“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman…under the law, to redeem those…under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” -Galatians 4:4-5
I love the parallel between adoption and becoming a child of Christ. The gospel message is all about unconditional love and sacrifice. And when it comes to adoption, love and sacrifice are at its core.
As was discussed in the previous blog about our foster care system, What Have We Done ‘For the Least of These’?, as Christians, we are called to care for the fatherless. Some of us have the immense privilege of living out this calling as adoptive parents. I truly believe that God had been preparing my heart for many years in regards to adoption. So when my husband and I struggled with starting a family, growing our family through adoption was a choice that we felt great peace about. Our journey began in 2009 and after what seemed like thousands of hours of paperwork, background checks, physicals, questionnaires, home study visits, more paperwork, waiting, etc., we finally met our first son. Words will never fully describe how grateful we are for the selfless choices our son’s birth mother made for him. Our family has recently grown again through adoption, as we brought home our second son this past January.
As Christians, we have a unique opportunity to not only prayerfully consider adoption, but we can also play a vital role in supporting the adoptive families in our church congregations.
Here are a few practical ways you can love adoptive families and their children:
– Support couples/families during “the wait” Though not all families choose adoption because of infertility, many couples have struggled with disappointment and loss for years prior to beginning their adoption journey. Be sensitive to these families and let them share more personal information as they feel comfortable regarding their adoption process. Offer to help with any fundraising efforts they may pursue to help with adoption-related expenses. Above all, encourage and pray for them as they wait.
– Have opportunities for adoption education Encourage adoptive parents and/or adopted children to share their personal testimonies from the pulpit, in Sunday School, etc. November is National Adoption Month and a great opportunity to focus on adoption. Share adoption books as part of children’s ministries so other children have a better understanding of what adoption is.
– Learn and use positive adoption language Adoption language has changed over the years and it’s important to use language that positively reflects everyone involved in the adoption process. Use the terms ‘birth mother’, ‘birth father,’ ‘made an adoption plan,’ and ‘chose adoption.’ Avoid terms like ‘real parent’ or ‘gave up for adoption.’
– Respect the privacy of adoptive families and their stories As open adoption becomes increasingly more common, understand that many families have open and ongoing relationships with their child’s birth family. Respect that each adopted child’s story is their own and some details may not be openly shared. Remember that no matter what the circumstance, birth families made immense sacrifices as they chose life for their children.
We have been blessed with the opportunity to develop relationships with our boys’ birth families. Some days it’s almost unbearable to think about how their loss became one of our biggest joys. We will always be connected because of the deep love we share for them. Our boys will always know that the choices their first families made were driven by a selfless love.
My husband and I are fortunate to be part of a church family who prayerfully stood by us on our adoption journey. Other churches have specific programs that focus on adoption support. One such Texas-based ministry is focused on meeting the needs of families who are pursuing adoption (domestic/international) or foster care. See www.tapestryministry.org for additional resources.
As I look back and consider the plans and dreams that I once had for a family, I am SO thankful that God saw something more. Being given the opportunity to raise these two precious boys is something for which I will be forever grateful. While not all of us are called to be a foster/adoptive parent, we all can be involved in the journey of these families in our lives. Take time to find those in your community who are involved in adoption and find out how you can help meet their needs.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.”