Sunday, September 30, 2012

Last Sunday's Gospel Reading

Hello, everyone,
Well, I must admit I'm not well at all. Yes, the word repetition is on purpose--but my one-week delay in writing down this post was not. We are halfway into a new weekend, and a new Gospel reading is carrying an equally beautiful new message. Yet, no biblical message is ever outdated. The teachings from the Book of Books are always current, always up to date, always applicable to present day situations, always inspirational, always propelling us to action for the sake of others.

Leaving preambles aside, and letting go of the fact that I should have written and published this one week ago, I'll go to my point.

Last Sunday's Gospel reading started with the question His disciples asked Jesus, "Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?" (Matthew 18:1), and by calling a little child to Him, He answered that "the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:14.

And then, Jesus kept on saying:

"Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes Me. But anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith in me would be better drowned in the depths of the sea with a great millstone around his neck. Alas for the world that there should be such obstacles! Obstacles indeed there must be, but alas for the man who provides them!" Matthew 18:5-7

Don't you find here the perfect description of what any adoption process is all about? Jesus loves all children, and welcomes them all. He identifies with all children because they all need protection and love. In a very special way, given that He identifies with the hungry, the thirsty, the poor, the foreigner, the incarcerated, and the sick (Matthew 25:35-40) even most compellingly Jesus identifies with children who are dying in poverty and malnutrition, who are foreigners from remote areas of the world where medical care is not available and sanitary systems are not yet known. Most compellingly He identifies with children who are foreigners living in forgotten lands from where they need to be rescued for their lives to be saved--even if by rescuing them families do not immediately reduce the cost of the domestic foster care system. Most compellingly He identifies with children who risk lifelong imprisonment--not due to the commission of any terrible felony, but simply due to the terrible reality that somehow their looks or abilities are slightly different than those of the average population. No, they won't go to jail--they will go to places that are much more ominous, much more sordid, much more sinister and dismal than any prison can be. Those places are called "mental institutions," where older children and adults with physical challenges and yet perfectly normal minds, or with some developmental delays and yet peaceful, loving dispositions are barely kept alive with minimal feeding, lying down with urine and feces in dirty beds and somber rooms that are freezing cold in the winter and burning hot in the summer.

What Jesus says about the obstacles was said about 2000 years ago--and yet in His compassionate divine will, it perfectly matches the very essence of the adoption process today. Adoptions are complex legal processes which establish permanent family relationships among human beings. As much as we might like to be able to select a child and have that child home within a week, the whole legal mechanism cannot be mobilized that fast. Adopting a child cannot be as easy as going to a pet shop or to the local animal shelter and returning home with a puppy. Children are human beings who become family members--not pets that can be gotten from morning to night. They are worth every penny spent, every prayer said, every tear shed, every form that was filled, every paper that someone else needed to complete, every fundraiser that did not succeed, every sleepless night their new family went through, every shiver that went down their backs, every moment when it felt the wait was too long and they could take it no more. In other words, some degree of difficulty, anxiety, and struggle is inherent to the dignity of the miracle of adoption. Jesus Himself says "obstacles indeed there must be," but then gives a very stern warning to anyone who places unnecessary hurdles: "But anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith in Me would be better drowned in the depths of the sea with a millstone around his neck." After saying that some obstacles may be unavoidable, He also says, "but alas for the man who provides them."

 That Gospel reading is flagrantly applicable to the cause of special needs adoption, older child adoption, concurrent adoptions, and back-to-back adoptions. It is also directly applicable to the cause of older parent, single parent, and large family adoptions. It is wonderfully applicable as a wake up call to anyone who may be considering adopting a child, adopting one more child, or adding another child to an adoption process that is currently in progress. It is perfectly applicable as the powerful words of reassurance needed by any families that for whatever reason are struggling, crying, and praying to get their adoptions finalized despite some obstacles placed by Satan along their way. Finally it is blatantly applicable as a blow in the face to those who not only don't do it but go as far as to try to make things unnecessarily difficult for those who want to do it.  

No, I'm not talking about the so-called "trolls." Those are very sick people who feel miserable and want to make other feel miserable as well. They are sick in their hearts and make hurtful and hateful comments to those who are trying to adopt--and yet all they achieve is to poison themselves. Maybe nobody ever loved them, and that's why other people's love makes them sick. Maybe they're suffering from emotional imbalance. Maybe deep inside themselves they do regret what they are doing. Anyway, when it comes to successful adoptions, to successfully rescuing children from neglect, abuse, and disease, the presence of a few "trolls" lurking in the background and leaving nasty comments on people's blogs is not a major concern.

The compelling message of that beautiful Gospel passage clearly condemns the attitude of anyone who due to one reason or another tries to hamper the adoption of any child. It clearly condemns the attitude of those social workers and others in the adoption field who are scared of their own shadow and always find that income is not high enough, or the house is not big enough, or childcare resources are not solid enough. Those are the social workers and agency directors that despite a family's impeccable records and desperate desire to adopt, or adopt again, fear that a homestudy approval or the approval for one more child could eventually bounce back and result in some sort of liability for them. Those are the ones who shiver like scared rabbits at the thought of eventual, potential, and quite often even imaginary liability and seem to consider that a child's life is not worthy a very small risk of having to provide a few explanations. Those are the ones who value their pockets more than they value kids' lives--and yet they're acting worse than little kids themselves because when it comes to liability their fears are much more unreasonable, much more irrational, much more illogical than some children' fears of finding a monster or the Boogie Man in their closet.

Under those cowardly attitudes that are meant to be shaken by the Words of Jesus we can also include the negative, or, to say the least, uninvolved reactions of many others who are in a position to help and yet refuse. I am talking about those physicians who decline to sign a medical clearance letter or form because of some minor health problem that a prospective adoptive parent may have. Let's make it straight: typically people who are in the last stages of their battle against terminal illness don't ask for a bill of good health in order to adopt. Those who are contemplating adoption tend to be in reasonably good health. Nobody ever said that 'perfect' health should be needed. What is better for the child or children in question: to be adopted by a parent who may have a minor or controllable health issue to deal with, or not to be adopted at all?

I'm also talking about those CPA's who decline to provide self-employed prospective adoptive parents with the proof of income wording required by the country from which they are adopting only because, once again, the fear of liability haunts them as a Halloween monster or Boogie Man that may jump up at them from inside a closet. They are scared that in signing that certificate of income that their clients need so badly they may be overstating assets or income. After all--what if they are? What is preferable: to overstate a little a person's financial resources or to underestimate the life of a child?

I'm also talking about those employers who refuse to use the language required by some jurisdictions in terms of the adoptive parents' stability on their jobs. They just don't like the sound of any wording that eventually could be interpreted as a guarantee of indefinite future employment. Once again: prospective adoptive parents are not likely to hold adoption-related letters against their employers even if at some point in time the company ends up downsizing and the Human Resources Department needs to let go of them. Most adoptive parents won't even think about using the letter they got for adoption purposes in order to avoid getting the pink slip.

As I was looking online for the exact Bible passage, another one happened to come up--and I am sure it was not by chance:

"Even so it is not the will of your Father, Who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."
Matthew 18:14

Finding the above citation which I very well knew but had not had totally present in my mind before rekindled how I had felt when listening to the Gospel reading and the sermon that had followed it. For a moment it had been like seeing my Mom looking into my eyes from above and encouraging me to carry the message as far as I could by using that strong call for writing that I got inside my veins from my Grandma and from her. For a moment it had been like hearing her voice telling me to listen to our hearts despite all the obstacles that may appear along our path. For a moment I had heard her voice reminding me that "where there is a will, there is a way." And--what can be more powerful than a human will that represents a whole family's will, and, ultimately, coincides with the will of God?

I don't know how clear or unclear I am about the meaning of my paragraph above. For those who think you guessed it, yes, you're right. For those who didn't "get" it, let's wait until after Maximilian and Philip are home.

For the time being the immediate need is to send out the message of Jesus' Words as far as possible. I'm not talking about evangelization because most people know that Jesus identified Himself with the homeless, the hungry, the foreigner, the incarcerated, and the sick (Matthew 25: 35-40). Most people know that He said, "Let the little children come to me." (Mark 10:13-14). He even "was indignant" to see that his disciples were scolding the children because in their opinion the children might bother Him.
Yet, not everyone sees the pressing need to take immediate intervention in order to make sure that as many children as possible, including those in remote foreign lands, get rescued before dying due to poverty, hunger, malnutrition, neglect, inadequate medical care or total lack thereof.

We cannot afford to be indifferent. Children keep on dying every day. Regrettably, in many of those cases, timely medical intervention would have prevented their premature passings. Those deaths were avoidable. Needless to say, none of us alone can do much--but we all can do something at least, whether it is by rescuing one child, several of them, or by helping others do the rescuing. We may adopt. We may advocate. We may donate. We may help others fundraise. Nobody can do everything--but nobody can afford doing nothing either. Nobody can claim to have "nothing to do" with what is happening to children they have never seen or even heard about before. It doesn't matter. Those children are sick. Those children are dying. Those children are longing for a family of their own. With some medical care and some therapies they can bloom. That is what God expects from us. Once again,  "it is not the will of your Father, Who is in Heaven, that one of those little ones should perish." (Matthew 18:14)

Specific Advocacy for a Few Little Ones--including some who may not be so little any longer . . . but who never had their chance to be little ones, to be looked after, to cuddle up in mom's lap or get hugged by dad. They never had grandmas or grandpas, sisters or brothers. They never got comforted when not feeling well. Still it may not be too late--if someone moves fast. For different reasons, these children won't have another chance. This is their very last chance--and I do mean their very last one.

Kolya - My Angel Tree Child

Kolya has DS. He is described as being high functioning, loving, helpful, a joy to be around, and loyal. Can such description be any better? Please, read his profile, look at the light in his eyes, share, make a donation to his FSP, or--even better, make a commitment to become the family he desperately needs!


Emmitt is already in one of those horrible mental institutions, but is resilient, courageous--and is good, kind, polite to everyone. He is intelligent, and his only disability is that he cannot walk. He is aging out. In a few months everything will be over for him. I simply find it hard to believe that nobody came forward for him yet. Our family would LOVE to have him--but a widowed mother cannot adopt from where he is. Can't someone save him, for God's sake?

Dayna and Zach

The only reason why I'm featuring them together is because for these two children time is of the essence--or time is up!!! The issue is that for them "time is up" doesn't mean that they won't be able to get an A on a test because of not having arrived to answer all the questions. It doesn't mean that they won't be able to finish a puzzle. It doesn't mean that they will lose the game. It means their earthly life will be up--or, actually, over, for different reasons. Dayna desperately needs life saving heart surgery that she won't get where she is right now. Zach is about to be transferred to be buried alive in a horrible institution where he will barely get fed to keep his heart beating--but nothing else: no stimulation, no education, no recreation--no family, no love. Is there nobody who can come forward for them? God bless.

Please--think about it, pray about it . . . and hear God's voice whispering into your ears and into your heart. I'm sure He will have something to say. Just listen--and act!  

"And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity."1Corinthians 13:13

27 Pure, unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father, is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows in their hardships, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world." James 1:27 

And--I will post it for the third time:

"Even so it is not the will of your Father, Who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."
Matthew 18:14

Children are dying every day--most of them due to complications that could have been prevented with proper medical care. Young men and women are dying every day in those mental institutions where they never even belonged in the first place. It is time to do something about that--and if we are already doing something, it is time to do even more. Once again, that is exactly what Jesus expects from all of us:

"Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my Name welcomes Me." Matthew 18:5

After all, He is not asking for anyone to do anything hard. He is asking for people to do something that will not only have eternal rewards, but much sooner earthly ones as well--everlasting rewards of love and joy both in this life and in the life to come.

Thank you all.

God bless,

Lillian Godone-Maresca


Anonymous said...

Denise Davis said...

So well said. And if only others could once hold a child in their arms that desperately needed a family they would know. I remember still the day I held a child as she took her last breath. As her breathing became shallower and shallower I prayed even harder. I knew it was to late or her days here on this earth but I knew that she would be in her forever home above in heaven. Our final home filled with love and endless family. Why does it take having to die to have a home filled in love when we could have it on earth I ask? In my heart I advocate for adoption but if only others felt this way. I have been trolled all so much this last two years and yes some days are left filled in tears. Not for pity for myself but for not getting across to this person about these children. Is it the devil that promotes her/his fears or hates then perhaps. But I know it is hard on any adopting family to hear these words on such a joyful time. A person can educate another person but it is up to them to learn. There are just somethings in life you can not teach through a book you must learn from the heart. So sad to know Lillian there are many people around us with such ingorance or hate inside. This we must continue to preach till our lungs are dry and our word is given.. May each child who is without love find a family be forever in our Lords arms.

Blessedmom said...

Thank you so much, Denise! So very sorry about that little one! I knew you had grieved over the passing of your first husband, but didn't know about the little one. Love builds. Hatred destroys. Unbeknownst to them, those hateful people who try to destroy others are destroying themselves. God bless, Lillian

Leah said...


Are you actually saying that liable agents ought to put their careers in jeopardy by LYING about your health, employment, and income on official documents? Are you saying that they ought to dismiss legitimate and warranted concerns about your ability to successfully parent even more children? And are you saying they ought to do all this because your religion tells you that you're entitled to said children??

Look, I'm very, very much in favor of special needs adoption. I support Reece's Rainbow (though I do NOT support all of their practices). I hope to adopt disabled kids myself someday. But if experienced, knowledgeable, and responsible professionals are telling you in no uncertain terms that you are not an appropriate adoptive parent for these boys, you need to listen. This has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with reality.

Institutionalization is awful, and for many of these kids adoption really is the only way out -- but a bad adoption, an irresponsible adoption, is worse than no adoption. When adopters get in over their heads, children die. That is not 'trolling'. That is the cold hard truth.

I know that this comment will probably be deleted, but I'm begging you to reconsider your dismissive attitude towards the voices of reason.

Leah said...

Please read this. Please, please try to put aside your religion and emotions and consider the objective facts about what you're doing.

Once again: I am not a troll. I am not anti-adoption. I am not anti-Reece's Rainbow. This is honest concern.


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