Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Call to Orphan Care

Disclaimer: This may be a hard post. My intention is to encourage reflection and discussion, not to guilt or preach. After all, it is God who knows and speaks to our hearts, not me.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard "I've always wanted to adopt, but..." we would be well on our way to paying for adoption number two. Now, there are plenty of great reasons for not adopting. Not everyone is called to adopt because God simply has other plans for them, and many people who might otherwise be willing are disqualified from adopting based on age, medical conditions, marital status, or financial situation. However, the sheer volume of adoptable orphans begs an important question about the adequacy of the church's response to the needs of the parentless.

Providing for the parentless is something that has to be done on numerous fronts: giving resources to keep families intact in the first place, assisting willing relatives to care for orphans in their family group, encouraging adoption in the child's place of origin, and providing for children who live in countries where adoption is not an option. However, when adoption is a possibility and these others options are not working, social science is abundantly clear that adoption is the best option: children prosper in families, and wither in institutions. In the long term even the best institution cannot provide the security and stability of loving parents.

Adoption is not the sole province of the infertile. Those who cannot create children biologically may adopt in higher numbers as a way of building families, but the idea that adoption is or should be the "back-up" option for building a family both places an unfair burden on those who already struggle with the emotional weight of infertility and incorrectly places those who are adopted into families in a "second best" category. Adoption is for those whom God has called. Period. It doesn't matter how that call comes about.

So, here's the pertinent question: is God calling your family to adopt? There are millions upon millions of orphans in the world, and only thousands of adoptive families each year. The imbalance is striking. If you have felt the call to adopt, please seriously examine what is holding you back (if you haven't, feel free to skip on down two paragraphs). Is it that the child you adopt might not be perfect? Are you simply complacent? Too comfortable with the status quo? Afraid of the bumps in the road? Perhaps you are concerned about racism effecting your family (or is it in your family)? Lack of money? Unwillingness to travel? Fear of paper cuts?

Adoption can be painful. So is labor. It can be expensive. God provides. Adoptive kids can have special needs, and require extra effort to catch up developmentally, they can have long term effects of malnutrition, including a slightly higher rate of learning disorders. But passing on your genes isn't necessarily a guarantee of superior performance or behavior. Adoption can be hard, but there are numerous avenues of support from other adoptive families, families who will lift you up in prayer and provide you with encouragement when you need it. Yes, racism exists. Yes, you will get intrusive questions, but is that a reason to deprive a child of a home? Travelling to another country can be nerve-wracking, but it can also be a huge blessing. Sorry, I've got nothing for the paper cuts, except to assure you that band-aids are cheap.

Is God calling you to support children without parents in another way? You have no idea what a blessing you can be to a foster or adoptive family by coming alongside them in prayer. On hard days (during the looooonnnnnngggg wait to get Mtoto), I am so thankful just knowing how many of you are praying for his healthy, safety, care. It really makes a difference. There are many other "tangible" options as well: you could sponsor a child, support an orphan care organization, support special needs orphans with little chance of being adopted, donate to your church's adoption fund, babysit for an adoptive family that has training or interviews to attend, make a meal for a family that has recently brought a child home, help an adoptive family clean their home pre-inspection (huge huge blessing, trust me), become a foster parent, volunteer to support local foster parents, help a single mom or dad who has decided to parent, honestly, I could go on and on, there are so many ways you can serve.


Laura Gifford said...

This is a good post, Amy, that comes from the heart. Even those of us who aren't called to adopt should be helping in so many of the other ways you have listed well.

BTW: Thought you'd appreciate knowing that Meredith has been praying for Mtoto almost every night of her own volition -- and this morning, during the prayers, I saw her whispering the same words to herself during silent prayer time. :-)

Chasity said...

Love the post! Thank you for sharing what God is laying on your heart. Thank you for asking others to follow where He leads. I am doing the same...on both fronts! Blessings to your sweet family!
See my post here

Sweet Apron said...

Excellent post, Amy. And I orayed for the 12/25 miracle this morning!!!!

Sweet Apron said...

prayed-oops. It's early.