I’m going to be honest– I read a transcript of one of the Planned Parenthood videos, but I can’t bring myself to watch it. I just can’t. There are some things I have a very tender heart about and to listen to a woman talk about dismembering babies while she eats lunch. . . it’s too much for me.
It all feels very personal when you realize the babies they’re talking about could very well have been your children. I have 6 kids and to the best of my knowledge ALL of them were unplanned pregnancies– 4 were other women’s and 2 were my own. My four adopted kids were born into less than ideal circumstances. All of them had mothers who attempted to parent for some amount of time, but were not able. These are difficult stories both for the women who lived them and for the children who carry them. But my beautiful sons and daughters have LIFE. They were wanted and chosen and loved. And for that, I am forever grateful to the women who gave them life when they had every legal option to go visit a Planned Parenthood clinic and have those children torn limb from limb for the crime of being inconvenient.
There are people who would have cheered that decision– one less foster child, one less burden on the taxpayers, one less kid in need of services, one less single mother. I have had someone ask about my foster child’s story, look into his beautiful brown eyes, and then tell me if her daughter ever came to her pregnant, she would tell her to abort. It was the most angry and dumbfounded I think I’ve ever been towards a stranger in a grocery store.
I know many of us feel upset and revolted at the recent revelations about Planned Parenthood. It is also tempting to think the solutions are over our heads and out of reach. What can we do? Picket? Write letters to our representatives in DC? Boycott companies that support Planned Parenthood? It all feels. . . toothless. It feels ineffective. There are good things to do to support alternatives, to encourage a culture of life, to make a financial impact where we can. I also want to encourage you to consider a way I’ve found to make a real, meaningful difference– become a foster parent.
When I read articles about how we can encourage a culture of life, I often read about adoption. Yes– adoption is a great alternative to abortion, but I think it’s an oversimplification. The reality of domestic adoption right now is that we have waiting lists for every healthy baby that a woman chooses to place for adoption. Infertile couples are willing to spend amazing amounts of money on lawyers and agency fees to vie for the few babies who are placed each year. We don’t necessarily need more people to be willing to adopt the healthy infants that agencies are working with. There is no reason for any pregnant woman in America to think her healthy infant would be unwanted or undesired. (I also think painting it as adoption vs. abortion does a disservice to the many birthmothers who never considered abortion. They loved their babies and had the maturity to know they weren’t ready to parent. They need to be honored and respected for that and when we talk about it as though the adoptive parents are the rescuers from the woman who would have just killed her baby if we weren’t there. . . that doesn’t sit well with me.)
So let’s think about what would happen if we shut down Planned Parenthood or legislated away all access to abortions. Would all those babies that are currently being aborted end up being placed for adoption? No. Many many many of them (but obviously not all) would end up being raised in homes where extreme poverty is an issue, domestic abuse is an issue, homelessness is an issue, mental health problems are an issue, or substance abuse is an issue. These would not likely be the healthy, happy infants you see on pro-life billboards. These are future foster kids.
There is a very negative perception around adoption in many of the homes were adoption would be most beneficial. It is seen as giving up on your child or failing as a mother. Women who grew up in homes where domestic violence and substance abuse are the norm may feel that’s a fine way to raise a child. They see people all around them raising kids in the same devastating environment and they aren’t choosing adoption, so why should I? They may not have the maturity to see they aren’t ready to parent or the social support to choose adoption. Many won’t have the desire or ability to change their situation for the sake of their child. If they don’t have access to abortions, they will choose to parent and that experiment is likely to end poorly.
You want to tell a woman considering abortion her child would be loved and wanted? Then be a foster parent who loves and wants the child for however long is needed. Support foster parents. Find ways to connect with foster kids. Volunteer, financially contribute, BE THE SAFETY NET these kids need when their mother’s decision to choose life doesn’t go the way she hoped it would. We can’t just wring our hands about how our society is going to hell in a handbasket based on the latest revelation from Planned Parenthood. People, GO GET THE HANDBASKET. THERE’S A CHILD IN IT.
Not everyone can be a foster parent. I get that. And honestly, there are plenty of people providing foster care who shouldn’t be, which is why we need more quality, passionate, educated people to get involved. If you’re upset that we seem to live in a time when people don’t value the lives of the unborn, you’ve got to match that passion with a passion for the born children who are treated as “less than” by our society. Nothing shuts down the “pro-life people are hypocrites” argument faster than then pro-life foster family. So if you can’t be a foster parent, find a way to support them.
Christians, the statistics are out there. If one family in every church became a licensed foster family, every foster child in America would have a place to call home tonight. ONE FAMILY in your church. And that family should be surrounded by a network of families who get background checked so they can provide respite care, or provide meals when new kids come, or teach Sunday School and do the nursery with an understanding of the unique needs of foster kids, or are informed enough to ask good questions and offer real support. That’s the kind of church I attend. It’s a church with less than 200 people that doesn’t just have one family involved in foster care. Over the past 6 years we have had 12 families get their foster license. That means roughly 20% of the families at our church are or have been foster families. That is what a culture of life looks like– it looks like the Sunday I went to drop our foster child off in the nursery and there were more foster or adopted kids than biological kids there. I’ll never forget the meals, the clothes, the handmade blankets, the tangible acts of support (the man who called me from the diaper aisle at Target to ask what size diapers a newborn wears since he’d never bought them before) each time we’ve brought a new chid into our home. And the bittersweet tears I’ve cried as our pastor has prayed over children who are leaving their foster families to be reunified with the parents AND as we’ve celebrated the adoptions of children who have found their forever home within our community.
So be angry at Planned Parenthood. Be frustrated, be revolted, be heartbroken that children are literally being torn apart with such total callousness. And then use that passion to do something. Do something to prove everybody wrong who believes there are unwanted children in this country. Do something that expresses love to kids in rough situations and families who need help. Do something that would communicate to women in crisis that their children would be loved either by a safe adoptive home, or by a foster family who could support her while she figures this whole motherhood thing out. This hashtag activism and outrage via social media isn’t fixing the problem. Let’s do more. We are not just picketing or protesting, but doing something proactive to value the lives of children that society sees as throwaway kids. They are so much more than that. They are worth more than the value of their parts.