The other day I was nursing my smoked butterscotch latte at Starbucks and trying to channel Dorothy Parker as I pondered what fresh hell I'd be chronicling this week in my column, when I overheard a millennial with crayon-colored hair make the following comment: "I can't stand my parents and their boojwa attitudes about everything."
And as I pondered my drink, wishing there were a little more "scotch" and a little less "butter," I had an epiphany.
Having lost my own parents, I would ransom my soul to see them again for just a few moments. I dreamt last week of my mother, and the dream was so achingly real that I woke up believing her scent was in the room. If I weren't worried about losing my composure, I would have rushed over to that kid and told him to cherish his parents because, like Emily in "Our Town," he'd one day have a reckoning with what we all inevitably have to lose.
This got me thinking about parents, and the fact that being able to give birth is not a prerequisite to the ability to love. My parents were exceptional, but the fact that we were tied by biology means very little in the grand scheme of things. The only ingredient, the only essential, is the desire to love and raise a child.
No one knows that better than Becky Snyder Fawcett.
A Philly girl who now lives in New York but maintains close ties with the area (she dutifully and correctly pronounces "water" as "wudder" when asked,) Fawcett has founded an organization called Help Us Adopt, a non-profit whose goal is to provide financial and emotional support to adoptive parents.
I met her through my sister Tara, who knew Fawcett from their days as PR professionals, and that PR experience is one of the main reasons she's been able to turn what she calls her personal "aha" moment into a safety net for those who would otherwise be deprived of the joys of raising a child: "I couldn't have children the old fashioned way, and I was born to be a mother, so adoption was the only way. My first aha moment was when I realized that it was going to take every penny to help us adopt our first son. I said 'How lucky am I, that I can rebuild my bank account?' Brave people shared their stories with me, and I fell apart because I couldn't imagine not being able to be a mom because of finances."
So she started looking around to see if she could find an organization that assisted would-be parents in the adoption process. Fawcett's plan was to donate her PR skills and help that organization amplify its message. But she wasn't completely comfortable with the type of messages she was hearing: "I am a girl who is really based in equality, and I couldn't find a group that didn't care about what a family looked like, or about religion, or other things that are irrelevant to what a child needs most. I thought that life's too short to put strings on this."
And so she started a program that doesn't require you to be a member of this group or have this amount of income or subscribe to this particular set of values. The only thing that matters to Fawcett and her colleagues at Help Us Adopt is that the prospective parents be committed to the process, and that they submit to a valid home study.
Being committed to the process means that you are going to adopt regardless of any help you get from HUA, and that this isn't your first stop on the adoption journey. It's your last.
That last stop could mean the difference between bringing a child home, or dealing with the pain of an unfinished family. Help Us Adopt extends grants of up to $15,000, which in many cases amounts to 50 percent of the entire process.
I have written, endlessly it seems, about being pro-life. A very wise woman once told me that I will personally have no impact on the abortion laws of this country. She's probably right about that, although I won't give up that fight.
But there is another flank in the battle to make sure all children have a real chance at a rich and happy future. Helping biological mothers find a place for the babies they can't raise and supporting the families who want so desperately to raise them is a powerful, life-affirming weapon.
Becky Snyder Fawcett is in the trenches with that powerful weapon.
Christine M. Flowers (email@example.com) is a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.