Sunday, June 19, 2011

From a Papa's Heart

ASSIGNMENT: To write a Father’s Day essay on my experiences with international special needs adoption

Does anyone know a nice, big word that means “man-hater”? I know a wonderful word, “misogynist,” to describe a man who hates women, but there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent word to describe a woman who hates men. “Misanthropist,” of course, describes someone who hates the whole human race (our city’s mayor comes to mind), so it doesn’t fit the bill. I’ve seen “misandronist” and “misandrist” suggested, but they’re not in my dictionary. The English language seems to be in want of an important and useful word here.

This nonexistent word is important for two reasons: 1) because I love knowing big words, even if I have no earthly use for them; and 2) because there’s a lot of man-hating going around on these womanish adoption blogs. There seems to be a consensus that we self-centered, heartless husbands are the primary obstacles standing in the way of all of the good-hearted wives who are longing to gather these poor kids into their arms.

No, nobody twisted my arm to make me write this. It’s just that I’m sensitive to the issue of arm-twisting. I would never presume to look into another family’s life and decide for them that they could or should adopt a child from overseas with special needs. I hope no one else would either. A family is a complicated thing, and no one who’s not a part of a particular family can claim to know very much about it. There are so many things for husbands and wives to consider: their relationship, their job(s), their health, their finances, their other children, the reactions of family and friends, and on and on. If someone outside the family really did succeed in twisting an unwilling husband’s arm without understanding all of these things, there could be bad-- even internationally bad-- consequences.

I’ve already described my adoption conversion experience previously on this blog. You can read it HERE if you care to; I don’t want to revisit that now. Instead, I just want to offer a few of the thoughts that I’ve had on the subject of adoption in the nine months since we brought Aaron home.

Seeking the Lord’s Will:

I really hate to comment on theology, because there’s no quicker way to wind up in the crosshairs. I take “Let not many of you become teachers” very seriously. If anyone wants to shoot me with his high-powered doctrine rifle, it will be for this:

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about “seeking the Lord’s will.” Now, I agree that seeking the Lord’s will is a right and Biblical thing to do. It’s just that, as I understand it, the Lord has already revealed His will, for all of us, in Scripture. Unless we’re waiting for a new Word of prophecy, then we already know what the Lord wants us to do: “Act justly.” “Love mercy.” “Walk humbly with your God.” Whatever we may find to do in pursuit of justice, mercy and humility, that is the Lord’s will for us. Anything at all will do, so long as it leads to those goals. Doing nothing, on the other hand, will not do.

Furthermore, in my opinion, we overestimate ourselves when we try to predict all of the possible outcomes of our choices. We are not God, and we don’t see as God sees. I believe that we sacrifice our humility when we insist on knowing the answers to all of our questions before we will agree to follow God in doing good. Someday, for some good thing, we must take a leap of faith. Otherwise we’ve never trusted God at all.

I’ve Got Nothing Better to Do:

As I’ve said before, I’m like a lot of American men: I love to work. I find work fulfilling, and I don’t need too much else to keep me happy day-to-day. When I’m not working, I’m usually punishing myself for not working. I need to work, and I hate to be distracted from my work. I inherited this from my late father: work is a big deal, the biggest possible deal, to me.

Now that we have Aaron, I have quite a few more distractions from my work. Yet I find that, somehow, I don’t mind them as much as I thought I would. What is so great about my work, anyway? Will any of it outlive me, or do more than put food in our mouths for one more day? My work can’t procure permanent security or happiness for my family; our lives can be taken from us at any second. I must store up treasure for the next life, not for this one. Taking a few minutes every day to aid in the progress of a needy little boy is well worth the delay it costs.

I’ll have to let you know whether or not I manage to earn a living with this new, enlightened attitude.

They Get Better:

Few people understand the damage that institutional life does to children. Institutions cut off so much of the stimulation that kids need to grow up straight and strong. Even in solid institutions with well-meaning directors and staff (and there are plenty of these), growing up in an institution is a miserable disadvantage that delays kids’ development for years.

However, they do get better. Unless their health is irreparably damaged, these kids always begin to overcome their developmental delays when their families bring them home. I’m not saying that all of them reach a level that would be considered “normal” for their particular condition. Some may be like a shrub that is pruned, and then grows back twice as large. Others may be like a tree that is cut off as a seedling, and then never develops a strong trunk. Does that mean that they have nothing to offer? I have seen these kids go from lying in a crib 24/7 to living active lives full of laughter. A transformation like that is worth a good deal of sacrifice.

The Best Good Deed You’ll Ever Do

If your adoption experience is like ours, then adopting a special needs child will be the best good deed you will ever do, hands down, bar none. It will make you feel good every day, even on days when it tries your patience. It will bear none of the taints that tend to mar some other charities: There will be no danger of wounding someone’s pride or of seeming proud. There will be no one fighting you for custody of this previously unwanted child. There will be only a helpless, needy child who rightly looks to his mama and papa to take care of him, every day. There will be joy in sacrificing yourself for him, just a little, every day.

And there will be a daily reminder of the One who sacrificed Himself for us all.


  1. Beautifully written! Thank you!!

  2. Just perfect!
    Happy Father's Day!

  3. Happy Fathers Day. You have some wonderful sons there.

  4. Thank you for sharing, Rob. I always enjoy reading your insights. Have a great Father's Day!

  5. Rob you have communicated what I have been too wimpy to share on some of these Y****O groups. Amen !!
    Happy Father's Day

  6. Rob,
    Thanks for sharing. I don't read many blog posts, but this one was well worth it. So true of the "daily reminder of the One who sacrificed Himself for us all". Happy Father's Day.

    By the way, I get a kick out of that smile on your son's face every time I see a photo of him!



Loving words from kind people make our hearts glad!