Thoughts on adoption and abortion by Mother Teresa

Christian Adoption Services, November 22, 2008

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, that father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today - abortion which brings people to such blindness.And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere - "Let us bring the child back." The child is God's gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things - to love and to be loved. In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future. As older people are called to God, only their children can take their places.But what does God say to us? He says: "Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand." We are carved in the palm of His hand; that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God from conception and is called by God to love and loved, not only now in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.The beautiful gift God has given our congregation is to fight abortion by adoption. We have already, from our house in Calcutta, over 3,000 children adoption. And I can't tell you what joy, what love, what peace those children have brought into those families. It has been a real gift of God for them and for us. I remember one of the little ones was very sick, so I sent for the father and the mother and I asked them: "Please give me back the sick child. I will give you a healthy one." And the father looked at me and said, "Mother Teresa, take my life first than take the child." So beautiful to see it--so much love, so much joy that little one has brought into that family. So pray for us that we continue this beautiful gift. And also I offer you--our Sisters are here--anybody who doesn't want the child, please give it to me. I want the child.I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption - by care of the mother and adoption for her baby. We have saved thousands of lives. We have sent word to the clinics, to the hospitals and police stations: "Please don't destroy the child; we will take the child." So we always have someone tell the mothers in trouble: "Come, we will take care of you, we will get a home for your child." And we have a tremendous demand from couples who cannot have a child - but I never give a child to a couple who have done something not to have a child. Jesus said, "Anyone who receives a child in my name, receives me." By adopting a child, these couples receive Jesus but, by aborting a child, a couple refuses to receive Jesus.Please don't kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child. From our children's home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3000 children from abortion. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents and have grown up so full of love and joy. I know that couples have to plan their family and for that there is natural family planning. The way to plan the family is natural family planning, not contraception. In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gifts of love in him or her.
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Vows of poverty

I'm often amused by the church's ability to make "human sacrifice" a good thing.  The vows of poverty taken by the clergy are perhaps a shining example of  what "human sacrifice" can look like.  I remember being taught Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice [decided by his father, God] so all men could be forgiven for their sins.  Funny how just prior to his final days, Jesus rode on a donkey and yet now Christ-following leaders come to town in chauffeured limousines [see  http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/17933 for the full story and visual...]  In any case, I remember being told what a sacrifice it was to raise a child, especially if that child was not your own.  I also remember being told many young mothers during the era of closed adoption were told the most loving thing they could do for the sake of their unborn child was sacrifice their want to keep a baby (risking a life of poverty and unwed misery) so others could take the bastard baby and raise that child within a good home that had a mother, a father, and a wealth of many opportunities.

"As their own", these children would be treated, as promised by the local religious leaders.

I know many people who lose a working partner are often left in the dark, feeling poor in spirit, broken hearted, and empty in pocket.  I imagine this is why many children are brought to children's homes and orphanages, and other "safe havens" locals provide for struggling families. I believe many living parents bring their children to these charities, churches and services hoping they can get help from strangers so their children don't have to suffer and die because the parent during very rough times cannot provide the roof, the food, and the clothing a baby needs to survive.

If religious people are going to pontificate the virtues of adoption, and spew the evils of abortion, I'd like to point out there is indeed a difference between taking a life and denying a child's rights to care and safety.

Within the pages of PPL we have several pieces written about the money made by Mother Teresa's orphanage services.   If keeping money from family and children isn't disturbing enough, I'd like readers to see another side to the ministry of care given in a place called Calcutta:

According to the reporter (who pretended to be a volunteer), the Missionaries of Charity keep disabled children tethered to their cots and are unprofessional in providing medical care to their patients. Sister Nirmala responds saying that criticism is welcome but we are alone with the children and no one is helping us.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) ? In a less than candid operation, perhaps more publicity stunt than anything else, a British journalist denounced the poor training the Sisters of Mother Teresa have in caring for disabled children in one of their Indian homes.

AsiaNews interviewed some of the Missionaries of Charity who explained why, on rare occasions, they have to rely on extreme means. Understaffing is one reason; preventing children from hurting themselves is another.

Journalist Donal Macintyre went undercover in Daya Dan or Gift of Compassion Home where seven nuns are in charge of 59 children with different kinds of physical and mental disabilities, aged six months to 12 years.

The undercover investigator filmed children being fed, hands bound with strips of cloth, recalling how, at night, they were tied to their cots with similar strips. He also filmed the children left unattended in the toilet, at times for up to 20 minutes. 

In his view, this highlights the Sisters' poor trained in dealing with disabled children.

Macintyre, who carried out the investigation for Five News channel, said two international Catholic care givers urged him to go and out of concern for the conditions in the Daya Dan home.

According to the journalist, one shackles animals or prisoners but definitely not children, especially those with special needs. Above all, he stressed, "[t]here are strategies for looking after disabled children that minimise stressful situations, but, as a result of poor training and lack of resources, staff are resorting to shocking practices."

In an interview to an Indian TV channel, Sister Christie MC said: "Physical restraint is used only when absolutely necessary and for the safety of the child and [. . .] only and for a limited period."

Even though the attention of the international media is focused on the allegedly insensitive handling of children, the city administration is treading carefully in Kolkata because Mother Teresa has a semi-God status among people of all faiths and government officials are unwilling to commit any faux pas in the investigation.

Mr Haque, Secretary of the Kolkata Social Welfare Department, told AsiaNews that "[w]henever any allegations are brought to our notice, we immediately investigate the case with some senior officer for the Department."

Kolkata's Deputy Commissioner of Police N. Ramesh Babu added:  "We will investigate and then take action. But firstly, we have to be sure and verify the allegations."

Sister Mariangelee MC, of Asha Dan in Byculla (central Mumbai), noted that in Daya Dan there are seven nuns for 59 children. "It may be," she said, "that in order to prevent them from falling and hurting themselves, they are secured with pieces of fabric as a precautionary measure . . . and not the brutal and cruel way that the story is portraying."

Speaking about the recent flood which ravaged Mumbai she said: "Our home was flooded knee-deep. We had to physically carry our children all of whom are handicapped to a safer place. No one from the administration even came to inquire about the conditions of these children. We went without electricity and even water was scarce, but the authorities were nowhere in sight. Some of the children are so severely mentally handicapped, but by God's strength we managed to protect them from the perils of nature."

Sister Mariangelee explained that in their home children are not bound because "we have enough volunteers to help us".

She warned against generalising. "Please do not make it appear as if all handicapped children in all our homes are tied. You have to assess each situation differently; each home has a different context and different concerns."

Sister Nirmala Joshi, superior-general of the Missionaries of Charity, currently abroad, sent AsiaNews an official statement in response to the journalist's allegations. Here it is:

"Thank you for bringing to our notice what you consider lapses in the quality of care and hygiene in this home.  We value constructive criticism and admit that there is always room for improvement."

"It is only those who work day in and day out with these 59 very special children who really know both the demands to total self-forgetfulness as well as the joy at the littlest response and improvement in these children."

"God in His providence is supplying sufficiently for the needs of the poor under our care through the generous gifts of many individuals who make sacrifices to share in our work of love.  Dedication, love, care is something money cannot buy and this is the reason our dearest Mother, Mother Teresa, encouraged people to give not just out of the abundance but their hearts of love and their hands to serve."

"Our home continues to be simple, providing immediate and effective service to the poorest of the poor as long as they have no one to help them."

"Physical restraints are used only when absolutely necessary for the safety of the child and for educational purposes for limited periods of time. 

"We try to provide all that is necessary for the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of those under our care, and are committed to continual efforts at improving the quality of care we give them."

"May God bless you and your efforts to promote the dignity of human life, especially for those who are underprivileged."  [From:  "British journalist makes accusations against the Sisters of Mother Teresa", Nirmala Carvalho, AsiaNews.it, August 3, 2005, http://www.asianews.it/index.php?art=3846&l=en

The average reader is to assume the poor sisters have no access or privilege to resources that can create better means and conditions for the children being brought to their homes and orphanages.... making adoption the loving option and sacrifice average people can do to help the sisters out.

I often wonder which is stronger, the vow of poverty, or the vow of secrecy.  In any case,  someone quoted Mother Teresa  as once saying, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish" (http://home.att.net/~hillcrestbaptist/mt.html)

To this, I must include:

As a Missionary of Charity, I was assigned to record donations and write the thank-you letters. The money arrived at a frantic rate. The mail carrier often delivered the letters in sacks. We wrote receipts for checks of $50,000 and more on a regular basis. Sometimes a donor would call up and ask if we had received his check, expecting us to remember it readily because it was so large. How could we say that we could not recall it because we had received so many that were even larger?

When Mother spoke publicly, she never asked for money, but she did encourage people to make sacrifices for the poor, to "give until it hurts." Many people did - and they gave it to her. We received touching letters from people, sometimes apparently poor themselves, who were making sacrifices to send us a little money for the starving people in Africa, the flood victims in Bangladesh, or the poor children in India. Most of the money sat in our bank accounts.

The flood of donations was considered to be a sign of God's approval of Mother Teresa's congregation. We were told by our superiors that we received more gifts than other religious congregations because God was pleased with Mother, and because the Missionaries of Charity were the sisters who were faithful to the true spirit of religious life.

Most of the sisters had no idea how much money the congregation was amassing. After all, we were taught not to collect anything. One summer the sisters living on the outskirts of Rome were given more crates of tomatoes than they could distribute. None of their neighbors wanted them because the crop had been so prolific that year. The sisters decided to can the tomatoes rather than let them spoil, but when Mother found out what they had done she was very displeased. Storing things showed lack of trust in Divine Providence.

The donations rolled in and were deposited in the bank, but they had no effect on our ascetic lives and very little effect on the lives of the poor we were trying to help. We lived a simple life, bare of all superfluities. We had three sets of clothes, which we mended until the material was too rotten to patch anymore. We washed our own clothes by hand. The never-ending piles of sheets and towels from our night shelter for the homeless we washed by hand, too. Our bathing was accomplished with only one bucket of water. Dental and medical checkups were seen as an unnecessary luxury.

Mother was very concerned that we preserve our spirit of poverty. Spending money would destroy that poverty. She seemed obsessed with using only the simplest of means for our work. Was this in the best interests of the people we were trying to help, or were we in fact using them as a tool to advance our own "sanctity?" In Haiti, to keep the spirit of poverty, the sisters reused needles until they became blunt. Seeing the pain caused by the blunt needles, some of the volunteers offered to procure more needles, but the sisters refused.

We begged for food and supplies from local merchants as though we had no resources. On one of the rare occasions when we ran out of donated bread, we went begging at the local store. When our request was turned down, our superior decreed that the soup kitchen could do without bread for the day.

It was not only merchants who were offered a chance to be generous. Airlines were requested to fly sisters and air cargo free of charge. Hospitals and doctors were expected to absorb the costs of medical treatment for the sisters or to draw on funds designated for the religious. Workmen were encouraged to labor without payment or at reduced rates. We relied heavily on volunteers who worked long hours in our soup kitchens, shelters, and day camps.

A hard-working farmer devoted many of his waking hours to collecting and delivering food for our soup kitchens and shelters. "If I didn't come, what would you eat?" he asked.

Our Constitution forbade us to beg for more than we needed, but, when it came to begging, the millions of dollars accumulating in the bank were treated as if they did not exist.

For years I had to write thousands of letters to donors, telling them that their entire gift would be used to bring God's loving compassion to the poorest of the poor. I was able to keep my complaining conscience in check because we had been taught that the Holy Spirit was guiding Mother. To doubt her was a sign that we were lacking in trust and, even worse, guilty of the sin of pride. I shelved my objections and hoped that one day I would understand why Mother wanted to gather so much money, when she herself had taught us that even storing tomato sauce showed lack of trust in Divine Providence. [From: "Mother Teresa's House of Illusions", Susan Shields, Council for Secular Humanism, http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=shields_18_1

For those who agree that the greatest destruction to peace is abortion, I'd like you to consider the effects abuse and neglect has on the so-called orphan.  I'm not very good with quoting scripture (my spiritual understanding of God and how He wants us to treat others comes from within, and my own experience), so I found a few interesting quotes I thought best represented what I believe God wants people to do to keep peace and harmony within the hearts of those who have been broken.  Below are my three found quotes:

 "Therefore, as for the orphan, do not oppress (him)" (Quran 93.9)  

 "Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan." (Exodus22:22)  

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)

How are children's homes orphanages doing in terms of caring for the orphans, and is adoption really going to do anything to improve the care given to the mothers, fathers and children presenting themselves to these places?

Pound Pup Legacy