I know this isn't November any longer and that it isn't National Adoption Month, either. But I realized that I never posted the article about adoption I wrote for our church's newsletter. (I know it was in some other church's newsletters around the country as well.) Plus, it's a really easy post for me since it was already written.
November is National Adoption Month. In observance, I would like to share a story about some friends in Michigan. Kim and Ben are a couple in love with Jesus. They are so overwhelmed by Jesus’ love for them that they can’t help but share that love with other people. They have big hearts. It is the only explanation that can be offered for what I’m about to share with you. Kim and Ben have 10 children. All ten children are adopted (Korea, Liberia, China, and domestic), and some of them come from very hard places. This alone would make Kim and Ben fairly remarkable. But there is more to their story. This past July, they became aware of a birth mother who had been raped, but wished to allow the baby to live and to place her for adoption. The added complication? The little girl was diagnosed with a brain disorder which essentially meant that she had a brain stem, but only fluid in the actual brain cavity. The prognosis for a child with this condition is grim; such children may live for only a few days, others for perhaps up to a year.
Yet Kim and Ben felt the strong call of God to adopt this little girl, a little girl who would be released directly from the hospital into hospice care. Their daughter, Selah Hope, lived for 55 days. During her time on earth she knew nothing but affection and care as her adoptive family showered love upon her and praised God for her little life. This little girl and the story of her adoption touched many, many lives. Her birthmother accepted Jesus as her savior because of the love that Kim and Ben showered upon her child and upon her. She was so overwhelmed by their love that she desperately wanted to know the God of people like that. Over the course of Selah’s 55 days, this story repeated itself again and again. If we healthy, full-grown believers had the same effect upon people, the world would be transformed.
At some level, this is an outrageous story. It goes against everything our comfortable, middle-class existence says is right and good. But if you think about it, adoption itself is outrageous: bringing an unrelated child into a family and raising that child as one’s own. There are any number of reasons why it doesn’t make sense: the lack of biological connection, the expense, the many unknowns. It can be uncomfortable.
However, human adoption didn’t come first; it is preceded by our adoption into the family of God. The fact that God… divine, all-powerful, creator of everything… has condescended to adopt us… human, frail, sinful, limited… into his family is a thing too overwhelming to comprehend. He doesn’t need us. The only way it can be explained is that He loves us. We are not the easiest children to parent. We never do what we’re supposed to; we whine; we get angry; we run away; we often must break God’s heart. I am so grateful that our behavior does not stop God from loving us.
This love showered upon us is what makes us capable of showering it upon others. And who does God tell us to love? In James 1:27 we are told: “A religion that is pure and stainless according to God the Father is this: to take care of orphans and widows who are suffering, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (NIV) Caring for the widows and orphans, the least among us, is what is pleasing to God. He doesn’t tell us to do it because it makes sense to the world or because it is easy or convenient. We are told to care for the least because they, like us, are created in His image. We are to be His hands and His feet in caring for them.
Did you know there are 130,000 children in foster care in the U.S. who are legally free for adoption? There are over twice as many churches in this country. Christians could, if they chose, give every waiting child in the U.S. a permanent family. Did you know that the U.S. allows children who are HIV+ to be adopted and to enter the country? HIV can be frightening, but through modern ARV drugs, viral loads in a positive person’s bloodstream can become virtually undetectable. Many children and sibling groups wait for permanent families, having lost their birth families to this disease. The disease first killed their families and is now killing their chances for a second family because of ignorance and fear. Did you know that many healthy boys wait for families merely because they are boys? In the world of adoption, girls are far more desirable. Boys wait and wait merely because of their gender, living for years in institutions instead of with mothers and fathers.
But let me careful here and not imply that children are projects and should be adopted because of only good intentions. Every child deserves to be in a family who desires that child for who he or she is, not as a check mark on a do-gooder’s list, but as a human being who desires and needs genuine love. Perhaps the first step many people have to make as they travel the road of adoption is to simply ask God to enlarge their hearts. Ask to be given new eyes to see the value of children. Ask to not have their thinking stained by the world which says that children are a hindrance, or a financial drain, or simply a symbol of having achieved the “American Dream” right along with the good job, two cars, and the multi-bedroom house. Ask to see children as God does… as blessings.
One family cannot help all the needy children of the world. But think what would happen if the body of Christ rose up and said it is enough? Let us decide that we no longer accept the fact that children live in institutions without a mother to wipe their tears, without a father to protect them, without a hope for a future. It is enough. Let us decide that we will all do something… whether it is adopting a waiting child, providing the finances to a family so they can adopt, or sponsoring a child in a developing country so that they can stay in their family of origin. If we would all act together, we could change the world. And when we are asked why we would do this… why we would open our lives, hearts, and homes to another child, why we would give away hard-earned money, why we would love these unwanted children… we would say because Jesus loves us and we can do nothing else.