George Eskridge was taken by Welsh traffickers to Virginia, where he worked on a plantation for 8 years. Eventually, he studied law in England, and returned to Virginia, where he became a politician.

Later, he adopted an orphan girl named Mary, whose parents had been his friends. (I was surprised to find that there was no formal legal process for adoption at that time, but George Eskridge and his wife Elizabeth raised Mary, until she was married.)

Of course, Mary would eventually name her first son George, in honor of her adoptive father. And in 1732, George Washington was born.

During our time in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Mei Ying and I visited Meditation Rock, where Mary Washington had prayed frequently for her son George. George Washington miraculously escaped death many times during America’s Revolutionary War. Many people credit his safety and his success to his mother’s prayers, there at Meditation Rock in Fredericksburg.

While we were there, I saw the gravestone of George Eskridge. I was very moved to learn about his story. His memorial stone is under a large tree beside Meditation Rock. The tree was planted in his honor, and symbolically “protects” the giant 50-foot granite memorial of Mary Washington.

Mary Washington was an orphan, who became the mother of America because of her prayers for her son.

George Eskridge was a trafficking victim, a lawyer, a politician, and a foster father/guardian. But, very little is known about him. This is a pity because, in a sense, he was the foster father of a nation.

America has a strong history of orphan care and adoption. Could this be one reason for it?

As much work as there still is to do in the adoption/foster care world, it’s worth remembering that it has been a long and complicated process for America (and many other Western nations) to make progress, both culturally and legally. Presumably the process will be difficult in East Asia, too, where adoption is still often a shameful thing, rather than something honorable. It will take a long and generous Christian witness to continue turning the hearts of parents to the orphaned and abandoned.