Things I would rather not have to say, part 3

Now comes the fun part. (Hear the facetious tone in my writing.) I've written about how adoption is central to the understanding of the Gospel and how the church has very often bought in to society's idea that children are a burden rather than a blessing, and now we get to talk about money.

Yes, I know, the crickets are chirping and they're going to chirp even louder when I mention that we need to talk about money and adoption. Why does this make everyone squirm? It needs to be talked about. And it is a shame that we ever have to mention money and children joining families in the same sentence, but not talking about it hasn't worked.

So what is the current situation? Well, adoption is expensive. Really expensive. It's how it is and as much as we would like to have it be a money-free transaction it just doesn't work that way. Adoption agencies do a lot of work to make it happen, and they deserve to be paid for their efforts. The government always needs their share. (I'm not going to go into whether this is right or good or just right now. For the purposes of this post, we're just going to render to Caesar for the moment and leave the government out of it.) Orphanages and agencies care for the children before their adoption and this also takes money. Often adoption involves travel, whether domestically or internationally, and this is not inexpensive either. All of this adds up, making it an unavoidable part of giving a child a permanent family.

I hope no one is surprised when I say very few families have that type of cash available to them. (Do you have $15 to $30 thousand dollars lying around? If you do, contact me, I can help.) If a family wants to add to their family, what do they do? Well, some of us go into debt; even if we don't believe in it because for us, the greater good is to bring our child home at any cost. Others do a lot of fundraising, being forced to raise their own funds to bring their child home. Others apply and are given grants. (Can't blog about that right now. Just can't.) And still others decide not to adopt, that while they could financially afford to raise another child, they cannot afford the one-time, very high expenses. Thus the fate of many children is decided by a line in a checkbook ledger.

I can't tell you how often I have heard that families should only adopt if they can afford it. At face value, this makes sense. No one wants to bring a child into a family if it means they're going to starve as a result. But, I have yet to meet someone who is in such financial straights as this that adoption is really on their minds. So, let's ask what this statement really means. In doing so, we find we're right back where we were yesterday with our skewed view of children. Children are not worth the sacrifice they naturally require, either of time or energy or finances. What this statement is really saying is that it's fine if you want to add to your family (though I can't think why you'd want to), and as long as you can do it completely on your own, I'm (somewhat) OK with it. But if you find that it is too much for you, don't come knocking at my door. You've made your bed, you obviously didn't think ahead, and now you have to make the best of it.

Harsh? Perhaps, but I don't think I'm too far of the mark. Because adoption is not seen as a corporate activity of the church (as in, something the church supports as a whole, either through encouraging families to adopt or supporting the families who have), it is seen as something only 'special' people do. And if it is in the purview of those 'special' people, it is obviously not something the majority have to worry their heads about.

But orphans and setting the lonely in families is a corporate responsibility of the church. In some ways, caring for children and adopting them into our families is a sacrifice. In doing so, there is much that we have chosen to give up. We have given up good things in order to gain better things. Another child to love is a much better thing. The church should see it as something everyone is involved in. Not every member of the church would or should adopt. But that doesn't let them off the hook for helping others to do so. There should NEVER be a family who says God doesn't want them to adopt because the church has not helped with finances. The message may actually be that God has told many people to help and they have ignored Him.

Another part of this puzzle actually has nothing to do with adoption. We Christians are pretty good at giving when it's easy, but its the giving sacrificially that's a stretch. But that is exactly what God calls us to do. Look at 2 Samuel 24:24, "But the king [David] said to Araunah [the man who owned the threshing floor on the spot David wanted to raise an altar to God and who had just offered it to David for nothing], 'No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.' " We are often too content to offer sacrifices to God which have cost us nothing.

Adoption, and supporting those who adopt, offers us a chance to remedy this. Adoption is costly. The church must stop assuming that having one or two adoptive families as members lets them off the hook, either for emotional or financial support. There may be others in the church who have thought about adoption, but just don't think they could pay the fees. A family may have considered a child with complicated medical needs, but ultimately decided against it because they couldn't afford the medical care even with insurance. This is where the church could step in.  Unless we talk about these things and unless the church makes overt efforts to encourage families, children will continue to wait for homes they might otherwise have had.

I can hear the curmudgeons now, "Well, if we tell every family in the church that we will financially support their adoption, then everybody would be adopting and then where would we be?"

Where indeed?


Shonya said…
This is so well-done. If I can manage to work up the courage, I may just have to share it on facebook.
Anonymous said…
Ugh. This is so true. As a single woman thinking about adopting, the initial financial lay-out certainly feels extraordinarily daunting, much less bringing home a child with any serious type of medical needs. But, I promised God (and myself) that for Lent I would sign up for an informational meeting at a local agency. Moving forward without all the pieces in place is a scary thing sometimes.

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