Adoption a primary calling for Christian parents
By Mags Storey | Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The Clemenger family are encouraging other Christian families to adopt. COURTESY THE CLEMENGER FAMILY
OTTAWA, ON - Even before Bruce Clemenger and his wife Tracy were married, they had already decided they were going to adopt.
“It was a deal breaker issue for us," says Tracy, a former legislative assistant in Health and Citizenship and Immigration. “We both thought of adoption as a very strong expression of our faith."
The Clemegers adopted two daughters - Lauren and Kate - through the Children's Aid Society (CAS) in Ottawa. Each time they held a special commitment ceremony at the local courtroom to signify the covenant relationship of the girls joining their family.
“Adoption is a covenant that is being established," says Bruce, who serves as president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC). “It's opening up our lives, and hopes and hearts to this child. It's a forever relationship."
For them it was never an issue of whether or not they could have biological children of their own. Rather they see “being open to the care of any child in need" as one of the sometimes overlooked aspects of what it means to be “pro-life."
“Adoption is a plan A for Christians," says Tracy, “because it is a social and moral issue, and not just a so-called 'fertility issue' as culture would have us think."
As a family, and as part of Bruce's larger role with EFC, the Clemengers have been working to raise the profile of the needs of children and adoptive families in Canada.
“As Christians," Bruce says, “we have been adopted into God's family. Therefore we call Him 'Abba Father.' That's the core of our theology. That needs to be core of our practice too. That children need a forever mom and dad. They need a forever home."
Under the umbrella of EFC, the Clemengers are mobilizing a network of Christian organizations and partners through the National Adoption Strategy Working Action Group (NASWAG). The EFC is also putting together an Adoption Sunday resource kit for launch in November.
“We are appealing to families at all stages of life," Tracy says, “be they newly formed families, early empty nesters, or about to be empty nesters, to consider adoption. It's for those with a room in their homes and hearts."
Tracy and Lauren have testified before a federal house committee studying the issue of adoption, and Tracy is urging the government for better research and statistical analysis on adopted children in Canada and those children currently waiting for homes.
She is also working on a book project with more than 30 adoptive parents, looking at key issues in adoption and fostering, and how the Church can respond.
The Clemengers say the adoptive process is intentionally challenging in order to “cull the weak from the strong" or at least the determined from the mildly curious. There is a “true grit" needed to be an adoptive parent they say. This includes being that child's advocate through a school system which all too often stereotypes adoptees, and being their children's greatest protector from ignorance, bigotry and the trauma of their own pre-placement journey.
They also see their own adoptive family as a small part of the greater tapestry of God's adoption narrative.
“It's a wonderful kind of relationship," says Bruce, “knowing you have this little person calling you 'Dad.' Knowing you are her father. It's amazing the bond which develops, a growing love, a developing protectiveness, a sense of the importance of guiding and caring. It's amazing how quickly it's nurtured inside of you, and you know 'She is my child.'
“There is no greater honour than to nurture, guide and protect another human being."
This story was adapted from a longer feature that appeared in SEVEN, Promise Keepers Canada's bi-monthly Christian magazine for Canadian men.
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