Adoption: Is It God’s Natural Plan?

This week I will be posting reflections themed in honor of the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, which we began yesterday here.

In marriage we are called to imitate the self-giving, fruitful love of God in a lifelong union marked by charity and fidelity. Marriage was created by God for a dual purpose, which is described in paragraph 8 of the document:

“Marriage, then, is far from being the effect of chance or the result of the blind evolution of natural forces. It is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator, whose purpose was to effect in man His loving design. As a consequence, husband and wife, through that mutual gift of themselves, which is specific and exclusive to them alone, develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives. “

Through marriage, then, we not only prepare one another for heaven, but participate as co-creators (in the case of biological parenting) and co-redeemers (in the case of adoptive parenting) in the formation of those young souls.

By “co-redeemers,” I am not suggesting that adopted children are more flawed or sinful than children raised by their natural parents (it is not their fault that their parents are unable to care for them). Rather, adoption is the process by which a child who cannot be raised according to the natural order (in the loving embrace of their natural parents, a man and woman joined for life in the sacrament of matrimony) can begin to experience in his or her adoptive family the love and security that is the natural right of every child.

In one sense, adoption is never God’s first choice for a child. He set the universe to run according to certain principles, called “natural law,” and when that plan is disrupted suffering is inevitable. Sadly, it is often the child who suffers most. This suffering is compounded for couples who are unable to conceive, who must grieve and reconcile themselves to the reality of their situation. In both cases, adoption is no magic pill, and cannot wipe away the circumstances that made the adoption necessary.

And yet, love is the most powerful force in the universe. When we choose to open ourselves to that love, and to imitate that love the God who adopted us as His children (see Galatians 3:25-4:7), we begin the process of healing that leads us closer to the perfection God always intended.

3 thoughts on “Adoption: Is It God’s Natural Plan?

  1. This was beautifully written! It’s good to read about the adoptive parenting in light of the purpose of marriage, especially how adoption gives children their natural right to love and security. Putting it that way focuses on the best interests of the child without sugar-coating the difficulties but, in fact, acknowledging them. This post helped me deal with the dichotomy of adoption not being the first choice for a child (or birth parent, or often adoptive parent) with the fact that we are God’s adopted children through His all-powerful love.


  2. That a kid is available for adoption is always a sad thing. But it happens.

    My wife and I chose to adopt. We love our kids, no differently than if they were ours biologically. In fact, we chose adoption over biological reproduction. That choice did not cause our kids to be available for adoption, that choice gave our kids parents who love them. We have always used artificial contraception to avoid conceiving, because we have reasons to believe that having biological kids would be a bad idea for us, and our adopted kids are everything we could ever hope for. Had we not made the choice to use birth control, we almost certainly would not have been in a position to adopt them. I don’t know and don’t want to imagine where they would be then.

    According to the Roman Catholic Church, we are very evil people for making this choice.

    I’m gonna let God make the call on this one.


    • Dear Thierry: Thanks for writing. As a Catholic by choice (joined the Church at the age of 30), I can say with some confidence that the Catholic Church does not regard adoptive parents as “very evil people.” Quite the opposite. (Using contraception, granted, is against the teachings of the Church, but that hardly makes you an “evil” person — just someone who is still on a learning curve about the Church’s understanding of how sexuality fits into marriage and family life. I’ve run into MANY Catholics like this, and you are in good company. Like I said, not evil.)

      As an adoptive parent, I’ve often wonder if there is an intrinsic difference between the way adoptive parents and biological parents love their children. It’s clear to me that there can be differences in the way adopted children (especially those adopted older, having known their first families) regard their adoptive parents, especially in the teen years. I think that when we face those challenges, our “love” takes on a sacrificial character that is actually stronger than the fuzzy-love-bumps variety that kept us going through the sleepless nights when they were younger. It’s all part of a long journey of personal self-growth and discovery, isn’t it? Thanks again for writing. God bless.


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