Skip to main content

The Art of Adoption

Happy family in unplanned photo.
My biological family never quite took the shape I  planned for it to have. The plan:  I would have two children. My brother and sister would each have at least one. There would be cousins at Christmas gatherings into the foreseeable future, just as there were at our Christmas gatherings of old. I would be happily married forever to husband Nº 1. My parents would live to a ripe, old age, enjoying all those grandchildren and their grandchildren's children, perhaps. You know where this is going, don't you?

My one child had no cousins. My parents' lives were shortened by unbeatable illnesses. Husband 1 and I, predictably, did not have a lasting marriage. This year's Christmas gathering was one I could never have imagined in my youth. My sister was absent, taken from us earlier this year. In my living room sat my brother, brother-in-law, and a close friend of mine. My son and his wife had flown to another state to be with a terminally-ill relative. A string of tiny colored lights "bloomed" on a hibiscus plant. And there we were, this odd bunch, never gathered in this way before.

In many (if not most) lives, there have always been our expectations on one side and reality on another. Surely that's how it was for Joseph, confronted with a pregnant fiancé in an age where, by law, he could have sent her away or had her stoned. His expectations and his reality...well, there was no line where the two could meet. Joseph accepted the new reality, which led him to adopt a very special son. Whether you believe in the historical reality of a virgin birth or not, I certainly believe that Joseph's act of adoption was equally as sacred as Mary's conception. What's more, Joseph set an example that we can follow.

Too often we look at adoption as a second-best way of life.  What a mistake that is.

A special prima who adopted me.

Adoption is an art form and a sacred approach to life. I can be a child of God only by adoption. And my biological family was never meant to be my only experience of family in this impoverished my life would be had that been the case. Watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy this week, I was struck once again by the importance of friendship. Very few of the characters who forge the fellowship that will save mankind are biologically related. They are related by friendship, however, the kind of friendship that makes them brothers.  Frodo could never have a better brother than his friend Sam. 

The adopted "tiger," Mac Dougal
As for becoming a better person--a topic many of us turn to as a new year is upon us--I think I can achieve this only by adoption. If I "make" a resolution to be a better person or change my behavior in some way, I think I will do better to adopt that resolution instead.  What I adopt, I care for, as a parent does an adopted child, as a helping friend does for a friend in need.  What I adopt, I am unlikely to abandon, because of the responsibility and commitment that comes with adopting--a cause, a friend, a person in need, a child, an older adult without family, or a pet. Adoption implies both conscious choice and commitment. If I see my new year's resolutions as holy, I am likely to feel a whole new sense of commitment to keeping them.

Not that I find this idea particularly comforting. Adopting means reaching outside myself, my expectations, my regular world. Adopting a resolution carries a different kind of responsibility with it from making a list of resolutions that I know will likely end up as wishes rather than actions. This year, more than any other before it, I know that to keep the resolutions I want to adopt will take courage and strength--a courage and strength I often don't find within. Fortunately, those are available for adoption, too.


Popular posts from this blog

Life without Television, Part 2

I began life without television with relief, which was consistent Monday through Friday. The first few weekends, though, felt awkward, anxious, lonely. When PBS has good programming on Saturday nights, it is extraordinarily good. Father Brown, Phryne Fisher, New Tricks... Extraordinary acting, high production values, and I fantasize about the pudgy, brilliant priest just perhaps having an innocent crush on one of his special parishioners, which would be moi. 

I called a friend one Sunday. "Maybe television helped with my anxiety more than I realized," I said. She told me about her aunt who, after her husband's death, kept the television on in his "man cave" 24/7. He has been gone years now. The television goes on, everlasting, in his absence. I don't blame her. Much of my frequent and prolonged television viewing began with grief.

After my sister died, I would watch almost anything, especially late at night when sleep eluded me. I even watched Convoy with …

Our Texas, My Texas: "Memories we carry like scars and diamonds"

This post title includes a quote from Hermine Pinson's poem, "Four Sisters and the Dance." As you read, it will become clear why.

I was 7 when my father earned his Ph.D. from Duke. He then accepted a teaching position at a small private college in a rural Texas town in the 1960s. Population was 5,000, give or take a few. Our Texas roots ran deep, and we saw this return to the Lone Star State as a homecoming. So, I left the lyrical landscape of the Carolinas and the small private school where I had become nearly fluent in French. Then, I entered the hot, dry world of that small town. 

We did not yet have a place to live. Our family of five, including our infant brother, camped out in the girls' dorm for several weeks. Our furniture was stored on the university theater stage while my parents searched for a home. I was riding in the car with my dad and a member of the university administration and overheard their conversation. My father wondered where he could find help …

Thank you, Press Women!

My blog won first place in personal blog writing for 2014 in the Press Women of Texas's Communications Contest. Afterward, my blog placed second in personal blog writing nationwide in the National Federation of Press Women's Communications Contest. I can't adequately tell you what these awards mean to me, but I feel impelled to try.
From the NFPW website:
On May 6, 1937, 39 women from seven states gathered at the Chicago Women's Club to turn their vision into reality. They formed the National Federation of Presswomen (yes, then it was one word) and set forth their goals: "To provide a means of communication between woman writers nationally; make possible the expression of a common voice in matters of national interest to press women, and otherwise advance the professional standards of press women."

It was brave enough for women to found such an organization in any decade prior to 1970, but this group was founded at the height of the Great Depression. It grew to …