Not by Nature but by Grace: Forming Families through Adoption

University of Notre Dame Pess
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Working from within the contours of Christian faith, this book examines the relation between two ways of forming families—through nature (by procreation) and through history (by adoption). Christians honor the biological tie between parents and children, for it is the work of God in creation. Yet Christians cannot forget that it is adoption, and not simply natural descent, that is at the center of the New Testament’s depiction of God’s grace. Gilbert Meilaender takes up a range of issues raised by the practice of adoption, always seeking to do justice to both nature and history in the formation of families, while keeping at the center of our vision the truth that it is not by nature but by grace that we can become adopted children of the one whom Jesus called his Father. Meilaender begins with reflection on the puzzling relation of nature and history in forming families and proceeds to unpack the meaning of huiothesia, the word used in the New Testament to name the grace by which a follower of Jesus becomes an adopted child of God. That perspective is applied to a range of questions that regularly arise in Christian theological discussions of adoption: Is adoption only for the infertile? Should single persons adopt? Is it wise for adoption to take place across racial or national boundaries? Special attention is paid to the relation between adoption and new reproductive technologies and to what is called “embryo adoption.” Interspersed between the chapters are letters written by the author to his own son by adoption. But if the argument of the book is taken seriously, these letters are written not to one who falls within a special category of “adopted son or daughter,” but to one who is, simply and entirely, a son or daughter.
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About the author

Gilbert C. Meilaender is senior research professor at Valparaiso University and Paul Ramsey Fellow at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. His books include Meditations on Christ's Words from the Cross, Should We Live Forever?: The Ethical Ambiguities of Aging, and Neither Beast Nor God: The Dignity of the Human Person.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Notre Dame Pess
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Published on
Aug 26, 2016
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Pages
120
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ISBN
9780268100711
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Language
English
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Genres
Family & Relationships / Adoption & Fostering
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Religion / Christian Life / Family
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These are the faces that call me “mom,” the three children who made me a mother.

When I started my journey into parenthood I never thought it would look like this. I never planned on having three adopted children, and I certainly never imagined that two of them would have Down syndrome. But like most of the things God does, once we stepped into the craziness and confusion of the unknown and unplanned, we quickly realized that we were indeed among the lucky few.

When my husband and I decided to grow our family ten years ago, we were surprised to find that getting pregnant was not as easy as we had thought it would be. And as we navigated the ups and downs of infertility, God led us down the path of adoption. Of course, we would adopt! Not what we had originally planned, but certainly a wonderful option.

But just as we began to get a comfortable grasp on growing our family through adoption, God introduced us to Macyn Hope, a very sick little girl with Down syndrome who desperately needed a family. As we continued to follow God’s calling, first with Macyn, and later with Truly and then August, we found ourselves further and further from the comfortable paths we thought our lives would take, and instead moving down some very scary, and often painful roads.

Even though at times His plan seemed terrifying and even downright foolish, little could we have known how much goodness, blessing, and joy would flow out of loving these three little people He’s put into our lives. No, it’s not been easy: not the open-heart surgeries or the challenges of raising two children with Down syndrome or the complexities of dealing with birth-families or the struggles we’ve had with the public education system. But through it all, every new and uncomfortable situation has only proven to be another chance to see how very good God’s plan is for our lives and how downright lucky we are to be able to live it out.

It’s only the lucky few that recognize that the most beautiful things in this life are often found in the differences. What some would see as misfortune, I’ve learned to see as nothing more than pure luck.


"My mommy didn't carry me in her tummy, she carried me in her heart." Bailey, a 5-years old who was adopted from China. Her story is included in this book.

According to People magazine, parents from all over the country seek adoption expert and Worldwide Orphans Foundation founder Dr. Jane Aronson’s help “as if consulting a master detective.” Angelina Jolie praised Dr. Aronson’s “drive and ambition to help children dream” (Elle). Indeed, over the course of the past three decades, Dr. Aronson has touched the lives of thousands of adopted children from around the world and in this inspiring book she presents moving first-person testimonies from parents (and a few children themselves) whose lives have been blessed by adoption.

Divided into thematic sections—such as  "The Decision," "The Journey," and "The Moment We Met")—each prefaced by Dr. Aronson, this book introduces readers to Claude Knobler, a writer from Los Angeles whose journey to Ethiopia to adopt his son led to an unexpectedly moving encounter with the boy’s courageous birthmother; actor Mary Louise-Parker whose older adopted son’s bond with her newly adopted baby daughter was deep and unwavering from the instant the two children met; and Lynn Danzker, an entrepreneur who set off alone to adopt her son, Cole, and in the process, met and married her husband. The authors of these testimonies range from doctors to filmmakers, from financial consultants to celebrities—all of them bound by their moving and transformative experience as adoptive parents.




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