As He Did: Reflections on Christianity and Adoption

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No one justice issue is greater than another. Justice towards women, justice towards the poor, and justice towards one another are all equally valuable and worthy of working towards. If I were, though, to mention one justice issue that ought to be of utmost importance, especially for the Christian Church, it would be the issue of justice towards children who are orphaned and/or in the foster care system.

All throughout the Bible, the justice issue that God Himself continuously reiterates and recalls to the attention of His people is that of the orphans. It is not simply something He calls His followers to do when favorable or convenient, but something He deems crucial to proving their faith itself to be genuine.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭27‬ ESV)

It is even something that God Himself takes up as a part of His identity, as, so it says in the Word: “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation”(‭Psalm‬ ‭68‬:‭5‬ ESV). To deny the plight of orphans is to also deny the Lord Himself as well.

Adoption then, is necessary in the discussion of justice for orphans. We can have after-school programs, transitional housing, and all sorts of services, but the only way to truly undo the loss of a child’s parents is to repair that severed connection through adoption.

What exactly does adoption mean? It certainly is not like shopping; walking into a store and getting something you want, or returning it if it is not to your liking. It is not an act of flippant choice. Adoption is not an experiment for the personal benefit of making your family more colorful or sunny and cheerful, but rather an intentional commitment to sacrifice time, energy and devotion to this child.

Adoption means being with that child in every step of the process of healing from past trauma or wounds so that they may someday believe that they are valued. Adoption achieves full justice and therefore its full meaning when it is done not for the self, but for the sake of children who may gain the experience of being loved.

This is an issue of utmost relevance to Christians because according to the Christian doctrine, Jesus Christ Himself set the very foundations and meaning of the Christian faith upon the the concept and action of adoption. The gospel itself is that

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.” (‭Ephesians‬ ‭1‬:‭4-6‬ NLT)

Parents who adopt can expect of stacks of paperwork, sleepless nights, crying and spontaneous defecation, but it is worth it to them to see a childless parent have parents who love them. Likewise, the foundational belief of the Christian gospel is this: that God Himself counted the cost of intervening on behalf a world full of broken individuals, struggling with insecurities, fears and demons. And He saw the cost of fighting for such a world as worth it, for the sake of every person realizing that they are indeed valued and loved by Him.

Not all of us are orphans in the conventional sense. But many of us have been orphans in spirit. And according to the Christian faith, someone has chosen to adopt us.

This is the unique thing about Christianity– that Christians believe in a God who has sincerely and personally loved and fought for them them even before they were qualified or aware of it. God does not require people to come with their problems solved, all the prerequisites achieved before being accepted. Instead, this is a God that fights for individuals to be loved. This is a God who adopts–a Father to the fatherless.

So if this is what Christians believe Christ has done, and if the Word of God says to do similarly as Christ did, then what is there to excuse them from being ignorant to the needs of orphans? Something must be done, for the need is great, and the call to action is undeniable. Perhaps this may not mean adoption or fostering for everyone. Perhaps instead it means providing grants for those wanting to adopt, building homes or simply raising awareness and providing resources in whatever way possible for an individual. But if Christians are to look at what they believe and sincerely value it, they must do something.

What does your faith or beliefs say concerning orphans and children in need?

Why is it that people seem to be most passionate when a cause concerns children?

How much do you know about the foster care system in America or orphans in other countries?