We must support adoption in the church.
I have been adopted.
And I have done a lot of adopting. I adopted the ministry style of my Pastor whom I admired so greatly. I adopted the mannerism of my first boss in the delicatessen. I adopted the attitudes of my high school friends.
“Adoption” comes from a Latin word that means “to choose.”
I have never adopted a person. So I talked with a person who was involved in founding a gracious, meaningful ministry called “Mosaic” in the congregation where I worship. Here’s what they had to say:
Adoptive families need support
“When you bring a child home, you receive someone who has suffered trauma. Some trauma will be more severe than others, but there will have been trauma. Some will be immediately evident; some won’t show for a time, such as fetal drug or alcohol syndrome, or sexual mistreatment. Older children most likely have suffered intense loss. All will eventually need support of various resources.
“Couples often feel a deep calling by God to adopt. Yet their “success” stories vary greatly. One couple I know adopted three young siblings. Two of the siblings grew to establish meaningful families of their own. The other child struggles to this day. Other friends adopted a brother and sister internationally. Twenty-two years later, it is still a painful struggle. I have heard adopted children speak with such gratitude about their wonderful life. Maybe it is like the “chance” God takes when He adopts us.
Finances and fear may be a factor
Hospital costs, social workers, counselors, legal technicalities, transportation, and perhaps specialized care—all require money. Foundations and public agencies exist to help. And many times, congregations and friends hold successful fundraisers. Many partnerships are available.
“Fear is part of the adoption journey. What pre-natal trauma has already affected the baby? Children adopted out of foster care might wonder if this is just another stop on the journey. They wonder, “Are they going to love me?” And adoptive parents may fear if the child will be able to love them—or if they can love someone who has not been “their own.” What are others really thinking about what we are doing?
Adoption will undoubtedly impact marriages
It is possible for adoptive parents to go long periods of time without a meaningful break. It is easy for other families to assume things are going OK. They might not be. What about a formally- or informally-organized, ongoing program to continue to check in with the adoptive couple or family? If there are other kids, how are they handling it? How can our kids get involved with theirs? Are there strains slowly eroding the relationship of the adoptive couple? Can we sponsor a date night? Little gifts at the door, occasional calls, serious or humorous cards of encouragement?
“We are used to having our buildings air-conditioned. Now is the time to examine how our congregational ministry is heir-conditioned. Is our nursery set up for the needs of the adopted child? Are our nurseries and child-care staff specially trained to care for them? Are our youth leaders adequately trained and prepared? Will we be able to offer one-on-one care if called for? Is our congregation willing to accept possible disruption? Are our small groups aware of how they can serve? What is the adoption conscious-level in our preaching and the worship? What about an annual adoption recognition worship service?
Families who adopt need wrap-around support
Often when a family adopts, there is a lot of support in the church—and many sincere promises. But support often weakens when busy lives take over again. In addition, families who adopt are often reluctant to share their heavy burden.
“They think, “We are the ones who made the choice to adopt. How can we complain about it now?” We must go beyond, “Hi. How are you doing?” Our entire church community must become supportive—intentionally. Preacher Paul said the Church is a Body. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-27) If one part adopts….
Overall, we live in a more positive time for adopting. Blended families of various kinds are much more common. Pastors’ families who adopt can be a tremendous influence and encouragement. Every Pastor can be informed and helpful. This is Jesus’ work.
I said I had been adopted. Not humanly. Divinely! I was reared by my biological parents who were sincere followers of Jesus. Almighty God Himself adopted me to join Jesus in His eternal family. And not a second-rate son. I immediately became a co-heir with Jesus. I am indebted.
One could define adoption as “radical hospitality.” Here’s a wonderfully encouraging thought: I have been reading Matthew in my devotions. Just this morning, before I was going to wrap up this article, I came to the story of the woman anointing Jesus’ feet with the imported perfume. People who were present thought it was a waste. Jesus said it was admirable.
Maybe people, and possibly even adoptive families themselves, might wonder if their efforts are a waste. We must make sure they know that Jesus, who cares for vulnerable children, sees what they are doing as admirable.
National Adoption Month
November is National Adoption month… a month where we celebrate children being given a forever family through the power of adoption. You can be a part of this life-changing step for adoptive families around you. Adoptive families of all kinds can benefit from the support for their church, family and community. Learn more at WaitNoMore.org.
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