Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Family Nobody Wanted

Has anyone else read The Family Nobody Wanted by Helen Doss? I finally picked it up Tuesday and finished it Wednesday evening :). I've been mainly reading heavier books the last several months so it was a refreshingly light and quick read.

The book is about a couple that cannot have children of their own. They set out to adopt a child, and by the end of the book they have adopted a total of 12 children. The family is a poor minister's family, yet there is lots of love to go around. The father spends several years in college and then seminary, as he feels called to the ministry, and he often has misgivings about adding "one more" to the family, due to financial stress and an already over-taxed ministry schedule. In the end though, he doesn't regret any of the 12 children he agrees to adopt :).

The stories of how the family gets each child is interesting. It is also interesting to note that 10 out of the 12 children are bi-racial, which was a big issue in the 1930's, '40's, and '50's, when the story takes place. The Dosses specifically targeted bi-racial children (mainly Asian and Mexican) because those were the "unwanted" children - neither race would claim them because they were "half-breeds".

If you are interested in large families or adoption, then you'll enjoy this book :). True stories are always best, and this story is true, written by the mother of the family, Helen Doss. She wrote the book in the early 1950's. I found a 1954 copy at a thrift store, but I've heard that the book recently came back into print as well.

I remember several years ago hearing a man sing a song called Unanswered Prayers by Garth Brooks:

Unanswered Prayers

Just the other night at a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame
And as I introduced them the past came back to me
And I couldn't help but think of the way things used to be

She was the one that I'd wanted for all times
And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine
And if he'd only grant me this wish I wished back then
I'd never ask for anything again

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

She wasn't quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me
In her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days
There wasn't much we could recall
I guess the Lord knows what he's doin' after all

And as she walked away and I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the good Lord
For the gifts in my life

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered
Some of God's greatest gifts are all too often unanswered...
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

The man explained before singing that he and his wife had been unable to have children, and they had fervently prayed for the Lord to allow them to have children of their own. They continued in infertility and eventually decided to adopt. The man explained that every time he sees his son he thanks God for not answering his prayers, since he would not have his son if they had been able to conceive. This man's story came back to me as I was reading The Family Nobody Wanted, especially the last chapter.

I find it interesting that usually books have one passage (two in the case of Les Mis, my other recent read) that really jumps out as the summary passage for the book. Oftentimes it is near the end of the book, as in this case.

In the last chapter of the book the Dosses are finally cleared to adopt their last three children. The night before the adoptions are sealed, Carl and Helen go around the house tucking all the children into bed and just gazing at them as they sleep soundly. Helen narrates:

As we tiptoed back downstairs, I said, "In my prayers, I give thanks that we never had children of our own, after all. Of our own blood, I mean, because children couldn't be any more my own than these. Somehow I feel that our family was meant to be just this way."

"I do, too."

I looked at him. "You truly don't regret it?"

"If I had it to do over again, I'd still want it this way. You're looking at a happy man who has his quiver full."

"Full of what?"

"Children." He laughed at my puzzled face. "It's a phrase from a psalm:

As arrows are in the hand of the warrior,
So are children to a man in his youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.

There was no mistaking his sincerity and he was not putting on any front. At last I was at peace with myself, inside. I put my hand in his.

"I'm glad you feel like that. I-I used to wonder, sometimes. You've always been so eager to, well, find God. You wanted to know what the divine will was, and you were often so impatient of things that stood in your way."

"I did find God," Carl said. "Not in my theology textbooks, not completely in a mere church building. . . I found Him in the trusting faces of our little children."

6 comments:

Jessica said...

What a wonderful quote at the end..."I did find God," Carl said. "Not in my theology textbooks, not completely in a mere church building. . . I found Him in the trusting faces of our little children."...it sounds like a great book!

And thanks for the comment on my blog...I decided to reply to it here because you don't have an LJ account and therefore wouldn't be "notified" if anyone replied to your comment! Anyway...I didn't know you went to college...so you went for teaching? It's so nice to find someone else who went, but didn't plan on "having a career" with their degree. Most other girls I know is either opposed to girls going to college or is very career-oriented. There is middle ground and it's always nice to find other people on it too! Well...have a glorious day!

Ashley said...

I'm glad you liked the book! I really liked it too. My favorite part was when the older white (?) boy (I don't remember names) said about his younger Filipino brother, "If I had black hair we would be twins!" Or something to that effect... It's been a few years since I read the book. :-) I'll have to keep my eye out for it at a thrift store.

Susan said...

Jessica,
Yes, I graduated last year with a degree (and certification) in Mathematics Education, and now teach part-time to homeschoolers and tutor public school students. I think college (especially for girls) can have definite negatives, and it wasn't my first choice, but I'm just glad to be done! I think education is important, and there are so many different ways to discipline the mind, with varying degrees of strengths. I greatly enjoyed my college math classes, but just wish that my other classes were remotely equal in mental stimulation.

Ashley,
I liked that part too. It made me smile :). My favorite part, though, was when the father took all the children to the zoo with the three Filipino women and their children. The reactions of the people in the restaurant were priceless! I had to laugh :).

helen said...

I'm glad to see you posting again. :-) I'm not on-line much myself these days as I have been and will on the road, and need to focus on finishing up a college course. Still, it's good to read some of your posts again.

I especially enjoyed the quote you shared from the book. God and unanswered prayers...something I've been thinking about. It's a good thing that God gives what is best and withholds what isn't.

MegaMom said...

One of mt favorite inspiring books on the large adoptive family. God has certainly chosen and sent each and every one of mine.

CPA Rod said...

I became interested in Helen and Carl by seeing them on a DVD of Groucho Marx episodes I purchased at Costco. I then bought a used book and am delighted. I read it with my wife at bedtime and we're mostly through it. My dad struggled through Redlands University at about the same time they were there. He did very well through the depression, and said the only time in his life he was hungry was when he was in college. Their story reminds me of him. I recommend seeing them on Groucho's DVD.