The best journalism gets beneath the surface of hype, political agenda and cliché to explore issues that matter. A recent article in the New York Times magazine does that with the reality of Christian adoption as well as any I’ve seen recently. One might expect otherwise with a title like, “God Called Them to Adopt. And Adopt. And Adopt.” But the article offers a rich blend of the joy and heartache that so often come together with adoption and other ways of loving wounded children.
Of course, no one article is likely to fully (or entirely accurately) capture something as diverse as the Christian orphan care movement…or even one facet of it like foster care adoption. This article zeros in a single family that looks similar to some Christian foster and adoptive families, and very different than others. Also, thoughtful readers may take issue with some of the analyses offered by the article.
But ultimately, it conveys a core that most every Christian who is deeply involved with caring for vulnerable children will recognize, whether local foster care, adoption or orphan care across the globe: the costliness…the complexity…and the rich beauty that come intertwined as we open our lives to children who need love.
The NY Times has given inordinate print space to articles that rely on exceptional stories and fringe personalities to depict the movement. Here, instead, is a much more honest take on one Christian family’s embrace of self-giving love. It’s a lengthy read, but well worth it. See the whole article HERE, and glimpse an excerpt below:
After school one afternoon, 18-year-old Lauren, the oldest of Misty’s children, sat at the kitchen table, wearing black eyeliner that framed her blue-gray eyes, and long hair that is blond one month, black the next. Lauren played competitive basketball and rugby until sophomore year, when she decided her parents needed her help at home. Among the children, she has by far borne the most responsibilities — babysitting, driving siblings to school, changing Olivia’s tracheostomy bandages.
She is fiercely devoted to her brothers and sisters — “family is family, blood or not” — and says she would be a “snotty kid” if her parents hadn’t adopted her siblings with special needs. But she is sometimes frustrated. The family no longer camps high in the mountains, because the elevations stresses Olivia’s lungs. She and her 16-year-old sister, Maggie, have avoided bringing friends to the house because they fear that Shon’s tantrums and Olivia’s tracheostomy might scare them off. And because of the cost of raising eight children, the family wasn’t able to afford to fly Lauren to an out-of-town wedding and a funeral that she wanted to attend.
“I never had a rebel phase,” Lauren said. “I’m sad about some of what I’ve missed.” Lauren has admonished her mother for not spending more time with Faith, her youngest nonadopted sister, who is 13. Not long ago, Lauren blurted to Misty, “You still have bio kids; you know that, right?” Misty agrees that her oldest children have paid the price. She told me that when she misses her 17-year-old son Payton’s wrestling matches, she “gets a knife-in-the-heart feeling.”