Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Knapsack 12-24 -- Granville Sentinel

Notes From My Knapsack 12-24-09

Jeff Gill

And Everything Changed


The baby was born, and everything changed.

I talked to a mother this week, here in Licking County. She and her
husband began the paperwork for an international adoption, reaching
out to a country where poverty and social norms combine to generate a
disturbingly large number of babies without homes.

They will need two to three years to complete the whole process, and
their plan is to request not a newborn, as so many do, more than are
available, in fact, but to pursue a child who is already a few years
old. A child who has not been adopted.

Which means, of course, by simple math and painful reality, that this
child is born this week, or thereabouts. Already, but unknown,
unknowably distant; God willing, as this all works out, a child is
born to them in a land far away, but just now come into the world
with tears and smiles and hope.

For this family to take in another child, since they have some of
their own already, they will have to make adjustments. Some have
already been made, others are in the works, a few more are
contemplated. As experienced parents, they know the biggest
adjustments are yet to come, for each child is unique, even if the
experience of diapering is mindlessly the same.

When the baby enters your life, everything changes.

There's something deep within almost everyone that makes the cry of a
baby pull our attention and focus away from the most compelling
reality show, off of our favorite activities, out of ourselves, and
shift to asking "what does the baby need?" Even childless "civilians"
know that tug, at the mind and in the heart. For some it is merely an
irritation – "why doesn't someone do something about that crying
baby?" but for most it becomes a question – "what could I do to help?"

In an international adoption such as the one I heard about, there is
a response to a cry not yet heard, by the prospective parents or
indeed by anyone. It is, you could say, a hypothetical cry, of a
child needing love and care and devoted attention. The idea that a
child, anywhere, is lacking any or all of those things is hard to
ignore; so hard to ignore, we mostly have to block out such awareness
altogether, since to dwell on those ongoing forlorn cries is too much
for any heart to bear.

Yet when you pick up a child and it stops crying, not necessarily
because of anything you did (just as some of us pick up happy babies
and they start crying because sometimes, that's what babies do), that
contented armful is the whole world for you in that moment. Peace,
and love, and joy: and hope.

When you let a baby enter your life, everything will change.

A baby is the center of both the religious and secular celebration we
all share, in certain ways, this week, because a baby means
something, even when that child has no genetic or genealogical
connection to us. A baby means promise and commitment and the future,
even when those who should deliver on all those things walk away. And
they do, sometimes.

A baby, not even born yet, can change your life; a baby, born long
ago & far away, can change the world, your world, right now. In
either case, it happens when you decide that your life is connected
to something beyond yourself.

Then, everything changes.

No comments:

Post a Comment