As some of you may or may not know, November has been declared National Adoption Month. This means different things for different people. Fast food chains get involved, people share awesome articles about adoption, and for me... well, for me, it means I write a post that has been heavy on my heart for awhile, but one I've been hesitant to share for one reason or another.
For as long as I can remember, I've had a special place in my heart for the orphan and adoption. Maybe it was my Dad's stories of volunteering in an orphanage in Mexico for seven years, maybe it was seeing the adoption specials that would come out on TV around Christmas time, or maybe it was a seed placed in my heart by the Lord himself (or a good combination of the three).
Long before I entered blog world, I found a blog about a huge, beautiful adoptive family , and to this day that blog is one of my favorite daily reads. Needless to say, when Alex and I were dating the subject of adoption came up and we both agreed that it was something we would both like to pursue in the future when the timing was right.
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Fast forward a couple of years, Alex and I were sitting in church one Sunday morning (this happened just a couple of months ago). Our pastor has the entire congregation pray for specific things or groups of people (i.e. teachers and students at the beginning of the school year). During these prayers, they invite people that fall in the particular category (teacher, student, etc.) to raise their hand so that those who don't fall in the particular category can gather around and pray for them.
This particular Sunday, a pastor connected with the church was leaving the following week to pick up his two children from Haiti, so the topic we were to pray for was adoption. The pastor asked those who were in the middle of the adoption process, had adopted, were praying about adoption, or were otherwise connected to the process to raise their hand.
Out of the entire congregation, only fifteen people raised their hand.
You guys, the church I go to is not small. That morning, there were probably 400 people in attendance, and out of those 400, fifteen raised their hand. Was I one of the fifteen? No, I wasn't. Was I shocked that only fifteen hands were raised in a church that supports orphanages overseas, and stems from the evangelical and pro-life movement? Yes.
My eyes instantly welled up with tears and my heart started aching as I looked around. Now, granted, had the pastor phrased his question in a way that included those who prayed for adoption and supported those in the process, there may have been several more hands raised. But, my point remains this- in a church that should be and seems very pro-adoption, only a handful of people were actually involved in the process.
James 1:27 clearly states "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" (NIV).
Adoption is not how it was supposed to be. Every child was supposed to be in a forever family, just like no one was meant to suffer from cancer or live through the death of a child or spouse. But it's a fallen world, and children are born every day and left orphan. It happens in your city, it happens in our nation, and it happens around the world. If orphans are at the heart of God and what He considers pure religion (see the verse above)... shouldn't orphans be at the center of our heart too?
Adoption is not all about sunshine and roses... ask anyone who's been adopted or who has adopted. I have seen adoption go so very wrong, but I've also seen it go so very right. And no matter the end result, adoption is hard. In a culture that values ease, comfort, and prosperity, its no wonder that only fifteen people raised their hand. But what if there's more to the ease and comfort promised by having a perfect American family made up of two biological kids, jobs in corporate America, and a white picket fence?
Adoption can be a picture of redemption, mercy, grace, and love. While adoption is hard, I believe it gives us a glimpse into the heart of God- the love, the mercy, the grace, and the redemption that He has for each one of us.
Now, I do know that not everyone is called to adopt. Do I think there are more people called to adopt than are willing to admit? Absolutely.
Do I think everyone has a role in supporting adoption in one way or the other? Absolutely.
Do I think we, as the church, have a long way to go when it comes to adoption? Absolutely.
I'm not writing this post to stir up a debate or cause controversy. I am writing this post as a plea with you. Please pray about your role in adoption.
Maybe you are called to adopt but are too scared. I pray that you find the courage and support you need to obey the calling and take the next step.
Maybe you are called to support those adopting and you don't know where to start. The book Orphan Justice is one of my personal favorites- it has a ton of resources and ideas of how to get involved in supporting the adoption process.
Check and see if your church has any adoption support programs. If not, maybe you can be the one to start one. Adoption is expensive, maybe consider donating to someone you know that is raising money to bring their son or daughter home.
Know of a family who just brought a child home? Bring them a meal, offer to run an errand or two for them... many of the same things you would do for a family who just brought a newborn home from the hospital can be applied to a family who just brought home their adopted child.
And last, but certainly not least, something we can all do is pray. Pray about your role in adoption, pray for those who are in the middle of the grueling process, pray for the children that lay awake at night hoping for a forever family. While you're at it, you can pray for some of these kids by face and by name.
That Sunday morning my heart broke because out of 400 people, I was sure more than fifteen would raise their hand. I hope and pray every day that people are receptive to the call of God on their life and that we as a church make it our mission to place every orphan in a forever family.
Check out some of my favorite resources and organizations supporting the cause of the orphan:
International Voice of the Orphan
The Gem Foundation
We'd Adopt if We Had Money
Should Single Women Adopt?