... I am convinced that considering adoption ought to be the norm for every Catholic family, (just as I believe that every Catholic should consider a religious vocation).
November is a month for remembering those who have died. It is also a time for honoring veterans and giving thanks. But that's not all. November is filled with a cornucopia of special interest observances many of us have probably never heard of. Look out, editorial slushpile! Because November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It's also Native American Heritage Month, Peanut Butter Lovers Month, Aviation History Month, and Epilepsy, Lung Cancer, and Diabetes Awareness Month. In addition to all that, November is home to Guy Fawkes Day (11/5), Saxophone Day (11/6), Clean Your Refrigerator Day (11/15), Universal Children's Day (11/20, but isn't that every day?), and the Great American Smokeout (this year on 11/19).
I'm not suggesting for a minute that we observe every special designation that has been loaded into the month of November. I am, however, hoping that Catholics will pay attention to the fact that November is National Adoption Month.
Here's why. Our Church spent most of October this year reflecting on God's plan for the family. Now it's our turn. It isn't just that God has a plan for the theoretical-in-the-abstract-concept-of-a family. It's that he has a plan for your family and mine.
Our Church teaches us that a faithful family is open to life. That isn't always easy to hear. At least in my experience, both fertility and infertility are challenging. It's hard to give our reproductive lives over to God. But one thing is certain, openness to life doesn't just mean the willingness to accept the birth of child. It doesn't begin and end with pregnancy. It just might include openness to adopting a child we didn't conceive. The culture of life is, by necessity, a culture of adoption.
Until 2001, Andrew and I had never -- not for one single minute -- thought about adoption. We had already struggled through what it took to accept the Church's teaching on artificial contraception, and were raising seven biological children. The window for childbearing was closing; our house and our lives were full.
But in that place we would have expected to feel more than complete, we began to discern a nagging, not-done-yet feeling, one that grew stronger over weeks and months. I'm not exactly sure when or how that feeling turned into a thought or question about adoption, but it did. Our Russian daughter, Juliana, came home in 2002.
Pope Francis has called every one of us to venture out to the peripheries with mercy and love. Adoption is one way families can do that. The works of mercy are daily occurrences in family life. Parents are always feeding the hungry, instructing the ignorant, clothing the naked, and admonishing little sinners. Children who are available for adoption are the refugees of a merciless world. The issues they face flow from the failures of the adults in their lives. They are homeless in the deepest sense of that word.
Adoption is a lifelong process, and we are poor pilgrims, not examples, on that path. Most who have opened their lives to an adoptive child would be the first to say that adoption isn't for everyone. But I am convinced that considering adoption ought to be the norm for every Catholic family, (just as I believe that every Catholic should consider a religious vocation). At the very least, we ought to ask God if adopting a child is his plan for us. Why? There are far too many children who need families. Likewise, there are far too many families who comfortably restrict the love they have to give within the boundaries of biology, culture, nation, and race.
God is the ultimate family planner! Have you asked God what his plan for your family is? When it comes to the choice to adopt a child, discernment -- both spiritual and human -- is everything. That is why I wrote "Adoption: Room for One More?" as a guide to prayerfully and thoughtfully consideration of God's plan for your family. It is also an attempt to reflect on the kind of love our heavenly Father has for each one of us: a love that bonds, heals, and comforts; one that recognizes and welcomes us as his children; a love that never fails.
JAYMIE STUART WOLFE IS A WIFE AND MOTHER OF EIGHT CHILDREN, AND A DISCIPLE OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. FRANCIS DE SALES. SHE IS THE AUTHOR OF "ADOPTION: ROOM FOR ONE MORE?", A SPEAKER, MUSICIAN AND SERVES AS A CHILDREN'S EDITOR AT PAULINE BOOKS AND MEDIA. FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER @YOUFEEDTHEM.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and serves as a senior editor at Ave Maria Press. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.