They are the three questions that every man and woman considering having a child should answer. They are the questions that friends of ours were asked by a judge when they appeared in court to finalize their adoption.
They stood with their beautiful baby girl with the dark hair and dancing eyes as the judge solemnly asked, "Do you wish to adopt this baby and do you understand that it will be forever?"
In many ways, forming a family through adoption has a profound element of nobility because it is so intensely purposeful and intentional. Prospective parents wait, yearn, hope, pursue leads, wait more, shell out vast amounts of money and incur incredible debt for the privilege of parenting. They are positively gleeful when a little bundle turns their lives upside down.
They have ached and waited for a job that, as the judge said, is forever. Being a mother or father lasts far beyond the adorable little baby stage and the toddler stage. You can't walk away from the job when you lose interest, life becomes difficult, more exciting things call to you, or the child becomes a lot to handle. Being a parent does not end when a child turns 18, or even 21. The role of the parent changes over the years, but it never ends.
"Will you love this baby?" the judge asked.
Love requires selflessness. We give a lot of lip service to putting others ahead of ourselves, but most of us don't truly understanding the concept until we have children. It is then, as our own pleasures, comforts, wants and sleep routines take a distant backseat, that we truly begin to grasp the essence of selflessness.
Love calls you to put the baby's well being ahead of your own. Love calls you to a new responsibility and a heightened vigilance - to protect that baby from anything or anybody that would cause your baby harm.
"Can you provide financially for this baby?" the judge asked.
Fair question. A baby is first and foremost the responsibility of the mother and father who brought the baby into the world. Parents should have a means of providing for their children.
With so many children falling through the cracks, these are good questions to answer when contemplating having a baby, whether you are 17 or 35. Do you understand that being a parent is forever? Will you love this baby? Can you provide financially for this baby?
Our friends eagerly answered yes to all of the questions.
When the judge finished addressing the parents, she turned to the grandparents and asked them to state their full names.
A bit unnerved, wondering why they would be part of the hearing, they stated their names and waited to see what would happen next.
The judge looked them square in the eye and said, "Have you been spoiling this baby?"
"Yes," they said.
When they were outside the courtroom in the hallway of the courthouse, a lawyer walked by, looked at the little family, nodded toward the baby and said, "I hope she hasn't committed a criminal offense."
Without missing a beat, her momma said, "She has stolen our hearts."
Every child should be so fortunate.