When going through an international adoption it is often customary to have a clergy write a letter of recommendation to endorse the family. The agency also asks about the family’s church community. They do this because having a faith-based recommendation is common in many countries. During the adoption process, it came up over and over again how having a community is essential to having a successful adoption. Our church is our family and our support system. We know how important it is to have a community of like-minded people when adding to your family. We are blessed to have our faith give us strength for our journey. This is all about adoption and the Church.
Adoption is all over the Bible and an important part of the Christian faith is the idea that we all adopted into the family of God is a pillar of our faith. Many of the heroes of faith are adopted or connected to adoption in some way. Jesus Christ was raised by a stepdad Joseph, Esther was an orphan of war and was raised by her uncle and later saved the nation of Israel as the Queen of Persia. Ruth chose to follow her mother-in-law Naomi and adopt a new tribe instead of staying with her own people. She was the great-grandmother of King David the giant slayer. Maybe the most famous adoption story is about Moses who was taken in by the Pharaoh’s family and later would lead the Israelites out of slavery with the help of his biological brother. There are more instances that I go into more detail in my podcast episode here. The point is that adoption is a big part of Bible history and human history as well.
Back then, children were often orphaned and raised by family members if they were fortunate enough. These adoptions were not always legal or connected to any government. That is true of biblical adoptions, but modern adoptions look different and the church still needs to have a heart to care for the least of these, the vulnerable and downcast. I believe that Jesus called us to care for the little children.
Today, most children needing adoption are not the result of parents who died. Poverty, addiction, mental health, financial circumstance, and more can lead to a child needing a family. As parents to two beautiful children both adopted internationally, we know that a tragedy had to occur so that we could adopt these children. We pray and hope that families can stay together. We believe that is God’s plan for families: no unwanted children. Sadly, sometimes families are broken and children while wanted cannot be cared for. That is why I believe adoption is so beautiful. My husband and I have time and resources to dedicate to these children who also have special needs and would never have a chance at treatment in their home country.
As one Christian family, we cannot go to India and feed thousands of starving children and provide them with homes. Mother Teresa could only help so many. For every life she blessed, there were thousands and even millions more who needed and went without. She served anyway. That is the Christian faith in my eyes. There will always be work to do, but we will not stop working.
Some Christians today say “Well I could never adopt” and they give their many valid reasons. I do not think everyone should adopt. I think it should be an expensive and difficult process because that is the best way to protect children. Adoption is not for everyone and I have written many articles on that topic. I would say that every person of faith has a responsibility to care for orphans and widows. What does that look like in 2023?
My husband and I recently adopted our second child and it had been a whirlwind with international travel, illness, sleepless nights, and lots of precious sweet bonding moments as a family. My small group at church organized a meal drop off so I had one less thing on my plate. We have had countless texts and cards and messages congratulating us. Our church set up a prayer group to cover us in prayer during our trip.
Another amazing thing about our community is their willingness to learn about the differences between adoption and growing your family through childbirth. When babies are born in our church, people come and go all day bringing gifts and food and cleaning the house for our friends tied up with a new babies. Despite wanting to meet our new son, they dropped meals at the door and talked to me via video chat instead of stopping by. They know we need to cacoon and having people in and out all day could cause fear and confusion for our sweet boy.
So while not every person understands why we choose a different plan than what many consider traditional, we educate as best we can. We have found our church community has worked tirelessly to understand and even work with our family in a way that works for us. Sunday School looks different for us. Schooling looks different for us. Medical treatment looks different for us. Even a simple trip to the grocery store looks different for us. Despite all that, we are accepted and included.
So what is the church’s responsibility to the adoption community? We should be on the front lines of adopting and providing financial, spiritual, and emotional support to adopted children and their families. All types of parenthood are difficult, but adoption comes with its own trauma, and churches and church leaders need to know how to love and support these families. There are not always as many resources for adoptive families as there are for others. That is one of the reasons I write these articles.
The church community should become one more resource and one more source of support for adoptees and their families. Church members who cannot adopt can still educate themselves and others. They can pray about generous giving to the adoption community.
There is a saying about adoption that I love that says, “Adopt. If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, volunteer. If you can volunteer, donate. If you can’t donate, educate.”
There is always something that can be done and the church has even more of a responsibility because of our call in the Bible to care for the vulnerable; the widows the orphans and the downtrodden in our world. The beautiful thing about adoption and the church is that we believe it is a match made in heaven.