My understanding of adoption, and specifically the true spirit of adoption, has been an evolving process. At the last church group we spoke to, I printed handouts that members could slip into their Bibles with a call to action, specific things they could do to minister to orphans. Robert proofread what I had typed up and quickly corrected one of my points, "Honey, you can't say God has called everyone to adoption."
"Yes, I can. He does call us all to adoption."
"But you can't SAY that God is calling each of them to ADOPT."
"And why not?"
Frustrated, he said, "Well, you just CAN'T."
I understood what he was getting at, but quite frankly, I do believe that Christians should be ministering to orphans by bringing them into their families. There is no clearer picture of God's redemptive love than this earthly action. So why is adoption often considered "plan B" for many families? If we as Christians believe that adoption falls to those who cannot conceive otherwise, then we have missed the message of adoption.
Adoption was always God's Plan A. It wasn't an afterthought in the redemptive plan for mankind. And perhaps what is just as humbling is WHO God chose to adopt. God chose the unwanted, the poor, the lame, the lowest of creation to redeem as his sons and daughters. That would be us, chosen to be heirs to the great King. There was nothing we brought to the table. Nothing that made us appealing. God chose us because of His boundless goodness.
There is a waiting list for healthy newborns. Families line up to adopt these precious children. But what about the others? In advocating for older child adoption, I found myself discouraged by families who would consider adopting an infant, but didn't feel as though they were 'equipped' for anything else. Yes, healthy newborns need families too, but we've misunderstood the true spirit of adoption if we limit our role in God's calling in this way.
I was praying to God about this and voicing my frustration months ago, when I distinctly felt Him question me about MY understanding of adoption. Would I be willing to adopt ANY orphan God placed in my path? What about another older child? What about a child of another heritage? What about a child with a disability? If I truly believed the spirit of adoption does not discriminate, then I wouldn't hesitate to say, "yes". But I examined myself and found fear. Was I 'equipped' to handle a child with a disability? Was I one of those potential adopters who put stipulations on a child that would join my family?
And then God reminded me that adoption isn't about the adopter. It's about the orphan. It's not about filling a void in a family. It's about filling a void in a fatherless child. It's about providing a family - safety, security, and acceptance in a hostile world. And God did a strange thing. He opened my frightened heart to the possibility of adopting a child with a disability.
I decided to test Robert on this issue and see what he thought, "I'm going to ask you a question and I don't want you to answer me right away. I want you to really think about what I'm asking you. Okay?"
"Who would you be willing to adopt? Any child?"
I barely got the word 'child' out of my mouth when he replied, "Any child."
"No! I told you to really think about it. Don't give me a gut response. Really think about what I'm asking. Would you be willing to adopt a child with special needs?"
This time he thought for about 10 seconds before he replied, "Yeah. Any child. They need families too, right?"
What does this mean for us? Can we meet the needs of a disabled child? Do we have the strength and resources? Of course. All those things come from God. We have many adoptive friends who have walked this path and adopted children rejected by their mothers, their homelands, and potential families because they weren't healthy infants. Their stories are inspiring testimonies to the goodness of God. In them we see the true spirit of adoption. We see what God intended. We see Plan A.
Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?