November is a time when we pause and give thanks for the many blessings God has given us. It is also National Adoption Awareness Month, which is fitting because we should all remember to take the time to be grateful for the adoptive families, birth families, and foster families who give life and love to so many.
Kathryn Jean Lopez, from National Review, and Lisa Wheeler, an adoption and foster care advocate, stopped by A Closer Look™ recently for a round-table discussion about the urgency and need when it comes to adoption and foster care. Among the insights that Lopez and Wheeler shared was that the way we think and talk about adoption and foster care is important, and simply changing the way we talk about these issues can make a huge difference.
“One of the things that I have been trying to emphasize to people is that not every single person, obviously, is called to foster care or adoption,” said Lopez. “But, for Pete’s sake, everybody has a role to play in this. And I’d also add, a heck of a lot more people than realize are called to this.”
A misconception that Lopez and Wheeler discussed was the way that people refer to those who foster or adopt children as ‘saints’ or ‘heroes’, which makes it seem as though it is out of reach for the average family. Lopez said, “I am a little frustrated because some of the reaction is, ‘Oh well, they are saints.’ But we’re all called to that. That doesn’t let you off the hook because they do hard things. We’re all supposed to do hard things. So I think there is still a lot of work to be done there.”
Wheeler agreed, saying, “When there are those kinds of conversations happening, it makes the rest of the community attach themselves to looking at adoption as a ‘last resort’ or only something that the ‘saints’ do or not something that an average family would choose to do. And we need to get away from that.”
“One of my favorite quotes,” Wheeler continued, “is a quote that says, ‘God knew that it doesn’t matter how your children get to your family, it just matters that they get there.’ And I would like to see us equalizing more in our conversation the fact that children are a blessing, and whether they come to us biologically or through the supernatural gift of adoption, it’s the same. And every family should discern how they can be a caretaker of the modern-day orphans of the world.”
Both Wheeler and Lopez emphasized the need, in particular, for those who are Catholic and pro-life to be thinking and talking about adoption and foster care more often and in a more positive way. “It’s something that every family, especially every Catholic family, should consider,” Wheeler said. “Whether they have one child or 10 children, it is a calling that is not only difficult but it needs to be a part of our pro-life conversation. If we’re going to be fully open to life, we need to be talking about adoption.”
Lopez concurred, saying, “If you call yourself pro-life, this has got to be a priority. If you talk about abortion you should talk just as much about adoption, because this is a serious alternative that is not explored. The education isn’t there and the support isn’t there.”
Listen to the full conversation below: