During the last few years I’ve had several conversations with other Christians and church leaders about adoption. I walk away feeling disappointed because I expect them to embrace truth even when it’s uncomfortable. Or, at the very least, be willing to explore this idea that adoption might not be the best possible solution for a mother and her child. They are as passionate about adoption as I am about family preservation. I can’t break through their wall.
The conversations look something like this:
“I’m sorry you had a negative adoption experience. I know several adopted people who are happy. You could’ve been aborted. You might never have known Jesus if you hadn’t been adopted. What about the millions of orphans who need homes now? What about the mothers who don’t want their children? Adoption is like being adopted into the family of Christ. Open adoption is a better solution. Do you believe all adoptions are wrong?” <conversation over>
Most people, once they’re informed about darker layers of adoption; the layers most often dismissed within the cultural narrative, begin to understand. I’m seeing intelligent individuals shifting from their once firmly held view of adoption to something that looks a lot more like mercy and love. They ARE listening. So, if most are receptive then why does it seem The Church, more than any other group, continues to display a willful ignorance when it comes to adoption?
The Gospel of Adoption:
1. They truly believe adoption is the alternative to abortion. “Well, at least you weren’t aborted..” I hear this response more often than any other. They believe if they hadn’t adopted a baby/child then they surely would have died. They’re saving a life.
2. They believe they are rescuing an orphan and helping a mother in her time of distress. (James 1:27) Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (Psalm 82:3) Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. They’re saving a life.
3. They conflate being adopted into the family of Christ and modern adoption practices. (Ephesians 1:4-5) For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
4. They believe adoption is a “win-win” when an unplanned pregnancy occurs. They believe it’s a “win” for a couple who wants to grow their family and a “win” for an unmarried young woman who feels she’s unable to provide all that her child deserves. They’re saving two lives, really.
5. They believe it’s another way to bring salvation to a child who might never have known Jesus had they not been adopted. (Proverbs 22:6) Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. They’re saving a child’s soul.
When we search scripture using a different lens, the verses we often see in adoption doctrine no longer look the same. They mean something else now; looking after an orphan and widow is a distinct message of compassion, not separation. If we are going to remove a child from their family, their country, their history, creating a new identity, then shouldn’t adoption have a clear scriptural reference? And wouldn’t we want to know for certain this is what God had in mind when he knit them together in their original mothers womb? (Psalm 139:13)
I have watched mothers and adopted people, one by one, turn and walk away from not only the church, but also their faith. Adoption has created a faith crisis in the very lives of those we were supposed to be saving.
What if we’ve been doing it all wrong?
Most of the people I know who chose to adopt did so with altruistic intentions. They didn’t make these decisions lightly and they entered into adoption hoping to give a child a better life. They truly believe this was something God called them to do. I know their hearts. But, I remind myself that Christians aren’t Christ and adoption doesn’t always reflect the heart of Christ, preserving a family does.
What if this was never His plan and each anguished adoptee voice is trying to tell us another story? Not the one we rewrote for them, but the story that was written before they were born.
Photo cred to my favorite photographer: Anne Heffron