The Gift of Adoption: A concrete way of love
On the third anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pope John Paul II addressed a meeting of adoptive families organized by the Missionaries of Charity.
“…the existence of so many children without families suggests adoption as a concrete way of love. Families like yours are here to say that this is a possible and beautiful way, despite its difficulties; a way, moreover, which is even more feasible than in the past, in this era of globalization which shortens all distances.”
On this, the 39th anniversary year of the Roe v. Wade decision, I thought it appropriate to illustrate my experience with the miracle of adoption. In my many years as an ardent pro-life advocate, I’ve never heard adoption referred to as a miracle, but I assure you it is.
My wife Mikki and I married in September 2005, just four short months after graduating from college. We tried to for three years to get pregnant, and were diagnosed in Summer 2009 with “unexplained infertility”, and given a 5% chance of conceiving. Rather than spending what could be years on fertility drugs and frustration, we decided to skip straight to adoption and start our family with our youth still firmly intact.
In January 2009, Mikki and I chaperoned a group students from Loyola College Prep to the March for Life in Washington, D.C.. We bonded quickly with the students as they asked all about married life and our desire to have a family, and we shared our desire to adopt and that our process would start as soon as we returned home.
For many years, Mikki and I prayed that Mary would intercede and send us a child, no matter the means. In March, my brother’s wife gave birth to their firstborn son, also the first grandchild in the family. The birth was bittersweet for us. We had received calls in regarding adoptions in the weeks prior to the birth of our nephew, but three times the mothers instead chose to abort their children. Each was devastating. We had offered to pay for everything, insurance and medical bills, and any compensation for any inconvenience or lost wages, but it was not enough to save the lives of those babies or achieve our dream of being parents.
Two days after the birth of our nephew, Mikki and I reached the breaking point. As we sat on stools at the breakfast bar, suffering through a tearful brokenhearted dinner, Mikki’s telephone rang. The number was unknown, so I cleared my throat and answered. On the other end was the mother of one of the students on the D.C. trip. The mother of the student explained that her husband is an OBGYN and that earlier in the day a woman came for an appointment and stated that she wanted to give her child up for adoption to a Catholic couple. The OBGYN husband told his family about the visit, and the daughter exclaimed that her teacher, Mikki, was looking to adopt a child.
The night of that phone call was the Feast of the Annunciation, which celebrates the archangel Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin Mary declaring she would have a child, Jesus, the Son of God. We had six weeks notice to prepare for the birth of our daughter, Mary. She has been the joy of our lives every since. Our adoption of Luke came in a very different manner.
In early 2011, Mikki, Mary, and I enjoyed being a family of three. It was easy, comfortable, and fun. One April morning, Mikki and I each received an email which contained a picture and a prayer that a forever family could be found for Luke, an infant with a rare genetic condition called Prader-Willi Syndrome. The characteristics of the condition include very low muscle tone, and as children age, they experience insatiable hunger for which no cure exists. Mikki’s cousin has a 5-year-old boy with the same condition. One day, Mikki’s cousin sent an email stating that Luke needed a forever family. Mikki’s cousin learned of Luke through a Prader-Willi forum, and forwarded Luke’s profile with the intent of asking family and friends to offer prayers that Luke would find a forever family.
Mikki and I agreed that we should pray and discern adopting Luke. We requested information, contacted the adoption agency and spent the next several months praying for guidance as we progressed with Luke’s adoption process. God opened doors for us every step of the way, providing us with everything we needed, sometimes at what seemed like the last minute. Mikki and I decided that our familiarity with Prader-Willi gave us the courage and openness to adopt a child with the condition. We didn’t pick Luke, he picked us. Finally, on November 10, Mikki and I flew to meet Luke for the first time and sign the paperwork for Luke’s placement in our home.
The situations surrounding Mary and Luke’s adoptions are included in the litany of arguments abortion advocates make. Mary’s adoption was the result of a crisis pregnancy, and Luke has special needs. Both are exceedingly happy children, infecting all around them with joy and affection.
Finally, as I always tell my wife, any person can get pregnant in a moment of passion, but it takes real commitment and discernment to choose to accept a child from another family into your home as one of your own. Our Heavenly Father even chose adoption for his own son.
It pleased God to bring the beauty of human adoption into the heart of the Incarnation mystery. Adoption is a noble institution and has been a major theme of the Pro-Life message, but it was God’s idea and He relayed it to us. So we can find here another experience of solidarity, that is, a solidarity between God the Father and adoptive parents – His blessing upon their commitment to embrace a little one and, like Joseph, raise the child to the best of their abilities to fullness of life.
~Pope Benedict, Angelus address, December 18, 2005
The video below is the day Mikki and I finally met our son, Luke. You can follow our adoption journey at A Concrete Way of Love.