Sunday, April 29, 2012

The World To One Person

I hear many, MANY Christians say they would like to adopt one day…..WHEN they have the money.  But did you know that if you adopt a child from foster care here in the U.S. it costs little or nothing?? I don’t think our states do an adequate job of letting people know that there are thousands of children waiting to be adopted, and that the state will pay for most of the adoptions, with others costing only around $1,500.  Some great aspects of State adoption are:
*It can be a pretty fast process
*It costs little to nothing
*Caseworkers are really good about sharing the child’s ENTIRE life history, including any abuse s/he experienced, etc. so that you can make a decision on whether or not you feel the child would be a good fit for your family.
*Caseworkers won’t even consider placing a child into a home with younger children if they believe that child could be a danger to the other children already in the home.
*In many cases families receive a small amount of financial support each month, plus free medical care for the child until s/he is 18. Also, when adopting a teenager, states will often pay for that child’s college expenses.

Of course, adopting an older child is a great way for families to live out what James wrote in his epistle: “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.” (1:27) We Christians are often quite diligent about "keeping ourselves from being polluted by the world", but we skip over the first part of this verse, or think we’re “doing enough” by giving our tithes to the church.

So far Norman and I have had the privilege of adopting six children from foster care and we want to share with our fellow believers that it is truly amazing how adaptable these children really are. Even though they come with a lot of worldly experiences and exposure, if you win their hearts, you will see that worldliness slowly melt away as they fall in love with Jesus and develop a true desire to live in the culture of His kingdom rather than that of the world.  And what a great lesson for biological children as well--to share their "inheritance" with strangers, just as Jesus has shared his with us!!

“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world” (Author Unknown)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Our Four and No More

"I wonder what would happen if Christians thought of family beyond its sometimes idolatrous, biological constraints? My guess is that adoption would become a part of normative church culture. American orphan statistics would plummet." This was an excerpt from "The American Church and Adoption" by Anthony Bradley--And it really struck me.  "Idolatrous, biological constraints."  Wow

I confess that I know how it feels to be hesitant of having "outsiders" moving into your house who may disrupt the peace and happingess of your own family.  In 2008, after my two daughters (who I had adopted from foster care in 1995) were newly out of the home, God led my husband and I to adopt again from foster care. We signed up for the Older Child Adoption program.  Soon after being Home Study Approved, we were contacted about a 13 month old baby boy. This was completely unexpected.  A baby? We were expecting a child between 8 and 10 years old.  We never expected to adopt a baby—much less at practically no cost. He had no special needs—just a normal, incredibly bright little toddler. And of course it was love at first sight. We met him on a Monday and he moved in four days later! About seven months after that the adoption was finalized.

Now what to do? We had originally had it on our hearts to adopt older children—maybe a sibling group or special needs child. But now our precious little David took up all of our time and attention. He was the center of our lives. How would he feel not having my constant attention? What if the new children didn’t treat him nicely? How could I possibly love older children the same way I loved him?  Things were pretty perfect the way they were—adopting again could ruin it all. But we knew….we had committed to adopting older children. God had given us this baby so that we could use him as a marker for how we were to show love to the next children we would adopt.

We had our home study updated and soon we were asked about a sibling group of five (which then became a sibling group of six.) To me, the thought of adopting five young children was tantamount to losing my own little boy.  How on earth would he EVER get attention from me again? He would just get lost in this huge crowd of children everywhere. But I just kept thinking of Jesus’ words: “He who tries to save his life will lose it, but he who gives up his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it.” I thought, “I could keep everything just right for David and our peaceful home, and not disrupt his comfortable life at all, but then in the end, I could end up losing him—he could end up not following after the Lord because of my selfishness.” We decided to take the children in and trust God to bless ALL of our children.

In the end, DFACS decided to split the sibling group in two—they asked us to keep the three oldest, and they placed the three youngest in another home. The children had not all lived together previously, and DFACS had already been unsuccessful in keeping them in the same home--there were just too many needs that needed to be met. I don’t know how I would have handled four children under age four—in addition to three older children—all extremely hyper-active. I guess God knew what we could handle and what was best for the children—but he was testing us to see what we were willing to do. Adopting our three children, ages 7, 8, and 9 has been such a blessing to us AND to David. And we are hoping to adopt again soon.

How can this country have so many professing Christians and still have over 115,000 true orphans??  Yes, we all LOVE our families and our children with all our heart.  And we don't want to see their lives disrupted.  But we must remember that there are orphans who are ready to be adopted and given the Good News of Jesus Christ.  WE are Christ's body, and we can't be afraid to open our homes to the fatherless and take in a child with "baggage" because we're worried about how it will affect "our own" kids or how it will disrupt our "perfect family."  If we have this attitude, we are in danger of committing idolatry with our families.  Yes, we LOVE big families, we LOVE having LOTS and LOTS of children to raise in the ways of the Lord. But what about the fatherless? I’m asking you—while you’re building your large, beautiful families with children who serve the Lord, please don’t forget about the ones who are longing for a mom and dad!  (And for those who are overly fearful, I'll add that one advantage of adopting from foster care is that caseworkers are VERY careful to not place a child in a home if that child could be considered a danger to the children already in the home.)

My children recently started saying to us, “I’m glad you adopted us or else we might have been adopted by someone who isn’t Christian.” And little Sara, while praying over dinner tonight, said, “Thank you God for adopting us here so we could be Christian and go to Heaven.” There is a mission field we can easily reach with the gospel—the several thousand children who are waiting in foster homes right now for a family to give them a permanent home. It's estimated that if only ONE family in one-in-every-FOUR churches would adopt a waiting foster child, all of the orphans in the US would have a family. Please share this blog, or similar ones that you read (http://online.worldmag.com/tag/adoption --maybe you can’t venture into adoption right now, but it’s possible that someone from your church or Christian circle has felt God calling them in this area. Let’s remember, it’s not just our own children who need us. We are called to love the unlovely.

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. James 1:27

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