Recently released by Loyola Press, “Longing to Love” is a poignant reminder of the many pathways of love in the human heart.
Muldoon’s memoir was a touching story of his family’s journey to adoption (they adopted two little girls from China), which brought to mind one of my other favorite books, Sheldon Vanauken’s A Severe Mercy. (Both authors attended Oxford, and both stories involve the blossoming relationships of couples who love each other deeply, yet are unable to have children.)
As they contemplated becoming parents, Muldoon recounts the qualms he experienced — feelings common to many prospective adoptive parents, though they are usually felt more strongly by one partner. He writes:
“Whereas I enjoyed the garden of our young marriage, she sought the next of a young family. Over time, the tenor of her suasion was hopeful, idealistic, even theological: God wants us to do this. I eventually found myself giving reticent assent, still ill at ease with the real questions of how we could afford to begin raising a family with a near-total lack of income on my part. The decision to bring children into our world was, then, about being willing to act upon trust, both in her and in the belief that God spoke to me most clearly through her. She was my sacrament. She was teaching me what it meant to love” (p.7).
These lessons were not always easy learned — they involved moments of great joy and heartache alike, although in the author’s own words, “it was preferable to live with the risk of both real joy and real suffering, rather than to live a safe, comfortable, sanitized, unremarkable life” (p.30).
And so, the couple moved forward, bravely, choosing to extend themselves in love rather than drawing inward in their childless grief. “I am falling in love,” Muldoon writes. “Even in spite of the may ways I have prepared for this experience, I am surprised and amazed at how it is happening. But the simple truth is that this child has captured my heart; I am smitten and out-of-control in love with her” (p.125).
This book would make a great gift for a couple you know who is contemplating expanding their family through adoption.