A message to pro-lifers on how they can change the conversation.
My friend Willie Robertson, the man behind the A&E hit television series Duck Dynasty, is perhaps best known for his beard, his best-selling duck calls, and his colorful family. If you’ve watched the show, you know that family is of paramount importance to the Robertson clan.
But you might not know that 11 years ago, Willie and his wife Korie added a special child to their growing family, and adopted Will Jr. after having two children and with another one on the way. It was just something they felt called to do. When I talked to Willie this week about it, he put it this way: “I’ve gotten to do all kinds of incredible things in my life. But adopting Will was the most rewarding experience of our lives.”
Willie and Korie weren’t wealthy or celebrities at the time. They were just two people who wanted to give a child a home. But too many children are born to young, single parents, disjointed families, and unwanting parents who are incapable of providing in the ways that they ultimately want to, and they are told they have but one option: abortion.
Too many children are unborn, the result of a difficult decision, but one that ultimately robs other willing families of the chance to be the good parents that Will Jr. and so many others had.
Adoption is the unspoken and uncelebrated third option that has escaped our political discussions. We debate only two decisions—to keep a child or to abort a child—and we rarely spotlight the alternative, to have a baby and give it to a loving family.
This is a failing, not only of our culture, but of the right-to-life political movement to which I ascribe. If we believe that life is paramount, then in the absence of abstinence and marriage, we must be far more vocal in celebrating adoption and industrious in making the legal process easier and more efficient.
I admit, I hadn’t given adoption much thought. It recently came into focus for me while watching an Oxygen program called, I’m Having Their Baby, which showcased courageous, young women who have made the tough decision to carry out their pregnancies, and give their babies up for adoption. It’s raw and heartbreaking, illustrating a very real and complicated internal struggle. They talk of the judgment they face and the agony they go through in admitting that they cannot sufficiently care for an unplanned pregnancy. In light of other programs that glorify teen pregnancy and promiscuity, it’s a series that should be applauded for its moral fortitude and honesty.
It made me realize that the pro-life movement has been missing something, and Republicans have dropped the ball. While we’ve made significant strides in arguing for the sanctity of life, we have failed to make adoption a prominent part of our platform and our policy debate. While it’s right and important that we oppose the liberal, Planned Parenthood abortion agenda, we haven’t offered women a compelling alternative with as strident a voice.
We also have to embrace gay adoption. Again, if fighting for the rights of the unborn is the foundation of conservative values, we must also fight for all willing parents who want a child to be able to give those children loving homes.
This will not be comfortable, but it is morally imperative. It’s also good politics. At a time when it seems the abortion conversation is fraught with so many perils and pitfalls for conservative politicians, shifting the narrative to adoption is a productive alternative.
Either way, it’s not enough to rail against abortion—it’s time for conservatives and the GOP to fight for policies that make adoption not only easier and more efficient, but that celebrate an impulse that is the definition of who we are as Americans. We should want every child to be born into loving homes. The loving homes are there, ready and waiting. Let’s make this a top priority.