Last time we took a look at the growing trend of single-parent adoptions. I told you about the gut-punching moment I experienced when a friend said “If I’m not married by 35, I am going to adopt.” I showed you the statistics of what children without fathers are up against. Namely: Early sexual activity, more likely to end up in jail, substance abuse, depression and suicidal thoughts to name a few. I followed it up with more personal testimonies including a man raised by homosexual women, who was adamantly against adoptions that intentionally place children in fatherless homes.

This is more than statistics though. I think what it comes down to is an issue of the heart. When a single woman says, “If I’m not married by (insert age here), I will adopt,” she is really saying her main concern is herself. The problem with “I” statements is that they focus on the person making the statement. “When I am done doing… I will…” “When I have given up hope of marriage...” “I don’t need a man to get what I want and a baby is what I want.” I will fulfill my desire to be called mommy because I have a right to what I want.”

The statement “I have the right and deserve to be called mommy” is a product of selfishness. And that, my friends’ is where the difference is between this kind of attitude and the attitude of women like Gladys Aylward (see part 1 ). Aylward didn’t adopt those children because she felt her plans weren’t working out like she thought, or because she felt that she was being ripped off from something she deserved. She did it out of necessity and love. And that is what adoption should be about: The love and care of a child who needs it. Adoption should be focused on the child and what is best for him or her, not the self-centered desire of a woman who thinks she deserves the right to a particular title.

 Children are not toys to be picked up and purchased whenever and however we want. They aren’t an item to be placed on our “to-do” list. As my friend John Stonestreet said in a recent BreakPoint commentary, “Participating in their [children’s] procreation and rearing is an enormous blessing… They’re not something to get around to once all of our other life goals have been achieved. And they’re certainly not a means to achieving our own personal happiness, an exercise of our reproductive rights, or one more item to check off the bucket list.”

I’d like to shift gears here for a minute and get personal. In part 1 - I talked about why I felt I’d been punched in the gut when my friend made her declaration. I alluded to it last time, but I’d like to go a little deeper with it.

I am a father-less child. According to the Canadian Government, in 2005 I became an orphan. I was even given a scholarship/grant that was entitled “Orphan’s Benefits” (try filling out the paperwork for that one every year; I personally dreaded it). Because I lost my father when I was sixteen, I know what life is like with and without a father. The idea that someone would intentionally place a child in the same situation I find myself in not only breaks my heart but it makes me angry. Not hateful anger, but the type of righteous anger one feels when they see or hear about a child being abused.

Every day I live with the reminder that something is missing in my life. Just this morning my co-worker showed me a fun video of a father-daughter dance. The song transitioned between many different dances including the “Twist” [one of my favorites]. While I smiled and laughed along, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness. I’m never going to have that.

It happens quite frequently in my life: I see a father cutting the lawn with his daughter/son riding on his lap. “I have no father.” The purchase of my first car: No dad to call for advice or to help me shop. Graduation from college: while other students were getting hugs from their daddies and taking family photos, I was wandering around with my friend looking for people to take pictures with. My first year after college, I lived in three countries which meant I was moving every three months, sometimes to a new country, sometimes between two countries: No father to help me process the whirlwind of a journey I’d been on. First date: no dad to call with anticipation and ask for advice. First boyfriend… You get the idea.

Let me pause here and say that I’ve had many father figures who have stepped into the father-like roll with each new step I’ve taken forward. I am so grateful to each of these men who tried to fill the role of a man who wouldn’t. But when it comes right down to it, none of these relationships have satisfied or filled the void left by my father. And like Jean-Dominique Bunel, from part one of this blog series; I feel it as an “amputation.”

And like an amputation, I’ve fallen into a type of routine that allows me to function in spite of the absence. Yet the moment always comes where the use of that “limb” and only that limb, will get the job done. It is in that moment where the pain comes back like a searing hot knife and I experience the loss all over again, sometimes worse than the pain I experienced in the beginning.  

So far I’ve lived about 8 years with this “amputation.” But I’ve already experienced some of the effects that children who have lived all their lives without a father experience. Depression: Check; Thoughts of suicide: Double check. Thoughts of cutting: 365 checks(and that is being generous). Even those effects that I haven’t personally experienced, I’ve seen in the lives of children and young men and women around me. Trouble with academics: Check; Substance abuse: You better believe it. The list goes on and on… (Here’s a thought: next time you meet a kid or adult struggling in one of these areas, ask them about their home life and childhood. I’m willing to bet that, more often than not, they come from a single-parent home.)

Even with my “limited” fatherless-experience, I can hardly begin to imagine what a child, who grows up their whole life without a father, feels and experiences. To start from day one without a father: First word, first day of school, first home-run, first date, driver’s permit, first new car, first day of college…. All these things and so much more. To walk through life watching the fathers and daughters or fathers and sons around you and know that is how life was supposed to be, to know that you were intentionally denied the love of a father… I find that down-right cruel and insulting. It is insulting on a deeply personal level. It is insulting to my pain, as a fatherless child. It says that my pain is and means nothing. I feel that as a slap in the face. If you knew and understood on even a minuscule level what it is like to live with this amputation every day, you would not be willing to put a child in the same position. That’s not love; that’s selfishness and that, my friends, is the truth of the matter.