Reflection: The Selflessness of Adoption

By Natalie Helms

MONTEVERDE, Costa Rica — Quakers believe that everyone is created equal. One Quaker man, Marvin Rockwell, truly understood and acted upon this ideal in an unusual situation.

Rockwell was an unmarried pioneer who braved the tropics as an original Quaker settler in Costa Rica.
One of his jobs was to deliver cheese to Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose. During that time, Rockwell met a Costa Rican woman with an infant son who was malnourished. Rockwell immediately noticed his rotting teeth and skinny frame. He recognized that this child was not receiving proper care, so he later returned and adopted the boy.

I find it an extremely courageous endeavor to raise a child, whether that child is biological or adopted. It is difficult to accomplish with even two parents, but Rockwell took on the challenge by himself. Despite a responsibility for his own wellbeing in a still relatively undeveloped country, Rockwell lived by his Quaker belief and became responsible for another human life. He built a small bed in the back of his delivery truck and raised the boy, whom he named Henry, until his marriage several years later.

My brother and two cousins are adopted, and I have observed first-hand that parents who choose adoption have extraordinarily kind and open hearts. It struck me as amazing that Rockwell would even consider going back to find the biological mother and ask permission to adopt her son.
This situation is atypical of modern adoptions. In the United States, adoptive parents most often receive their son or daughter directly from the hospital or soon after birth. To adopt a malnourished child is rare.

Rockwell’s selflessness made me wonder what I would have done if I were in his shoes: by myself in the tropics with a job that required me to travel cross-country. Would I have gone so far as to adopt a starving little boy who needed my help? Would I have offered the woman food or money to care for her son? Hopefully I will never have to face that difficult decision, but I’d like to think I would do what I could at that time to make sure the boy remained alive.

Although I am not Quaker, I would like to express in my thoughts, words and actions that everyone is created equal. If I resolve to see everyone as I am and keep kindness in my heart, I can only hope that I handle whatever life throws at me as selflessly as Marvin Rockwell.

3 thoughts on “Reflection: The Selflessness of Adoption

  1. Debbie Allen says:

    Heartfelt and inspiring, along with learning some Quaker history. Nicely done!

  2. Chris Helms says:

    Well done Natalie. Keep up the good work!

  3. Peggy Riordan says:

    Beautiful and honestly written…

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