This week – and throughout the month of October – we celebrate Respect Life Month. We showcase how, as a diocesan family, we joyfully embrace and deeply respect each life from conception until natural death.
By: Bridget Wilson, Guest Contributor
Chances are you’ve seen a sign or bumper sticker that reads, “Adoption: The Loving Option.” On the surface it is cute rhyme, but looking deeper, it is really a powerful truth. The implication is that the biological mother, in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, will sacrifice the knowing and raising of her child so that he or she can have a better life. As one of twelve children, nine of whom are adopted, my family knows well the blessings that adoption can bring into a family.
The conflict between two camps: those who believe life begins at conception and those who have convinced themselves that it’s only a baby if you want it to be is nothing new. Despite the release of a series of videos suggesting that Planned Parenthood sells fetal body parts for profit, many pro-choice proponents have yet to lift the veil from their eyes, and still vehemently support the abortion industry. They twist the feminist movement to serve their needs, claim Planned Parenthood is a beacon of female healthcare and the list goes on. However, I want to take a moment to explore one argument in particular: quality of life.
If quality of life will be poor, they argue, it is better, even noble, to consider ending the life of the child through abortion. It’s a blanket statement that covers everything from children who could be born into abusive homes to children with disabilities or extensive medical needs, or even children born into poverty. Since when is the value of someone’s life based on the quality in which it is lived? How can we say that to suffer must be something avoided at all costs, even if it means ending the lives of those who may be suffering? Who are we to make that call? We are not God. We don’t know if, when, or how suffering will come to end. With nine adopted siblings, I have heard and seen firsthand intense suffering. Specifically, I want to share the stories of my two adopted brothers, Patrick and Dennis.
Patrick’s biological mother made it out of her village with enough time to leave him at the hospital where she gave birth. She had HIV/AIDS and if she gave birth to him in her village, he would have been ostracized. Patrick tested as HIV-positive when he came into our family at 7 months old. He was tested again at 18 months and the results came back negative. However, the first few years of his life were filled with long hospital stays. I have a vivid memory of visiting him in the hospital when he was a baby and looking at him through plastic wrapped around his bed to keep the air sterile. At the time, the chances that Patrick would come out on top were slim.
Fast-forward nearly two decades later. He is now 19 years old, healthy as can be, and will be leaving for boot camp next month (Ooh Rah!). With back-to-back birthdays, matching birthmarks and a host of other similarities, it is pretty clear Patrick was born to be my little brother. I knew from the second I saw him that he was mine.
Dennis, on the other hand, didn’t find his way home until he was 7 years old. Abandoned as a child, he roamed the streets of Cambodia begging for his next meal. No one talked to him, so he didn’t speak any language. He saw things no little boy should ever see and felt pain no little boy should ever feel. That is not how a child should go through the first seven years (any years) of his life. A priest found Dennis and brought him to our family, who was living in Thailand at the time. When he came home for the first time, it was so clear he was meant to be ours, despite all the uncertainty. There was no adjusting or trying to force a connection; he was a Wilson from the beginning. Dennis has become a quiet, hilarious, amazing young man. He works full-time and attends school. I cannot imagine a life where he is not my brother.
If you only based my brothers’ lives on their first few years, the sickness, the poverty and the abandonment and didn’t know how their lives would turn out, it can be said they had a poor quality of life. If we only base the right to life on the quality or potential quality, then one could argue my brothers shouldn’t have been given life. But it takes a lot of faith in God to trust that in giving life everything will be all right. It takes a family willing to trust in God, to trust in His plan. “Adoption: The Loving Option” is the love of the biological mother, yes, but it also encompasses the love of the adoptive family; families that look past the scary or uncertain and sees a child that deserves love, a child that deserves life. It is our Father in Heaven’s love that brought us to Patrick and Dennis. But more importantly, He brought Patrick and Dennis to us. If Patrick was HIV-positive, or if Dennis never made it out of Cambodia, the quality of their lives may not have improved, but the value of their lives would have never decreased. Every day, I’m thankful that my brothers, who are beyond valuable to me, are in my life.
Follow the Catholic Diocese of Arlington on our platforms: