November is National Adoption Month here in the US. That might not mean much to you now, but I’m going to tell you why it should. And, I’m going to challenge you to think a little more (and maybe a little differently) about what it means to adopt.
First, a little background on me and my family. We adopted our first child just about twenty years ago when we realized we would not be able to conceive a second child. It was a way to build our family. Two years later, we brought home a second child from Korea, so our daughter would have a sister of the same race and background. It was at that point that adoption became part of our family’s DNA and my personal identity. So when the Lord called us to adopt two more children (twelve years later!) we said yes. Saying yes was the easy part. Probably the only easy part.
So here we are now–a family of seven. Two Asians, two Africans, and three Caucasians. We’re quite the spectacle when we’re all together! I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard other people say to me, “I don’t know how you guys did it–I couldn’t.” Maybe, maybe not. I think more people could adopt than they give themselves credit for. That being said, adoption isn’t for everyone.
Or is it? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say yes, it is. But not how you might think.
First, Let’s Define ‘Adopt’
To adopt means to choose to take one as your own. Read that again and whisper it to yourself. Isn’t it beautiful? But what does that mean, exactly? Certainly it isn’t about ownership in the truest sense. But it does mean:
You belong here.
I accept you.
I choose you.
You are a part of me.
Aren’t these things that most of us long to know, to feel, and to believe? We are so desperate to belong. We crave acceptance. Most of us would do anything just to know someone chooses us. Let’s stop right here and talk about this for a moment.
There is something profoundly satisfying to our souls when we are chosen.
But it’s not quite the same when we’re chosen based on our own merit. Though we all like to be complemented on our achievements or on our special attributes, there is always a deep knowing inside that those things are only temporary.
Really, we want to be chosen just for being who we are…just because.
The Thing About ‘Just Because’
The most wonderful thing about being loved, chosen, and accepted ‘just because’ is that we are released from having to earn it. From having to live up to expectations. Or having to perform or pretend. And, we are released from the fear of losing our position because we’ve screwed up in some way. Adoption is, at its core, unconditional. And it’s a choice to love that way.
Who Needs Adoption?
The most obvious answer is someone who needs parents–an orphan. But orphans aren’t just those whose parents have died. Many children available for adoption, for instance, have been abandoned, neglected, or abused. Their parents are living, but for whatever reason, they could not provide what the child truly needs. Expand your thinking for a moment and consider who fits that profile. How many of us know people who, in one way or another, have been abandoned, neglected, or abused? Or whose parents have not been able to provide what that person really needs: unconditional love, acceptance, a place to belong. And what about spiritual orphans— those separated from, unaware of, or unable to feel the Father’s love for them?
Why Don’t More People Adopt?
Here are the most common reasons I hear:
- “I don’t think I could love someone else’s child as much as I do my own.”
- “It costs too much. We can’t afford it.”
- “We don’t have room.”
- “I’m too old/too young”
Again, let’s think a little out of the box as I address these reasons:
- Do you have more than one child? If so, do you love your younger children as much as your first? How about your siblings–I’m sure you have unique relationships with each, but how often do you compare your love for them? Think of your friends. We all have some closer to us than others, but how often do you rank or compare your love for them? We’re not created to love that way. God created us in his image, and he is a Father who loves each of his children completely, fully, without comparison. Jesus says that in his father’s house there are many rooms–more than enough room for each of us. (John 14:2) I don’t think he just means ‘spaces in heaven’. I think he’s talking about the Father’s heart. There is a room in his heart just for you and you alone, and there is unlimited space to add more rooms. But more rooms and more people do not jeopardize his love for you. We are just the same. We can love more people without jeopardizing the love we already have.
- Adoption is costly–no argument there. But so is everything of value. And what greater investment can we make than when we offer unconditional love, acceptance, and belonging to someone who desperately needs it? It indeed will cost you money, time, even heartache now and then, but we’re talking about investing with eternity in mind.
- Our dining room table has eight chairs, but there is always room for more. My kids have had to share rooms. Sometimes we have guests on the couch or the hide-a-bed. Sometimes it’s crowded here and not everyone likes it all the time, but my family will grow up knowing our house is a safe place for people to come and be a part of ‘us’. Do you also have room, like this?
- Maybe you really are too old or too young to legally adopt a child. But there are plenty of grown-up orphans out there, plenty of young people who need a sister, a brother, a grandparent.
Are You Beginning to See the Need?
I’m not really sure there is an actual mandate in the Bible to adopt children in the legal sense. But there is no question that adoption itself is biblical. The Scriptures are full of examples of God using adoption to not only save and heal, but to accomplish his purposes! And he does direct us to care for the orphaned, the widowed, and the vulnerable. One of my absolute favorite set of verses is from Psalm 68: 5-6 (NLT):
Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
Father to the fatherless.
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” (Eph. 5:1 NLT)
He places the lonely in families.
How about in your family?
I’m certainly not saying all Christians should adopt children. No child should find their way into a home simply because someone felt guilty or obliged to take them in. And, I’m not saying that adopting in the ‘unofficial’ sense is the same thing as legally adopting a child–it isn’t. But I don’t think it’s any less important. The need is there and it’s real. And nearly everyone is equipped to meet it.
If you’re reading this and feeling that familiar nudge that you just might be the right family for a child, don’t shut it down. Research. Ask questions. Pursue it with discernment and Godly counsel.
But for the rest of you…
Could there be a seat at your table this Thanksgiving for one more? Could someone find their ‘place to belong’ with you? Do you have room in your heart to love and accept someone who needs it?
It’s November, National Adoption Month.
Could you choose to take one as your own?
Read a little about our most recent adoption story here.