Friday, August 31, 2007
Here I am, giving into my every whim and inclination... lounging around and doing nothing... ahhh.
Seriously though, we continue to work on this house. I spent most of last night removing forty-year-old vinyl wallpaper from the kids' bathroom. Brett is off at Lowe's right now to get some supplies for an electrical issue in the master bath and also to get the paint for me to finish in the kids' bathroom. It was also a bit of any experiment, because I will need to remove all the kitchen wallpaper before the contractors come later in September to begin the work on ugly 70s kitchen... so I decided I should try removing the bathroom wallpaper first to see if it worked. Thank goodness for the HGTV website -- I removed the paper with a spray bottle of hot water and Palmolive dish soap, along with a plastic putty knife.
I am hosting a baby shower for Big Church's music director tomorrow afternoon. She is having her 6th baby in October! I love ordering a big bakery cake and buying all the cute party plates and napkins. I need to find the time today to buy some prizes for the baby shower games. Any suggestions on a few inexpensive but unique prizes? Baby showers are fun, and this one makes me especially happy because it is in honor of our music director and the local women's shelter -- so my office at church is filling up with bags of diapers and other donations for the shelter.
Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Y'all may have noticed that Brett and I are quite prolific in writing letters to the editor (a sure sign of craziness). Here is my most recent, in the Presbyterian Outlook:
Lessons of the Narco-Saint
by John M. Fife
“Drug-smugglers have a patron saint? That’s unbelievable!” my wife exclaimed. I had just returned from a day in the desert searching for migrants in distress. My colleagues in No More Deaths had come across three migrants on the trail and had shared food and water. But while hiking one canyon, we discovered a shrine hidden in a deep alcove in the canyon wall. Inside the dark alcove was a 3-foot-wide poster of Jesús Malverde. Below the poster were candles and prayer cards bearing his image. We had stumbled into a shrine of the narco-saint of the borderlands.
According to folklore, Jesús Malverde was a Robin Hood-like bandit who stole from the rich and gave to the poor in the highlands of
On the hike back to the truck, it occurred to me that Jesús Malverde may be a lot more than just folklore and legend. The narco-saint may be more powerful than the Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs, and Homeland Security. After all, the
The most accurate measure of the effectiveness of our “war on drugs” is, of course, the price of cocaine on the street. The hard truth is that the street price has steadily fallen over the past 25 years, from $600 to $200 a gram. If all of the blood and treasure we have expended on drug interdiction were effective at all, there would be a supply shortage and the price would have gone up, as has the price of oil and gas.
It seems to me that one of two conclusions can be drawn from this hard truth of our 40 years of experience on the border:
1. Jesús Malverde is a very powerful narco-saint, or
2. All of our military and law enforcement efforts to interdict drugs at the border have been a colossal failure and tragic waste.
Border security is only possible through adequate numbers of work visas for the workers we need for an expanding economy, legalization of the workers and their families, who are contributing so much to our economy and culture, an end to the free trade agreements that have devastated the poor of
Then the Border Patrol can do a lot of good in the desert, stopping the worshippers of Jesús Malverde instead of your landscaper, roofer, and childcare worker.
John M. Fife is a retired Presbyterian pastor who volunteers with Samaritans, No More Deaths, Borderlinks, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
I read John Fife's commentary of August 13 ("Lessons of the Narco-Saint") with some frustration. While I wholeheartedly support the mission of No More Deaths and other migrant aid organizations, I believe Fife does little to advance his cause when he chooses to demean an important Mexican folk saint and cultural hero such as Jesus Malverde. By buying into the notion that immigrants come in only two varieties – blameless migrant workers and evil drug smugglers – Fife only promotes the case of those who would eliminate all Latino migrants from entering this country.
Paul Vanderwood, Professor Emeritus of Mexican History at San Diego State University, asserts that “Malverde’s fame, however, runs far beyond drug matters; his followers assure that he miraculously fulfills a variety of their requests for health, jobs, marriage partners, trucks, safe journey, homes, release from jail and family reunions.” Hmmm, health, jobs, trucks, safe journeys and family reunions. I wonder if some of those landscapers, roofers, and childcare workers Fife speaks about so portentously might be the very individuals who brought candles and prayers to the borderland shrine hidden deep in the canyon?
I reiterate; I enthusiastically support the work Fife has been known for throughout his ministry. I often attended his former congregation, Southside Presbyterian, while a college student in Tucson. His witness and work had no small part in my call to ministry. For these reasons and more, I am sorry to see the faith and devotion of Latino Christians reduced to such simple characterizations. Our sisters and brothers in Christ deserve better.
This was the headlining article in our local paper this morning. Big Church has gone to work in Mississippi for the past two years and has another trip planned for the end of October. I am sure that some scholar of missions is currently doing research on how faith-based Katrina and Rita rebuilding efforts have changed the way main-line churches participate in mission trips and mission projects. I believe both St. Casserole and Bayou Christian, colleagues who read this blog occasionally and serve Presbyterian congregations in Mississippi and Louisiana, would be well-equipped to answer this question.
A couple of quotes in particular caught my eye:
"The National Council of Churches estimates that church-sponsored volunteers have produced $600 billion worth of labor for the Gulf Coast. In contrast, the total amount of federal funds spent on Katrina aid as of March was $53 billion."
"Critics of the administration point out that the government's very ineptitude in the wake of the storm substantiated Bush's emphasis on better access to federal funding for faith-based groups.
"Katrina (allowed) the Bush administration to say, 'We told you faith-based communities are better at this,'" said Kim Baldwin, public policy director for the Interfaith Alliance, an ecumenical group critical of the White House's faith-based efforts. "The president hid his incompetence under the cloak of the faith community.""
So, I wonder what the long-term ramifications of the faith-based role in these relief efforts will be? How will the ways in which the church does mission be shaped by the actions of the last two years? How has this administration helped to shape my role as the associate pastor for pastoral care and missions at Big Church? What is God doing here that we can't fully see or understand?
I'd love to hear other voices on this issue...
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Brett is on a kick of Tivoing old movies and watching them late at night. He grew up in a very rural part of Arkansas where they could only get a couple of TV channels, so he missed the hours and hours of garbagy TV and old movies I watched happily in my youth, while my mother explained their cultural significance. Last night's movie was "Easy Rider" with an extremely good looking Peter Fonda and the always odd-looking Dennis Hopper. One scene shows the two guys teaching Jack Nicholson's character to smoke weed. The song accompanying this ill-fated lesson is "Don't Bogart that Joint".
Reverend Mother and a few other bloggers are having contests that reward loyal blog readers when the blog in question surpasses a certain number of comments or page views. This blog will soon receive its 20,000th page view. I’ll be watching my sitemeter over the next week or two and I will send a little something to the person who tips this site over the 20,000 mark. So yes, I am bogarting this contest idea... (but my preference is always for a good bottle of zinfandel or pinot noir...)
"Roll another one
Just like the other one
That one's burned to the end
Come on and be a real friend"
Friday, August 24, 2007
We went on Wednesday to our USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) appointment. We've been waiting for the Certificates of Citizenship for the children. Just about naptime, we arrived at the monolithic Federal Building, waded through security and finally found our waiting room. We waited and waited. The kids became more and more hyper. We were finally called back to the office of a woman who introduced herself as "Officer Jones". Within seconds, Lily made the most noxious poopy diaper in the United States AND Guatemala. Brett took her down the hall to clean her up. I endured many specific and odd questions from our Department of Homeland Security Officer. After signing many pieces of paperwork, another long stint in the waiting room, and a "swearing in" ceremony, we finally have the documents proclaiming Thomas and Lily to be Citizens of the United States of America. I cried (not prettily, but in long, gasping sobs) all the way back to the car.
It has been a long 4.75 years since we began this process. Please shake me or give me a margarita if I ever contemplate another International adoption. I am so relieved to have this all finished! Oh, and for those who might be wondering, the kids retain dual citizenship -- chapines y americanos!
Cecilia asked me to respond to my own question.
I am in the 'A' category most of the time. For somewhat selfish reasons, I must confess. I am hungry to hear what others have to say about the sermon; I am anxious to see what their side of the conversation looks like.
This past Sunday, the scary lectionary text came from Hebrews 11:29-12:2. This is a gory pericope; our forefathers and foremothers in the faith are tortured, killed, eaten by lions. These are the "great cloud of witnesses" we so often talk about in church. And they witnessed to some crazy shit, let me tell you. So I offered up some questions in my sermon, about the Holy Ghost, and ghosts in general. About our quest for spiritual experience and our fascination surrounding paranormal and unexplainable activities. I preached and talked and wondered. And then I waited.
I knew it would happen and it did. Folks came out of the woodwork to tell me their ghost stories. About spooky houses and dead grandmothers. How these weird events have a spiritual tenor and are both terrifying and comforting to contemplate. I felt a tingling along the back of my neck as people told me their stories. Folks sought me out -- they called the church to make appointments to tell me what happened twenty-five years ago in another country. It was great -- we could see how the Bible actually intersected with their lives. I secretly rubbed my hands together and exulted in the fun we were having. I have always loved to chat and chat; it is even better when conversations build and grow in surprising ways.
So, my answer is 'A' -- and more specifically -- I would answer 'A' as the preacher. When I hear the responses that people share after reflecting on a sermon for a day or two, I am often the one saying, "I never thought about it like that before."
Monday, August 20, 2007
This came from my uncle... remind you of anyone?
A woman was at her hairdresser's getting her hair styled for a trip to Rome. She mentioned the trip to the hairdresser, who responded: "Rome? Why would anyone want to go there? It's crowded and dirty.You're crazy to go to Rome. So, how are you getting there?" "We're taking Continental, we got a great rate!" "Continental?" exclaimed the hairdresser. "That's a terrible airline." Their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly, and they're always late. So, where are you staying in Rome?" "We'll be at this exclusive little place over on Rome's Tiber River called Teste."
"Don't go any further. I know that place. Everybody thinks it's going to be something special and exclusive, but it's really a dump, the worst hotel in the city! The rooms are small, the service is surly, and they are over-priced. So, whatcha' doing when you get there?" "We're going to go to see the Vatican and we hope to see the Pope." "That's rich," laughed the hairdresser, "You and a million other people are trying to see him. He'll look the size of an ant. Good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You're going to need it."
A month later, the woman again came in for a hairdo. The hairdresser asked her about her trip to Rome . "It was wonderful," explained the woman, "Not only were we on time in one of Continental's brand new planes, but it was over booked and they bumped us up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a handsome steward who waited on me hand and foot. And the hotel was great! They'd just finished a 5 million dollar remodeling job and now it's a jewel, the finest hotel in the city. They too were overbooked, so they apologized and gave us their owner's suite at no extra charge!"
"Well," muttered the hairdresser, "that's all well and good, but I know you didn't get to see the Pope." "Actually, we were quite lucky, because as we toured the Vatican , a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder, and explained that the Pope likes to meet some of the visitors, and if I'd be so kind as to step into his private room and wait, the Pope would personally greet me. Sure enough, five minutes later, the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand, I knelt down, and he spoke a few words to me."
"Oh, really? What'd he say?" "The Pope asked me, "Where'd you get the ugly hairdo?"
Sunday, August 19, 2007
The best I seem to do when blogging on Sunday afternoons is to write a few bullet points...
- Church went well this morning. It was my first Sunday leading worship since coming here without the Head of Staff present. It was not a big deal, but I still had some of those "first day of school"-style dreams last night. You know the kind I mean; you forgot to prepare a sermon. You are late to church. You aren't dressed appropriately. You keep getting sidetracked by parishioners on your way to the sanctuary. I assume every profession has some version of this dream... My mom still has them before she begins a new school year of teaching.
- We are making progress on our home improvement. The fabulous antique fireplace mantel is being worked on right now. Brett put the first coat of stain on it yesterday and it is gorgeous. We shopped for a mirror to go over the mantle and found one in our price range that is really pretty.
- There are some really good antique stores in the area. We tried to find a mirror in one of those stores, but ended up with a new mirror at a great price. (Sorry, GGF... I tried to do it the junque/garbage/thrifty way...)
- While in one of the antique stores we met a couple with a daughter from Guatemala. The wife was also named Alex. Weird. I remember reading her blog while she was going through the adoption process. LM -- were you the one who originally emailed me the link to her blog?
- I am working this week and then taking a few days of vacation starting this Friday. We are not going anywhere, but I am looking forward to relaxing and hanging out. Thomas and I will probably go and get our memberships at the zoo and the children's museum. (Lily is still going to hang out with the Methodists; Tom doesn't go back to preschool until after Labor Day).
- Wednesday is our appointment at the INS for their Certificates of Citizenship. YAY!
- Ciao for now! Time to toss my monkeys in the bathtub...
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I have a confession to make. (Those of you who know me well already know this about me, so don't say you are shocked...) I am often the last creature to awaken in our house. My dearest partner gets up very early on most mornings -- often at 5:00. Our daughter is also an early riser; I secretly think she realized when she was an tiny infant that getting up early would afford her some rare daddy/baby-girl time every day. I am the one who can sleep and sleep. This fact has caused more than a few disagreements in our marriage. In fact, I have often noticed just how soundly I can sleep in the hour or two I am afforded after Brett gets up. The sounds of him puttering in the kitchen, going outside to get the paper, grinding the coffee beans, feeding the cats, toasting breakfast for our son, chasing our daughter to give her a clean diaper -- these activities of care give me such assurance that I can enter into the dreamless, perfect sleep of someone who is truly blessed.
But once in a great while -- like today -- I am the one who gets up first. My spouse is so grateful on these rare occasions when I hoist myself out of our warm bed. And as I do the puttering -- giving the kids their vitamins, opening the house to catch a couple of hours worth of cool air -- I silently pray in thankgiving for my family, for the ways in which I am loved, for good coffee and cats that swish about my feet, mewing for their breakfast. I am thankful for our neighbor and her nice dog (Gina, a VERY fat corgi). I am thankful for our newly-painted fence. I am thankful for this Saturday, with the promise of an antiquing expedition and lunch of grilled cheese or club sandwiches at some small diner.
For Christmas, GGF and her Mesmerizing Husband gave me the priest and nun Barbie dolls. They gave my husband the Mary Oliver volume, Why I Wake Early. Here is the poem of that title:
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the face of the tulips
and nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety --
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light --
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day,
in happiness, in kindness.
Friday, August 17, 2007
|You Are Miss Piggy|
A total princess and diva, you're totally in charge - even if people don't know it.
You want to be loved, adored, and worshiped. And you won't settle for anything less.
You're going to be a total star, and you won't let any of the "little people" get in your way.
Just remember, piggy, never eat more than you can lift!
This one is patterned off an old Friday 5 written by Songbird, our Friday Five Creator Emerita: Below you will find five words. Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem or a story.
1. vineyard -- the great little gift shop next to a wonderful coffee house -- I've purchased jewelry at the Vineyard as gifts for friends
2. root -- my husband, as he pronounces this word the Arkie way -- 'rut'
3. rescue -- a song from my one of my son's TV obsessions, Go Diego Go (Diego is the cousin of Dora the Explorer), "Rescue pack, comin' to the rescue"...
4. perseverance -- what I am attempting this week, as I get back into my exercise routine after a lazy summer
5. divided -- my opinion on many topics these days
Thursday, August 16, 2007
My big boy and my little boy came to my office this morning and assembled three new bookcases. My office looks great -- I am happy with the current organization and there is now room for Father Ken and Sister Barbara to live out in the open.
I had a pastoral visit with someone this morning. It is a strange feeling, to have a 75-year-old ask for your permission to do something in their own private life. It is an even stranger feeling to know that you are answering for your Office -- in the sense of, "I talked with my minister and she felt it was a good idea. We prayed together for guidance and discernment..."
Tomorrow is my day off. A parishioner asked me to attend a lecture he is giving at a local Senior Center on the topic of "Women in American History". In the spirit of 'well behaved women rarely make history' or whatever the pithy, feminist bumper sticker is, I will not be attending the lecture. I've spent enough time in the office this week.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
I have a question for you preachers out there... which response would you rather receive when you are shaking hands in the narthex after a sermon?
a) You know, I never thought about it like that?
b) You know, that is so true.
Please explain your answer.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
This terrifies me. What do other congregations do to maintain some sort of security while simultaneously remaining open to guests and visitors? Prayers for this congregation.
It is odd for me to remember that I ever worried that Thomas wasn't learning to talk. He is now so hyper-articulate that we often beg him for a few moments of silence. I do love his little idiosyncrasies -- like a minute ago when he said, "Mami, I very love you."
Lily is walking around with a water bottle cradled in a blanket. She tells it, "Oh, you are a cute baby." A few seconds later she says, "I have to drink you."
They have spread all of their toy food and dishes all over the floor of the den. When I went to pick up some of the mess before Mr. Clean gets home, Thomas told me not to ruin their picnic. Well, fine.
I guess I should think about dinner. I keep meaning to start a post about my week in Washington DC, but everything I think to write sounds inadequate or has been recorded on another blog already. Suffice it to say that the week was fabulous. The best conference I can remember. I will get to some of the details later.
Until then, you can see some of the details here. I am standing on the back row of the group photo.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
My husband wrote me the following joke:
How many bleeding heart liberal pastor chicks does it take to change a lightbulb?
Around three -- because two are too blabby to shut up and change the lightbulb. As a result, Alex punches them and they have to go to the hospital. The third one is generally smart enough to just change the lightbulb without mentioning how oppressed God's little children are.
Make of that what you will.
We are having a good time here. It is unbelievably hot and humid. There are some excellent women and I'm enjoying learning from them. The Cathedral is amazing.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
- I leave in the morning for the Young Clergywomen conference in Washington DC. I can't wait to see many of you there! I am a little embarrassed about how much I am packing, but I have to bring a number of pairs of essential shoes. (I am my mother's daughter, after all, and one wouldn't want to be caught without proper footwear...)
- Trader Joe's is amazing. They now sell dark chocolate covered SOY beans. Yum and good for you.
- A woman at church complimented me this morning and said I was "finally wearing enough makeup". Do male pastors get harassed about their appearance so much? Sheesh.
- We are getting our kitchen remodeled! The contractor cannot start until mid-to-late September, but since this kitchen has not been upgraded in my lifetime, I figure another 6 weeks will be worth the wait.
- Ta-ta for now! I will be back next weekend. I could promise some juicy stories from the conference, but you know what they say -- what happens at a women's ministry conference... well, you know...
Saturday, August 04, 2007
This church person profile was submitted by one of my loyal readers. Details have been changed to protect the innocent (and the guilty):
"Church Person #4 is an inveterate blabbering extrovert, the perfect person to call when you're trying to avoid working. Plus: her husband is retired clergy and she's a retired church musician, and they've seen and therefore know everything, and she's just got more opinions and ideas and advice and directives and suggestions and prescriptions about how to make Your Church a more terrific church than you could ever begin to imagine, despite the fact that she's ooops not a member and only marginally attends and even refers to herself as church shopping. Church person #4 is a big fan of You (the Pastor), which only motivates her to bestow that much wisdom upon this rather green but promising pastor and ask 'Just how is Your Church going to find its place in the sun? What can Your Church do better than any other church in town?' Because as we know, outdoing the other churches, shining, this is what a church is meant to do, and by shining I don't necessarily mean a city on a hill or a lamp on a lampstand, but just emanating its own self-generated glory, which, let's face it, is mainly a matter of excellent music. Although good preaching is also nice."
LOL -- my loyal readers are quite funny! But you all know this one is so, so true...
Friday, August 03, 2007
This story really impresses me. Talk about living out your mission! Stories like this give me hope for our denomination.
August 1, 2007
Small church takes huge risk, goes buildingless
Congregation moves to retirement home, invests proceeds in mission
By Emily Enders Odom
MIJHH communications coordinator
Faced with declining membership, dwindling revenues, and an aging, non-handicapped accessible building, the Buechel Presbyterian Church here joyfully embraced what it saw as its only viable option for survival.
Rather than close its doors to future generations, the congregation voted in August 2006 to sell its building and make its new home across the street at Westminster Terrace, a neighboring independent living home.
The congregation held its first service at the retirement facility in late September 2006, the same time that the church building was put up for sale.
“The timing and the process were nothing short of a miracle,” said the Rev. Judy Hockenberry, Buechel’s temporary supply pastor, reflecting on how quickly and easily the congregation was led to its decision.
Of the church’s 50 worshiping members, only about five people did not make the transition to Westminster Terrace. The rest have “adapted beautifully” to the new situation, according to Hockenberry.
“They are a living witness to what we say we believe it means to be church,” she said. “In taking this action, they have said ‘it is more important to us to be with these same people as to where we meet with these same people.’”
For its part, Westminster Terrace, a facility of Presbyterian Homes & Services of Kentucky, opened wide its doors of welcome. The Rev. Hattie Wagner, a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) minister who was then serving Westminster Terrace as director for pastoral care, made it possible for the church to be fully integrated into the retirement home’s programmatic ministry.
Westminster’s administration further decided that since there would be no incremental costs associated with hosting the Buechel church, there would be no rent required.
“This was a Presbyterian situation,” an amazed Hockenberry mused. “It couldn’t be this easy!”
And yet, for this little band of God’s people, it grew ever easier.
When Mark A. Gray arrived at Presbyterian Homes & Services of Kentucky on June 4, 2007, as its new president and CEO, Hattie Wagner was promoted to vice president for mission advancement, and was directed to choose her successor. Wagner immediately asked Hockenberry if she would be interested in serving as Westminster Terrace’s chaplain, with responsibilities, of course, for the Buechel church.
Hockenberry, who is presently employed full time with the PC(USA) as an associate for curriculum development as well as serving Buechel as temporary supply pastor, accepted the offer. Her last day at the Presbyterian Center here will be Aug. 9.
“God’s hand is so obvious here,” Hockenberry said. “Of course God is always there, but sometimes you can literally see God’s hand at work. This is one of those times.”
When Buechel’s building sold in April 2007, conversations began in earnest about how the proceeds should be spent. The session of the Buechel church immediately thought of the Mission Initiative: Joining Hearts & Hands (MIJHH).
MIJHH is a five-year campaign of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to raise $40 million for new overseas missionaries and church growth in this country, particularly racial ethnic and immigrant congregations.
The Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky, to which the Buechel church belongs, is currently partnered with MIJHH in a $1 million fundraising effort to support four major presbytery initiatives, including the development of a ministry strategy for the presbytery’s growing Hispanic/Latino population, which has been a key focus in recent years for Buechel.
One of the church’s hopes to rebuild its declining membership was to develop a Hispanic ministry. For years, the congregation sponsored ESL and citizenship classes, and in its current location at Westminster Terrace, still provides bilingual worship and simultaneous translation of the sermon for three church members of Cuban descent.
When the congregation, which has a long history of tithing for mission, made the connection between its own growing edge and the presbytery’s, their decision became obvious. They voted to designate 10% of the sale of the church building to the Hispanic/Latino piece of the presbytery’s vision for Joining Hearts & Hands.
At the July 16, 2007, meeting of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, the Buechel church presented presbytery campaign co-chairs, the Rev. Phil Lloyd-Sidle and Elder Augusta Thomas, with a check in the amount of $41,301, the largest gift to date in the Mid-Kentucky campaign. The presbytery is now a third of the way toward its $1 million goal.
In her prayer of thanksgiving before the presbytery, Hockenberry expressed gratitude to God that her congregation was in a position to give. She also prayed that Buechel might serve as an inspiration to other churches.
“This was truly a God thing,” said the Rev. Betty L. Meadows, general presbyter for Mid-Kentucky. “Because Hispanic ministry is their heart and soul, the session of Buechel covenanted to make this amazing gift. It is simply awesome!
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Today I spent time with someone that I do not know very well. And in the course of our conversation, it came to light that this person and her spouse are in the beginning stages of the adoption process. They are hoping for an open, domestic adoption, with the first mother making some sort of commitment to the potential adoptive parents before the birth of the child. This is called a "pre-birth" match in the adoption world. I am very opposed to these matches. I think it is likely to be emotionally coercive for the first mother to commit to an adoption before she has given birth, before she has seen her child, etc. (Of lesser concern is that the potential adoptive parents will be hurt or disappointed if the mother "changes her mind".) I am in favor of post-birth matches, where mothers decide after they have given birth that they are choosing not to parent the child. Potential adoptive parents should come onto the scene at this point, in my opinion.
So I told this person how I felt. I shared some of my experiences as an adoptive parent. I talked about what I have learned in my five years of adoption advocacy. And I could see in her eyes that what I was sharing what pretty scary, and pretty different from what her adoption agency has talked about. But I hope I planted a tiny seed that the mother of her future adoptive child needs to be a true member of the adoption triad. I hope that she can take a long view of the situation -- past her desperate (and understandable) desire to parent.
Adoption and its personal stamp on the life of my family has introduced so much joy. But I continue to experience ambivalence about adoption. In a perfect world, children would always be healthy and happy being parented by their biological families. In a perfect world, infertility would not be an expensive and heart-wrenching problem. In a perfect world, all sorts of families would exist without prejudice. In a perfect world, our relationships would be whole and without complication. Come, Lord Jesus, eh?