Hopefully you listened to last week's podcast on adoption with my friends Allyson Reid and Lisa Kieklak. If you haven't, you should definitely check it out here.
Most of you know that Lee and I have our own adoption story. I talked about how God brought us to the decision to foster a couple of weeks ago (read it here). God truly transformed our hearts and helped us see the importance of the goal of reunification in the fostering process. Unfortunately, that wasn't our girls' story. But fortunately, after fostering them for a year and a half we were able to adopt them.
We decided to close our home after adopting our oldest two girls. There were many reasons behind this, and I struggled with no small amount of guilt over this decision because there were so many kids who still needed help. Our God is faithful, though, and He opened doors for us to continue to serve in the foster care crisis by being PRIDE trainers for The CALL. It's been a huge blessing to be a part of training so many new foster and adoptive parents.
I am no expert on adoption, but I have learned a lot over the last several years, both from our own experience, and the experiences of friends. I thought I'd share them with you here.
NOT every adoption story is the same
We talked about this some in the podcast. Allyson, Lisa, and I each had different stories, but that's because God called us to adopt in different ways. You can't assume because one person's journey turned out a certain way, that any other journey will be the same. When dealing with real people there is always room for differences. God brings us to, and through, unique circumstances. The most amazing thing in every story is the gospel is pictured through it all. Praise God for these stories of grace and don't let comparison take away from what He has accomplished.
Horror stories are NOT helpful
I don't know what it is about adoption (fostering too) where people like to tell you about their cousin's, friend's, sister who adopted a child who ended up being a murderer. Or the adoption process that took seven years. I don't doubt there are people out there with these stories. But when someone is in the process of adoption, these kinds of stories just don't really help. While being prepared for difficulties is important, try to keep some of these stories to yourself, unless you were the one who lived it. Adoption is stressful enough without the added fears these stories bring. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." If your story doesn't build up and give grace, then think about not sharing it.
Adoption is NOT a last resort
When Jesus comes back, earthly adoption will not be necessary. There won't be children who lose or are taken from their parents. But until then, God has given some of us the opportunity to serve His kingdom by adopting children who are essentially without a family. But even if someone adopts because they haven't been able to have biological children, that doesn't mean adoption is a last resort. The assumption with this line of thinking is that families built through adoption are inferior. It also assumes that children are the end goal, and that once you have a child you've accomplished your task. Any parent knows that bringing a child into your family is beautiful, but this is only a small portion of God's plan for you. We are running a race and God brings each of us different joys and struggles along the way. Someone may go through a lot before deciding on adoption, but that doesn't mean they failed in trying to start a family. It just means their journey took a little longer.
The Church DOES have a responsibility in orphan care
In the episode about foster care, Meg mentioned she thought every church should have a foster care ministry. I'd expand that to say that every church, no matter how big or small, should have an orphan care ministry. And every church member should play some role in it. We live in a culture where consumerism church attendance is the norm, and many attenders simply don't think about our call to serve others. A common verse for fostering/adoption is James 1:27 which says, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." Many in the church like to assume that because they don't feel called to foster or adopt then they have no responsibility in orphan care. I don't think Scripture leaves room for that argument. Many suggestions for how the church can get involved in serving adoptive or foster families were given in the last two episodes. Pray about how God is calling you and/or your church to love the least of these.
Adoption IS a beautiful picture of the gospel
"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:4-5) We can show the world about Jesus by how we view adoption. If we don't see the importance of adoption, we paint an inaccurate picture of our own need of being adopted. We fail to show God's mercy in saving His enemies and bringing them into His own family through the death of His Son. Or we show others that we think we are more valuable than those who need earthly adoption. Jesus sacrificed EVERYTHING to bring us into God's family. Can we not sacrifice to make sure every child has a family who loves them?
There is a lot more I could say, but you would get tired of reading it. God has really taught me a lot about the topic of adoption since I first felt the desire to adopt in the early years of my marriage. I had a lot of misconceptions about what it meant to adopt, but He has graciously given me wisdom through our adoption process and through friends who have their own adoption stories. And as God continues to bring people into my life who have been called to adopt, I learn more about how God blesses and grows families in their journeys. I strongly encourage you to pray about where God may be leading you in terms of orphan care ministry. If you need any ideas or have any questions, I'd love to answer them.