Thursday, June 4, 2015

Do They Pray for Parents?

Julie Davis' book, Happy Catholic, is a staple in my Eucharistic Adoration bag. I love just flipping to a random page, opening it up, and reading one or more of her reflections. In recent months, I keep ending up on page 85. I don't know whether that page has simply been worn open or if He is trying to tell me something.

God Doesn't Hand Out Cash
Damian: I thought it was from God. Who else would have that kind of money?
Ronnie: It's not really His think, is it, handing out cash.   -Millions 
Truer words were never spoken. However much we might wish to the contrary, God doesn't hand out cash.  
God tends to use created things to answer prayers. Things, for example, like us. 
Even as far back as Genesis, we see God creating the world and "seeing that it was good." He didn't wish Adam and Eve into being from thin air but used earth and spirit, and also a rib. Jesus used mud and spit to heal the blind. There is copious evidence that, having made all that is around us, God expects us to use it.
That is what makes it all-important that we act on it and step up to do our part. Because using us to answer prayer, whether we may realize it or not at the time, is his thing.
This past weekend was the celebration of my grandmother's 90th birthday. While there, I couldn't help but be struck by how much my cousin's daughter looks like she did at that age. You could stick her daughter's picture in with pictures of my cousin and I and you would think it was my cousin.  It has had me reflecting on how much we naturally hunger to see parts of ourselves reflected in our children. Does she have your eyes? Your husband's curly hair? Who will he or she take after in temperament? When you adopt you can hope that your child(ren) will reflect your values and morals, but in appearance or personality you have no hope that they will be a blend of you and your spouse.

As a biochemist with some training in genetics, I have really struggled with questions about adoption. Not only genetics but prenatal environment are proving to be so important in determining who a child is. And recent evidence from children born via third-party assisted reproduction is showing how much children long for their biological parents. Knowing these things has made considering adoption very difficult for me. I spent much of my childhood feeling second-best, like I had to earn my family's love, so the thought of being considered second-best by a child or children who we have gone to all the trouble to adopt and raise is worrisome. I've been wondering, contemplating, do the children in orphanages dream of and pray for their biological parents to come back for them or do they simply dream of and pray for loving parents? Is God trying to use me, to use us, to answer their prayer?


  1. I think that it's great that you are being so honest with yourself about these very difficult questions. I myself am really attached to my identity as a very smart person. It does frighten me that my children might be of average intelligence; but ultimately, I take that as a challenge to unconditional love. Can I love my children if they aren't intellectual, or don't go to college? That's what it means to be a parent, whether or not the kids are my genetic progeny.

  2. Good questions. Adoption is full of loss and that makes me sad, but it has a lot of hope too, since God used it in salvation history: Moses, St Joseph was Jesus' adoptive/foster father, etc.