Monday, June 25, 2012

Foreign Adoptions

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . ." James 1:27

      A few years ago one of the cool-teen/hipster clothing stores sold graphic tees that displayed the words, “Adoption is the new black.” The adoption world went into a frenzied uproar over those tees, ainsisting that adoption is not trendy. Adoptive parents were angry that the idea of adoption was being reduced to the likes of rubber bracelets, Uggs, and neon. I wonder, though, if that line of tees wasn’t close to correct. Adoption has been very popular in the past few years with singers singing about it and famous people showing off babies from foreign countries. Like the rest of the world, the Christian culture does not seem to be immune to fashions and fads and passing fancies. In the last fifteen years, many pastors that have changed their preaching styles – from standing behind a pulpit preaching to pulling up a stool and chatting, as if casually discussing with friends. Last week, I had an ironic discussion with my daughter about why they change the Bible, as her new NIV doesn’t match my old NIV. Churches not only have coffee cafes with frappes and lattes, but they serve up a good serving of wi-fi on the side. We live in a changing church culture, and I wonder if adoption isn’t also on the negotiation table; but the concept of adoption is used throughout the Bible and is central to the core of Christianity.
        “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” -1 John 3:1
      The first definition in Webster for “adopt” is, “to take by choice into a relationship.” Adoptive families live every day as if they were on the mission field. They, like every other parent, lay down their lives and their hearts for their children, but they have had to take an extra step to “take by choice into a relationship.” They learn about another culture, learn to braid black hair, learn to speak another language, learn to relate to birthparents in less fortunate situations, and learn day-in and day-out how the Grace of God is very present. Adoptive families know like no other the distance that God crossed to rescue us from our own sin. Believers have been adopted by a gracious God whose mercies are new every morning. He learned to wear skin, to speak human, to relate to man in a less fortunate situation, and he sacrificed for us so that we can commune with him. He chose us, and he chooses to relate to us. He has rescued us from squalor and filth and given us every richness, even the privilege of being called children of God. Let adoption be a reminder of our rescuer Father God.
      “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . . “ –James 1:27
      A while back, my husband and I were at a church leadership meeting (not the church we attend now). The topic of hospitality came up. In a room full of leader-ly people, with probably fifteen to twenty families represented, we were the only family that had invited neighbors over for dinner. While the story of the good Samaritan clearly tells us that our neighbor extends outside the geographic boundaries of our physical neighborhood, we are remiss if we miss out on sharing the gospel with those people who live closest to us. In addition, we are indeed called to care for the widow and orphan. Some interpret this to say that we are all called to adopt. This calling in my own life was an irresistible force that has led to the most amazing blessing for our family, but God may not be calling you to adopt. That said, I do know that God has set into motion many ways to care for widows and orphans. For every child that needs to be adopted, there are hundreds – maybe thousands – who need to be sponsored so that they can stay with their birth families. For every orphan overseas, there is a widow just down the street. For every woman in a desperate situation, there should be a safety net. For every teen whose parents are absent, there could be a mentor. For every broken heart, I believe that God desires to send his love – in the shape of human hands. In the midst of our broken world, can we be the haven for the sad and mourning soul? Let us remember God’s adoption is not just spiritual; He desires to use human hands and feet to rescue a needy world.
          “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11
Our family is borne of a reality that most don’t bear. Our family is borne of brokenness and sadness and mourning; our family only exists in this adoptive form, because some of our children suffered the loss of their most important relationships, their parents. One of our children remembers her father’s death, so she calls my husband, “Daddy.” We talk of an Ethiopian Mama who I am pretty sure would do a lot better at this than I. And there is always wondering, wishing in the background music of our lives that sings out, “What if . . . what if . . . what if their first family were whole?” Every time the still, small answer is, “For I know the plans I have for you, …plans to give you a hope and a future . . . “ There are many examples of adoption in the Bible. In one of the most amazing twists of the Old Testament, Pharaoh’s daughter finds and adopts Moses; this allows him a unique perspective when later in life he is called to speak to Pharoah on behalf of the Israelites. I have heard it said that Jesus himself was adopted, because Joseph was his father by choice and not physical means. Joseph taught him how to be a man, the very thing he needed to relate to mankind. This process of adoption is not simple or tidy, yet over and over it seems to be the means that God chooses to provide what is best to his children. Let us be aware that both spiritual adoption and the choice of relationships in our lives can be used to bring about the best of God’s plan. Let us worship the God who uses the most unlikely events to bring about his good and perfect plan!
Back to the tees that I mentioned earlier: the store eventually pulled all the tees off their so very hip shelves. And I wonder will we allow the world’s push and pull to wear us out, to distract us, to make us forget that God’s calling is for spiritual deliverance, active love, and worship. The recent emphasis on adoption has been a wonderful blessing to many, many families and millions of children . . . but let us not grow weary in doing good. Let us not forget that adoption – that of children in need and that of souls in need – is central to the name we bear.
Let it be known that adoption is not just a trend in the Christian world.

         This month's Guest Writer is an adopting mother of two African children. She preferred to remain anonymous

Sources: Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary and an NIV (1984 version) Bible

Image by Leaping Lizard

1 comment:

  1. I especially like the “For I know the plans I have for you, …plans to give you a hope and a future . . . “ I have two siblings from Africa.