Foster Parenting

Second Edition

Have you had a chance to read He Remembers the Barren, yet?

If not, catch up on what’s new in the revised and extended second edition by listening to these recent interviews on Worldwide KFUO’s Faith ‘n’ Family show:

 

The Nourisher of Our Lord

IMG_1443Thank you to Pastor Ryan McDermott for reminding us that we, like Joseph, are sometimes called to take on the legal and ethical responsibility of caring for children that are not our own.

“WWJD: What Would Joseph Do?”

It occurs to me that, as a husband, a father, and a pastor, I fulfill many of the same roles as St. Joseph. And yet, at the same time, my roles are nothing like his. I cannot imagine the situation of living with and taking to wife the Mother of God, let alone raising God Incarnate as my son.

St. Joseph is known as the Nutritor Domini, the Nourisher of our Lord. He was responsible for protecting and providing for the physical well-being of Jesus from the time of the Annunciation onward. This child was not his, and yet Joseph took on the legal and ethical burden. This is not unlike the vocation of a pastor toward his congregation. My people are not, strictly speaking, my people – they are the people of God, the children of our heavenly Father. And yet, they are mine because they are entrusted to me by that same Father. It is my charge to bring to birth, bathe, feed, teach, and nourish them in the faith, just as Joseph was charged with the same duties for our Lord Christ. I hold them as a trust from the Lord, to deal with them according to His command.

As a father, I am in much the same position. My children are my own – biologically, legally, and ethically speaking. And yet they are not mine. Although they come from my flesh, they are the children of God entrusted to me for only a lifetime. It is my vocation to bring them to birth, feed, bathe, clothe, house, and raise them in the fear of the Lord. They are a gift, a trust from the Lord. They are His, and finally I must surrender my will, my hopes and fears, my desires and wishes for them, and I must let His will be done for and to and through them.

To be married to the Mother of God is something I cannot fathom. I have no words to talk about that because it is truly extraordinary. However, I know the love that flows between a husband and wife. And I know the sacrifices and difficulties, as well as the triumphs and unspeakable joys, that happen in a marriage. There is something to be said about Rome’s idea that a priest is wedded to the Church. St. Paul speaks of the marriage relationship as a living icon of the relationship between Christ and His Church. It is my duty and privilege to stand before my wife and before my congregation as their Defender against evil. It is my vocation to provide them with all that they need to support their daily life. It is my privilege to speak to them, both privately and publicly, the Word of the Lord to forgive their sins and strengthen their faith. It is my duty to stand in the gap, between them and the evil forces of this world, to beat back the darkness with the Light of the World.

Lord God, our heavenly Father, thank you for the example of St. Joseph, the Guardian of our Lord and the Protector of the Church. Strengthen all faithful men to be guardians of Your people and defenders of the Faith as You have given to us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pastor Ryan McDermott

The Control Factor

MP900321091There is comfort in control.

It is common for victims of assault to comfort themselves with illusions of control. For example, women who have been beaten or raped often find blame in themselves for the crime that was committed against them, because, as long as they are somehow at fault – as long as they are not truly victims of some terrible atrocity outside of their own control – then there is something they can do to keep it from happening again.

We comfort ourselves with illusions of control, as well. As long as there is something we can do to get pregnant – some dietary change or surgical procedure or herbal cocktail or adoption agency we can utilize to give ourselves the gift of a child – then we are not really barren. Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for all of the healthy foods, vitamin supplements, doctors, procedures, and foster care training I have utilized over the years, for they have offered me physical relief and instructed me in how to better care for my neighbor; however, none of these things have given me control over my parental status.

If we could really control our barrenness, don’t you think all of us would be parents, already?

Seeking control of our fertility is a chasing after the wind. Children, birthed or adopted, are a heritage from the LORD, a gift from Him to receive. Turn back to your Father in heaven and ask Him to give you all good things according to His will. Then, rejoice, for He is wise in His giving.

 

Fake Laws

Orate Mirror in the Corner of a Room“The devil is a Pharisee,” my husband said to me the other night. “He makes up fake laws for us to keep.”

The devil tries to make us feel guilty. He waves our sins in front of our faces in an attempt to make us despair, and, when that doesn’t work, he makes up fake laws to confuse and damn us.

You need to have a child, or your life isn’t blessed by God.

You need to foster and adopt a child, or you are not a Christian. 

You need to adopt an embryo, or you are not showing the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

You, you, you, you…

That’s what the devil does. He tries to get you to look in the mirror, not at Christ on the cross. He tries to get you to see a lost and condemned creature, not the righteous Christ Who was put upon you in your Baptism.

For, if he can get you to trust in the keeping of Pharisaical laws over Christ’s forgiveness of sinners, then you are damned and he has won.

To Adopt or Not to Adopt – Part Deux

P1030679 copyI received an overwhelming response to yesterday’s post, many of which were emails and messages from caring, well-meaning people encouraging me and my husband to adopt a child. Many of you expressed a concern that we are using the fear of pain and the knowledge of sin as reasons/excuses not to adopt. In fact, so many of you responded this way that I realized I failed yesterday as a writer. I spent too much time describing the trees in the background of my landscape that I distracted you from noticing the flowering azalea in the very front of the picture.

Please, allow me to point out the azalea.

Gift language applies to adoption, not just to conception.

Children are a gift from God whether they are birthed or adopted into our families. God is always the One giving the gift of children, period, and He, in His loving wisdom, gives and doesn’t give this gift. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

My sinful grossness (as confessed and described in yesterday’s post) is not the reason my husband and I have not adopted a child. The reason we have not adopted a child is the same reason we have not conceived a child: God simply has not given us the gift of a child through such means. We hope for that gift every day, we try to remain open to God’s giving, and we pray that our Lord will continue to work His good and gracious will in our lives.

The intent of yesterday’s post was to comfort and offer empathy to the barren who desire adopted children but have not been given the gift of adopted children. My transparency was a clunky attempt at hugging those who sit on the receiving end of a big, fat “no” in the adoption process. It really does happen no matter how much these couples want a child, pray for a child, wait for a child, and keep trying to adopt a child. These barren brothers and sisters in Christ feel burdened by their self-perceived failure as well as others’ expectations for them to have children.

There is only Jesus for all of us, so let’s rejoice today with these couples in God’s perfect love and good will for them revealed in God’s Word and shown by Christ on the cross. Let’s join them in praying that God’s will be done for their families.

And, when given the opportunity, let’s use gift language – not “should” and “must” and “do” and “try” and other control language – when speaking to them about adoption. It will really help.

Thank you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, for your love and prayers.