Wednesday, April 21, 2010

God and Adoption

Yesterday, my friend Tonggumomma, wrote an outstanding post on God and adoption. I am adding her post here today for all my buds to read as it is exactly what I would say.

Like my friend, I have seen an explosion of posts on how God planned for our adoptive children to be our children. Like he decided in the womb to place them in our house and take them away from their birth parents.

Anyone else feel like puking? I do every time I see this type of sentiment.

When you are done reading, make sure you click over to her post (if you haven't already) and read all the comments. Really, really, really good stuff. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for about a 15 minute brain stretcher. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

God and Adoption

These past two months some really cool bloggers have been exploring how they feel about the relationship between God and adoption. As a Christian and an adoptive parent, I read all of these posts with tremendous interest, both those written by Christians and by non-Christians. Several weeks ago I read yet another post on the topic, as well as the subsequent comments, and I began to type out a response. Only my response became so long, I decided perhaps I should instead go out on a limb and type it all out here.

Despite the controversy.

(And goodbye to half my readers. I love y'all.)

Now, I don't pretend to have all of the answers. And I am definitely more likely to seek out spiritual advice rather than to offer it. But I do have some thoughts about this. And I would love it if y'all would share YOUR thoughts on the topic. I want both Christians and non-Christians to feel comfortable sharing, however, so I ask you to keep humility and kindness in mind when composing your thoughts. I'll do my best to do the same.

Anyways, here is My Comment That Turned Into A Book...

Several years ago, my husband and I navigated the whole "why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" question when my husband missed the destruction of the Twin Towers by a couple of hours (his meeting was scheduled for later that morning). We found the book The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis to be immensely helpful.

I am a Christian. I am also an adoptive parent.

I believe that I sound completely confusing when I talk about this because I believe that God is omniscient, meaning that He is all-knowing. In other words, I believe He knows what is going to happen even before it happens, even if it is not what He wants to happen. Suffering occurs in this world, but it was not part of God's original plan. The Book of Genesis clearly states this. God allows for suffering because, without free will, our choices to follow Him or not follow Him would mean very little. Because of this, I believe that yes, God worked to bring the Tongginator into our family... but... BUT... I believe that we were quite definitely His plan B for her life.

I believe that God's first choice is for all children to grow up within the loving arms of their biological families. When abandonment, relinquishment and/or forced removal occurs... well... I believe that SOMETHING from this world, not God, caused it to happen. As Carrie once stated, adoption is a redemptive response to a tragedy. It is an absolute TRAGEDY that a child cannot stay with his or her biological family, whether it be caused by the personal sin of the parents (engaging in sinful behavior such as abuse, for example), or the sins of another who held power over the parents (whether familial or societal or political), or because of the overall sin of living in a fallen world (where things such as poverty and illness and death exist) despite the parents being without fault within the situation.

To say that it was God's first choice for a child to experience adoption is the same - to me - as saying that it was God's first choice for someone to be murdered. That may not make sense to some of you, but it's how I feel. Whether I am right or wrong, I do not know. I've never claimed to be a Biblical scholar. But it IS how I feel.

I think that the church often conveniently picks and chooses how to interpret God's Word about adoption. Moses' adoption? Occurred because of the sin of one group of people who were oppressing another group of people. And to whom did Moses return? His biological family. Esther? It was a kinship adoption after both of her parents died. Jesus? Remained with His mother and, in effect, an earthly step-father raised Him.

God's call is very specific to care for widows and orphans. TOGETHER. It says WIDOWS and orphans. And it says TO CARE FOR, not necessarily to adopt. Which, to me, reinforces the idea that family preservation is God's top priority and that adoption is His second choice for a child. I often think of many within the church - those who are pushing an adoption agenda with a zeal that makes me feel uncomfortable, especially when they are closing their eyes to corruption and coercion and the like - I think of them when I read the Scripture of 1 Kings 3:16-28. In that Scripture, two women both gave birth within a few days of one another while living in the same house. One baby died and the other lived. Both women claimed the living child and a judge had to rule as to which mother belonged to the baby. The judge wisely ruled that they should cut the child in half so that the two women could share the baby, knowing that the actual mother would rather her child be in the arms of the other woman than suffer that fate. One woman tearfully offered to hand over the baby, while the woman who lied said, "Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!"

And the true mother was revealed through the actions of both women.

A real mother knows that adoption is a redemptive response to a tragedy, but that it does NOT erase the tragedy. When someone longing for a child... or simply longing to adopt... places blinders on during the adoption process, or ignores the tragedy, he or she is, in effect, stating - as did the woman in the Scripture listed above - "Neither you nor I should have him. Cut him in two!" In other words, "if I can't have him, then no one should" or "I deserve this child more than you." They are allowing their own selfish desires and/or spiritual pride to blind them and guide them.

Looking back, I wonder where my heart was during our wait to adopt the Tongginator.

Therefore, I believe that the church's number one priority should be assisting families in remaining together rather than pushing other families to "save a child" through adoption. End world hunger and many adoptions will no longer occur. Stop stigmatizing single mothers, passing judgment on them, and many adoptions will no longer occur. Help find the cure for AIDS and many adoptions will no longer occur.

Adoption is often a band-aid placed over a gaping wound.

Children growing up in abject poverty do not necessarily need adoptive families... they need food and clothes. Children born to a single mother do not necessarily need adoptive families... they need their fathers to face up to the responsibility of raising them. Children born with special needs do not necessarily need adoptive families... they need access to adequate medical care and a community that embraces, rather than stigmatizes, them.

Adoption is often a band-aid placed over a gaping wound.

That does not mean that I think adoptions should end. Because the tragedies will still occur. My daughter was abandoned when she was a newborn. She lived in care for almost a year. At the time of adoption, returning to her biological family was not an option... it was either to grow up in care or to grow up with an adoptive family. She is a wonderful little girl... one who deserves a family, just as ALL children deserve families. Since her biological family was no longer an option, for whatever reason, I am glad that God chose us as His plan B to be her adoptive family.

But her adoption? Was a band-aid placed over a gaping wound in rural China.

We continue to need the redemptive response of adoption... we live in a fallen world, y'all, a place where children continue to need a second chance at a family. But that does not mean we should wash our hands of and ignore the tragedies that cause that need in the first place. What are y'all doing to help end adoption? Don't say nothing... because I know that's not true. How many of y'all donated money to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti? It may have been small or large... regardless of the size, it was something. And that money went to care for people suffering multiple tragic losses, losses so huge, families might have been torn apart without practical help from others.

I believe adoption is necessary, but when we focus solely on adoption, I think we look at only a small part of God's plan. We need to dream BIG. With God, ALL things are possible. We need to not only care for the orphans, but also the widows and the sick and the impoverished as well. We need to work to end the need for adoption while at the same time opening our homes to the children who need families the most.

So *deep breath* how do y'all feel about what I've shared? I can take it. Really.


Brilliant no?

Yes, adoption is necessary in our world. It has a place. For orphans. And there are more true orphans out there than we could really wrap our minds around. Children in an orphanages. Children living in cardboard boxes or in the city dump. And I will always believe a family is a better place for children than an orphanage, or a cardboard box or a city dump (unless the child is damaged(inability to attach) to the point where they cannot function in a family.....this is not as rare as some might think....and they do much better in a group situation).

Thanks TM for a great post.

I could not have said it better myself.


  1. I am adopted, and I'm a Christian. This post is bang on. Every adopted child realizes something bad (sin) happened that required them to be taken from their original family. Asking (demanding?) that I ignore that side of my adoption story has been detrimental - it sours the gratitude (the GENUINE gratitude) I feel for God blessing me with the family I'm in. Thanks for sharing!

  2. very insightful. I do agree with a lot she said; most of what she said. I do believe the church needs to care for the family and help families stay intact, but then of course that is assuming that people will turn to the church for such help or if they will shun the church and not want to get involved in "religious" matters. My two kids are adopted and I truly believe God wanted us to raise them. When I have time I will check out your friend's blog and read all the comments left on her entry


  3. I agree with what you say, but ask you to remember that some children are born to very bad people. We adopted our son after his birth parents tried to kill him at 3 weeks old by feeding him salt. The doctors did not think that he would live and once he did, they thought he would be a vegetable or at best, need a lot of help. Instead, he is a very smart, outgoing little boy. His birth parents had another (7 yr old) child and for whatever reason did not want this one. They never explained why. They had put him up for adoption at birth, changed their minds and took him home at one week. They live here in the United States where there is help available. DCF offered counseling, etc. They refused.

  4. Anonymous......

    ALWAYS the child is first. Abuse is NEVER an acceptable Plan A. The child must be removed in those cases....and too many times the system fails them.

    I believe my friend stated this in her post also. There are plenty of Plan A's that are not what is the best for the child.

    POVERTY is not abuse. Children should not be adopted out for no other reason than poverty. Her point is to step up and help those situations....not to enable the abusers.

    And parents that don't want the children...that would only lead to abuse - mental if not physical.

    You are very right - not all Plan A is acceptable. I never meant to imply otherwise.

    But its time we step up and talk about the adoptions that are NOT right and try to figure out how to help those children that would be better off in Plan A.

    And stop plugging our ears and spouting things like, "God MEANT for this to be our child from the beginning." No - sin (usually committed by the birth parent/s) ripped a family apart and God put Plan B into action.

    And that Plan B? Could be far better than Plan A ever was.

  5. Bravo Autumn, very well said and well written. I agree with everything you've said! My husband and his sister are adopted. His sister found her birth mother and was told that when she was born they removed her from the room and told the birth mom that the baby had died. We have no idea what happened when my husband was born, he hasn't sought his birth family(he might after his parents pass away though). His sister says that he is the nephew of a woman their parents went to church with, son of her wayward younger sister. Who knows. Did either of them need to be adopted, we don't know, but like you, I agree that sin had everything to do with the situations.

  6. That was beautifully written.
    There are a lot of Plan B's in our world, not just concerning adoption, but all of life. That's the thing about free will. We all make choices, and they affect lots of other people. It carries over into lots of lives, for years and years and years. Both our positive, and our negative actions carry over.
    Praise God for the blood of Jesus, and second chances. (ie: Plan B's)

  7. that was so well written and said - and honestly, very theologically accurate.

    thank you for sharing :)