It appears that Luke Skywalker wants you to fear the Joker. Mark Hamill, best known for his “Star Wars” role, took to Twitter this Independence Day weekend to mock pro-lifers who are willing to adopt the babies of women who choose adoption over abortion. He used a picture of the Joker, a villain whose voice Hamill provides in a television cartoon, to add to the overwrought climate of fear in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade. (For what it’s worth, the fictional Luke Skywalker and his sister, Leia, were both adopted.)
Speaking of celebrities, one news story reported that actress Debra Messing from “Will and Grace” had been on a White House call, “fed up” with Joe Biden for apparently not doing more to insist on the right to abortion. We can assume that Biden’s new executive order was meant to win back Grace.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s rhetorical and legislative attacks on pregnancy resource centers miss the fact that there are life-giving options for women in unplanned pregnancies, which, yes, include adoption. Forced parenthood is not a thing, even with protections in the law for the innocent unborn. As Good Counsel maternity home founder Chris Bell, for one, frequently testifies, most women and girls who reach out for help during pregnancy think, at first, that they cannot be mothers. What they need is confidence, support and options. Instead of caricaturing the adoption option, how about considering that mediating institutions like churches and other faith-based entities can be some of the most hopeful and loving supports for the most vulnerable?
Back in May, Jo Luehmann, a former Christian pastor with a significant number of followers, tweeted: “I would rather get an abortion than have a Brown child who ends up being adopted by white evangelicals. It is not a kindness to children of the global majority to give them to people who’ll traumatize them with self and ancestral hatred. An abortion is an act of love.” From Google searches, it is clear that she has encountered people who were hurt by people in Christian churches. We know this has happened. The wounds and crimes are real. But there is often little incentive for the telling of stories of people saved by Christian faith and people living the Beatitudes, serving their neighbor and the most vulnerable.
The book “No Way to Treat a Child: How the Foster Care System, Family Courts, and Racial Activists Are Wrecking Young Lives” by Naomi Schaefer Riley is important post-Roe summer reading. As the title suggests, the majority of the book talks about problems. Chapter 10, however, radiates hope, telling just some of the stories of people of faith who foster and adopt. In another chapter, the author writes about a foster mother who, in her spare time, rocks babies in a neonatal intensive care unit because every child deserves love and comfort. The whole book should be required reading for everyone who cares to voice an opinion on matters conventionally considered “women’s issues.” Abortion, we are told, is necessary for freedom and even the health care of women. The truth is, we are talking about children and their welfare — their very lives.
Families and communities can, and do, rally around those who need help and hope and love. Riley reports on some of the organizations that connect churches with state and local agencies to recruit and train more foster families. They are part of the “More than Enough” initiative from the Christian Alliance for Orphans, which has as its goal getting at least one family in 10 percent of U.S. churches involved in foster care. The group figures that would mean a home for every child in foster care. And contrary to the caricatures, CAFO certainly doesn’t insist on every child in foster care becoming evangelical Christians.
These groups do the work of love that Jesus showed in the Gospels — the stuff of the Sermon on the Mount. And if all Christians took the Biblical injunctions to care for the orphan seriously, it would become second nature.
If we are going to take the opportunity of Dobbs to be a more loving country, we’re going to all have to learn more, do more and talk with one another more. Scare-mongering social media and politics aren’t the best venues for finding common ground.
Go to the peripheries, Pope Francis helpfully says. The peripheries are often the deeper conversations we don’t have with those closest to us.