I heard a story awhile back, about a family who adopted a child and then un-adopted him when things didn’t work out…
I’m not sure if it was this story of Beth and Tom Remboldt: “Love Can’t Always Conquer All.”
Or if it was this story of the Conners: “Giving Up Adopted Children.”
Or if it was this article that mentioned Torry Ann Hansen, who put her 7-year-old back on a plane and sent him back to Russia alone: “Broken Adoptions.”
It could have been one of hundreds of stories of “re-homing”/”re-placement” of adopted children that are out there.
“A recent investigation by Reuters found Internet message boards dedicated to re-homing — with a new child advertised about once a week. While legal adoptions are handled through courts, a simple power-of-attorney document can shuffle kids to another guardian. Reporters discovered that with such little oversight, children were sometimes abused in their second, or even third, re-homing.”
But, the gist of all of these profiles is the same.
Bring a child into your home on the promise of “forever,” tell them they’re no different from your own, biological children, and then retract that promise.
Does that make you uncomfortable?
Because, deep down, we all know that unconditional love is supposed to mean U-N-C-O-N-D-I-T-I-O-N-A-L.
I hope we’re still at a place, culturally, where we can agree there’s something very, very wrong when a parent steps out of their child’s life completely.
Even when the entire family is in emotional crisis, what possible good comes from permanently cutting ties with one of the members?
Who will love the unloveable, if not his/her family?
The topic is on my mind because I’ve heard that Lysa Terkeurst, of Proverbs 31 Ministries, was “pursuing a divorce” from her husband of 25 years…
…and I wondered what the Church opinion would be if she were “pursuing a divorce” from a 25-year-old son or daughter of hers.
Could there be any reason to cut ties with a family member, in such an official and permanent way?
Personally, I can’t think of one. (Other than the obvious: to make it legally possible to remarry.) What other “benefit” could there be, to telling a loved one they’ve gone too far, and you’re officially, publicly finished with the relationship due to their failure to meet certain conditions?
What’s sad and frustrating is that Terkeurst herself was quoted a few years back being equally critical of divorce.
She wrote, “While temporary happiness may be found, divorce causes death — it harms not only the spouses involved but also their children and friends.”
That’s still true, even though Terkeurst believes she’s now being led by God himself to file for one.
Divorce is still an attempt to fix one wrong with another.
As Dr. David Crabtree (of Gutenberg College) says:
“Divorce is to adultery what price gouging is to armed robbery: essentially the same crime, varying only in degree of brutality. Adultery…is the breaking of one’s solemn promise; it is the treacherous betrayal of one’s closest friend. Divorce involves the same kind of betrayal; it may be legal, but it is still nasty.”
In light of this, I don’t see how filing for divorce can ever be a loving move.
My own promise doesn’t become null and void, just because my husband breaks his. I’m not suddenly at liberty to put myself above him, even if he does it first.
Of course, I do believe that separation is necessary sometimes, when physical abuse is a factor. But getting a lawyer involved to “finalize” a divorce, doesn’t actually make that situation better, either.
The other spouse is still abusive.
You’ve still got kids.
You’re still required to love him, even if from a distance.
Unfortunately, going to the courthouse and filing certain paperwork has a way of making us think we’ve solved a problem we haven’t.
Whether it’s the son/daughter who never bonded with the family properly, or the spouse who is continually unfaithful, responding by breaking your promise to them never makes sense.
I hope we haven’t sunk so far into Self-Protection Land that we’re unmoved by the examples I’ve shared.
But, I’m afraid we’re being nudged, a little at a time, to accept the lie that selfishness can be healthy–for both parents and spouses.
I wonder, to an extent, why any of us bothers making promises to anyone, at any time?
Because what’s the point? When, we talk about commitment and in the same breath we warn each other, “But anything can happen, so never say never!”
Why take any sort of solemn vow–ever–when we really mean “forever…unless it’s much harder than I thought.”
As for me, I’d rather be a lonely, celibate old lady–who has lived by herself and faithfully observed her wedding vows for decades, with no idea where her husband is–than to say “I did everything I could” and live with the guilt of knowing it wasn’t true.
One thing I can do is refuse to be the one who files for divorce.
And, even if I am served papers and given no legal choice, I can continue to live in faithfulness to my promises, no matter what anyone else does.
If one of my children turned into a sociopathic monster, I could put up barriers to keep the others safe while still making sure that child knows “You will ALWAYS be mine, and I will ALWAYS love you–whether I like you or not.”
That’s what faithfulness is.
Taking the “save yourself” route is never required.
I realize that’s radical. I know this is a huge sore spot for a lot of people and has gotten me into trouble before.
But what would happen if more outspoken, female leaders in the Church were this way?
I’m not talking about Anna Duggar or any other quiet, less-confidant woman who has been cheated on publicly and stayed with her husband. I’m talking about the loud, strong, stubborn sisters who aren’t afraid to be called “doormats” because they can explain for you exactly, unflinchingly why they believe the way they do about sacrifice.
What sort of changes might we see in marriages across the country, if our sons and daughters were THAT committed to being blameless and pure, word-keepers to the bitter end?
I like to believe that shuffling children from one temporary relationship to the next would be a thing of the past…
…and that giving up on spouses would be ancient history, too.