What The Church Needs To Know About Adoption

by Tiffani Powell

Twenty-one months ago, our family began the adoption process. Yes, we’re that crazy family that began the adoption process with an 11-month-old and baby #2 on the way.

Walking this journey has taught me so much about God, his people, our children, and his church. There are multiple ways God uses his people to help children without families. Here are a few things I think the church needs to know about adoption.

Adoption is the Gospel.

The foundation of adoption is not seen when we look at families adopting children today, but when we look at the way God adopted us. Adoption is the HEART of the gospel. Look at Galatians 4:4-5, 7.

[blockquote cite=”Galatians 4:4-5,7″ type=”left”]But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons… So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.[/blockquote]

How amazing is that?! He didn’t say, “so you may go to heaven.” He didn’t say, “so you can enjoy gifts like joy and peace while you’re on this earth.” He says, “we have been adopted as his CHILDREN!!” He has given us the whole package…the family deal…the whole shebang. Yep, he is our Father when we need guidance, abundant life, freedom, salvation, and an inheritance. It’s all ours. It’s the Gospel. It’s why Jesus came.

Adoption is a sign the world is broken.

Jesus adopted us. Yes, that’s EXCITING news! But the reality is adoption exists because sin exists. It is a product of this broken world. And we paint adoption as a beautiful picture. What we see, however, is one outer layer. Underneath the paint are layers of hurt, pain, neglect, and suffering.

It’s easy for people to look into the world of adoption and see the beauty. But the real picture is one of tragedy. Thankfully, we serve a God who specializes in transforming tragedy into triumph. We serve a God who takes something ugly and makes it beautiful.

Adoption is messy.

Remember the moment you became a Christian? You felt on top of the world, right? I did. And then…a few weeks after I realized I was still a really messed up human in desperate need of Jesus. When we adopt children, the ultimate picture isn’t what we see on blogs and social media.

The real picture isn’t a blended family where no one looks alike but all seems picture perfect. No, it’s a daily grind. It’s a daily renewal. If you think children who come from hopeless situations will be an easy ride, you are drinking the blog/social media kool-aid. Look in the mirror. What do you see? I see a mess. I see a woman who loves the Lord but fails often. We can’t expect adopted children to be any different.

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.

We aren’t heroes in a comic book. We are broken people striving to live like Jesus.

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, 3 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 ALOT 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 non-profit 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 towards our helplessness will become your broken heart towards 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!


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1 comment

Sarah November 8, 2014 - 10:16 am

I don’t think that our North-American version of adoption is always a reflection of God’s heart. I believe there are cases where children are orphaned or abandoned, and we are given a very clear mandate to care for orphans. However, we often have this idea that we are helping someone by taking away child/ren from women who we (or someone) have decided can’t parent as well as we could. As background, I am a 32 year-old adoptee, now with 3 biological kids of my own. My husband and I have a very big heart for adoption, but we are very careful with how that would look. I think the most loving thing we can do with a mother who is unable or not fit to parent (for whatever reason) would be to love HER. It would be to help deliver her from the oppression she’s been under, disciple her, show her Jesus, and help her be the mother God made her to be. Yes, we could take her baby and raise it. But then we’ve left a mother in a worse place than we found her, and that was never what Jesus did. I remember discussing adoption with my husband a few years back, and through tears in my eyes, I told him I couldn’t adopt a baby from a woman who was still in the picture and even had the *smallest* inclination that maybe she could parent. I would be on her side, cheering her on that she could do it, and we would help them both. In my case, my birth mom was never helped out of her situation, and my older sister and younger brother suffered the traumas of being raised by an abusive and alcoholic mother. Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful that I was raised by an awesome family and that I was given another chance. But the other 3 weren’t. And what if, what IF, she had shown the love of Jesus, and given a chance to change her life? We always think it’s the best thing to take the children, put them in “nice” homes, and everything’s better. But that’s really not the case. I definitely think there are lots of scenarios where this doesn’t apply (including, likely, yours – international adoption is often for true orphans, and we as believers absolutely need to care for them as we’re directed in the Bible), but when the mother (and possibly other kids) is involved still, I wish we had more of a heart to help everyone involved. It’s easy to bring a baby or young child into our home and love them. But a dysfunctional mother who’s making poor choices? Much harder and messier. And I agree with you – love is messy. But the rewards would be much bigger too. I totally agree with your points, and again, I’m a huge advocate of adoption myself! I believe that God’s heart is even bigger than just adoption – it is to show Jesus to everyone involved, when possible. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your heart, and congrats on the babies! 🙂

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