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Romania’s Pro-Life Week 2014: Conference “Biology and Personhood. Theological Perspectives on Adoption”

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On March 24th, 2014, at the Orthodox Theology School “Justinian the Patriarch” of the Bucharest University, Romanian students of all specialties met Fr. Dr. Gheorghe Holbea, Vice-Dean, and Fr. Nicolae Tanase, initiator and soul of the Valea Plopului community, which hosts over 400 children from underprivileged or disorganized families.

The conference, moderated by Alexandra Nadane, President of Studenti pentru Viata pro-life students’ association, aimed to offer the theological view on adoption, a subject usually treated exclusively from the sociological and psychological point of view.

Adoption as a wound for the natural mother’s soul

Speaking of adoption from the natural mother’s point of view, Father Tanase stressed that one can go ahead with adoption only when the natural mother is absolutely convinced she cannot keep the baby: “Naturally, a mother won’t give her child to someone else. When she does it, it’s only for a good reason”. He went on saying adoption must not be based on the mother’s suffering and that is why the first option would be to put the child in foster care until her situation gets better. She will be able to take back the child “after the problems she was confronted with disappear”. The natural mother can also be helped to raise the child if that is her wish.

“One cannot force adoption on people. It mustn’t be built on the mother’s suffering”, Father Tanase said, explaining that only after the biological mother rejects the two above-mentioned options one can discuss about giving the child for adoption.

“Unfortunately, the Romanian state has not streamlined adoption yet. And you get the child when it is already 2 or 3 or 4 years old, instead of getting it when it is a few days, a few weeks or a few months, depending on the mother’s decision. We should take a closer look at the adoption law. If a child can surely be given to adoption, one should find immediately parents for it”, Father Tanase said.

Adoption as a form of respect for the dignity of human person

Father Holbea explained that adoptive families must show respect for life and the human person just like natural families – a guiding principle in any Christian society: “If adoptive parents have respect for people and for life, we can save fatherhood and motherhood”, he said.

He warned that, unfortunately, today’s society does not train children to become real people and real Christians. Instead, children are educated according to the guiding principle that they are future production means. That is why family remains the only environment where the dignity and honor of the human person can be saved – by raising children in the Christian spirit.

“Children should be educated to become people, not production means in the consumers’ society. What we too often forget is our vocation of persons made in the image and likeness of God – the man’s very nobility”, Father Holbea said.

“This view is ignored in our so-called society, where people are most frequently replaced by machines”, further noticed the vice-dean of Bucharest’s Orthodox Theology School.

He also voiced his alarm concerning the ever lesser esteem in which human dignity is held by Christians themselves: “As a priest, when I go over my parishioners’ houses, I can notice an exaggerated interest for animals. When we pass their houses to bless them on Christmas Eve or on the Epiphany’s Eve, we can see there are more animals than children in the house: a child and two dogs, for example. And, sadly, this exaggerated interest for animals manifests itself in parallel with disregard for mankind, gradually undermining the idea of the dignity and honor of human beings”.

How to prepare for adoption

Some practical advice from Father Tanase:

– before getting the adoption certificate, you are hassled, they provoke you to see how you react; you need to remain calm.

– whenever the Child Protection Service calls you to come and see a child, you go there even if they tell you the child is ill or is not what you have wished; they won’t force you to take it home.

“God knows what child to give you, you only need to be willing to adopt. Pray and you’ll receive your child. God knows what to give you, He won’t give you more than you can handle”, states simply Father Tanase.

To illustrate this, he evoked the amazing case of a Romanian TV journalist who adopted a child in the 1990s. Here’s the story. Before the fall of the Ceausescu regime, she made an investigation in an orphanage where a child had been found abandoned in the toilet. After the fall of the Ceausescu regime, she returned to the same orphanage for a new documentary. At that time, a little child was ceaselessly waving its hand at her from its crib, as if he had known her forever. A few years later, while she was passing through another orphanage, the journalist could not get away from the embrace of a little boy who was calling her, over and over, “Mother”. She adopted him. After having adopted him, she wanted to know his story and made a new investigation. She found out it was the child from the crib and the baby found abandoned in the toilet many years before.


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