In Covenant Cultures

I once heard it said that you look most like Jesus when you forgive and you look most like the Father when you adopt. Whether that statement is completely true or not, there are obvious parallels in the adoption of children and what God the Father has done for us.

Adoption is a beautiful gift that God has given to families.  From the beginning of human history, adoption was at the heart of His rescue plan.  Our sin in the garden separated us from Him, but even then He began to whisper the promise of a Savior that would crush the head of the snake, ultimately paving the way for our eternal adoption to Himself.   We hear Jesus echo this same theme when He says, “I will not leave you as orphans.  I will come to you.” (John 14:18)  Our sin is what separated us from the Father in the garden, and we see now that as sin has poisoned His perfect creation, it has led to the need for earthly adoption as well.  Death, trauma, addiction, sickness, abuse, and all sorts of other things that cause a child to need a second family stem from sin that entered the garden so long ago.  Just as the Father had a plan then to draw us to Himself, we see that He also raises up families to open their homes and lives to children now.  Our spiritual adoption did not come gently, but only through the blood and violent death of Jesus.  In a similar way, foster care and adoption does not come without its own weight of grief and pain.

All adoption originates in loss.  The loss of a birth family, for any reason, is a tremendous trauma to a child.  Just as we still live with the reality of sin in our daily lives, children who have been placed in loving homes still carry the reality of that painful loss.  While adoption is something that should be celebrated for the beauty that it is, it must also be balanced with awareness of the trauma that has deeply marked a child’s life.
Just as a child’s life has been altered when they enter a foster or adoptive home, the parents and other children in the home also experience significant changes as well.  It can sometimes be a challenge to parent a child who has come from a hard place.  Helping a child learn new skills to successfully adapt and mesh into a new family unit requires much patience, love, grace, and prayer.  Spiritual and practical support for all family members is important as they navigate a new life together.

The church has a unique opportunity to connect with these children and families.  As Christians, we understand what it means to leave our former lives behind and be adopted into God’s family.  We can clearly see the beautiful gift He has given us while also understanding the sometimes painful path of being conformed to His image in the process.
Foster care and adoption are unique paths that God calls some families to walk.  He makes it clear throughout Scripture that He cares deeply for the refugee, the poor, the widow, and the orphan.  As we walk humbly with Him, our hearts become more aligned with His will, and as we read His word, it is impossible to ignore how consistently He turns our focus to the marginalized.  It seems that He desires for each believer to also turn our hearts and ears to the hopeless.  While every Christian can turn his focus to the people around us, our faith and works may be displayed in different ways, all working for the glory of God.   Some may pray earnestly for these children and their families.  Some may advocate, seeking to find homes for those in need.  Others have the ability to support the adoption process and medical care for children financially.  Many can commit to encouraging and befriending a family.  All can learn to be sensitive to the needs of children who have come from hard places.  And others have the resources to open their homes and lay down their families for children in need.  Chances are, there will not be a loud voice from heaven directing our individual next steps, but we all have been given the opportunity to consider our own lives and prayerfully assess what work is ours to do.

– Mandy Gunter

“My spiritual adoption takeaway? While sitting in my own filth, God reached and lavished love on me.  He loved me from far away.  He chose me.  And through my acceptance of His Son, Jesus Christ, I am now legally His.  What I do with that gift of grace is my ‘Christianity.’”  – David Platt

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