Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Putting Families Together
There’s a longing in all people to belong. God planned that this longing should culminate in marriage and family.
Because we’re human and subject to the weaknesses and poor judgement of humanity, the blueprint often gets messed up. Children are left orphans or are abandoned by parents. Marriages end through death or divorce. Families can get complicated.
When my first husband died, our young adult children were left with a dad-sized hole in their lives. After I married Hank, though he could never exactly fit that hole, he did his best to love my kids. And I did the same for his five children, each of whom had their own tales of hurts from the past. With all the relationships represented in the lives of each of these nine people (Hank, myself, and our combined seven offspring), there’s room for a lot of family building and rebuilding.
When he married Lois, Hank was raising four small children by himself. Lois had a toddler son, Nathan, born after her first husband abandoned her. Hank adopted Nate. Nate’s birth father went on to marry and father other children, but Nate did not know them until he attended college near where they lived. Then he met his half-brother and was delighted to find out how many interests and values they share. Now Nate spends vacations with his brother and family.
When my son Rob married, he also adopted his wife’s child, my granddaughter Marva. Lydia had a son too, who was being raised by his birth father. We saw him occasionally during his growing up years, but not until he was an adult and his father died, did he really become part of our family. He’s a wonderful, thoughtful young man, a grandson I’ve only recently been able to claim.
Hank’s daughter Carmen got married at age 18 to Ben, who was raising three children alone. Those children knew there were three half-brothers born later to their mother, but what they didn’t know until recently was they also had a half-sister who’d been given up for adoption and raised as part of a happy, stable family. Through the wonders of modern technology, Kendra discovered the three half-brothers and through them, the three siblings Carmen had raised and then adopted as adults after Ben died of cancer. We were there at the family picnic to meet Kendra, her husband and her children and watch the reunited siblings and their children get acquainted. What a joyful time!
Some years after our marriage, we attended a family reunion in Hank’s home town. An honored guest at that reunion was an 82-year-old cousin, Jud, who’d just been discovered by the family. Born during the depression to a destitute mother, he’d been given up for adoption to a loving family. He grew up never knowing he had six younger brothers and sisters living nearby, nor did they know about him. While his daughter was using the Internet to research family geneology, she discovered his connection to Hank’s family. We looked on as Jud and his siblings met and caught up on all the years of unshared history. Proof of relationship came through the uncanny resemblance between Jud and Hank’s cousin, John.
The Bible says God puts the lonely in families. I think it’s delightful to watch the many ways in which he does it.