We adopted our first child when she was 11 days old. We were told by the social worker that her birth mother loved her dearly but could not offer the life she hoped for the child. Hearing this, we informed the social worker that we would be willing to have birth mom meet the baby anytime she wanted to.
After two blissful months of new parenting, we got the call. Birth mom wanted to meet the baby. We agreed, and when the day for the meeting arrived, we were nervous.
“What if she acts like she is the parent and we are not?”
“What if she gets upset that we are the parents?”
We waited in the room for birth mom to enter. We were told not to offer her an opportunity to hold the baby. Then the door opened. Birth mom entered and her eyes went straight to our daughter. Birth mom was red-faced and teary-eyed.
In that instant, all the energy from every corner of the room focused on the baby. My wife, a mom holding her baby, immediately stood up and offered the baby to her birth mom. She sat, holding her baby, cooing love, admiration and awe.
In that moment, we realized that all three of us were parents who thought this baby was the most magnificent creature on earth. In a sense, all four of us in that room became a family.
Love is what makes a family. This love knows no bounds. It celebrates the life-giving gift of children and welcomes inclusive broadening for the sake of all its members. Birth mom had made the decision to give our daughter life. She also made the sacrificial choice to also give our daughter a life. That is where we came in. With our daughter at the centre, birth mom, mom, and dad all had vital roles to play in the well-being of this one child. It was not a competition, but a companioning.
It is the same for all families. With God at the centre, we can become communities open to the radical love that welcomes all and includes anyone who will companion us in love. At its best, family is never a closed unit, but a community of persons who work on completing God’s will for them in the world.
So, for life and family we pray…
God of life and love,
strengthen us to see the value of life.
Guide us to a wisdom that chooses life no matter the struggle,
embolden us to act to protect life and the living,
that having life is just the beginning,
and having a life of joy, security, and justice
is your will for all,
and a duty for everyone to ensure.
Bless fathers and mothers,
Bless grandparents, aunties and uncles,
Bless cousins, friends and all who companion.
Bless all and any who are family to others.
Together, may every family,
in their rich diversity of composition
be sources of righteousness and faith,
committed to your message of love,
and your cry for justice in our world.
We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ,
the Son of Mary and Joseph as well.
More information and resources for the National Family and Life Week can be found here.
Michael Way Skinner is a retired Coordinator of Religion, Family Life and Equity
with the York Catholic District School Board. He was a contributing author to World
Religions: A Canadian Catholic Perspective, and co-authored There Must be a Pony in Here Somewhere (Novalis, 2020) with his wife Christine Way Skinner. Michael is a public speaker and award-winning educator who is deeply committed to faith as a source for inclusion and justice.