What the Church Needs to Know About Adoption

Adoption is not a noble, heroic mission project.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard, “This is a noble thing you are doing.” While I appreciate the attempt (yes, much worse things have been said), adoption is not our mission project. When we look at a child as a way to “do good” in the world, we are stripping the child of his or her humanity and ability to be a true member of our family.

There are many situations when Christians “do good” to “feel good.” This is problematic. At the end of the day, we are not heroes in a Marvel comic book. We are broken people striving to live in the footsteps of Jesus. God calls us to do things so HIS name is glorified. It has nothing to do with us. While we hope everything we do in life points people to Jesus, there is nothing noble or heroic about adopting a child.

Adoption takes a village. Church … that includes YOU!

We have two biological boys. When I’m dragging in on a Sunday morning with a child on each hip after 4,293 tears (Yes … I have counted each one) are shed, three outfits are ruined and no one has had breakfast, I’m so grateful for the body of Christ that grabs a baby and walks through the messiness of the day with me.

It’s easy for people to ask the question, “When is your child coming home?” I’ve come to dislike that question. I don’t dislike the people who ask it, just the question. The fact is, I don’t know when our child is coming home. Unlike pregnancy, adoption has NO timeline. In fact, we’ve already experienced so many roadblocks and speed bumps in the past 21 months, I am convicted the Lord saw the need to do some serious refining in me in the area of trusting His timing.

The church must be present to walk with people through this process. Some churches are better at this than others. But here’s the thing … more families would be willing to adopt if they saw the church as a body that would carry them through the process. It’s often a lonely road to travel.

People understand pregnancy. People don’t understand adoption. I am praying churches will educate themselves about adoption, supporting adoption and encouraging adoption.

Adoption can look different.

There are A LOT of ways adoption occurs. We have friends who adopted an infant domestically. I recently made a new friend who adopted her husband’s biological children and he adopted her biological children after they each experienced spousal death in their first marriage. Another friend adopted an older child from foster care. We know grandparents who adopted their grandchildren. Others adopt children with special needs. Adoptions occur from the United States, China, Ethiopia, the Marshall Islands, Kazakhstan and lots of countries in between.

You get the picture. Very few adoptions are the same. God orchestrates each situation in a unique way. Because we are adopting from Ethiopia does not mean I do not care about the children in foster care or the children in Haiti. Maybe one day God will call us to adopt from those places. Right now, our family is seeking and trusting God’s guidance. And we believe we are exactly where He wants us.

Adoption is not a calling for everyone.

James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

One of our dearest friends graduated from college and immediately became a houseparent in a children’s home. You want to talk about living out James 1:27?? A 22-year-old female raising a house-full of children whose parents were deemed incapable of raising them is the ultimate example of this verse. That’s called MESSY … and OBEDIENT.

Another friend of mine, along with my college roommate, started a nonprofit to help an orphanage in Uganda, a youth program in Kenya AND adopting families in the U.S. That’s THEIR calling. Many families, friends and people we’ve never met have used their financial resources to help fund our adoption. It is only through God’s goodness and use of his people we have been able to make every payment along the way.

Adoption is our calling, but maybe it’s not yours. You’re here for a purpose. Never try to live someone else’s calling. You’ll miss out on what God has YOU here to do!

I hope you will start seeking a heart like Jesus if you are not doing so already. The heart of Jesus is one that breaks when children do not have families. A heart that breaks when children are neglected. And ultimately I pray the broken heart of God toward our helplessness will become your broken heart toward the helpless of this world.

What have you learned about adoption that you want others to know? What do you want to know about adoption? Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!

Blessings!  

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Frank Powell
Frank lives in Jackson, TN with his amazing wife and two boys. He loves black coffee and doing stuff outside like golf and running.