Bliss. The word pretty much describes our first nine years of marriage. My husband, John, and I moved around a lot — Nebraska, Wisconsin and Hawaii. After arriving in the Aloha State, John worked as an Air Force recruiter while I served as the leader of a pro-family organization. Outside of work we lived an idyllic life: We taught Sunday school to preschoolers, dined at our favorite restaurants, traveled to visit family, watched lots of movies and otherwise fully engaged in the life of our church. We were happy, content folks.
Then everything changed, big time.
While championing families, children and the preborn at the Hawaii State Capitol, I came across some allies who worked with the foster care system. As a pro-life advocate, I wanted to remove barriers to better advance the cause of adoption, so I partnered with these good people. Through their friendship, John and I learned about the hundreds of children stuck in the system, waiting for permanent families … modern-day orphans right in our own community.
Early in our marriage we had talked about adoption, and were open to it, but we never seriously pursued it. We'd agreed that we'd adopt any baby who would otherwise be aborted, and once we learned about kids languishing in foster care awaiting adoption, it occurred to us: Why would these kids be any different? Why wouldn't we also be willing to adopt them? Our pro-life passion and Christian commitment compelled us to take action, and our hearts broke at the thought of kiddos who had no family to call their own.
We brought 6-month-old Daniel home in August 2000. Over the next six years, we opened our home to three more little ones. Our children came to us already battle-worn. As Team Rosati — our family nickname — we have together faced the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome, mental illness, generational addiction and learning disabilities. Our children know that nothing can quench our love for them, just as God's love for us is fierce and deeply rooted. We all need to know that we are deeply loved and that we are not alone.
Raising children is not for the faint of heart. Caring for a parent with dementia or a child with special needs requires divine perseverance. Foster care and adoption are fraught with unknowns. Opening your home to a refugee family requires sacrifice and courage. Advocating for children dying around the world from preventable diseases takes precious time and energy. Choosing to not abort a disabled child requires a season or even a lifetime of courage and dedication, and often comes at great personal cost.
There are risks when we declare our pro-life intentions. It reminds me of the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10, when Jesus shares the parable of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who is attacked by thieves. The man is beaten, robbed and left for dead.
A priest travels the same road, but when he sees the man, he passes by on the other side. Another man, a Levite, comes along, but again, he passes on the other side. Finally a Samaritan comes upon the injured man and has compassion on him. He tends to the man's wounds. He puts the man on his own donkey and takes him to an inn. The next day he pays the innkeeper and says, "Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back."
The priest wouldn't risk disgrace or defilement by touching a dying human being. The Levite, of a lower social cast, most likely didn't wish to risk his reputation. Yet the Samaritan risked all those things and more — including several days' wages — to care for a stranger.
Similar to the Samaritan, Jesus risks everything. He touches the unclean, the leper and the sinner. He travels to places where the lost, the outcast and the needy congregate. Ultimately, He lays down His life for every human life.
Christian writer Henri Nouwen says, "Love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking."
John and I made the choice to adopt, to hope, to risk, to love. Many would say that we no longer live in bliss. But we have love and purpose in the midst of hardship, and we experience dimensions of God's goodness that we wouldn't have known otherwise. This is the life God has called us to, and He and His plans are good. We live in perilous times, with lives that are preciously short. We have to trust God that defending life in all of its expressions is worth it.
Love is a risk worth taking.