Years ago, Karla and I attended a workshop on adoption. We felt a strong pull to adopt and were trying to discern if it was God’s calling for our lives. One of the speakers that day talked about how he and his wife wrestled with the rising cost of international adoption and made a very simple but profound statement. It went something like this: If we can spend nearly $30,000 on a new car, investing in the process of adoption seems more than appropriate, especially if doing so can give a voice to the voiceless, an idea deeply embedded in scripture.
There is nothing more terrifying than being voiceless.
Each living person, being made in the image of God, has dreams, desires, ambitions, wants, fears, insecurities, and vulnerabilities. Being fully human has a lot to do with expressing all of them. How can we if we have no voice, nobody to advocate for us, help us be strong when we feel weak, correct us when we miss the mark, or provide inspiration for our dreams and goals?
In our latest blogs, we have been addressing the heart of God in response to the recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. One common concern around this decision, being voiced by many Christians is this: What are we doing to address the problems brought on by unwanted pregnancies? Any discussion of the societal implications around this question must include a reminder that scripture strongly advocates for human life, especially lives that cannot speak for themselves.
The early Christians wrestled with how to respond to the growing problem of infanticide. Not only did they voice their moral objection to the pagan culture they lived in, but they also became a part of the solution by providing relief to poor families in need and taking in babies which had been left by their pagan parents to die by exposure. Later, hospitals and orphanages were set up to care for poor and orphaned children.
One 4th century leader named John Chrysostom spoke very boldly to wealthy Christians about the need to care for the poor and needy, admonishing them to resist materialistic living, especially if it put them in a situation where they could not practically meet the felt needs created by a fallen society.
Today, a very practical way to uphold the value of human life and proactively minister to the issues brought on by unwanted pregnancies is to support adoption. Throughout the biblical narrative, God’s call to stand with the fatherless rings loudly.
First, the Jews in the Old Testament were given the conviction that God cares deeply about those who cannot care for themselves:
“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.”
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”
Second, he called on kings and leaders in positions of authority to mirror his heart and defend the needs of the poor and helpless:
“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.”
In the New Testament, Jesus carries forward God’s heart by calling people to value and protect children (Mark 10:13-16), and to stand up for those in society who are poor, marginalized, and voiceless (Luke 4:18-19). The leaders of the early church strengthened this conviction within the life of the congregation by clearly stating that acceptable religion is that which upholds God’s heart:
“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.”
As we minister to a hurting world today, how can we express the heart of God and be a practical part of the solution?
Perhaps God is calling you to consider adopting a child? If not, all can find creative ways to support those who do feel called. We could offer to pledge financial support to a family who has decided to enter the costly process of domestic or international adoption.
In 2000, the congregation in Seattle decided to start an adoption assistance fund within the church, something people could donate to at any time, and would provide up to half the cost of adoption to families in the church. Over the years, it has allowed the church to see nearly 20 adoptions! In 2005, we were blessed to be the recipients of this fund when we adopted our daughter, Ellie from China. As these kids have become a vital part of the church family, it has allowed people to feel the blessing of putting the Bible into practice in such an important area. At the end of this post, I have included a video made back in Christmas of 2009 that highlighted how this program had blessed the congregation.
It is important to remember that we are adopted by God as his sons and daughters. Adoption was God’s plan from the beginning to reconcile people to himself, rescuing us from the oppression of sin and giving us a voice. It wasn’t a response to a mistake or a reaction to a problem, but part of His beautiful design to bring us into His family.
Adopting children is a tangible way to mirror that spiritual reality and offers us a wonderful opportunity to help provide hope in the middle of difficult times.
Daren & Karla Overstreet