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THE BLESSING OF ADOPTION

October 30, 2016

During the Civil War, Zachary Taylor Hutson fought in the Wilderness Campaign with Robert E. Lee. When the War of Northern Aggression ended, Z.T. Hutson was mustered out of the Confederate Army. He took a train south to Spartanburg. From there, he walked all the way to his family farm in Barnwell County. He made the 130-mile journey hobbling on a wounded leg and suffering from tuberculosis. The trek took a full week.

In time, Z.T. and his wife, Simpie, had two sons, Willie and Joe.  Willie eventually took responsibility for the farm. He served as a representative from Barnwell County to the State Legislature.  Joe, the younger son, left Barnwell County and moved to the Upstate where he attended Getsinger Business School. There he met Belle Haynsworth from Darlington.

Joe and Belle lived in Spartanburg. They were the parents of five sons and one daughter. Joe changed the spelling of his name from Hutson to Hudson.

After his first wife died, Willie married Mollie Woodward.  Her father was Robert E. Lee Woodward.  Willie gained a stepdaughter from Mollie’s first marriage. Willie and Mollie had four sons and then a daughter, Louise.

When little Louise was only six weeks old, her mother, Mollie, died.

Joe and Belle traveled from Spartanburg to Barnwell County for the funeral.  Following the burial in the cemetery of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, Willie handed his infant daughter across Mollie’s grave to his sister-in-law, Belle.

Willie said to Joe and Belle, “I don’t b’lieve I can raise this little girl on a farm with these four boys.  I’d like for you to take her with you to Spartanburg. I’d ‘preciate it if you’d rear her as your own.”

That baby girl was my mother.  Her aunt and uncle adopted her.  Because her adopted parents and her birth father were so closely related, she always regarded both families as hers.  In essence, she was the youngest of twelve children in the two families combined.  Throughout her life, she had a good relationship with all of these older brothers and sisters from both families.  She thought of both Willie and Joe as her daddies, calling them Little Daddy and Big Daddy.

I knew my grandmother, Belle Hudson, as Granny. In her Last Will and Testament, Granny included these words, “And to my niece Louise, whom I have always regarded as my daughter, my desire is that she share and share alike with my other children.”

My mother wept tears of joy.

Granny’s estate was very modest. Her love for her family was extravagant.

My mother’s inheritance was not wealth. It was acceptance and a sense of belonging.

On October 31, 2011, Clare and I became grandparents of two precious children, a brother and sister adopted by our son and daughter-in-law. These two children are counted among our thirteen grandchildren. We love and cherish all thirteen of our grands. Each is a unique individual; each is created in the image of God; and each one is a blessing in our lives.

In family court on adoption day, I saw a group of caring adults gathered around these children. There were smiles all around. The judge was all business until the legal proceedings were concluded. Then he posed for photographs along with adoptive parents and two sets of grandparents. Because it was Halloween Day, he offered our new grandchildren the first trick-or-treat gift of the day, a Tootsie Pop.

When I shook the judge’s hand to thank him, he commented, “In family court I hear many sad, even tragic, stories. A case like this where two children are placed in their forever family is what brings me joy. This makes my work worthwhile.”

In our family, we regard adoption as a blessing, but it is not that way for some. At http://www.adoption.com there are numerous stories of people for whom being adopted has been a painful experience. Nearly every person who has been adopted has questions about their birth parents. Many know that their adoptive parents have loved them and provided for them in ways that their birth parents could not have. However, for some, adoption carries a lifelong stigma.

In the church that I served for eighteen years, we were fortunate to have several adoptive families. It has been my privilege to dedicate children who are chosen through adoption at birth. I have baptized young people who were foster children and were later adopted by their foster parents. In these situations, adoption is a blessing to the child, the parents, and the church.

Those, like my mother, who are adopted, have a special place in the world. In a very real sense, they are the chosen ones.

A list of famous people who were adopted includes people of diverse backgrounds and occupations. Moses, the biblical leader of the Jews, Lakota war chief Crazy Horse, and comedian Art Linkletter are on the roll.

Among the politicians on the list are John Hancock and Nelson Mandela. Civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Jesse Jackson were adopted.

The list includes inventor George Washington Carver, naturalist John Audubon, Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s, and Steve Jobs of Apple computer.

Philosophers Aristotle and Jean Jacques Rousseau are included. Authors Edgar Allan Poe and Langston Hughes were adopted.

The Associated Press published the story of Captain Scott Southworth of Wisconsin. Scott knew he would face violence when he was deployed with his Military Police unit to one of Iraq’s most dangerous areas. What he didn’t expect to find was nine-year-old Ala’a, a boy suffering from cerebral palsy. Ala’a, abandoned on a street in Baghdad, had been taken to the orphanage of the Sisters of Mercy founded by Mother Teresa. On a visit with in his unit in 2003, Scott met the black-haired and brown-eyed Ala’a. The boy dragged himself to the side of the 31-year-old American Captain and won the soldier’s heart.

Over the next 10 months, the unit returned to the orphanage several times. A bond developed between Southworth and Ala’a. The boy began referring to Scott as Baba, Arabic for Daddy.

Iraqi law prohibits foreigners from adopting Iraqi children. Immigration laws in this country are also prohibitive. Homeland security in the United States was another hurdle.

The process took several years. Undaunted, Southworth prevailed, and Ala’a became his adopted son.

Adoption is indeed a blessing!

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