Food For Thought

Adopting A Gift From God 

by John E. Bonfadini, Ed.D.,
Contributing Columnist
Professor Emeritus, George Mason University

John E. Bonfadini
John E. Bonfadini

The stork has departed God’s international airport and landed at my children’s households six times over the past 12 years. The flights have always been very eventful. Some have landed smoothly with minor incidents, while others have had to face severe turbulence. God even chose to send the stork on a return trip to take our granddaughter Madi back. She had only a short four-week stay. Madison’s sister Rachel has been fighting cystic fibrosis for the past three years. We pray that God will let her live a full life before she must join her sister in heaven. Rush Limbaugh uses the phrase, “Talent on loan from God.” My wife and I believe a more appropriate saying for children is, “Love on loan from God.” Children are born to be loved. That love should also extend to those who are not part of our gene pool, which leads me to the main topic of this article, —  adoption.

On August 14, 2004, the stork make another trip to earth and landed in Kyeonggi-do, Korea, near Seoul. The special gift was named Min Cheol Kim. He was born to an unwed mother who was unable to care for him. Through the assistance of the Adoption Service Information Agency, the Eastern Social Welfare Society, The Rev. Roma Maycock, Congressman Frank Wolf, Manley and Kay Garber’s son Yong Kim and others, Min was rewarded with another ride, to the United States, via a big green stork known as Korean Air flight 093. He arrived at 10 a.m. on March 23, 2004. The brave little fellow showed real courage handling the 13-hour, 30-minute flight. Many children from all parts of the globe are enjoying new lives in the United States.

His new parents, Mike and Kerri Bonfadini, suffered through the same anticipation that occurred five years ago when Kerri gave birth to their daughter Brooke. In some ways, Min’s arrival at Dulles International Airport was like the arrival of Brooke at Prince William Hospital in Manassas. There was a high level of anticipation. Everyone was watching the doorway trying to get the first glimpse of the new baby. Somehow he just showed up — everyone missed his main entrance. Min got his new name, Brandon Min Bonfadini. He was passed around like an entrée at Thanksgiving dinner. He quickly showed his outward personality and love for food. He’s a little “flash punchy” from all the cameras, but I’m sure he will get accustomed to the attention. He handled the car ride to his new home like a real trooper. A quick bath at the house and a little snooze on grandpa’s shoulder had him fit and ready for some serious play with his sister Brooke. I’ve given all my grandkids a nickname. Brandon has already received a number of additional names like Bam Bam, Bronco, Chubs and a few more. Giving our grandchildren silly nicknames is my job. I call Brooke “Chuta-bazuda.” One of my favorites is the name I gave my granddaughter Megan. I call her “Fazzoom-a-day.” I’ll probably settle in on something unique for Brandon.

Life has many surprises. I never thought I’d be talking about adoption. We all assume that having children is a natural part of life. We plan on getting married and picking the exact number of kids that will comprise our family in the same way we purchase a vehicle. Only when problems arise in the natural reproduction process do many realize we have an alternate opportunity to give a child of God the love so desperately needed. Maybe couples should consider adopting even if they are capable of reproducing their own. There are so many children in the world who need a loving home. Brandon will certainly receive one. He has a very loving family network of support. The ability to give birth to a child is one of God’s greatest individual gifts. The responsibility of taking care of that gift in some measure belongs to all of us, whether it’s providing an educational system, health care, safe environment, or other factors that contribute to the quality of a child’s individual life.

Many of you who will read this article may have been or have close contact with someone who was adopted and have your own stories to tell. The world is certainly changing. The monolithic family is probably a thing of the past. Marriages between different races, religions, and socioeconomic classes have become more common. The world is much smaller. Dating on the Internet alone opens a vast new arena of potential romantic contacts. The increased breadth of the potential mate pool provides for more diversity. The ease of travel and the changing world of work have significantly changed the family structure. Another factor that has greatly influenced today’s family makeup is the increase in the divorce rate. There is an increased likelihood that today’s child will be reared in a family environment that is far more complex than families of my era.

Being a divorced parent no longer has negative implications. Adopted children and children of divorced parents face similar challenges. Those of us who have been blessed with a lasting marriage and children should look to assist those who haven’t. Personally, I wish that all marriages would last forever and everyone would look forward to their 50th wedding anniversary. My wife and I recently celebrated our 43rd. Most people who know me say my wife deserves most of the credit for our longevity. Their analysis is probably correct, but it still takes two to tango and a lot of give and take. I believe there is a strong correlation between giving and longevity.

Outside, my new grandson may look a little different from many of his friends and relatives. Inside, he’s the same as all children. The one major thing he and all other children need is love. I can assure you he’ll get plenty of TLC. Some things in life are beyond our control, but how we dedicate and share ourselves with our own children and others is our choice. Let’s work at making as many right choices as humanly possible while helping and forgiving those who may have committed an error.

What’s Your View?

Obviously, there are at least two sides to every issue. Do you have a different view? This column is meant to provoke thought, so keep sending comments. Each one is read with the utmost interest. Send e-mail to:, or send written responses to the editor.  Mail will be forwarded to the author.




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