Yesterday CE featured an article that compared the atrocities of Auschwitz to the American “death camps” of the preborn — abortion mills. While the “American holocaust” theme was not terribly original, the mention of that particular death camp did spark a train of thought, which I posted as a reflection based on this article in “Streams of Mercy.”
When I spent the summer traveling across Poland in the summer of 1992, conducting a series of “good-will tours” with a team of Polish and American college students, we stopped by Auschwitz. I was struck by the fact that none of the Polish students wanted to go inside. As one CE blogger pointed out, Auschwitz was built on occupied Polish territory — to have resisted meant certain death. Some Poles did resist, of course. Most did not… the prospect of defeating such a great enemy must have seemed like a futile endeavor.
In the American battle for life, the prospect of battling such a great and deeply entrenched “death camp,” perpetrated not by the government (as in China and other countries, where abortion is mandated) but by a malevolent “occupying force” — cause many to turn a blind eye. Some of us go so far as to grouse about it to like-minded individuals. A few actually take the advice of the ironwork lettering on the front gate of the death camp: “Arbeit macht frei: work makes freedom.” They choose to do something rather than simply talk by standing in prayer or counseling women outside abortion mills, perhaps, or operating crisis pregnancy centers and hotlines.
Those who choose to adopt — in a special way, those who adopt special needs and other “unwanted” children, or “adopt” an unwed mother and give her sanctuary in their home — are working for the Kingdom of Life by undertaking an ancient strain of pro-life activism. In his book on the lives of the first Christians, We Look for a Kingdom (Ignatius), historian Carl Sommers points out that early Christians drew many converts at least partly because they rescued and raised as their own children who had been discarded by their parents (infanticide was legal up to the age of eight days). While the Christians (hopefully, including adoptive parents) no doubt undertake the task out of love for God and not as a kind of activism, their actions profoundly affected those who witnessed it.
Whether these Christians conducted rallies against the cultural practice of infanticide is not recorded — given that Christianity was such a persecuted sect, it seems unlikely that groups would have gathered in public in this way. But Christians were known and respected because they chose to give of themselves by saving the children themselves; it was a commitment that cost them something, not just for a few minutes, but for decades.
There are days when the choice to raise someone else’s children to faith-filled adulthood is a less-than-joyful task. Not many adoptive parents talk about it, of course, but there it is. It is filled with all the challenges of traditional parenting — plus a whole list of variables, both genetic and early environmental, that strike when you least expect it. Finally, you get to brace yourself in case one day the biological bond kicks in, and the child (usually a teenager but not always) says to you, “I don’t have to listen to you. You’re not my REAL mom.” Or something less overt but just as painful — the time your child says to you, “You know what the best part of heaven will be? Being with my birth parents as much as I want.” Or the girl who finds her birth mom the week before her wedding, and asks the woman who raised her if she’d mind letting her birth mom walk her down the aisle and sit in the family pew.
It can be depressing, if you let it. Or it can be an opportunity to imitate Christ. “The love of God is seen in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were still ungrateful, demanding, self-centered creatures, the King of Heaven undertook an unthinkable humiliation, becoming one of us so He could make us part of His family … forever.