Adoption: More than a Cause
As a child, my play often included large families and adopted children. Favorite books featuring orphaned children finding a home or heroic women rescuing children influenced this make-believe world of my childhood, but families in my church and on our mission station also had a quiet, but powerful influence on my young mind.
Fast forward to adult life now. God has taken my more idealistic view and combined it with my husband’s passion for the display of the gospel in adoption. And as we entered this journey together over a year ago, we’ve continued to uncover the richness of all that God can do through orphan care that is so dear to His fatherly heart.
However, I’ve recently realized that it’s easy to adopt adoption as a cause. First, children need homes—in the U.S. and abroad. Second, the time may be short in America when traditional families, those with a mom and dad, will be allowed to adopt. Even now in the adopting and fostering world heterosexual couples can face longer wait periods, discriminating questions, and negative bias. Finally, bringing a child home is the most practical application of the exhortation in James 1:27 to care for orphans.
These are all good reasons to support adoption. But why is this journey actually more than simply a cause? I believe it’s a commitment, a lifelong commitment not only to care, but to love.
Adoption involves people, real people; each step of the process includes individuals whose stories you will interact with, perhaps be a part of, and—most dramatically—influence. The mom who has chosen to give life to a child, but who also comes to the crushing realization that she can’t give more than that. The caretakers in an orphanage who do the best they can with the lives entrusted to them. The dad, grandparents, friends, family members who may or may not be directly involved, but who will possibly watch and forever be connected to your child’s story. And of course the child. This child often loved so deeply by so many that when he or she grows up there will be extra pressure to know how to appropriately love everyone back.
Early on in our journey into adopting, when I was struggling with some doubts about being adequate for the adventure, a friend reminded me that adoption inherently involves brokenness. Brokenness always brings questions and often leads to sadness and even intense grief. But brokenness is also what Jesus specialized in when He was here on earth. And why He died and rose again. In fact, brokenness is the prerequisite of redemption. And redemption is what each of us—adopted or not—need in our own individual stories.
As my husband and I continue on in this journey, we know there will be countless lessons God will teach us: a million ways we can’t even dream of now that He will change our lives through the life of the child He already knows and has chosen to grow up in our home. But at this point, the greatest lesson for me has been the reminder that adoption is an adventure into the miraculous power of redemption. Redemption at the individual level, starting with me. God can redeem my self-centered fears or limited focus on a cause into a genuine, self-sacrificing love for a little person made in His image. He can redeem a desperate woman into a mom strong enough to entrust her child to another family. He can glorify Himself in every aspect of our child’s unique and beautiful story.
Loving God and loving others are what Jesus taught as the greatest commandments. He fulfilled them perfectly because we never can. But He also gives us the ability to follow Him and the strength to obey through His Spirit. For us adoption is one of those practical ways we can step into the joy of obeying these commands in faith, believing that He will indeed give us the love that we need for each person we meet and the little one or ones who join our family. Adoption is more than a cause, so much more and so much better!