National Catholic Register


Letters 10.05.2008

BY The Editors

October 5-11, 2008 Issue | Posted 9/30/08 at 2:12 PM


Prayers for the Persecuted

As a priest from the Diocese of Dindigul, South India, I am very much pained to read about the persecutions of Christians in Orissa (“Like Being Tortured for Christ,” Sept. 14 and “India’s Newest Martyrs,” Sept. 28). I, along with the priests and religious of India working in America and the Christian communities living here, express our sympathy and solidarity and extend our prayers.

Pope John Paul II once said that the Word of God would spread in India through persecutions like in the early Church. We are privileged to have this blessing of spreading God’s Kingdom in our soil, though humanly speaking, it involves much struggle and experience of pain on our part. We pray that God may fill us, the disciples of Jesus in India, with a spirit of evangelization and perseverance to bear witness to the good news of Jesus.

Father M. Peter Amaladoss

St. Patrick Catholic Church

McCook, Nebraska

Catholic Hero? Not to Me

I was incredulous but intrigued as my friend began reading snippets of “Even Superheroes Need Superheroes” (Sept. 14) to me a few weeks ago. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard, “With all deference to The Robe and The Passion of the Christ, Hollywood hasn’t made movies as authentically Catholic as the Hellboy series since The Bells of St. Mary’s.” I only had the movie title and some dim memories of the advertising to go on, so I reserved judgment until I was able to rent Hellboy. I got my chance, and now I know my suspicions were well-founded.

This is the most misleading article I have ever read in the Register. There is nothing in the movie Hellboy that conveys what Mr. Stagnaro calls “authentically Catholic.” When asked if he is Catholic, Hellboy’s adoptive “father” replies, “among other things.” Yes, he carries a rosary around his wrist, but he is never seen praying. Mr. Stagnaro gives me the impression that he thinks hanging a rosary from my rearview mirror constitutes sufficient devotion. I disagree wholeheartedly. In my view, this type of representation of the Catholic faith only gives fuel to the argument that it’s a quaint but irrelevant cultural remnant of a bygone era.

Finally, I am not an expert, but I would think that authentically Catholic art would portray hideous red-skinned monsters with horns and tails as evil rather than as heroes. The Catholic references in this movie smack of the worst stereotypes about the one, true faith. Namely, superstition and ritual are its only offerings. I am disappointed to find that the Register would tacitly endorse Hellboy by publishing Mr. Stagnaro’s article outside of the opinion section of the paper.

Matt McMenaman

Wall, New Jersey

In Defense of Adoption

I had to read Melinda Selmys’ piece “It Is in Love That We Are Made” (Sept. 7) several times before I could believe my eyes. I’m sure she didn’t mean to, but her comments on adoption were so hurtful that I couldn’t let them pass.

First, she tells us of her own prejudices on meeting a “deeply disturbed” man who had been adopted as an infant, and how she “pictured his adoptive mother as a kind of monster, incapable of loving this child who had not come from her own womb ...” Thanks be to God, the writer learns she is wrong about the adoptive mother, but then she goes on to say, “It is a pattern that I have seen repeated throughout my encounters with adopted children.” What pattern is that? Disturbed children with adoptive parents who are trying hard, but without success, to reach them?

Ms. Selmys doesn’t say what her “encounters” have been that she bases this generalization on. She’s busy moving on to tell readers that “This is why parents — biological parents, both mother and father — are the best people to raise their own children.” Again, based on what experience? How can she be so unaware that when adoption occurs it is almost always due to crisis circumstances on the part of the biological couple, usually a single woman without support? Our four children, adopted both domestically and overseas, would have been raised by individuals who were drug addicts, involved in prostitution, and in the very best of circumstances, unwed and unemployed. Is this the “best” the writer refers to?

Now, I know she didn’t mean what she wrote. Ms. Selmys meant to say that in the best of all circumstances a baby is conceived in marital love and raised in that same love, as God intended. But that’s not what she wrote. She goes on to say, “There is a foundation of similarity; the heart of my daughter is closer to my own than the heart of someone else’s child.” Well, of course!

What she fails to understand is that we adoptive parents don’t see our children as “someone else’s.” They are our own, given to us by God in a miracle that differs from pregnancy and childbirth, but it is a miracle all the same.

Not every baby, unfortunately, is conceived in love. But every single one deserves to be raised in love.

Doreen M. Truesdell

Castleton-on-Hudson, New York

The author makes some unfortunate statements about adoption. It is true that God intended biological families to parent their offspring. However, Selmys overlooks some important points that our own faith as Catholics can bring to light. Her statements do not sound even remotely like this beautiful statement from John Paul II, in his address to adoptive families: “Adopting children, regarding and treating them as one’s own children, means recognizing that the relationship between parents and children is not measured only by genetic standards. Procreative love is first and foremost a gift of self. There is a form of ‘procreation’ which occurs through acceptance, concern and devotion. The resulting relationship is so intimate and enduring that it is in no way inferior to one based on a biological connection. When this is also juridically protected, as it is in adoption, in a family united by the stable bond of marriage, it assures the child that peaceful atmosphere and that paternal and maternal love which he needs for his full human development.”

While God never intended children to be separated from their original families, it does happen that some birth parents are not able to parent their children for various reasons. We adoptive families love all of our children, adopted or otherwise, with a deep, abiding love. Having parented both a child I gave birth to and a child I adopted, I can say that, yes, there are differences — but the love is as intense and the bond as unbreakable with my adopted child as it is with my biological child. 

I do not deny that our child through adoption may someday develop intense feelings toward her birth parents. We can open our hearts wide enough to love all that her adoption brings, and she has enough room in her heart to include two families. 

If we follow Jesus’ example, Our Lord who gave us “a spirit of adoption, through which we cry ‘Abba, Father!’” (Romans 8:15), all things are possible.  

Michele Allen

Oak Hill, Virginia

As a mom to seven incredible blessings — three of whom were not designed by my gene pool, but all by the hand of God — I wonder how extensive the author’s experiences are when she speaks of this “pattern that I have seen repeated throughout my encounters with adopted children.”

I wonder if she has ever met an adoptive child who is well-adjusted. I can’t imagine that all of the people at the homeless shelter were adopted. Perhaps it is just possible that there were people there who didn’t have parents. Or maybe, just maybe, they were raised by their biological parents and are still struggling to make their way.

I wonder if she has ever seen the other options that an adopted child would have faced had adoption not been part of his or her life.
But most of all, I wonder: Has she ever looked into the eyes of a child who so little resembles her and been showered by God’s grace by what she sees?

I know I have.

Jane Marcoux
Oswego, Illinois

As a mother to three biological children and six gifts from God through adoption, I wonder how many adult adoptees the author has met. Are they all from the homeless shelter? Or has she sought out other adult adoptees from other sources?

Has she ever contemplated what would befall these children if they weren’t adopted, if they were left at the hands of their biological parents (such as the recent case of the 17-month-old who was tortured and beaten to death by her birth mom and two men)?

Does the author understand that many children who are placed for adoption via the foster-care system are there because of neglect, abuse and/or abandonment? What should happen to these children then?

Has Ms. Selmys ever witnessed the bond between an adoptive parent and child? Ever heard a child cry out to his or her adoptive mother, “I wish I could have been born from your tummy and not your heart”?

Michelle Myers

Shiremanstown, Pennsylvania

Response from Melinda Selmys: I have had several letters from people who were angered by my column.

Specifically, they were upset by my discussion of adoption, and by the claim that there is often lack of similarity between an adopted child and his or her adopted parents that can lead to rifts, lack of understanding, and an inability for a parent to reach their adoptive child.

My intention was not, in any way, to disparage the love of adoptive parents for their children, nor to imply that there are not circumstances where adoption really is the best option for a child. Certainly, there are many situations where a mother is physically or emotionally incapable of caring for her newborn; there are also situations where a child is left without any biological parents whatsoever.

The unique sacrifices that adoptive parents are called upon to make in order to care for these children are without a doubt a reflection of the love of Christ.