I read an article about a group of missionaries in a particular country. They intended to start an orphanage to adopt orphans from that country into Christian, American families. What they found in this country was corruption. The orphan “business” was big business and women were being coerced, bribed, and fooled into putting their children up for adoption. Children were literally being taken and sold then adopted by the American families who didn’t know their true history.
These missionaries decided to be an answer, not a part of the problem. Instead of taking children from their parents, they began to assist the mothers who were in the most desperate of situations. Young girls, rape victims, the poorest of the poor, & the most broken, hurting women who planned to place their child for adoption came to their program. The missionaries helped them. They supported the mothers, assisted them, trained them, and provided for them. When the article was written, only one child had been placed for adoption in their program. Only one. One parent chose to place their child. Only one.
What is better for the child? To be taken from their mother, or even to be selflessly given up by their mother, to be put with (wealthy) American, Christians? Maybe some would see it that way, but I don’t. Not at all. I believe supporting a family that loves and wants a child is a given in our Christian duty. Adopting those without a family is our calling. James 1:27 says, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress. We all should be looking after orphans and widows. Unquestionably. In 1 Timothy 5, God gives clearer instructions on how to do that. Read this, then read it again:
3 The church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. 4 But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much. 5 But a woman who is a true widow, one who is truly alone in this world, has placed her hope in God. Night and day she asks God for help and spends much time in prayer. 8 But those who won’t care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same household, have denied the faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.
But these further instructions are only about widows, “true widows”– not orphans. Is there such a thing as a true orphan or are some not-truly orphans?
I believe any child who has no parents to care for them fit the description of a true orphan. Children whose parents can’t care for them for health, financial, situational (imprisonment,etc), or other circumstances and children whose parents don’t want to care for them also fit this bill, but often only temporarily. We as Christians should care for them.
But what about the child whose parents want them desperately, but haven’t been able to provide for them? Should we take their children just because we can provide better? Maybe we can even parent better…should I take their child? I don’t believe so. I want to be a part of the answer, just as those missionaries were. I want to be one who helps, supports, loves, provides, and does whatever I can do so a parent can raise their child in a loving, safe home.
I’m not talking about abused kids, that’s a different post. My point is not about children in international orphanages whose parents have abandoned them for whatever reason, although at some point we need to wonder what would happen if Christians took the price we’d pay for international adoption and instead gave it to the parents in the form of a grant for their child’s provision. That’s not my point for this rant though. I’m not even talking about the moms or dads who selflessly give up a child so that it can have a better life in an adoptive family that God prepared for that child before time began. I speak blessings upon blessings on those parents and upon all adoptive families.
I’m talking about what we as Christians should do–who we should be and how we should think–when we see a child in a desperate situation. Is this child an orphan? Is this child a victim of abuse? Is this child wanted desperately by a parent who has no idea how to parent or how to provide? Is that parent in over their heads in the problems of this world and can’t see a way out? My suggestion is this — Care for the child in the time of their distress and assist the parents in parenting.
We shouldn’t take kids from parents who would be great parents if poverty, homelessness, or other issues, even mental illness, were eradicated from their lives. We should bring the answer. That answer is Jesus. Pure and holy, only Jesus. He is the answer and His heart is for them, not against them. We need to bring spiritual help, salvation, discipleship, healing, counseling…followed by practical, logical, logistical assistance, training, employment, and encouragement.
Jesus saw the worst forms of poverty. His goal was wholeness, healing, provision, and salvation. Restoration. Reunification. Redemption. Big words that are counter cultural today. Because you see, it’s trendy to adopt. It makes you a hero…a rescuer. You saved the day and the life of a child. MANY TIMES IT’S TRUE–adoptive parents did just that. I have no criticism for adoptive parents, I applaud you and I know it is SO hard and SO wonderful. But sometimes, in my opinion, it’s wrong to adopt. Instead, sometimes, we should assist the parents to raise their own children or the grandparents or the aunts or the uncles, or even the third cousins.
I don’t have the answers to the programs parents need to come alongside of them. I don’t know what that looks like or how to do that. I don’t know who pays for that or how we as Christians walk that out in real life, but that’s where my heart is today. Will I keep a child who has a family member willing and able to raise it? No, I won’t. I won’t fight that legal battle. But, I will fight that spiritual battle on behalf of the child and the parent. I will hit my knees in prayer for protection, provision, and peace in that family. That is how I will fight for her–on my knees!!
Think hard on this thought: What if this verse is true for “orphans” as well as widows: “But those who won’t care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same household, have denied the faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers” (1 Timothy 5:8)– who are we to deny desperate parents who want to care for their children the right to provide for and parent their child? I won’t be a part of it.
(This was originally published on 12/17/2014 while we were fighting for family reunification of our foster daughter with her bio-family instead of fighting to adopt her as some thought we should.) My opinion. Strongly written today in the midst of the fight and criticized from the cheap seats for not adopting her. We are hurting desperately as we literally walk through this. Every one of us has her best interest in mind. Keep your opinions to yourself if you don’t agree. Take it to God. Pray for all involved.