cups strewn about the grounds. With a small army of children, one might fantasize that Brelinskyville runs like sap in summer, but alas too often these soldiers are hiding in their fox holes. The breaking point hit, I rallied the troops and doled out assignments.
make teaching engagements workable weren’t forth-coming. In these later years with my own fertility world turned upside down, I’d expected readily accessible aid. I wanted a purse, a haversack and sandals. I wanted to salute my fellow sojourners and have them salute back to me. But none of this was ours to have and we’d forgotten Christ’s instructions.
As a young engaged couple, we fantasized about the blessings of a large family. I’d been an only child for the first ten years of my life and my sweetheart had never known the joy and rivalry of sharing his life with a sibling, but we knew we wanted to be surrounded by little life forms and lots of them.
While our notion of large has grown during our twenty-one years of marriage, even during those first family planning discussions adoption was part of the plan. Not that we’d had much experience on the topic, but I suppose God’s seed had already been mysteriously planted in our hearts.
Of course, like too many other naive couples we mapped out our life plan decades in advance. We’d wait the culturally respectable amount of time before opening the door to tiny hands and pitter pattering feet. Our birth children would be welcomed first and then in time, perhaps when we were a graying couple we’d enlist our names on the adoption register.
Two years and a few months into our wedded bliss, we gave up control (sort of) and God blessed our union with the miracle of life in my womb. Nine months and seven hours later joy spilled forth in a hospital maternity room in the shape of a perfectly beautiful, totally unrepeatable baby boy, who we called Dimitri Mikhail.
But within hours our lives skipped a beat, like a record when the needle hits a scratch. The next month consisted of two surgeries on our son’s broken heart, needles, tubes, respirator vacuums, leads, bleeping machines, white coats and cold comments. After so many nights slept in corners on rock hard waiting room floors, we stood (the three of us) wrapped around one another as that precious gift drained of earthly life.
When the spinning slowed enough to form a conscious thought, that mystery seed began to germinate. A child cannot be replaced, but the empty crib erected in our bedroom beckoned for a sweet-smelling occupant. Those brand new onesies and home made blankets kept babies on our minds and so we started the process of finding an adoption agency.
I can’t quite recall how everything worked out as it did, but then again my Heavenly Father has a way of steering my path without my ever knowing it. People and information simply appeared and so by year’s end we were jumping through the hoops of placement preference forms, background checks, recommendation letters, physicals, and interviews.
Eleven looong, nail-biting months later (of course, in retrospect, eleven months was less time than it took to conceive some of our children), we received the photo of a seemingly chubby, cherub-faced boy dressed in red plaid. With scant bits of black hair and Asian, brown eyes, he was a dream captured on film. Our caseworker knew this would be our son, but because there were loose ends to be tied she was only able to say this baby was a possible match for us.
Talk about anxious anticipation, the next few weeks we felt like children circling the pile of presents under the Christmas tree, wondering which gift had our name on it.
Busy answering questions, making appointments, and checking in patients at a podiatrist’s office, my baby fever was temporarily masked by work. Then THE call came. The call to trump all calls. On the other end of the cord sat our social worker, her voice pulsing through the phone lines. The equivalent I suppose to seeing that plus sign appear on the pregnancy stick, I heard the words that decreed we were about to become a family.
In a whirlwind of enthusiasm and impatience, we made the necessary arrangements and sped down the highway toward Greensboro. Like our mad dash to the maternity ward a year and a half earlier but a whole lot less painful (for me), we couldn’t wait to greet our newest blessing. Clueless to the agency’s mode of operations we were told to sit in an empty office, our stomachs churning with that kind of nervous joy/anxiety we’d felt on our wedding day. Unbeknownst to us, our little boy was being laid in a cradle just steps beyond our reach.
Finally, crossing the threshold of a small room down the agency hallway we beheld our first vision of him. Resting peacefully in a gorgeous cradle, draped in white with blue and pink trim, was our son, our second son. My heart ached from the swell of love that welled up within my chest. Early on in our parenting, an occasional ignorant bystander bludgeoned me with the proposition that biologically-connected love could somehow trump adoptive-love. In that moment, meeting my son for the very first time, such absurdity would be forever discredited.
With our son stretched across his lap, Greg sat motionless caught up in an intense gaze of wonder, love and fatherly admiration. Perhaps, that was the precise moment when their bond was forged because this son, more than any since, shares his father’s interests and passions.
That was 17 years ago now that we first became a family. Seventeen cherished years of watching that little person grow and mature into an intelligent, faithful, handsome young man with an opportunity-filled future before him. This second son wasn’t a replacement for the first, nor is he overshadowed by any sibling since, he is our beloved child, as are each and every one of our brood individually.
We were the youngest couple (at 25yo and 27yo) ever to apply at our chosen, local agency. Sadly, many couples consider adoption as a last resort, the silver medal in the race to parenthood. Not until they’ve exhausted their fertility expense account and shed rivers of tears do they finally relent and open their hearts to the adoptive process. They waste a lot of time and energy, in my opinion, not to mention prolonging their heartache. How thankful we are that God planted that tiny mustard seed so long ago and taught us that He is the Father of life, all life. He founded our family.
In the course of our Natural Family Planning classes, we always make a point of sprinkling seeds by reminding those fresh-faced couples that adoption is part of the Divine Plan. Being open to life extends beyond the biological mission. Our Lord and Savior, Himself, was raised at the hip of His foster-father and no one could question the complete charity and devotion that existed between Joseph and Jesus.
And how could we not have admiration and gratitude for our son’s birth mother, who sacrificed her body and surely pieces of her heart to allow him to grow within her. A woman, not much older than his is now, she heroically challenged the culture and carried her unexpected gift for eight months. I can only imagine her internal conflict, when after the pain of childbirth, she relinquished her firstborn with the hope of providing him the best in life. Wherever she is today, may she have peace and confidence that our son is loved and we have tried our hardest to instill in him a sincere respect for her.
Those well-laid, life plans of so long ago have been rewritten a thousand times over. In our wildest dreams we couldn’t have conjured up the twists and turns our life journey would take us through. While the loss of our firstborn scarred us in some lifelong ways, it was the catalyst that inspired us to open more fully the flood gates to so many blessings. I never would have chosen that course, but in His infinite wisdom and mercy, God didn’t ask me to choose. He orders our path, He steers the ship and so much the greater is His vision of our passage.
What are couples, who have discerned a serious reason to postpone a pregnancy to do? They are free to practice Natural Family Planning, methods of fertility awareness that are up to 99% effective, morally acceptable and abortion-free.
http://www.babycenter.com/0_intrauterine-device-iud_3564.bc. (Accessed April 12, 2013)
There’s a little garden beside my front walkway dedicated to St. Joseph. Matthew’s rose bush blooms within it as well as the Hostas and Day Lilies that were transplanted from other places on our property. In the beginning, our statue of the foster father of Jesus stood prominently among a balance of lively greenery and rich, brown dirt. Not the typical red clay of North Carolina, but soil that offered the promise of nutrients and growth.
Probably a month or more ago, clover sprang up in random patches around the resident plant life. I considered briefly that the clover, a weed, was intruding in this garden, but then it reminded me of shamrock with its heart-shaped leaves and emerald green color, so I let it remain. The clover, itself, is really quite small and unobtrusive, so why not allow it to blend in with the pattern, was my reasoning.
Life got busier throughout the weeks, postponing my good intentions to accomplish some yard work and so the invasion of weeds persisted. That is how it works. Today there is scarcely a square foot of brown soil to be seen as weeds of all varieties have laid their roots and spread their leaves across my humble, welcoming garden. The balance and the beauty seem lost to the eye now and, of course, it only stands to get worse.
Perhaps, pride might be entertained a bit too considering the sacrifice of time that will be required to prune around the shrine. The pride, though, would be short-lived because everyone knows the cleverness of weeds which are sure to re-stake their claim in due time.
Perhaps, an ample dousing of poison is in line, but then there is a risk to all that lies in close proximity. Truly, those roots, hidden beneath the surface, must be unveiled in their entirety. The right plan includes uprooting, tilling, sifting, laying down a protective barrier and then recovering. I know what it’s going to take, but I have to decide whether or not the desired result is worth the cost of the required sacrifice.
The dilemma in my welcome path garden offers a simple picture of a critical problem facing us in this state, this nation, this world today. The culture of death has come into nearly full bloom. Its broad leaves of abortion, euthanasia, divorce, cohabitation, addiction, pornography, promiscuity, prostitution and infidelity have taken over our civilization like kudzu.
Here in the United States, possibly the last bastion of hope for Christians, we are under attack from our own government which seeks to sow more laws that would eradicate what’s left of our religious liberties. Ah yes, the problem is as evident and well-defined as the creeping crab grass.
We, patriots and Christians, see the enemy and we are taking a stand against this injustice which is being perpetrated under the title of the HHS mandate. We will not sit idly by as this latest attempt to strip away our freedom reaches into our churches, our Catholic hospitals, and our pockets. We’ll march, we’ll rally, we’ll donate time and money, we’ll debate, we’ll evangelize and we’ll pray- all noble and necessary tasks, but a bit like my less painful plan to pull the weeds one by one and then step back in temporary triumph.
Were people still familiar with Thomas Malthus, the original population doomsayer who preached total abstinence in order to save the world from mass starvation, this misuse of the natural means might be just as easily called the Malthusian mentality. It was this seed of thinking, that responsible men must take charge of their own destiny by thwarting the gift of procreative powers or be doomed to starvation, that was scattered about. Seeds germinate and sprout, that is their nature, so too did this idea. For if man was wise enough to discover his power to save the universe, then he must be equally endowed with the good sense to order his life as best he sees fit.
If one man can justify the end, of inhibiting the conception of a new life, then another man can do the same even if by different means. If the end is good, why squabble over the means. While the initial idea took some decades to establish hardy root-age, “modern” science, and a well-known woman named Margaret Sanger, eventually hailed a new way to rescue planet earth and its female inhabitants from the dreaded potential of babies.
Why even the heralded breakthrough of ultrasound is often wielded in the doctor’s hands as a tool to discern the fit from the “unfit” in the womb. Ask any mother over the age of thirty-five and you’ll likely find she has been offered, if not downright pressured to submit to, a battery of tests aimed at informing her and her doctor as to the “quality of life” her unborn child might be expected to have and to offer. Because by extension of the anti-life mentality, a child who might require extra attention and care is a drain on his parents and society, so it is the duty of the doctor to offer an alternative.
It didn’t take long to come full circle with this technology, as recent headlines prove that female babies are targeted for sex selection abortions even within the borders of our blessed America. America is only a step to two away from adopting another of China’s infamous policies if we continue down this path.
“Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.“