History of the Ministry
Offering Children – Most Lovely Additions to God’s Garden
By Claire Bowles
My husband and I, in our white robes, held the baby between us, praying a prayer of deep gratitude. The room had a joyful and serene atmosphere and a big banner announced to everyone present that it was the eight-day ceremony of this baby girl. After our prayer my husband and I passed the little sleeping bundle to another couple in white robes, waiting there behind us. At the moment the four of us held the baby, a frozen moment in time, we were all in the ideal world. Did I hear cheering? Were there tears of joy in myriad eyes looking at us from another world? I thought I felt the vibration of thousands of people unable to contain their happiness. My husband and I stepped aside and the other couple began the eight-day ceremony for their baby girl – the little flower which my husband and I planted and I nurtured from seed for nine months, which this other couple would raise to blossom and which would one day be a most lovely addition to God’s garden.
This day was the highlight of a year-long offering that my husband John and I had made: the offering of a blessed baby to a childless couple who were very good friends of ours, whom we had known for more than ten years. It wasn’t the first time my husband and I had made such an offering. The year before we had offered a baby to another couple. It had been such a great experience then that within weeks of that baby’s birth, we had decided to do it again.
Shortly after the birth of that first offering I started to the beginnings of what grew into The New Family Foundation (NFF), a counseling and support group for offering and receiving parents. Within a year there were six of us holding meetings around my kitchen table in New Jersey: Beverly Berndt, Linda Nagai, Kathryn Hill, Lynn Walsh, Nancy Barton, and myself. Among all the things we did that first year, I think the most important was the beginning of the prayer list, a list of couples who didn’t have children and who wanted to be part of the Unification tradition of adoption: the adoption of a child conceived by another blessed couple. This prayer list had thirty couples on it, and within two years all of those original couples had babies, either through adoption or by conceiving a baby themselves. Many of those couples who adopted babies met their offering couple through the prayer list, that is, a couple might call me to say that they were inspired to make an offering to a childless couple but didn’t know a couple in this situation. NFF would send them the list to pray over and pictures of the couples and let God lead them to the right receiving couple. NFF never pushed for any couple more than another, but let God get the right babies to the right couples. We decided not to use any sort of applications (who can apply for the right to be a parent?) and let shimjung guide each couple. I had the most wonderful job of introducing receiving couples to their offering family. My whole spirit would glow when I called a childless couple and say, “You are going to be parents!”
First Offering Children Seminar
We had a very successful seminar for brothers and sisters on Offering Children in 1989 attended by more than one hundred people. Mrs. Betsy Jones and Mrs. Nora Spurgin became great supporters of NFF and spoke at the seminar, deeply moved by the adoption providence. These two elder sisters, who headed the Blessed Family Department in America at the time, showed great confidence in God working through the New Family Foundation.
Another thing NFF did was compile testimonies and literature on the subject of Offering Children and make it available to anyone interested. Our telephone counseling was used by hundreds of couples who were either involved in an adoption themselves or were considering offering or receiving.
We tried, through all the media available to us, to let the membership know that such support existed for them. We connected to every regional BFD and sent literature to pass on to interested couples. NFF expanded and we added more counselors in Washington, DC and Colorado: Beatriz Steeghs and Shirley Chimes.
The first offering couples in America were Dirk and Barbara ten Wolde and David and Takeko Hose (the babies born two weeks apart.) These two couples, and their receiving couples, were the pioneers for this providence in the Western world. The things that they went through together and the things that these two couples learned are the foundation to counsel others and help others in their offerings. We will always be grateful for the help they gave to The New Family Foundation.
The more I worked with the many offering and receiving couples over the years, the more I could see God working in extraordinary ways. I was shown again and again the love and courage that it takes to be an offering parent OR a receiving parent. I came to see the receiving parents as offering parents and vice versa: the receiving parents had given up so much and had gone such a painful course. These couples had had to offer so much to come to the point of finally adopting a child. They had had to offer up their whole self-image, their lifelong dreams of having a baby, their feelings of what it is to be masculine or feminine. They had to give up a thousand concepts and offer to God their pride and their own personal glory. These couples had to determine to fulfill the four position foundation for Him by whatever means was necessary, thus, the receiving parents became offering parents in my eyes.
Likewise, the offering couples told me over and over again how grateful they were. I heard from them, as well as knowing first-hand, that the offering couples felt blessed and humbled in the wonder of what they had been able to do. So the offering couples became the receivers.
The offering parents were not better than the receiving couples, but they were needed by those couples without children. The receiving couples were not less whole than other brothers and sisters, but they needed help in this element of their lives. Who doesn’t need help in one part of our lives of another?
I realized, too, that no one could ask a person to give a child to another person. True Father told us this as well. Even God, though He could inspire us to make such an offering, would never judge us if we decided we couldn’t. This offering could never be forced, could never be on a list of qualifications for this or that position or job, on earth or in heaven. This offering had to be a total act of shimjung.
Making an offering of this kind is not necessary for our restoration, but building a four position foundation IS. That is the difference. Being a part of a four position is a part of the restoration of self, the restoration of our lineage, the restoration of the world. I am haunted by the plight of these couples who cannot build their four position foundation. What will they do without their third messiah? Without the continuation of their blessed lineage? What would the world be missing without that particular four position foundation? What would God be missing? I know these couples are important elements to the restoration even without children, and I don’t mean to say that without children they, as individuals, are somehow less in God’s or man’s estimation, but childlessness is a spiritually and heartistically limited position to be in.
Now the New Family Federation has new brothers and sisters waiting on a prayer list for their four position foundations to be fulfilled and their prayers to be answered: a lawyer, a sister about to get her doctorate, an artist, a state leader, a businessman, a seminarian, a foreign missionary. All are brothers and sisters like you and I who have given their lives to build the Kingdom of Heaven and now need that last important part to set their eternal lineage into motion and establish their ancestry: a blessed child.