Over the past decade or so, our culture has seen an increase in adoption, from world-traveling celebrities to regular church-going folks. Overall, this is a positive shift, because adoption is a beautiful, divinely ordained expression of God’s heart. This point is brought into sharp focus in the upcoming documentary film The Drop Box.
Even though adoption has earned a lot of press in recent years, it’s easy to lose sight of why it is important and what it really means. Here are a few of the things we consider to be the foundational truths about adoption:
- Adoption is not Plan B. God created adoption before the foundation of the world and has always used it as a way to build families. It is how He welcomes broken people into an intimate, familial relationship with Himself. Unfortunately, our culture has distorted adoption to make it something of a second-tier option.
- God sets the lonely into families (Psalm 68:6). We can plan and pursue and dream, but ultimately, it’s God who knits families together. When the wait seems frustrating and things don’t seem to be going as planned, take heart in knowing that it is God who knows the right timing for your family and for the child. Remember, “unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
- No child is “unadoptable.” No matter their age or situation, children deserve and need families—even when the right family has not yet been found. It may require a certain set of parents to address the unique needs of a child, but that doesn’t make the child less deserving of a family. No group of children is more deserving of a family than the next.
- Adoption is ONLY about meeting the needs of a child. It’s easy for adults to be excited about the prospect of adoption because we’re so excited to have a little girl to dress up, or to have a boy to round out our family, or to give a home to a child in need, or to become a mom or dad—and the list goes on. While those are valid emotions, the most important reason to adopt is because your family is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of a child without a family. When we shift the focus from the needs of the kids to the needs of the adults, we do everyone a disservice.
- Not everyone is called to adopt, but we’re all called to care for orphans. For many people, this perspective has been lost in all the talk about the theology of adoption. Verses like James 1:27 (“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans…in their distress…”) and Proverbs 31:8 (“speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves”) do not tell us that everyone should adopt. We’ve somehow hijacked those scriptures to mean that adoptive families are following God more closely. The reality is, not every family is equipped to adopt—and that’s ok! Nevertheless, we all must ask ourselves how the Lord would have us care for orphans, even if adoption is not a part of His plan for our family.
- Always respect the decision of birth mothers to make an adoption plan. Birth mothers are in the difficult spot of deciding whether or not they are equipped to care for the child they’ve given birth to. They’re not interested in “giving their baby away”—rather, they’re trying to determine what is in the best interest of the child. Don’t undervalue the difficulty of the decision for ALL birth mothers, regardless of their life circumstances.
- Always respect the child welfare system. Caseworkers become caseworkers because they want to make a difference in the lives of hurting kids. Unfortunately, that also means they are forced to see the darkest parts of humanity. That can have a hardening effect on anyone. Respect the difficult work they do and endeavor to understand the stress they are under.
As adoption gains more and more traction both inside and outside the church, understanding these essential truths will help us engage the issue in an informed, grace-filled manner.