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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. I have a question. If I accept to become the Godmother for my niece or nephew, should their mother become sick for a period of time, will I be required to raise the child(ren)? And what about if my sister and her husband died, in such a case, will I be required to raise the child(ren)? I want to know what I am getting involved in. The reason I ask is because I cannot stand children and I do not want any. Nor do I want to raise someone else's kids. If I will have to raise the child(ren), then I do not want to be a Godmother. Please help me with this matter.

A. 1. Your question addresses a number of issues. I will address them separately.

• NATIONAL LAWS: Each country has different laws and some countries have no laws on the matter of who takes care of the child(ren) should the parent suddenly die. So you will have to either contact your local priest and find out what is the local law or tradition of the country or contact someone in the government to obtain you answer.

• THE LAST WILL: As a general rule, your sister would not force you to adopt her child(ren) should she pass away. In her Last Will, she should be indicating to who's care she is placing the child(ren) after having discussed that matter with the person involved. If she leave the child(ren) to you care in her Last Will without have discussed the matter with you, you have a right to refuse to take the child(ren). In such a case, the child(ren) would be offered to other relatives or placed for adoption.

• FAMILY TRADITION: In some countries, where there are no laws on the matter of child custody at the death of both parents, it is the family tradition that someone in the family will take the child(ren) and and raise them in the faith of the parents. In some countries, the family relies on the Godmother to do it; in other countries they rely on the maternal grandmother to raise the child(ren). The children are never abandoned. They will continue to live with someone that they know, someone who is a family member.

• SINGLE PARENT FAMILY: In cases where the parent who died was a single parent, the law or tradition of most countries is to track down the other parent and offer him/her the responsibility of raising the child(ren). If he/she refuses the care of the child(ren), then on of the above is implemented.

It does not mean because a father has been out of the life of his child that he wants nothing to do with his son/daughter. There is always the possibility that the mother made his life so difficult that he abandonned any type of efforts to have access to his child(ren). Now that the mother (or vice-versa) has passed away, the father may consider taking custody of his child(ren) and raising him/her/them.

• CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOUR: Finally, I want to address the obligation of Christians to practice their faith in a loving way, especially when there is a need among relatives. Jesus gave us the Parable of the Good Samaritan. [Luke 10:25-37] Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Jesus then said, "Go and do likewise.”

In a situation where relatives are orphaned, who do you think was a caring and loving relative to the children? "Go and do likewise.”

• CONCLUSION: You have a right to refuse to care for your Godchild(ren). The choice is yours. But remember, God will make you accountable. If you think that by taking the child(ren) into your home by obligation when you have no love for them, then do not take the children. They do not need someone to make their lives miserable after having been orphaned. They need to be loved.

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