7 reasons why every Christian should consider adoption

My wife and I were once discussing children with another couple at church, and we mentioned we would like to adopt one day. I was shocked when this other couple asked a simple question – “why”?

It wasn’t a criticism, but I found it odd that within our community people didn’t understand why we felt called to adoption. It wasn’t that this other couple didn’t see any reasons why adoption might be desirable, but rather our conversation reflected a common attitude in our culture where we see adoption as ‘second best’; a fall-back plan if we want to have children but aren’t physically capable.

This attitude dramatically minimises the importance of adoption, and I fear it is a major barrier to the church fulfilling an essential duty. Not every individual or couple will be called into the ministry of adoption, but I would like to offer some reasons why I believe every Christian couple should consider adoption, and why churches should seek to help to equip their members for this work.

  1. It is obedient to God’s command

James 1:27 informs us that “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit [look upon in order to help/benefit] orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James, writing to his Jewish audience, reflects the Old Testament purpose of the tithe which was to feed (amongst others) the fatherless (Deut 14:29).

You may notice that this commandment is not to adopt, but merely to care for orphans. As I said above, not every couple will be called to adopt. However, it is unmistakable that God has called the church to care for the needs of the orphan, and one way to do that is through adoption. In adoption, children are not merely provided for financially, but they receive the love, instruction, discipline, community and stability that is only accessible through family.

  1. It models God’s adoption of us

The New Testament frequently calls believers “children of God” (1 John 3:1), but many forget that we are not natural-born children. In fact, we as believers were “predestined for adoption” (Eph 1:5), and because Christ came we “receive adoption” (Gal 4:5), which effectively frees us from slavery to sin by the “Spirit of adoption” (Rom 8:15).

Our adoption as believers is a reflection of God’s character, as He is the Father to the fatherless (Ps 68:5) and executes justice for the fatherless (Deut 10:18). If we are called to be a ‘light to the world’ and emulate Christ in word and deed, how better to display His loving adoption of us than to participate in adoption ourselves?

  1. It models how the church should function in a larger context

Christ promises that obedience to Him will cause division with our biological family (Matt 10:34-37). However, we have a new blessing in the church, which is a body of all believers that functions as our new family (Matt 12:46-50) and is not separated by old divisions of race, gender, or social status (Gal 3:28). In fact, Paul goes even further in 1 Cor 12 to describe us as “one body”.

In the act of adoption, our family models one function of the greater church. We take people from outside and welcoming them into the family which He has established to experience and share in His glory. We are saying that the “regardless of whatever came before, you are born again into a new life with this family and you are a treasured part of it until we are taken away to our Eternal Father”. That is a beautiful message to a child welcomed joyfully into a family, and to a new convert welcomed joyfully into a church.

  1. It expands the Kingdom (or at least gives opportunity)

Generally speaking, most people retain their childhood faith. In particular, religious commitment in adolescence (e.g. regular attendance at worship services) is associated with a greater likelihood of retaining faith in adulthood. It is not just the profession of faith in childhood that matters, but how they are raised in this time.

Jesus recognised this when He commanded His disciples to “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16). Many are familiar with the proverb to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6). We are provided with an opportunity to witness to these children in their most crucial years of development, to instil in them a love for God that will endure and a faith that will be unshakeable and stands the test of time.

Sure, we can witness to young people in other ministries, but where else apart from parenthood do we have the opportunity to be permanently engaged in evangelism through every aspect of a child’s life? Where else to we have the opportunity to directly challenge dangerous ideologies that are so pervasive in our culture — greed, sexual immorality and self-interest?

  1. It meets an urgent physical need and can alleviate societal burdens

Few would argue that a child awaiting adoption has an urgent need. No matter how much financial assistance is directed towards a child, it cannot compensate for invaluable benefits of a family. Parental absence, especially of fathers, is associated with a range of damaging behaviours such as substance abuse, juvenile detention and high school dropout.

This does not diminish the tremendous work of single parents under incredible pressure, nor does it disparage people who feel they have no option but to put their child up for adoption. In fact, I often think that the church should be doing more to help struggling parents to emulate the family of God which was discussed in point #3. However, if there is a child who is absent both parents, how can we say “‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:16-17)

  1. It “puts your money where your mouth is” on pro-life issues

I am ardently pro-life, and I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard something to the effect of “you aren’t pro-life, you’re pro-birth” or “what have you ever done for these mothers?” Without getting bogged down in the validity of those arguments (which I’d dispute for a number of reasons), there is an element of truth to the accusation if we, as a church, dare not commit to assisting women who see no option except abortion (James 2:16-17).

Emily’s Voice is a fantastic example of an organisation that provides assistance to help women work through the alternatives to abortion and provide assistance where required. But imagine if people saw local churches providing that support directly? Imagine if they saw us welcoming single mothers into our homes, or sheltering women facing domestic violence? Imagine if they saw us adopting and accepting children who had nowhere else to go? What a witness that could be! Could the communal churches of a city meet the needs of an entire community, like this church did? I believe we can.

  1. It sets us apart from the world

The idea of adoption as a “backup” for biological children is a very worldly attitude. At least in part, there is an element of Darwinian thinking – I need to have my own children to pass on my legacy. In contrast to this worldview, in his second letter to Timothy Paul frequently mentions that his legacy is the work of service he has done, his teaching and the example which he left with Timothy, his true child in the faith. Our hope is not a legacy of children but an eternity with Christ.

Adoption, not to compensate for fertility problems but simply as an act of love, is a radically different attitude to the world. We are not meant to be the same as the world – we are ALL called to be different. We are ALL called to stand out. We are ALL called to love sacrificially. We are ALL called us all to care for the vulnerable. And some of us will be called to adoption.

Adoption is a chance for us to stand against the ideologies of self-interest that are so dominant in our culture and say, “I will love this child sacrificially with all my heart, because my God loved me when He took my place on the cross.” Please prayerfully consider if this is a ministry for you, or how you can otherwise help the vulnerable.

By |2020-01-22T20:34:46+11:00January 23rd, 2020|Australia, Authors, Children, Family|4 Comments

About the Author:

Kurtis Budden lives in Newcastle, NSW with his wife and daughter. In addition to his work in medical research, Kurtis runs the youth group of the independent Baptist Church he attends and spends his weekends playing soccer. In the past, Kurtis has participated in short-term missions in Malawi and Botswana, and is passionate about seeing the church mobilised to meet the spiritual and physical needs on a local and global scale. Aside from his local pastor and parents, Kurtis’ theology is influenced by the likes of C.S. Lewis, David Platt and John Piper.

4 Comments

  1. Helen Armstrong January 24, 2020 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Hi Kurtis. Whilst I agree with your article, the problem does not lie in a lack of people willing to adopt. I suggest you do some research on the realities of adoption in Australia and the stats of nos.of children being adopted…its not because there aren’t enough people WANTING to adopt, there just AREN’T that many children being made available for adoption…in Qld our dept of families instead are placing an emphasis on keeping children connected to their biological family wherever possible, resulting in our broken foster care system. When we tried about 6 years ago, only 16 children in the whole of Qld had been made available for adoption in a year! Most end up in foster care BECAUSE they discourage adoption to keep biological ties to family. Only when the childs parents are completely uncapable will the State step in. But even then, more is done to try to keep that link than to step in and adopt them to a more stable parent. If you do want to adopt, you must be prepared to have an open adoption instead of a closed one. My husband and I tried to adopt in Australia and overseas and it is actually near impossible. You really need to talk to people who have adopted or tried like myself and you will find that our government makes it very difficult to adopt. We waited 8 years to even be assessed by a social worker!!! Every 2 years while waiting you have to have full medicals and criminal history checks and personal references renewed. Birth parents are given a say in the kinds of people they want their child adopted out to. It’s not a matter of being next on the list, its about waiting to be selected from a pool of applicants that suit the birth parents requests (assuming that you have passed the harrowing assessment process of course) Believe me, as idillic and noble it is…the reality is it’s not at all like the experience of say Madonna or Brad and Angelina! There are no guarantees. Our social worker told us to not put our lives on hold for it. In Australia, you can’t just go overseas and adopt a child…there are strict laws about it because of child traffiking. Even if I had a relative who wanted me to adopt our baby, in Qld we would still be assessed and put in with the other applicants…so again, there are no guarantees. Jackman and Deborah Lee Furness are advocating for better prosesses for adoption in Australia in response to the thousands of couples like us who seemed to face a rather anti-adoption attitude when we applied. The process is quite invasive. They ask you questions about litetally everything including what goes on in your sex life, who initates what and why…many questions were wildly inappropriate or have absolutely nothing to do with your capacity to parent. We were cross-examined in such a way that we felt like they thought we had some alterior motive for applying. Some are of the most ridiculous excuses why you may not be eligible are also given. For example, we were told that if we don’t own our own home, having to move house as renters would cause an unstable environment for a child to grow up in…or if you don’t make a certain amount of money per year… your age, medical history etc can make you ineligible. As if they HAVE TO make it hard because of the stats. I could go on but I need more room!! For us to adopt, there also needs to be more work done with government to rid our society of pro-abortion attitudes and more advocacy of adoption like Emilys Voice. I have been to many adoption seminars and seen spoke to couples just like us and many, just like us gave up because, quite simply, it was made too hard! Babies are now allowed to be aborted at 30 weeks! Why not allow it to live and be adopted…but no, our government say kill it if the mother doesn’t want it instead which is crazy because couples like us would gladly adopt it. This issue is far more complex than having willing couples. You are preaching to the converted there….it’s more about availability of children being given up for adoption.

    • Kurtis Budden January 29, 2020 at 6:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Helen,

      I agree with much of what you said. Adoption should be much easier, and abortion should be much harder.

      I would suggest that we don’t need yo draw a distinction between fostering and adopting. I focused on the latter because the language matches scripture more clearly but both model Christ’s love in different ways. As my wife and I go through all the processes which you discussed, we are still debating between ourselves whether we should consider permanent foster care rather than adoption. I think there is also scope for thinking outside the box – for example, what if churches approached organisations like Emily’s Voice and said “we have X number of families willing to adopt children, and Y number willing to help a single mother with childcare, housing, etc? What if we ran social media campaigns offering support for women who feel their only choice is abortion? We have many ways of being obedient.

      I would also suggest that we need to be careful when addressing the difficulties of adoption. These problems are real, and should jot be minimised, but I think it sets a dangerous precedent to blame hardships and government obstacles for a failure to fulfill a godly mandate. Is there any other commandment of scripture that we accept this? Many of these difficulties are just another way for us to love sacrificially. As I said many times, we may not all be called to adopt but we are all called to care for the orphan, the oppressed and the unsaved. If adoption is not possible, we need to meet those needs in another way and I feel the western church fails in that regard in many ways. These difficulties may be harsh, but if we are truly submitting to God’s will in obedience then the obstacles should jot scare us. As my pastor regularly says “the provision follows the vision”.

  2. C January 27, 2020 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Yes to everything you have said. In my case, I got married later in life and so couldn’t have children naturally; as a double whammy, my age also disqualifies me from even being considered as an adoptive parent in just about every Australian jurisdiction as well as most overseas ones. My husband (who is a good deal younger than me) and I have our own home and a steady, relatively high income. We are healthy and have so much to give a child, but the system, including its overly restrictive age cut-offs makes it nigh on impossible for us to adopt.

    • Kurtis Budden January 29, 2020 at 6:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the encouragement. It’s so disappointing you don’t have this opportunity but hopefully you can fulfill you call in another way.

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