The Family Nobody Wanted, by Helen Doss
This book automatically caught my attention as J and I have plans of adopting some of our own children in the future. After researching options at home and abroad, we've settled on the idea of adopting from overseas. While there are still requirements that must be met, they aren't nearly as stringent and oppressive as the ones are here in our own country. (While I certainly understand the reasoning behind various laws related to domestic adoptions -- there is FAR too much red tape.) Since we are planning on having a "multicultural family" this book was intriguing.
This book is written by Helen Doss who, with her husband Carl, adopted 12 children of various races and nationalities. In it she tells how they came to adopt all 12. She relates various tales from their growing up years in order to show that, although these children came from different backgrounds, they enjoyed and loved one another. Carl Doss was a Methodist minister and their family lived on a minuscule budget. By 1950 standards, they really did not have enough to live off. Yet they longed to offer a home to these kids. They wanted to show them the love of Christ. They wanted other people to see that there is not one race that is "less human" than any other. Doss dwells on the topic of racism and they dealt with it as a family. Typically (and truthfully) I think things like race are an issue when you decide you are going to make them one. I know there are many different feelings/views/opinions on the issue of race. I was raised not to note the difference between people so for ME it's NOT an issue. I must admit though - race is still an issue for today's society. Sadly, this definitely effects which countries J and I are willing to adopt from. (It has nothing to do with how we feel, personally, but how much we are willing to take on with society at large.) There are some battles we do not feel equipped to fight. But the Doss family did and they fought these battles during a time when it was much MORE of an issue than it is even today. I think they handled things very well, assuring each child that they were made in the image of God and that God loved them and accepted them for who they were. They taught them how to relate to other people who might take issue with their nationality. They certainly were an inspiration to many people who, at the time, took issue with their choices.
There was one thing that REALLY bothered me about this book and the Dosses marriage. Basically they went down the road of adoption because they were unable to have children of their own. Helen really wanted children -- more so than Carl. Carl was in seminary and they barely had two pennies to rub together. Carl kept telling Helen that they could not afford a child....a second child...a third....a seventh....a ninth...and so on and so forth. She never once listened to him. He argued that they had a responsibility to the 9 that they already had when she was arguing back that they should be able to take in the last three (all at the same time)! Helen simply would not listen. She even quotes him as saying, "It's as if I'm talking for the mere exercise of it."
Now, back then, there being an enormous LACK of red tape in the adoption process, they were able to send off letters to agencies and (from the way she wrote it) have children dropped in their laps. Even when she knew Carl would not be willing to take in a child if she asked him outright, she would send off letters requesting children. When she received an affirmative response from anyone, then she would approach Carl with an agency's letter and haggle him into it.
I cannot FATHOM doing this to J. In fact, I finished the book yesterday and told J about it when he came home. Before I could complete the question, "Can you imagine if I did that to..." he cut me off with a resounding, "NO!" HA! To state it simply. Only once did Carl ask for a particular child to be added to the family. The other 11 times it was a game, of sorts, for Helen to see how many or WHO she could sneak in.
Now, I am NOT saying that I'm sorry they had all twelve. And in the end, btw, Carl was incredibly happy with his brood and referred to them as a "full quiver." They were a happy family. But the way that they put themselves together was more sneaky on Helen's part than anything else, I felt. I don't want to build a family based on Harassment of the Husband. Parenting is a team effort. I cannot imagine having a bunch of kids that just I wanted. That would be a horrible process -- even if J WAS happy with the result in the end.
There is a lack of respect towards the head of the house that I felt was displayed in this book. That's a rather sad fact, in my opinion. Mutual respect was lacking. I have a hard time enjoying a story when I see one partner or the other being disrespected in making family related decisions (or ANY decision, really). Marriage is about partnership: love and respect. But I suppose this wasn't a book on marriage as it was about adoption. Yet it was such a distracting issue that it made my continued enjoyment of the book next to impossible.
I AM glad books like this are out there. They are necessary (still) as to their ability to sway the public that these situations can work and can work well. The great thing about this book is that the Helen & Carl Doss were Christians and raised their family to be Christians also. That much is evident in her writings. And I truly believe that the only way to make such a situation work is to cover it in prayer and bathe it in the love of Christ. Without that - NOTHING works, really. Christ is the only one who can bind hearts together in this fashion. Because of Him, the Doss situation worked. Without Him, I'm not so sure. (Not discounting non-Christian families who adopt and make these situations work. I know there are some. I'm just saying its almost surely effective WITH Christ, rather than without - but that's another argument and the purpose of this book review isn't to argue THAT.)
All in all, I would heartily recommend this book with the notation that this is also a book about a wife who took herself outside of her husband's authority to do what it is that she wanted done. The end of the story is happy though and Helen Doss did a great job making certain points that need(ed) to be made. For that reason, as one who is interested in forming the same type of family (with fewer in number, btw), I would pass along this book.
Thanks, Rose, for recommending it to us!