When I was 12, I read an amazing book. It was called, “The Family Nobody Wanted” by Helen Doss. The book was originally published in 1954 and eventually made into two movies. The book chronicled the growth and adventures of a family who adopted many children of different cultures and ethnicities, one by one, and sometimes even by “accident.”
When I say “accident,” I mean that after the family had adopted a few children, the adoption agency called again and told the parents that more children had become available for adoption — in some cases, sibling groups — and that no other family would take the children. Some of these available children were minorities. Others had some sort of disability or physical or mental challenge.
This was in the 1950s when ethnic diversity was much less generally accepted in society, and so minority children were also at a disadvantage when it came to adoption. The Dosses, while not exactly planning on having more than just “a happy, normal little family” (Helen’s words), just couldn’t say “no” when occasion presented itself in the face and soul of another child. When all was said and done, the Doss family had 12 children. The family members’ hearts simply expanded each time God gave them an opportunity to welcome another child.
The Dosses were not rich, by any means. They lived simply, in fact, with no washer or dryer, but there was plenty of love and blessings for everyone. Theirs was an inspiring family and “The Family Nobody Wanted” was an inspiring book. I highly recommend that you toss it in your beach bag this summer, and while you’re at it, encourage your children to read it too.
I have no adopted children myself but I know many amazing adoptive families who can’t imagine their lives without their children who were specifically chosen, as they like to say.
The parents of one of these families that I know are Mary Ann and Jamie. Jamie is a career military man and he and Mary Ann had two biological children and had experienced many miscarriages when they decided to open their hearts to Jon and Noah, two toddler biological brothers who were housed at an orphanage in Russia and never knew a mother’s love until Mary Ann cuddled with them in her arms. They traveled twice to Russia despite many difficulties and challenges to successfully retrieve their sons.
One of my sisters served as a missionary in Russia for a time. She worked in orphanages where children played with shiny paper wrappers for hours because they had no toys. Some babies who just learned to sit simply rocked back and forth and back and forth to comfort themselves because there weren’t enough orphanage workers to pick them up and cuddle with them.
When the toddlers reached a certain age they left the baby house for the big orphanage. If they had not been adopted by that time, their chances of adoption were low, and they were often doomed to lower mental intelligence and many problems. Development became delayed as they were less and less cared for.
When I was in college, my own family of origin grew by adoption. Even though my mom and dad had 12 biological children, they decided to take in foster children after reading about the need in their church bulletin.
Over time, infants came to our family home and stayed with us from the time they were born until they could be placed with adoptive parents.
Most of the time this was only a few days to a couple weeks per child, but one little guy stayed three years, and then became my brother and child number 13. None of us children got private music lessons. I was never on a swim team or got to learn and play a high school sport. But the opportunities to love were numerous and helped me have an open to life view even before I was married.
Being open to life is not just not using contraception. It’s not just utilizing Natural Family Planning for grave reasons when a family must space a pregnancy. Being open to life can be encouraging a tired and overwhelmed new father, offering to babysit so new parents can sneak some alone time out and strengthen their relationship, encouraging a mother who has received a prenatal disease diagnosis for her unborn child. Being open to life can also mean adopting a child or children.
There are a lot of ways to be open to life, for sure. Today, in this column, I just wanted to tip my hat to those who have chosen adoption. You loved and leapt, in faith. You took seriously the biblical command to care for orphans. (Jas 1:27)
You loved like Jesus loves us. And I suspect you receive and received from your child beyond what you expected. Your blessings are probably more than I can imagine in your choice to be open to life. God bless you! And may we all learn from your unselfish example.
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