Our Response to Roe v. Wade. (Kind of…)

This photo shows the progression of Scott and Manny's life together.

Our Response to Roe v. Wade. (Kind of…)

I’m not wading into the controversy on this one. That’s not my (public) calling. Our company doesn’t actually have a direct response to the current headlines and we’re not doing anything different than we have been all along. Likewise, I’m not making any direct statement through this post, on this forum, regarding your situation or approach. This is one of those emotionally-charged topics that is never going to be resolved by strangers shouting at each other on the internet, but rather through respectful conversations amongst those who trust and genuinely listen to each other. But since my call is Kingdom business, I do feel compelled to share with other business leaders the relevant actions we took well over a decade ago.

For context, here’s my family’s story. On the long drive to his basketball tourney this past weekend, my son Manny told me his Instagram was blowing up. He was referring to the Roe v Wade decision. I asked him what he thought about it. He paused for a few moments, and said, “Well, I guess I don’t care too much.” I suggested he probably ought to care, at least in time, and that he might want to do some research.

Maybe it’s not obvious from the photos – since he clearly gets his good looks from me – but we adopted my son Manny at birth.  It was ironic how some (well-meaning) people, early on, commended us for our action, like we “saved” him from some bad situation or something. But we never, ever viewed it that way. What we did is no more heroic than what any parent does. Manny is not some “good deed” we took on. He’s our son. Permanently and indistinguishably. Couldn’t be any more my son if he grew up short, slow, and white. (He’s pretty good at basketball. Clearly THAT part didn’t come from me!) If it’s not apparent, I love my son more than anything in this world and have from the beginning. It’s safe to say, though, that Manny is only my son due to God’s miraculous intervention. (Well, I love my wife and other son more than anything in the world, too, and it turns out God’s divine intervention was also in play there, but that’s another story …)

See, my son is one of those “choices” who was far more likely, statistically, to be aborted than given an opportunity to live his earthly life: teenaged, underemployed, historically-disadvantaged bio-mom and bio-dad, pregnant from a “hook up”, making a run at a relationship (ultimately unsuccessful), facing difficult socio-economic circumstances.  And the system was entirely slanted to encourage an abortion over adoption in their case. The bio-mom could have easily gone to a clinic, and received a taxpayer funded abortion with little hassle. In, out, done. No Manny. Meanwhile, the process to adopt – on both their side and ours – was arduously bureaucratic and exorbitantly expensive. (The bio-parents didn’t have to bear much of those initial costs – but it cost us $35-40K in 14-year-ago-money.)  Compared to many seeking to adopt, we had it easy, since my son was born in Florida, where the laws upheld rights of the adoptive parents. The laws in our home state of Maryland make things far more difficult, costly, and potentially heartbreaking for adoptive parents.  (Even so, while I’ll save all the details for another time, if God hadn’t intervened, many times, in ways that were obviously Him making a way where there was no way … Manny wouldn’t be my son. That’s why his full name is what it is: Emmanuel means “God with us.”)

Anyways, my son and I agreed just how courageous his bio-mom (and bio-dad) were to provide him life when the system was so stacked against it. Around that same time that my family was fighting the adoption bureaucracy, another employee was going through the nightmare process of a foster-to-adoption here in Maryland.  As he shared stories in our team meetings, it was just heartwrenching to hear all they were going through for the simple act of trying to adopt a neglected and abandoned young girl they grew to love through fostering.  We just couldn’t understand why it should be SO hard to adopt when there was so much need. (Or were we learning, perhaps, that there is so much need BECAUSE the system makes it so hard??)

In light of those experiences, we decided, as a company, over a dozen years ago, to start providing an adoption benefit to our employees. We couldn’t make the bureaucracy and hassle go away. But we could at least help our team with the exorbitant costs.  In practice, that means for any employee who chooses to provide a forever family for a child in need of one, we’ll provide a $5000 supplement towards the expenses, as well as an additional week of paid leave to help navigate the process. (As I write this, I’m thinking now’s a good time to increase that amount for inflation.) Since we’re a small company, we allow each employee to use the benefit twice. Though honestly, unless we have a sudden run on the benefit, I doubt we’d turn down a third or fourth! 

As companies rush to formulate some response to the headlines of the day, I’d strongly encourage their leaders to consider a similar program. Because a lot more Manny’s deserve a chance to live the beautiful life God has destined for them.

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