Ministry Ideas: Adoption

(Now, this one chokes me up. I’m glad I’m typing and not speaking.) We have couples who’ve decided that they should adopt children from poor countries — as a ministry for Jesus.

Adoption is common enough, of course, but most who adopt do so because they want children and adoption is the only way they can have children. And so they adopt.

But these couples in our church are capable of producing more children the biological way. But they feel compeled by the love of God to rescue a child from poverty, not by sending a check each month (which is very noble and good itself), but by bringing in a child from Ethiopia or the like and raising him or her in a Christian family. Oh, wow!!

Tragically, many countries that have many orphans are unwilling to allow them to be adopted by Americans — or else they charge ridiculously high fees, making them effectively traffickers in orphans, but this is how it is. It’s astonishingly expensive to adopt across national lines even though many countries are unable to care for the orphans they have.

There really needs to be an effort to push Congress and the White House to negotiate a treaty allowing cross-border adoption at a reasonable cost. The present situation is inhuman.

We have a group of adults who take some teens with them each year to the Bahamas to volunteer at an orphans home there and do other good work. This effort began as a youth ministry thing, but the adults refused to stop going just because their kids graduated!

One regular volunteer grew attached to a young man in the orphanage and tried to adopt him, but the Bahamian government wouldn’t allow it, even though the children are kept in destitution. One summer, they allowed him to visit the family, and the child packed a can of beans, assuming this would be his only food for the week visit! He had no idea of the abundance that awaiting him that week with this family. In his world, if you leave the orphanage, you pack a can of beans. (He is finally of age, and they just received a visa to let him live here.)

Another couple that regularly makes the trip fell in love with a severely retarded child at the orphanage — and wanted to adopt him. Again, the government refused, and it will be years before he can be rescued.

And so, I feel entirely unworthy to be an elder for people like this. I feel like John the Baptist when approached by Jesus — unworthy to stoop down and untie the thongs of their sandals — because I see God in them.

This is what ministry does when it reaches outside the church to the hurting, the poor, and the oppressed. It lifts Jesus up — showing the world the very face of God. And, I’m convinced, it will change the world. There is no greater evangelism strategy than loving as Jesus loved.


7 Responses

  1. I appreciate this post more than I can express. Adoption is near to God’s heart. Whether a couple is infertile or fertile; whether the children are adopted at birth, from foster care, or from an orphanage across the border; whether the children are healthy or ill or disabled; whether the families share the same race or not, adoption is a good thing. After all, every Christian was adopted into the family of God.:)

    Thank you for this post, and this series.

  2. Thank you, Jay.

    In Ukraine, young churches are working with orphanages throughout the country. Many children are taken into Christian homes as foster children. More than a few have been adopted by Christian people, even though this is not easy even for Ukrainians. I also know of American families who have adopted Ukrainian orphans.

    Most, if not all, of these have been to lift these children our of their abject condition and to rear them in Christian homes. This is making a difference in the evangelistic power of these churches, for this is something that is very unique in Ukraine.

  3. i fear if we don’t step up our benevolent efforts on the adoption from, then our moral rejection of abortion will never have much compelling force for those in though situations.


  4. Our congregation takes up a collection every midweek which is devoted to benevolence and adoption in a specific allocation. We use the adoption portion to assist couples with the very significant financial expense of adoption. We have multiple members who have adopted from other countries, including India and China.

  5. I’m a little behind in my blog reading, so just now making my way to this post. Last week, I attended a prayer lunch with representatives from several difference faith organizations including two different children’s homes. November is National Adoption Month and they asked that we do everything we can to raise awareness of adoption this month. They also mentioned the same thing you did regarding the desire to promote an international treaty to lower the costs and other barriers preventing cross-border adoptions. What a worthy effort that would be. How does one begin such a process?

  6. Brian,

    Obviously, getting an international treaty on any subject is no easy matter.

    1. Figure out whose support is essential. The answer is President Obama. He is both necessary and sufficient. If he wants it, he can get it done.

    2. Figure how to obtain his support — via voter groups, national nonprofits, Senators, key contributors. Of these, most key Democrat constituencies have no interest in the question: gay rights, feminists, labor unions, NEA. However, there are some constituencies who would be interested —- a. Some Democratic Senators are interested in adoption for personal or religious reasons. Check their websites or involvement with adoption groups.

    b. Sojourners — Jim Wallis’s group — is a key link to the Christian vote for Democrats. (This might be my first stop, actually.)

    c. NAACP and SCLC could be interested because so many black couples are unable to find children to adopt — it’s worse for blacks than for whites.

    d. National headquarters for black denominations and national black pastor associations could well be interested for both the obvious Christian motivation as well as concern for their members.

    e. Mainline denomination national headquarters are also a possibility (but more bureaucratic) — United Methodists, United Presbyterians, Disciples of Christ, Episcopalian, etc. They tend to be in the Democratic camp and include millions of voters.

    3. Diligently search whether an existing group is already pursuing the project. If so, ask how you might help. Work for a united front among all interested organizations.

    4. While right-leaning groups will get nothing from the present administration, you have to think long term. The White House won’t be in Democratic hands forever. Work both sides of the aisle.

    5. The National Association of Evangelicals and the Catholic Church would both support such a treaty on a non-partisan basis. And the Catholic Church has a great deal of clout internationally.

    6. Make sure the President can take credit for the getting the treaty passed. Don’t work through those who might have competing agendas (those who might run against him next term).

    It’s tough enough to get a federal law passed. A treaty requires tremendous political will. But the President should understand that such a treaty would win him friends all over the country — and I don’t see a downside.

    Figure this takes at least 5 years. You have to get the President’s support, get other nations to sign on, and get the Senate to ratify. Many treaties require decades of work.

    Be patient in prayer.

  7. During the candidates’ forum at the Saddleback Church last year before the election, both President Obama and Senator McCain committed to try to make adoption easier. Perhaps Rick Warren or a leader from the Saddleback Church’s adoption ministry could have some influence in working toward an international treaty. You may try to contact them.

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