Friday, August 17, 2012

an open letter to Pat Robertson, from the adoptive mother of a child with brain damage

Dear Mr. Robertson,

I want you to look at this face.


Isn't she darling?


I want you to look at her because that's the face that came to mind when I heard your words yesterday.

On The 700 Club, you answered a question from a single mother of three children, each adopted from a different country. This mother wrote in for help understanding why the men she dated always left as soon as they found out that her daughters were adopted.

Your response? "A man doesn't want to take on the United Nations." And "you don't know what problems" there will be when you adopt. You continued with the cautionary tale of a family you know who adopted a "child [who] had brain damage, you know, grew up weird." As you disagreed with your co-host, you excused your comments by saying, "you just never know what's been done to a child before you get that child: what kind of sexual abuse there has been, what kind of cruelty, what kind of food deprivation."

I want you to know this: We didn't adopt a problem. We adopted a child. She was knit together in her mother's womb, fearfully and wonderfully made. She is an image bearer of the one true God. She laughs at me, loves her brother and sister, and cries when she's hurting or hungry.


She was also born with brain damage. 


And we love her.


Perhaps I'm naive to be writing this letter to you. After all, a year ago you said that a man could divorce his wife with Alzheimer's because she was "not there" anymore, less of a person than she had been when she married him. Two years ago, you said adoption "can be a blessing if you get the right child." Perhaps I'm naive in thinking that Zoe's sweet face would change how you think and speak about orphans like her, but it's worth a try because God used her face (and is now using her life) to change us.

You said that we can help and love orphans but that doesn't mean we have to take them - and, in your words, their "problems" - into our homes. When my husband heard your words, he said "No, we don't have to do it. We get the privilege of doing it."

That's a real man. I'm thankful to be married to him and thankful to parent these three darlings with him.


You said your friend's child "grew up weird," and that's certainly a possibility for our kids too. If "weird" involves caring for orphans and widows in the name of Christ and laying down our lives for others as Christ did and believing God's Word to be true, then I pray you'll have plenty of reasons to call each of our children weird.


It surely wouldn't be the first time someone used that word to describe us.

Sincerely,
A mom who is blessed by all three of my children


PS - If you'd like to see a video of The 700 Club segment that prompted this post, here's the only version I can find right now.

65 comments:

  1. My heart just breaks hearing about this. Thank you for sharing this, and thank you for your beautiful response!! My beautiful children would be left rotting in an orphanage had I taken this kind of ridiculous advice!

    Your angel is a beautiful child!!

    Jenn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad so many people - friends like you, as well as strangers - have responded to this post to share that they refuse to accept this ridiculous advice!

      Delete
  2. Thanks for this. My youngest three siblings are adopted and - while none have brain damage that we know of - my parents have been called everything from "saints" to "crazy" for adopting three kids at the same time while in their mid forties - kids that will most certainly delay or end any thoughts of retirement for my parents. I wouldn't call them saints or crazy; I'd call them obedient and blessed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We expected people to call us crazy when we began the adoption process for Zoe, and we were pleasantly surprised when no one did. We've gotten the "saints" thing several times, though, and we pray for God to protect our hearts from pride, because it can be hard to stay mindful of the truth that we're just blessed sinners (who happened to be obedient in this but are disobedient in other ways every day) when others put us on a pedestal that we will never deserve.

      I would love to meet your parents sometime!

      Delete
  3. Wow... Dear Pat, think before you speak. Actually, pray before you speak. *shakes my head in disbelief*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As he says at the end, he knew his words were trouble. He just didn't stop saying them soon enough. (And, to be honest, how often that is true of me as well! Brings to mind Proverbs 10:19a - "when words are many, sin is not absent...")

      Delete
  4. That man is probably being paid to sit there and spew that nonsense.

    So, is he saying that you know what you're getting when you have biological children? Or does he believe in figuring that out and then, oh I don't know, aborting them so you don't have to deal with it if they test positive for brain damage (or anything else for that matter)? I mean sure, they don't come out "pre-abused", but they certainly don't always come out physically/medically perfect. As as adopted child myself... I guess my parents got lucky... hahahahhaha :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I have gotten "lucky" to know you, Amy! :)

      Delete
  5. Oh dear.... I believe he is getting completely out of touch. My daughter is also adopted and has significant brain damage. I wouldn't trade her for the world, she brings so much joy to our family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love to hear that! We have already seen how much joy Zoe adds to our family, and she's only been home with us for five weeks.

      Delete
  6. They should have ripped him off the air YEARS ago. The 700 Club and Pat Robertson are accountable for what he says, and he has been speaking contrary to God's word for quite some time now. Glad you spoke out. Send the letter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did send this post to them at The 700 Club. We'll see if there's any response.

      Delete
  7. Pat lost me a long time ago. And no offense to you if you watch his show, but I honestly don't know how he still has anyone watching. I place him squarely in the same camp with Joel Osteen and other well-known"Christians" who know who God is but have long since stopped following the Jesus of the Bible and are instead following the "Jesus" we have created in our image.

    And I can just see the people who do believe every word that drips from his mouth, nodding their heads in agreement. And those "Christians" will be the ones to "tsk, tsk" the next time someone in their family talks about adopting. Or taking in older foster children. It's that attitude that leads to fear that leads to people ignoring hurting children. Thank God that He was willing to adopt us, even in our terribly ugly and broken states.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A number of responses come to mind as to Pat Robertson's comments but are probably better left in the criss-cross shredder! What an incredibly gracious and gracefilled, Gospel-focused response and defense you articulate so sweetly! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Several responses of mine went through that shredder before I was ready to write this!

      Delete
  9. I cried as I read your post. My treasures, your treasures, the treasures still waiting? Oh.my.gracious. Only God can use a prominent man's very ignorant and mean-spirited words for good {Rom 8:28}...cause right now, I can only think of destruction and heartache resulting from them. Thank you for writing such a beautiful post. Your three are precious! And you are right - REAL men love the orphan and do something about it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linny, thanks for your sweet comment! Praying for God to bring redemption in ways that only He can.

      PS - Here's a great response from Dr. Moore about Robertson's comments: http://www.russellmoore.com/2012/08/17/pat-robertson-vs-the-spirit-of-adoption/

      Delete
  10. Standing and cheering every word you said! We are in the process of adopting two children, one out of foster care and one from another country. BOTH have been hurt/damaged by the things done to them, things out of their control, and the results of living in a fallen world. His words make me sad mostly because they represent the worldly mindset that still exists in much of the "church".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So thankful to hear from you and others like you who are stepping up to defy Robertson's word with your lives and display God's glory through your adoptions. Just praying for your family! I know it can be hard to be in the process (and I pray we'll be back in that process again someday - I don't think our family is quite complete!).

      Delete
  11. Amen! My son was adopted from the Ukraine one year ago and was abused, has Down Syndrome, was deprived of food, etc.... But you are so right. It is an HONOR to care for the least of these. That man needs to retire.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see on your blog that Reece's Rainbow played a part of your adoption - love their ministry!

      Delete
  12. Aren't we called to care for the orphans? ism't that what Jesus wanted? What about those of who get children of our own physical body that are "weird" what then? I am sad anyone who professes to be a man of God would say that.

    by the way your family is beautiful

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Annemarie! Those were the exact questions that crossed my mind as well. So very, very sad.

      Delete
  13. Here via Amy P. Haven't met you, so excuse the passion, but I love you! Amazing post. Yes, yes, and yes. God is so good. And so revealed in you and your precious family. Our children are not the sum total (or negative total) of their test scores.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gretchen, I feel like I know you from seeing your comments on Susan's - ahem, Carpool Queen's - blog and a few other mutual friends, so no need to excuse the passion! :)

      Delete
  14. I wrote to CBN expressing my offence at Pat Roberstons comments. I would encourage others to do the same.
    I am thankful I didn’t see the broadcast where Mr. Roberston made these statements because I don’t know how I would have reacted.
    I am an adoptive mom (and also a foster parent) of children with brain damage. My daughter was born very premature (26 weeks) and suffered severe bleeding to the brain leaving her with brain damage and has CP. To further complicate matters her damage is in a an area of her brain that will effect her decision making skills as she grows (executive function). We were well aware of this when we adopted her, but we are also very aware that we don’t know everything about any pre-natal exposure or her treatment in the months she did live with her mother. Will she grow up “different” than some. Yes. But not Weird.
    I am also a biological parent. My children were born naturally with no prenatal exposure to anything illicit or unhealthy. Their births were normal. Both have had the same upbringing with the same vaulues in our home. One is gifted and could debate the most well spoken lawyers under the table. The other has ADHD, ODD, and a learning disorder. He struggles with impulse control and frequently reacts to consequenses with extreme.
    It doesn’t matter if your child is adopted or born to you. every child is different and a treasure to God.
    Would everyone put their selves in the life I was called to. No. I wouldn’t judge them for that. At the same time, tell me my child is weird and you will have problems of biblical proportions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love this line in your comment: "It doesn’t matter if your child is adopted or born to you. every child is different and a treasure to God."

      Delete
  15. absolutely, shannon. absolutely . . .

    it's all very simple:
    dismissing the sheer privilege of adoption is denying the glorious power of the gospel.

    b/c afterall, we are all orphans in desperate need of being signed by blood into our Father's family. we are a needy people who face deep struggles, challenges, hurt, & pain. and yes, i do have a problem! but it's not my physical form that is the problem. it's a spiritual problem that manifests challenges so much farther in scope than any physical challenge ever could, & it's called a sin nature.

    we are each that orphan whose souls long for the healing of Home. and that's exactly what draws the heart of God to us.

    because smack dab in the middle of my spiritually & emotionally damaged state, my past & my present, God in His unconditional love & infinite grace opens His arms wide to me & calls me His own. and remember how He does it? He does it freely! He does it rejoicing over us with singing. and He does it not as a response to who i am or what i could offer Him, but as an outpouring of Who He is, & the immense value that i am to Him.

    like the Father of the prodigal son, He waits expectantly on the front porch looking for the first sign of us -- so that He may come running TO us. doting on us when all else scoff. cherishing us with an everlasting love, while everybody else around us labels us a child with problems.

    so if somehow we do not have the eyes to see the value, beauty, & sheer delight of drawing a precious child into our arms and calling them our own, then we have sadly missed so, so much. for in doing so, we are lacking an understanding of our own desperate need for God, an understanding that we can come to Him just as we are & be unconditionally loved, & an understanding of our value to Him.
    and ultimately, when we misunderstand the heartbeat of adoption, it is because we lack an understanding of the very heart of God.

    thank you so much for sharing, shannon.
    and may the Lord continue to richly bless you & your family with the sweetness of His crazy love,
    tanya

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love this: "afterall, we are all orphans in desperate need of being signed by blood into our Father's family."

      And this: "ultimately, when we misunderstand the heartbeat of adoption, it is because we lack an understanding of the very heart of God."

      So thankful for you, Tanya!

      Delete
    2. i just felt like -- sheesh, if this is how the Lord responded, He would have NE-VER adopted me. b/c i am quite a package of the "unideal" in man's eyes/pat's terms. but God turns all that gloriously upside down, doesn't He? :)

      i'm thankful for you, too, shannon -- & i hope to bump into you at church sometime to meet you face to face!

      Delete
  16. Your daughter is beautiful. And that man is a fool.

    ReplyDelete
  17. What a beautiful family! I'm a new blog follower. Teresa Grimes posted a link to this post on her FB page. Well said!

    I'm a fellow adoptive momma, & I just can't imagine not caring "for the least of these" as Christ instructed us to. The Lord has moved & is moving in our hearts to continue to do so.

    I don't expect non-believers to embrace this way of living out the gospel, even though many of them also adopt.

    I think the saddest part of this is the fact that he (someone who claims to be a Christian) appears to have forgotten the message of the gospel, & that all of us before our reconciliation to Christ were "weird" & depraved, but God has graciously, kindly, & passionately adopted us into the family of God!

    Love,
    Bethany

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. May we never forget the message of the gospel either! As I've thought about his words today and thought about the words of a friend of mine whose father worked for Robertson as a time when he didn't say things like this, it's made me mindful of the old saying "but for the grace of God go I..."

      Thanks for commenting, Bethany!

      Delete
  18. Shannon, I don't know your, but I am a friend of Jenn Tousey. She posted this link to her facebook wall. I am angered and hurt by Pat Robertson's rant. However, as your sister I am humbled by your gracious response to his nonsense. I pray that God will pour out His blessings on your family and that your amazing example of what living the Christ-like life will impact many (Galatians 2:20). You have three beautiful and precious children. From Him. And for His glory. grateful, Lizzie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Lizzie, thanks for commenting! I can't take credit for the graciousness here - God had to do some work on my heart last night as I stayed up late wrestling with how to respond in grace and not in anger to the words that infuriated me. Thank you for praying for us - we're only five weeks and one day into having her home with us, so we're still figuring out a lot of what this life as a family of five looks like! :) I'm just humbled that He's letting me reflect His glory at all, knowing what I looked like before He adopted me.

      Delete
  19. You have a beautiful family! There certainly needs to be more couples like you in the world (and a lot less Pat Robertsons).

    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lisa! I love the metaphor in the title of your blog and the explanation of it in your blog's banner.

      Delete
  20. Well stated. His words were awful, unkind and misguided. Of course you don't always know how an adopted child will "turn out," but you know what? You never know. My biological son has autism. Being a parent means taking care of your kid, no matter how "weird." And to adopt a child in need? There is no better good deed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Parenting is both hard and rewarding, no matter the circumstances that brought the child into the family or the unique needs present! He offered a (worthless) statement about what he meant today, but without apologizing for the heinousness of the original statement: http://www.cbn.com/about/pressrelease_patrobertson_adoption.aspx

      Delete
  21. You preach it girl! I'm a sister to some of these amazing siblings who are not biological, but man, who cares? They're washed by the same blood I am, so I'd say we're siblings by blood. I don't care what people say...I think it's sweet to have a family from all over the world!
    Keep it up!
    Rachel

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the way you explain being siblings by blood! I'll have to remember that.

      Delete
  22. Everything you shared is so true. I am the adoptive mom of two children from another country. My daughter is from China and my son is from Taiwan. I actually know the couple in Taiwan who helped you adopt your sweet daughter. Both of my children have some special needs, and although they are not as severe as brain damage, it wouldn't matter to us either way. My children are gifts from God and we are honored that He allowed us to be their parents. I am the mother of two children adopted from another country. I was deeply saddened and hurt by Robertson's comment about adopted children. I went to the cbn.com website and posted on the 700 Club comment page. I hope he is flooded with mail by adoptive parents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sent a message to them too. Hopefully, the team at The 700 Club is taking notice.

      Delete
  23. Hi!
    I found you from Love That Max. This post moved me so much. You really do have beautiful children!! I have no words (fit for print on this very sweet blog!) for Pat Robertson. Maybe one - retirement?
    Best wishes to you and your family as you get to know your new daughter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the one word you chose.

      (And, trust me, I had other words. I just took some time before writing to get to a place where I could write something that wasn't as angry as my initial reaction.)

      Delete
  24. I am encouraged by your obedience and courage! Thank you for sharing this!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I keep trying to write a response to this and it keeps growing so long that it becomes the start of a post on my own blog. If I can get enough time to think and type them out and actually finish one, I'll let you know. For now, there are three comments I've wanted to make for a while concerning your side bar.

    1. Zoe's watermelon dress is amazing and I am rather jealous of it. These pictures are great!
    2. I love that you have a link to Kevin DeYoung's blog. I haven't read much of it yet, but he was at seminary the same time I was, although I only knew him by sight. It's nice to be reminded that it's a small world, especially when I live so far away from most people I know.
    3. I love your link to Together for Adoption and the resources there. It's good to see the thoughtful, theological, and practical responses to orphans and adoption they have there, especially in light of your post here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would get me a dress just like Zoe's if I could!

      Delete
  26. I think Pat Robertson has put himself on a slippery slope. What would he advise the pregnant woman who finds out her unborn child has brain damage? What if, gasp, that child turns out "weird?"

    From a mother with biological and adopted children.
    Penny

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thank you so much for posting this. Your heart for your children is beautiful to me. Your love inspires our love.

    ReplyDelete
  28. It's such a shame that this man is still on TV. If any of these orphaned/abandoned kiddos are going to have any chance in this world they need to be taken in by a loving, caring home. Part of me wonders what Robertson thinks about children born with disabilities in general. But then I shake my head and just know that it wouldn't be good.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I am ashamed of Pat's gospel of the "good life" at home, no problems, just blessings--this is the Jesus who had no place to lay his head?!" Another American believer deceived by the 'deceitfulness of wealth' and missing the activity of the Spirit in gathering up His lambs with joy!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Amen & Amen, Shannon. What a response indeed and I pray that your words will be used to encourage others to know Christ's love for all of His children!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi Shannon,

    I love your response to Pat. I can see why your friend, Stephen recommended your site.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Way to go!! Just got back from China with my little piece of Heaven...perfectly created in God's imagine and His plan in mind...NOT Pat Robinson's

    ReplyDelete
  33. My sons are Swedish and Danish adoptees with special needs. They amaze us everyday with their resillience and their courage and their zest for living their lives the only way they know, with passion and head on. So, please, Pat, do the honorable thing, Sod Off. All the 700 Club is good for is asking for money. My wife and I have the same issues as our sons, we are productive, adaptable, and above all are real Christians. Walk the Walk. Live the Life. You elect not to. A boycott is now in session. Hope you get to work at a real living. You insulted my sons, my wife and I and all special needs people. So to quote the excellent singer from Atlanta, Joe South, "Walk A Mile In My Shoes"

    ReplyDelete
  34. Eck, people like this are not worth anyone's time...
    I just had to comment though on how adorable your daughter is! The second I saw her picture, before even reading this, my reactions was "Aww, she's the cutest ting!!" I LOVE her watermelon dress! :D

    ReplyDelete
  35. Beautifully said. <3 (from a single mom of two adopted daughters who's reaction was the same as yours)

    ReplyDelete

Comments are my love language. Thanks for leaving one!