First, thank you for your kind thoughts and words yesterday. Today is less sad for everyone here. The sun still shines, the manure still stinks, but I forged ahead and baked a chocolate cake.
I got something in the mail the other day that my mind keeps turning over and over. I'm feeling peevish about this mail, a little self-righteous in my indignation, too. A family we know, not well but distantly, mailed us a request for money. They're adopting a boy from Africa and they'd like their church family to help support this choice through prayer and financial donations.
I'm pro-choice in the sense that I believe you choose whether to have a baby (or not). My friends who choose to have only a couple of babies don't ask me for support, neither do my friends who choose to have no babies. My friends who've opted for expensive fertilization treatments to have babies don't ask me for cash towards their doctor bills. And my friends who choose to adopt or foster children don't ask me for support. I acknowledge the considerable expense of having babies, having had 3 myself. I also know it's expensive to adopt a baby, whether from America or another country. While I applaud their courage to help this boy, I feel miffed that they're soliciting donations to their worthy cause.
It's one thing to get an invitation to a baby shower to help a new family get started. The gifts flow out of love and excitement. It's one thing to feel inspired by hearing about this family's adoption and voluntarily mail them a check of support. It's another thing to get a postage-paid envelope in the mail with a form letter requesting my charitable dollars. In my view, if you can't afford this choice, don't make it. It's each family's individual decision to have the size of family they are comfortable providing for--don't go adding to it if you can't hack it.
Does this sound harsh? Believe me, I'm not heartless. I feel charitable towards neighbors with five kids and the parents have been out of work for the past year and it's tough feeding everyone. Those situations break my heart and I feel a huge sense of obligation to pitch in. With open hands I've stepped forward to assist families battling terminal illnesses and medical bills, disasters like house fires, victims of accidents. But an international adoption is a planned event, the kind of thing you sort out before hopping on a plane. You should know before you get your passport whether it's an affordable choice. And you should not be looking to your friends and neighbors to foot that bill.
It makes me think about another family whose 5 daughters keep going on mission trips. They regularly mail us requests for money to pay their way overseas. When I was 18 I spent my summer in Egypt on a mission trip, working at the Lillian Trasher Orphanage. I paid for that trip largely out of my own pocket. Yes, some people financially supported my decision to go, but the bulk of the funds came out of my savings account and graduation gifts. I felt very uncomfortable asking people to pay my way anywhere, especially as it was my calling to go, not theirs. These girls going on mission trips are no doubt doing great things, but I don't like them asking me to help fund their Campus Crusade ministry over spring break in Florida. I think they should pay for these trips themselves.
For the same reasons I don't like people asking me to fund their overseas adoptions. Your good works shouldn't come out of someone else's wallet. That doesn't make it your good works and it isn't biblical. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." He says again in 2 Thessalonians 3:8 "Nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any o f you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'If a man will not work, he shall not eat.'" The Bible is full of directives to serve the poor, the foreigner, the widows and the orphans. We're supposed to do good works. But I'm not getting the message that we're supposed to ask other people to pay for our Christian charity in this way.
Spill it, reader. How would you feel?