a most foundational way to the betterment of our society, that we are giving back to our world more than we are taking from it. And our day spent with Napoleon and Wilson today only affirms these decisions we have made in faith. They are delightful children who exhibit intelligence, sensitivity, conversational depth and promise for the future.

I am so glad God did not let us ignore these children who are already here, waiting for a home with a permanent mom and dad. How could we argue with kids who are already here?

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