After years of devoted but childless marriage, the Rosatis, then living in Hawaii for John’s Air Force assignment, took in a foster daughter. Though that first attempt at Christian obedience went sour (Kelly’s storytelling is poignant), it opened their hearts to reaching out for children in need. After all, Scripture calls believers to provide love and nurturance to orphans. When a toddler with severe early circumstances came her way, they made their home his home too.
That was only the first. The Rosatis ultimately adopted four children, and Kelly tells each story with incisive, intelligent panache. All come from troubled origins, including drugs, mental illness, and abuse. Some came to the Rosatis after months or years in the foster care system, while one came to them only days after birth. And while the large household is unified in its fervor to serve God, the Rosati family is perhaps the most beautifully multi-ethnic you’ve ever seen.
While this was going on, Kelly also rose through the ranks of Hawaii’s Christian pro-family movement. She quickly had the ears of governors, legislators, and lobbyists throughout the islands. For a blonde haole from Wisconsin to reach such heights in Hawaii, America’s least white state, is remarkable. But she climbed so high without stepping on any toes, respecting Hawaii’s unique culture the whole way.
Indeed, despite a brief sojourn in Wisconsin, the Rosatis’ adoption journey took place entirely in the Fiftieth State. Nowhere else in America, Kelly suggests, could a family so diverse meld together so seamlessly. Kelly and John describe their struggles as adoptive parents—some of which are appalling, considering the low circumstances where their children were born. And they admit that many of their struggles are not yet over.
|Kelly and John Rosati|
The Rosatis don’t write for a general audience. Their repeated references to God, Scripture, and Christ don’t bother reaching out to the secular world. Instead, they write for Christians, particularly those in the pro-life camp, which is often narrowly focused on anti-abortion causes without worrying about life after birth. The Rosatis call their fellow travelers to open their hearts to the whole of Scripture, and open their homes to lives that have already begun.
Importantly, they provide an intriguing antidote to certain attitudes which have circulated about conservative Christianity, particularly Focus on the Family. Following the lead of George Lakoff, many outside the conservative Christian camp have characterized those on the inside for their stern, moralistic outlook. Focus founder James Dobson advocates for stern parental discipline, including spanking. Lakoff has not bothered to probe any deeper.
By contrast, the Rosatis emphasize that stern discipline demonstrates, not dominance and authority, but love for those not yet capable of making their own best decisions. Christian parents, like the Rosatis, embody good moral direction for their children, setting guideposts until they become able to make choices on their own. And the kids’ stated eagerness for Kelly to keep up her advocacy says they’ve inherited the best of their parents’ moral compass.
Even their family structure flies in the face of outside caricatures. Kelly worked tirelessly, even as her husband made enough to feed the family, sometimes working from home when her kids needed her present. Now she has a nationwide advocacy campaign while her husband, retired from the Air Force, is a full-time dad. Thus they can embody conservative Christian values without rehashing outdated, repressive social models.
The Rosatis’ inspiring story should hopefully energize a long-neglected aspect of the pro-life debate. Their narrative should widen the narrative in American social discussion. God has been with them, and through them, God has given a gift to us.