By: Sarah Horgan, Resonate Pullman
Human life does not always receive the love and worth that God intended. One of the ways we see this is in the millions of children who grow up without parents. There are roughly 115,000 foster children waiting to be adopted in the U.S. alone. In 2010, UNICEF estimated that 17.8 million children worldwide are “double orphans,” meaning they are lacking both parents. This statistic does not even account for orphans living on the streets or in orphanages, meaning the actual number is much higher. But the Bible tells us that God cares for the fatherless. What would it tell the world if all the Christian families in America adopted a child? What would it show them about who God is?
We who believe in the unchangeable, un-earnable worth of individual human life as imputed by God are mourning our culture’s devaluation of human life. When secular governments, who have often upheld biblical principles or even assumed the role the Church was meant to have, fail to uphold God’s laws, we should not be surprised or dismayed. We are the standard bearers. The failure of government to accomplish what God’s people have always been commissioned to do provides the perfect opportunity for us to not only resume that responsibility, but also to fulfill the underlying goal of obedience to God’s commands: to glorify him. What does this mean? It means that when we obey God, we reveal who he is to a dying world.
God Revealed Through Adoption
God is a loving father who creates life and redeems it. One of the most incredible things about God is that he claims parenthood of humans. This is unbelievable—there is absolutely no fathomable reason our eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and holy God would want to associate with us sinful selfish creatures. He created us with inherent value and sent his son Jesus to pay for our sins. He loves us not for what we have done, but for who he is and what he has done. And he actually chooses to bring us into his family, the holy and righteous kingdom of heaven! Over and over again the Bible uses this fantastic language describing God’s role as Father as well as expressing his love for the fatherless, or the “functionally parentless.” Romans 8:14-15 says, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God…the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”
My own favorite verse that expresses the intimacy of God’s relationship to his adopted children is from Isaiah. God is called “Father” in Scripture, but he also expresses the role of mother, another relationship that is irreplaceable and invaluable in a child’s life. Isaiah 49:15 says, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” The premise is that a mother would never forget, much less intentionally sabotage, the child of her womb. The conclusion is that God’s love for us is far more faithful, unconditional, and relentless than even a mother’s.
God is a Father who relentlessly pursues his children, even when they reject him. Consider the process of spiritual adoption: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Adoption is a process that ought to humble Christian parents by reminding them of that grace which they themselves have received. Adoptive parents have an amazing opportunity to give a child love and a home and to speak into them who they are: ultimately, children of God.
Adoption is a grateful response to God’s gift of love, an obedient response to his commands, a claim on our God-given creative and redeeming faculties, and a way to show the world that Christians are very serious about treasuring human life. Adopting children may not be an option for every couple, but the principle is the same for caring for a widow, a refugee family, or a single mother. Adopt the homeless person, the elderly widow, the lonely college student, the single mother. Adopt a baby from China. Adopt twins from Utah. Adopt a baby with Down Syndrome. Adopt a teenager. Adopt siblings. Adopt foster kids. Adopt every child who needs a family and a home. We can be image bearers of God: creating family, and pursuing family that which is lost. Adopt the baby girl whose young mother rejected abortion and courageously carried her to term and gave her up for adoption. Adopt the young boy whose parents were killed by bomb blasts in a refugee camp. Adopt the twin who developed from an egg that split inside a surrogate mother’s womb, a baby who was not ordered or wanted by the intended parents.
I think of my friend Brian, who, together with his two roommates all in their mid-twenties, invited a homeless fifty-year-old man and two eighteen-year-old boys just phased out of group homes to share their two-bedroom house with them. I think of the way my mom invited our widow neighbor into our lives when all of her family was deceased or far away. I think of a couple I read about who adopted two kids with Down Syndrome and said, “We’ve learned to accept our own weaknesses. And we’ve learned from them how to ask for help without shame. Most especially, we’ve learned that, as a father, God rejoices when we turn to him in weakness and ask for his help. That’s been a great joy.” I believe this is what it means to adopt: to love the functional orphan and widow among us by pursuing them and placing them in our homes, lives, and ultimately families.
To adopt is to preach with the home and fight with the family, and this is the time for it. Adoption in some ways can be seen as a counter-cultural act of rebellious love. Adoption is good in and of itself, but it shines even brighter against the backdrop of such cultural darkness regarding the family as ours. It’s time to consider it.