Monday, February 12, 2007

Adoption: Not Just a Teenage Mother's Option

When you think of adoption, what do you think about? Do you think about a teenage mother who can't keep the child she's carrying? Do you think of those friends who have struggled with fertility issues and chose to adopt? Do you think of a friend in high school that was adopted? What is it you think of when you hear the word "adoption"?

If you were to ask me what I think about, I would immediately think of what my wife and I are choosing to go through right now. We have three amazing children, and over the nine years of our marriage, we have talked some about the possibility of adopting a child one day. We became convicted that just talking about it wasn't enough...we should actively pursue it.

Not knowing anything about the process, we started where any 21st century blogger would go for help in search of information...Google. Through searches and conversations with friends, we were connected with two ladies who have recently adopted. Through it all, we have been praying that God would lead us. Over the last few months, we have chosen to pursue adoption from a foreign country. We have also connected with a small agency that specializes in foreign adoption and a home study company to take care of the social work aspect of everything. Through pictures sent by the adoption agency, we may have already found the young girl we will adopt...she will turn one soon. God seems to be moving us forward, so we are trusting Him for the large about of money we need to complete the adoption process, and we are pressing on.

While we would love to know that you are praying for us in this journey, I know that one normal reaction to our decision is, "Why are you adopting? You already have three children!" I think this is a fair question, and that's one reason I'm writing this answer it. The other reason I am writing this is in the hope that God will use these words to motivate you to do all you can for orphans, especially those that could be described as the "unevangelized, uneducated, unmedicated, and unfed" (John Piper, Desiring God, p. 169).

So, why are we adopting?

(1) Adoption fulfills the biblical mandate to care for orphans. God is very clear that caring for orphans is to be a high priority among His people. While adoption is not the only way to care for orphans, it is surely a good way. Let's think about what the Scripture has to say specifically about orphans, or 'the fatherless'.

(a) Provision for orphans should be made by God's people. In Deuteronomy 24:19-22, God makes very clear that the Israelites were not to consume everything that they reaped in their harvest times. Instead of being meticulous in clearing the fields of all crops, they were to go over it once and leave anything missed for the foreigners, widows, and orphans. Why? Verse 22 says this will remind them of the slavery in Egypt. How? They lived on whatever was given to them by the masters of the the grace of God, they had escaped. Now that they were "masters" in their own land, they were to care for those who could not produce for themselves. (See also Deut. 26:12)

The same is true for us...we live in such a consumer-driven society that the very idea that we would not use all our money for our own prosperity seems ridiculous, backward, and anti-intuitive. That's the point...that's how we're supposed to live...ridiculous, backward, anti-intuitive lives for the cause of Christ.

(b) True religion displays itself in one's attitude toward orphans. James 1:27 is the key to this statement. In the second half of the verse, James tells us that keeping "oneself unstained by the world" is part of true religion. You can say this in most evangelical churches and (if they're accustomed to doing so) receive a hearty "AMEN!" from the congregation. The first half of the verse, however, makes clear that the care of orphans and widows is looked upon by God as being the display of pure religion (i.e.- true conversion).

To be honest, apart from a few spurts of financial support through organizations like "Compassion International," I have not displayed the kind of compassion needed toward the orphans in our world. Adoption will not give us the opportunity to change all the orphans of the world, but we will be able to change the world of an orphan.

(c) It is sinful not to seek the prosperity of the orphan. Jeremiah 5:20-31 finds the weeping prophet pronouncing judgment on Judah for their sinfulness. In verse 21, he calls them a "foolish and senseless people." Why? Because they "have a stubborn and rebellious heart" (v. 23), they do not "fear the Lord [their] God" (v. 24), "their houses are full of deceit" (v. 27), and they "excel in deeds of wickedness (v. 28a).

In further explaining these wicked deeds, Jeremiah says that their wicked deed was related to their care of orphans. He says, "They do not plead the cause, the cause of the orphan, that they may prosper..." (v. 28b). "Plead" means "to strive", so Jeremiah is saying that these people are not striving for the cause of prospering orphans. Therefore, they are sinful, and God will punish them (v. 29). (See also Isaiah 1:21-23, 10:1-2)

(d) The Lord is defender of the orphan's welfare, and we should be the same. This should be pretty clear from the first three points. As the Author of Scripture, God has declared that provision for orphans come from His people, that pure religion is reflected in our attitude toward orphans, and that it is sinful not to seek the prosperity of orphans. However, for those who need more specifics, keep reading.

In Psalm 10:14, God is called "the helper of the orphan," and then verses 17-18 says that God "...will incline [His] ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed." Even if we were to ignore God's commands, God Himself would come to the rescue of the orphan. The oppressed and helpless are some of God's favorites. After all, that's what we were when He scooped to show grace and rescue us from our own sin.

(2) Adoption is an act of evangelism. In adopting from a foreign, we have chosen a country that has a reported Christian population of 40% (this includes a fair amount of Roman Catholicism). The rest of the nation is made up of Muslims and indigenous, tribal religion. Our short-term prayer is that God will allow us to rescue a child from the Muslim religion or tribal religion and see him/her transformed into a follower of Christ. Our long-term hope and prayer is to see this child burdened for their home country and become a missionary for the cause of Christ. I'm quite sure we will not want him/her to move so far away from us, as with any child...however, we long for all of our children to be used anywhere on the planet where God will use them to further the Gospel.

(3) Adoption is an act of rescue. Orphans need to be rescued, plain and simple. We have heard and read of stories of those who have adopted from foreign countries. Their adopted children still have fresh memories of soldiers coming into their homes, raping their mothers and killing the rest of their families, while they escaped and hid in the bush. The unemployment rate in many foregin countries has sky-rocketed, and there is no real future in these war-torn places. We know that coming to America is not the great hope and answer for these children, but a family that can nurture, educate, and guide them can be used of God to give them lives they would never have otherwise.

(4) Adoption is a physical picture of a spiritual reality. Now, I must confess, this is not the main reason we are adopting, but it is a HUGE benefit for us, for our children, for the church we serve, etc. The reality is that spiritually, you and I were living in a war-torn, hopeless, helpless world of sin. We were destined for far worse than unemployment...we were destined for hell. There is a very high cost for adopting, but it is nothing compared to what it cost to rescue us. You see, based on no merit or action of our own, God stepped in and adopted us as sons, having purchased us at the high cost of the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son. Once adopted, our child will be ours forever...there is no going back. The same is true for sons of God through the rebirth of salvation.

Our little boy or little girl will be a constant reminder of who we are in Christ, but he/she will be far more than an illustration. This will be our son...our daughter...and we will cherish the child for as long as God allows us.

These are the four reasons that we are choosing to adopt. The question is this...are you doing anything to relieve the suffering of orphans? Have you considered adoption but thought it was crazy? What would God have you do in response to all of this? Adopting is not commanded by the Scripture, but the care of orphans certainly is...please take this seriously.

For now, please pray for God's provision of money in our family's life for this adoption. Also, pray for us and our three children...that God would prepare our hearts to love, nurture, accept, and adopt this precious child. Thank you.