I first met J. D. Flynn when he was working in the chancery in Lincoln, Neb. Through the miracle (sometimes! truly!) of Facebook, I quickly got to know his beautiful family, who include two little adopted treasures, both of whom were born with Down syndrome. The Flynns have another child now too, but let him tell you about that. A canon lawyer, J.D. is editor-in-chief of the Denver-based Catholic News Agency, where he directs a news team that, among other things, has a podcast he’d very much like you to check out. For now, here are some insights from him on adoption and parenthood. — Kathryn Jean Lopez
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Tell us about adoption. What has been your experience?
J. D. Flynn: My wife Kate and I have three children, and two of them are adopted. Max is seven and Pia is six. Both were born in Colorado, where we live, and we adopted each of them as newborns. And both of them have Down syndrome. Our biological son, Daniel Vanier, is almost two, and is a delight.
Adoption has been among the great joys of our lives. It was never the plan that we would adopt children, but after several difficult years of infertility, disappointment, and discouragement, we began to discern that perhaps adoption was the path for our family.
We wanted to be sure that we were embracing adoption for what it was: that we understood it as a unique way to build a family, with its own unique challenges, and not as something we would ever perceive as somehow secondary to having biological children. In short, we wanted to be able to embrace adopted children with joy, and without regret, and that meant that we took time to mourn some of our hopes, and to accept that biological children would probably not be in our future.
Of course, much to our surprise, several years after adopting the big kids, Kate discovered she was pregnant!
The most important aspect of our experience with adoption has been the witness of our children’s birth parents. We met and got to know the biological parents of each of our children. They made unfathomably difficult choices when they made adoption plans for their children. Few of us can imagine loving a child so much that, because of difficult circumstances, you’re willing to make the courageous choice they did. We pray often that we can love our children with the selflessness of their birth parents. They’re models of love.
Lopez: Why did you and Kate adopt two children with Down syndrome? Did you think you could handle it?
Flynn: We tried to be open to adopting children in the same way that we’ve tried to be open to life. We tried to just make ourselves available, and to trust that God would do the choosing for us. We didn’t set out to adopt children with Down syndrome. Max’s birth mother chose us to adopt her son after a lot of prayer and consideration. We were humbled. But we didn’t know anything about Down syndrome, and we had a lot to learn.
Less than a year after Max was born, we got a call from our adoption agency. They said a baby girl with Down syndrome would be born in just three days. Her biological parents were hoping to find a devoutly Catholic couple who knew something about Down syndrome. The agency asked us if we knew anyone. We laughed. We said yes to her on the spot. We didn’t even hesitate. Pia was born three days later, and we loved her from the start. But the plan was all God’s.
Read more at National Review.