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Adoption: When church made me cry

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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
Adoption: Q&A 
We'd Adopt if We Had Money
Should Single Women Adopt?

What other resources can you add?

What are your thoughts regarding adoption?

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  1. Mmm, yes, our church is probably about the same size and there would be even fewer hands raised than 15. It is quite sad. But as someone who has had adoption on my heart and mind since I was a young teen I find it hard to imagine that there are others out there who haven't been thinking about it all those years too.

  2. My mom was actually surprised that there were fifteen hands as well. It seems like there's a general consensus in a lot (most?) churches that adoption is looked upon like this great thing to do... If it's for you. And a lot of people decide it's "not for them" and leave it at that. I completely agree with you- it's hard to imagine people not considering it. I wonder too if people do think about it since they were young like us and then let the horror stories scare them out of it. Praying for you guys often! :-)

  3. I volunteer at our local pregnancy center once a week, and actually just this past weekend I went to a seminar training on adoption. It was basically training us on how to counsel someone who is pregnant and exploring their options. Adoption is a really scary thing to me because it does seem hard, and honestly I don't know how personal my role will be with adoption in the future. But I do want to be more aware of it and hopefully have it not sound like such a scary thing to me. I just don't know very many people who have been adopted or who have adopted, so it's an unknown, I guess.

  4. I think it being scary because it's unknown is a perfectly normal (and probably common) response. Sometimes I wonder if my passion for adoption leads me to have unrealistic expectations about it (especially since I haven't actually gone through the process yet), and I think a little fear in that situation is a good thing. It's also SO great that you volunteer at a pregnancy center-my mom did that for years and loved it; you've actually inspired me to see if there's one nearby because I think I would really enjoy it too. That's great that they give you that training and I think your work there is a perfect example of how someone can support those that may be considering adoption. Thanks for chiming in and inspiring me! :-)

  5. awesome to read your heart of this! I totally expect God will continue to use you + grow your heart as time goes on!

  6. Thanks for that encouragement! I appreciate it :) loving following along with your journey it makes me so excited for you and for what God's plans are for my husband and I.

  7. let me know if you ever have questions or want to just talk about it!

  8. Yeah definitely I would love that; I'll have to take you up on that sometime! Thanks! :)

  9. Girl! Thanks for commenting! It's so encouraging to find other people who one day dream of adopting (we're only 23 so we're pretty much in the same boat as you guys). And we would love to have a couple of our own kids and adopt a couple like you said. I would LOVE to live in a US where adoption is commonplace. So excited to see where your journey takes you! :)

  10. AMEN SISTER. This is so deep, and it's so incredible that God has touched your heart (when it would have been easy to be calloused and ignore the holy spirit). I love your perspective, and I'm challenged by it: how can I support adoption and families who are involved in adoption?

  11. girl. GREAT question. I had to think about my response for a couple of days. At our old church, they had a ministry set up where you could make a meal for an adoptive family once a week. We had just gotten plugged into that when we moved and our new church doesn't seem to have anything like that so we're still trying to figure out what we can do to get involved. A book that is SUPER good is called Orphan Justice and it gives a lot of practical ideas of how to get involved besides actually adopting- I own it and need to revisit it but definitely see if it's at your library or something! Also, one of the organizations I'm passionate about is International Voice of the Orphan... it was started by a couple that were pastors at my church back home so I'm biased but at the same time I know that my money is actually going to orphans and not "administrative fees" when I donate. I know Focus on the Family has a program called Wait no More that's pushing adoption and they may have some ideas on how to get involved too. Love your heart girl and that you're wanting to get involved, I would love to hear how it goes! :)

  12. I'll have to check out those resources. Our old church was big on adoption, too! Nearly every family had an adopted child. It was so beautiful to see the community decide to change the lives of a child/children! And what a unique, practical idea to have a ministry to bless the families who have adopted--I LOVE that. Again, so glad you posted this :)

  13. Oh my gosh your church (old church) sounds so awesome in that respect! I've never really been to a church or been part of one (except our last one) where adoption was more than just briefly mentioned. It's a dream of mine that every church in America is like your old church- with adoption at the forefront :)

  14. so i'm stalking your blog apparently b/c i was reading your about me page & found a link to this post and i am SO GLAD that i did!!!

    like you, i've always had a place in my heart for adoption... like i don't have baby fever & i don't have a desire to birth my own children and i believe it's because God called me to adopt. b/c my entire heart has always beated for orphans.

    i am so heavily into it... that it completely astounds me that so many people never consider it! not that i am judging them... b/c God hasn't called all people to help orphans through adoption... He gives us unique desires.. but the fact that there are only 100,000 kids freed for adoption in the US foster care system & there are not 100,000 families in the millions of people in America to adopt these children. that is not a very large % of the population & yet there are still orphans... completely astounding!!!

    so anyways... i didn't mean to write a post to your post... lol but i just read this and thought "SO MUCH YES" and wanted to let you know! :)

  15. ahhhh robyn this was like my favorite comment ever!! It is so so awesome to find someone so passionate about the orphan as I am! Though I imagine myself pregnant someday I don't spend nearly as much time thinking about that as I do adopting some treasures.

    I love your heart for the orphan and would love to hear more about it either via email or your blog. Does your husband feel led to it too? I had noticed some adoption/foster care boards on your Pinterest and was curious so I'm so glad that you found this post and shared your heart! :)


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