In 1969, Fred Rogers of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” testified before a skeptical Senate Subcommittee on Communication to seek funding for his children’s program. In little more than six minutes, without a flashy multimedia presentation or much oratorical flourish, Mister Roger made his case for the dignity and desires of children. 

His presentation so compelled the audience that even self-professed “tough guy” Senator John Pastore declared himself roused with “goose bumps” by the testimony. It seemed that people’s imaginations wandered back to their own childhoods, with all their hopes and hurts. The moment dispelled cynicism about what adults could do and summoned empathy for what children most need. 

Each child is unique, but our needs are universal. Mother Teresa once said that “the biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody.” The family is God’s laboratory of love, where we are intended to discover dignity, security and trust. Yet, for too many children, the lab has been shut down, or the experiments of life have somehow gone awry.  

This must rouse God’s heart. The themes of adoption and care for children pulse throughout Scripture. God adopts Old Testament Israel as his “firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22); Jesus invites the children into his presence “for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16); the Holy Spirt grants us a spirit of adoption that enables our hearts to cry out “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15), whether in joy or in sorrow, and always in hope. God commits himself to “defend the cause of the fatherless” (Deuteronomy 10:18) and calls us to do the same (Exodus 22:22; Psalm 82:3; Isaiah 1:17; James 1:27). 

God may be rousing your spirit. Maybe the Spirit crying out “Abba, Father” is taking on a new meaning. Pay attention, do some research, have some conversations, and pray. While fostering or adopting is not everyone’s call, the steady accumulation of kind deeds and the encircling support of the Church should enable us to live out more fully our call to be the family of God.