[dropcap type=”r”]T[/dropcap]he comment struck me as heartless: “It’s like online dating, only you don’t have to have a relationship with the person,” she said. “It’s not, ‘What if this is the love of my life?’ It’s, this person doesn’t have Alzheimer’s in their genetic history.”
Such were the words spoken by a woman quoted in a Hollywood Reporter article about infertility. The story explains how the woman, a television producer, searched online for a sperm donor in order to become a single mother at age 37.
So this is where we are as a culture in America: new technology and a woeful ignorance of the truth about marriage have led us to online shopping for the “ideal” sperm donor. Love’s got nothing to do with it. Instead, it’s all about creating a genetically “perfect” child.
Into this broken world steps Lee Jong-rak, a pastor in South Korea who has devoted his life to caring for abandoned, mostly disabled children. For him, it’s all about love. Hundreds of babies are abandoned each year on the streets of South Korea, where unwed pregnancies are a source of shame and there is scant financial assistance to care for a disabled child. Lee decided to do something about it.
The “baby box” he set up at the front of his home looks like it could be a mailbox, but there’s a sign over it that reads “Leave babies here.” And many desperate parents do. “They’re not the unnecessary ones in the world,” he says of the children. “God sent them here for a purpose.”
“The Drop Box,” a documentary about Lee’s courageous work, shows the drama that unfolds as a chime alerts him to yet another baby entrusted to him. Viewers watch as he hurries to the baby box, lifts a tiny bundle and carefully unwraps the blanket. Inside, a precious baby girl opens her eyes.
Brian Ivie, the 24-year-old who created the documentary about Lee’s efforts, said his life was changed by spending time living in Lee’s home and watching him care for the 20 disabled orphans he is raising.
“To Pastor Lee,” Ivie says, “they are perfect.”
At a screening of the documentary last month, Ivie said his heart of stone was changed by the encounter with Lee.
“I saw all these kids come through this drop box with deformities and disabilities and eventually — like a ‘heaven flash’ — I realized that I was one of those kids too; that I have a crooked soul, all this brokenness inside, but God still wanted me.”
All this leaves me wondering what we as a society are missing out on in the consumerist pursuit to create a “perfect” child in a laboratory setting.
Brian Ivie and Lee Jong-rak show us that God is love and love often comes to us through those whom the world deems imperfect.
Through that lens of unconditional love, the notion that there are undesirable people who should not exist because they don’t serve our needs is revealed as strikingly cold-hearted. We ought to ponder the unintended consequences of a society that purges itself of those with Alzheimer’s or Down syndrome or disabilities. What love and how many streams of grace are we missing in the quest for “perfect”?
I think of my own beloved father who near the end of his life suffered from Alzheimer’s. As heartbreaking as it was to watch the disease take its toll, I know in my soul that the world would have been a colder place without him. I think too of Phil, an elderly neighbor who fought the Nazis as a 20-year-old and decades later succumbed to Alzheimer’s. How many lives would have been lost without his contribution to the Battle of the Bulge? As Lee says, God sent these men here for a purpose.
In a culture where children are viewed by some as a right and by others as a burden, we must tenderly guard the gift of each human life. The self-seeking, distorted view of humanity, so evident in the quest to create a “perfect” child, is far from the loving gaze of God.