At the conference “Biology and Personhood. Theological Perspectives on Adoption”, on March 24th, 2014, in Bucharest, Father Nicolae Tanase, initiator of the Valea Plopului community, which hosts over 400 children from underprivileged or disorganized families, presented a Christian, theological and at the same profoundly humane view on the adoption practice and the situation of the adopted child. Here are some excerpts from the conference:
“It’s preferable that a family have their own natural children and also adopt some: it’s the best way to destroy selfishness and form strong characters by fighting personal convenience and putting faith into practice”, explained in front of a numerous audience Fr. Nicolae Tănase, invited at the conference by Fr. Dr. Gheorghe Holbea, vice-dean of the Orthodox Theological School “Justinian the Patriarch” and Alexandra Nadane, president of Studenti pentru Viata pro-life students’ association.
The child’s adoption trauma
Father Nicolae Tanase: “When we baptize a child and we read the exorcisms, if the child starts to cry, I give it back to its mother and it will be quiet again. When we give the children The Holy Communion, we use the right hand and it is important that the mothers learn to carry the baby on her right side. Because they instinctively hold the child on their left side, by the heart. The child gets quiet because it is put by the heart and it recognizes the mother’s heartbeat. We once took into foster care a three-day old baby. For three weeks, this baby frowned, which is unbelievable. Babies don’t frown. This is how long it took him to get accustomed to the fact that the mother wasn’t there anymore. This frowning can be explained by the missing heart that had beaten for him and which he had gotten used to before being born. An adopted child always has a problem: being uprooted and replanted.”
When do we tell the child he was adopted?
Father Nicolae Tanase: “The child should know about adoption, because he’ll find out anyway. An adopted child will want to see his mother. It is not preferable, but he’ll want that. And he can do it when he turns 18. He can find his lost balance, remembering the mother’s behavior. The shock will not be too big if you can tell him when he is two years old that you’ve taken him from another mommy. It’s not convenient, but psychologically it is better like that.”
The adopted children’s emotional problems
Father Nicolae Tanase: “You can have troubles with your own child, not to mention with an adopted child! But don’t be scared of problems. We, as Christians, should be looking for… trouble! It’s better than wait for the problems to come by themselves. We cannot be saved without taking our cross. The more miserable and afflicted the (adopted) child is, the better. We might even pray to God to give us a child with problems. So that we have somebody to whom we can give our entire love.”
Adoption from a Christian theological point view
Father Nicolae Tanase: “Jesus Christ is the son of God, born before time from a father without a mother and incarnated in time through Virgin Mary from the Holy Spirit, without a father. Jesus Christ is not a founder of a religion, He’s the Son of God, of the same essence as the Father and the Holy Spirit. On the cross, He entrusted us, through John the Evangelist, to His Mother. We’re all brothers. That is why we say «Our Father», not «My Father». If you and me have the same father, it means we are sons. Sons of the same Father. Christ made us all His brothers. It means that Father, alongside His Only Born Son, also adopted us. We are sons of God by grace. Not by essence, like Christ, but by adoption. Since we are made in the image and likeness of God (as we have will, reason and feelings, which are God’s image inside man), we should imitate God. God Adopted US, Let Us Adopt, Too.”