Against the grain

Bush-Gore is important, but so is Mitch-Diane-Nicole

Issue: "The 2000 vote," Nov. 4, 2000

One of the advantages of editing this magazine is that I know what's coming in our pages and can occasionally use this column to cut against the grain. We have lots of political stories in this, our last pre-election issue, and you might think that this column would be my final fulmination about candidates. I do have one emphatic word of advice-Vote!-but I'd rather use this space to write about a nonpolitical November event, National Adoption Month.

Does that seem nutty? I can hear the murmurs: "Closest presidential election since 1976, and he's writing about adoption?" Yes, because life goes on during campaigns, and to preserve life in the face of abortionists' attacks it's vital to promote adoption. Planned Parenthood to the contrary, no child is unwanted. God wants them: Why else would he bring about the wonder of conception, and then sustain children in the womb? Many people want them: Every born child, even one with severe problems, is in demand.

You might think that, to advocate adoption, I'll now present a happy story about a typical adoption. Wrong again: The vast majority of adoptions, particularly those involving infants, go very well, but our goal at WORLD is not to dodge the difficult. Let me tell you about my Minneapolis friend Mitch Pearlstein, his wife Diane McGowan, and their adopted 9-year-old daughter, Nicole.

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Nicole was born to a woman who had been abused as a child by drug-using parents, and who herself smoked crack cocaine during her pregnancy. Strike one. Nicole's birthdad is a drug dealer now serving a life sentence in prison for murder. Strike two. Nicole lived in 16 out-of-home placements by the time she was 5. Strike three. She was nearly adopted by one set of potential parents-to-be, but they found her much too hard to handle, much too damaged, and gave up after a year. Strike four. Other potential adopters saw Nicole as a black and beautiful mile-a-minute child who needed attention and affection in huge doses, but was likely to respond to love in destructive ways. Strike five.

Batters are out after three strikes. Nicole should also be out, way out, condemned to institutionalization and probably a short life of bitterness, battles, and eventual drug use-except that Mitch and Diane (a social worker), knowing Nicole's background and problems, decided to adopt her. Why? Mitch, 52 and Jewish, runs a conservative think tank in Minneapolis, but he calls Nicole's adoption "my life project. This is more important than anything else. We can give Nicole the help she needs to excise more demons than any child should be expected to disgorge."

I am enormously impressed with the compassionate conservatism of Mitch and Diane; my wife and I adopted our youngest child, but he had a lot of positives in his background. I watched Nicole while she gulped in a hug from Mitch as if making up for all the drowning time of her early years, and then ran off. "What if the project fails?" I asked. Mitch responded fervently, "It can't fail. We're her only hope." He reviewed the activities of Nicole's grandparents and parents that led to her troubles, and said, "This has to stop somewhere, and we can help."

If Mitch and Diane can help in this way, shouldn't more people-and shouldn't they be supported in that endeavor by entire churches and synagogues? For Christ, every problem was an opportunity; when asked why a man was born blind, He responded, "this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life," through miraculous healing. If Nicole is psychologically healed, as Mitch and Diane suffer with her, the work of God will have been displayed in her life-and that will be something for all of us to see and relish.

Pastors and other church leaders should be urging members of their congregation to vote next Tuesday, but also to vote all through the year for good homes for minority and other hard-to-place kids. This is a good month to preach about how God adopts us and how we can adopt others. Some churches might even imitate Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, pastored by John Piper, which set up a Micah Fund that helps pay the expenses of parents who adopt transracially. Help for those who adopt children with special problems also is needed.

The election verdict on Nov. 7 will tell us a lot about what God has in store for the United States. Our personal decisions to help the least among us, or turn our backs on them, will say a lot about how God has worked in our own lives.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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