The March: Now What?

Today at AnnArbor.com, I posted an article that was especially hard to write.  I actually drafted “The Face I Never Knew” (AnnArbor.com retitled it), anticipating the annual “March for Life” in Washington that commemorates the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  This 1973 Supreme Court decision legalized the murder of over 52 million pre-born children. 

As part of my thesis on adoption, I’m reading a book right now called When Children Became People: The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity by O.M. Bakke.  This book deals extensively with the first century (AD) Roman practice of “exposio,” by which parents were legally able to dispose of their children up to eight days after birth by simply leaving them out in the elements, where they would either perish or be picked up by strangers (many of whom had nefarious intentions, as a good number of the children were later sold into physical or sexual slavery).

Christians were unique in their response, choosing to take these children into their homes and raise them as part of the family. In fact, their generosity toward these abandoned children resulted in the conversion of a number of Roman adults as well, who saw their actions and recognized the goodness. (Bakke does not address this aspect of exposio — I found this elsewhere in my reading.)

As pro-life advocates begin to return home after the March for Life in Washington, it is thrilling to know that so many banded together to make their voices heard, perhaps especially this year. On the other hand, we need to consider carefully how we are going to support the dignity and intrinsic worth of human life the rest of the year. Words are important, but so are actions! 

Of course there is foster care and adoption. Those options are always available for families who feel called to this way of life.  However, there are also families all around us who need a helping hand.  Sometimes they need physical support — gently used clothes or toys, or a ride to the doctor. Other times they simply need a gentle reminder about the importance of the job they are doing!

Last Sunday I sat across the aisle from a young mother who was juggling an infant and toddler — both of them wide awake and highly active — all by herself. Her children were exactly the same age that my children were when they first came to us. “That’s what you looked like when you first came to our family,” I whispered to my kids. In retrospect, that was probably a mistake — they kept looking over and pointing and asking questions.

So after Communion, I made a left into her pew and held my hands out. “I’m sorry,” the poor mother whispered. “Oh, no. You’re doing great! What a gift these children are — your baby was singing with us, and your son is clearly interested in seeing everything! You remind me of what it was like when I first got my children, and how far they’ve come since then. Thank you for being willing to join us instead of hiding in the cry room!” 

She smiled.

Parenting is hard work. There’s really no getting around that. No matter how your children come, they require an extraordinary amount of energy and patience. And there are some days when quite frankly the challenge is more than we can manage. And because so many of us don’t have built-in support systems of extended family nearby, we have to build our own support networks of friends who understand the pressures and are willing to walk alongside us.

Is there a family in your parish or neighborhood that you’ve been meaning to invite on a play date, but never quite gotten around to it? Why not put together a lasagna or crock of soup and drop it off for dinner one night? Head outside when you see them playing in the yard with their dog? Call and ask if you can take their children with you the next time you head for the park or McDonalds? Offer to sit one night so they can have a “date night” (if they’re married) or some time alone (if they’re not)?

Take a moment, and make a plan: How are you going to celebrate the dignity and worth of a child near you this week?

For Life

As hundreds of thousands of pro-life demonstrators converge on Washington Mall, protesting the laws in our country that have made legal the slaughter of over a millions children each year, I was dismayed to read this article on AnnArbor.com, urging “zealous Christians” to be more respectful of those who support abortion rights out of “love”.  I should note that it was not written by staff, but by a community member (like a “letter to the editor”) — and yet I was sorry to see it posted on this particular weekend.

Because I couldn’t get it to post online I thought I’d post it here …

I appreciate your comment about keeping things civilized. Let’s see if I can do as well.

Although young adults inevitably crave independence, adulthood, and self-determination . . . they are simply ill-prepared to handle the consequences of a sexual relationship. If they do make that adult choice, the stakes are much higher than they are for what school to attend or what car to buy. TWO lives are at stake!

Once a child is created in his mother’s womb, the focus rightly shifts for the parents from “rights” to “responsibilities.” (This is true before the child’s birth as well as afterwards.) If the parents do not believe they are ready for parenthood — financially, emotionally, etc. — this does not mitigate their responsibility for the child. The unborn child — who cannot speak for himself — has rights that are no less important than the mother’s — and he stands to suffer most if the mother makes the wrong choice.

In the end, families need to be included in the decision, and be prepared to help plan for the infant’s future. The younger the mother, the less likely that she will have the experience she needs to plan for her child’s welfare. Those who seek to separate a woman in a crisis pregnancy from the influence of those who love her most do her a grave injustice.

 Since Roe v. Wade, crisis pregnancies ending in adoption have declined to under 2% (from over 30%). However, over 52 MILLION children have been killed. Over a million children each year. How can this possibly be a good thing? How can that many lost lives NOT affect us?

Women in crisis pregnancies now have far more “choice” than our mothers did — choices that will not end in the death of a child. For example, open adoption alleviates fears of what happens to a child after being is placed with a new family. While the mother may continue to regret not being able to parent the child herself, open adoption can give her peace of mind — and offer the baby the most important gift of all: life.

Teenage Mother Coerced into Abortion by Social Worker

I recently came across this article in Philly.com about a teenage mother whose social worker pressured her to abort her second child — or to face the possibility of being separated from her children. The foster mother, who speaks little English, says the girl had learned the child was a boy and was planning for the second child’s birth.

The first social worker finds out about the pregnancy, and is fired when she refuses to take the girl for an abortion (after DFS finds out about the pregnancy). The second social worker bullies the girl, threatening to take away her other child if she has the infant. Next thing you know, the girl is being carted across state lines for the procedure when she was 26 weeks along (Pennsylvania does not permit late-term abortions).

Before you conclude that this is an isolated incident, check this out …

Donald F. Schwarz, the city’s deputy mayor for Health and Opportunity, who oversees DHS, said that the agency “is supposed to take a neutral position and not supposed to be involved in the decision making” regarding an abortion.

Between September 2006 and March 31, Schwarz said, 335 minors under DHS care became pregnant. Of those, 119 resulted in abortions. Of those abortions, 54 were done by judge’s order.

Eight of the abortions were performed out of state, Schwarz said.

Although federal and state law forbid the use of federal or state money for abortions, and DHS is a recipient of state and federal aid, that money is not used to pay for abortions, Schwarz said.

He said that money only from the city budget is used to pay for the procedures.

I wonder how many of these girls were under Ms. Brown’s caseload …

Granted, a sixteen-year-old has no business raising one child, let alone two. Clearly this young woman is in need of some serious help — and, frankly, given the level of her maturity, adoption may indeed be the best option for her.

But on what planet is it the “best option” to take a teenager across state lines, without the consent of her mother, to undergo a dangerous medical procedure? Under duress, no less?

And how is it that Ms. Rivera, whose pro-life convictions led to her being fired because she refused to take the girl for an abortion, was terminated by Concilio, who one week claimed that they would “not get involved in that situation,” and the next send two of their workers and an agency van to facilitate the abortion?

Finally, now that the “situation” has been resolved according to Ms. Brown’s satisfaction … What are the chances that the girl is going to get pregnant again, or she’ll wind up losing her children anyway?

I’d bet Ms. Brown’s next paycheck on it.

Concilio’s subsequent efforts to cover up this story are detailed here.

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

small-family1Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunication, the day the angel appeared to Mary and announced that God had chosen her to be the mother of the Incarnate Christ. Her gesture of obedience — the “yes” to God’s plan for her to become a mother while she was still unmarried, and to raise His only Son to manhood — was an act of pure courage.

God’s act, one of pure mercy. Despite the fact that the world didn’t understand, didn’t recognize, and certainly didn’t want the sacrifice … He came and lived among us, first as a helpless infant, then as a young man, then as a teacher … and finally, a living embodiment of God’s eternal grace.

Today, God continues to live among us, though in many ways His Spirit is resisted even more than it was two millennia ago. Lives through the Church, both through the sacraments and in His people. The Spirit continues to speak, through the ongoing tradition and teaching authority of the Apostles and their successors, through the written Word of God, and through divine interventions — miracles — all around us.

Most of the time, we think of these “miracles” as positive outcomes. A healing here, a reconciliation there, a flash of inspiration or transformation that yields tremendous spiritual fruit. And yet, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “God shouts to us through our pain.” From this perspective, even tragedies like this can, from a certain perspective, rightly be seen as divine intervention. Our Good Shepherd knows what it will take to reach even the most stubborn sheep.

May God grant that even in this situation, the shout of His Spirit fall on ears ready and willing to listen.

Sent the President a Valentine…

missing-piece1This idea came from Alexa — for all of us who are praying for a change of heart in our president concerning his stance on abortion.

Get a red envelope. On the front, address it to:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

On the back of the envelope, write the following message.

This envelope represents one child who died in abortion.
It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world.
Responsibility begins with conception.

Put it in the mail, and send it. Then forward this to every one of your friends who you think would send one too. I wish we could send 50 million red envelopes, one for every child who died before having a chance to live. Maybe it will change the heart of the president.

If you’re looking for another way to celebrate the holiday, pick up a copy of Lee Ezell’s book The Missing Piece, a touching account of her only child, who was conceived after Lee was sexually assaulted. She made an adoption plan for her daughter … and years later was reunited with her.

A wonderful book for any woman, but a real Godsend for any woman in a crisis pregnancy. Pick up a copy today!

From OSV Daily: Baby Thrown Away

Today at the OSV Daily is a report from AP about an infant scheduled for abortion who was born alive … then place in a plastic bag for disposal.

In the first century AD in the Roman Empire, Christians were a hunted sect … yet they had many converts from among the Roman citizenry because of their loving care for the sick and imprisoned, and their practice of adopting infants who had been discarded by their parents. (Infanticide was legal up to the eighth day of the child’s life.)

We cannot count on our leaders to denounce this kind of horror. Indeed, President Obama has made this abundantly clear. And yet, history has taught us … no nation can remain strong, or continue for long, if this kind of moral cancer encroaches unchecked among our people.

How can we ask God to bless America, if we throw away His most precious gifts?