Open Arms

As much as we’d like life to be perfect, the results aren’t even close.   War, ignorance, sickness, poverty, selfishness and unexpected disasters are everywhere, and leave us hurt, wounded, and longing for peace and security.  Sometimes the challenges we face in life are of our own making.  But sometimes they’re not.

Consider the babies.  They come to life utterly helpless.  An infant on its own will die quickly without proper care.  The lucky babies are welcomed into family circles filled with love and devotion towards each member, even the tiniest ones.

Not all are so lucky.  Some babies are created in chaos.  Some are born with the addictions of the mother, injured before birth through no fault of their own.  Others are born into situations where physical and emotional needs are neglected, or cannot be supplied.   If such babies grow to adulthood, many will live their lives with holes in the center of their hearts, the result of love and care never received at the time it was needed most.   Often those with such holes will leak pain every day of their lives.

Consider the married—the loving men and women who came together because of the human urge to build a family of their own.  For many the gift of children comes easily.  For others the gift never comes.  They wait and hope and pray and pay doctors, and sometimes miracles happen.  And sometimes they don’t.

In our struggling world there are both children who reach out for love and couples whose extended arms remain empty.   Bringing them together is not easy work.

One of our sons and his wife have just adopted a baby daughter.    He is vastly smarter than I am, and is well established in a high tech career with wonderful prospects.  His wife is brilliant in a different direction, and trains children in the arts who without her would never have the chance.

For the last few years they have worked to adopt a child.  They have spent a great deal of money researching adoption options over the world.  They have had their hopes built up and then crushed a few times.   It has not been easy for them.

But they have finally achieved their dream, and it’s now a done deal.  Their daughter was born just a week ago.  She is prune faced and wrinkly and beautiful.   I cannot imagine the pain of her mother.   But I can admire her love, and her beyond-her-years maturity.

As it happens, two of our eleven children are adopted, so I know a little about what my son is going through.  When I say that it’s different when you adopt a child, I mean only that all of the rituals of pregnancy, anticipation and preparation don’t occur as they usually do.  It’s different for Mom and Dad, and it’s different for their friends.   We hope their daughter will be welcomed into their extended circle with the same amount of doting and fuss as if they’d all seen it coming for the last nine months.

As noted above, adoption (especially newborn adoption) is not easy or quick, and it’s certainly not cheap.   There are businesses that make lots of money bringing together the babies in need of love and the couples with love to spare.  Those who can’t afford their rates must go away empty.   This may seem unfair, but to paraphrase the Man in Black, life is unfair, and anyone who tells you different is selling something.

It may be easier and less expensive to adopt a child who is not a newborn.   If you have the time, the heart, and at least modest resources, this may be for you.  In a world of deep need, you should at least consider it.

I have great respect for the Bill Gates’ of the world, who use their money to improve the lives of millions with their charitable donations that raise living standards in areas of deep poverty.  But humans are ultimately saved one at a time, and the work is difficult, messy and inefficient.   It is also the errand of angels.

Welcome to the family, Maya Christine.  By the way, I dig that middle name.

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