In just a few days we will meet our son. Instead of driving to a hospital, we're flying to India. Instead of bringing home a newborn, we'll be bringing home a two-year-old. Unlike a nine-month pregnancy and physical delivery, we've been on a two-year journey of paperwork and payments with an emotional labor ahead. Adoption is not for the faint of heart.
Tragedy is built into every adoption story. Any child in need of an adoptive family is a child who has suffered an immeasurable loss: the loss of his or her birth family. Whether through death, abandonment, abuse, or poverty, the loss of a biological mom and dad is devastating. An orphan comes into a world of sorrow before he is able to comprehend what he lost.
But in the tragedy there is an invitation: Who will volunteer to make the orphan's grief their own? Who will step in to parent the parentless? And within our hearts we have found an unrelenting and determined answer: "Send us! We will go!"
"Why would you adopt when you have two healthy, beautiful girls?"
The question stung a little, but I knew my neighbor meant no harm. He simply couldn't fathom a reason why a young couple, like ourselves, would volunteer to care for orphans when they didn't have to. You might be asking the same question: Why step onto such a hard path if I don't have to? My answer to my neighbor is the same I give to you—because we ourselves are adopted.
Once spiritual orphans, dead in our trespasses and sins, held captive by the devil to do his will, God brought us into His family by way of adoption. He entered into our grief, and He made it His own. The price He paid for our entrance into His eternal family was higher than I can fathom—the very life of His Son, Jesus. And yet He welcomed us, not begrudgingly, but with joy. Such is our amazing story of salvation!
Being so moved by our own undeserved adoption into the family of God, we now have a burning within our hearts to imitate our heavenly Father and to see the world with one less orphan. Not everyone will adopt, but Christians, your story demands that you do something: pray, give, support others who are adopting, or provide respite care for foster parents. For this is pure and undefiled religion, says James, to visit orphans and widows in their affliction (James 1:27).
But for those of you who might have the smallest hint of desire to adopt, please let me make a case for why it's worth it.
Adoption Reminds Us of God's Love
He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (Eph. 1:4–6).
An earthly adoption is just a shadow of the adoptive heart of God and the love of God for His children. I have loved this little boy before having felt his skin, smelled his hair, or hugged him close. He has not done anything to garner my affection. I love him just because. Such is the love of God, who loved us before we knew He existed, who chose us before we had done anything at all for Him. In each moment of this journey, I receive fresh and vivid reminders of how deep God's love is. What a precious gift!
Adoption Advertises the Gospel
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
Becoming adoptive parents gives us more opportunities to share the hope we have. Adoption is a living advertisement for the gospel. To anyone who asks why, we get to respond with the good news that God has done this for us. He welcomed us into His family, though He was not obligated to do so. He has called us His own, though it cost Him a great deal. And to all who will respond to Him, the offer still stands!
Adoption Cultivates Dependency
"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
Traveling to the other side of the world to bring home a boy who is not mine biologically strips me of my confidence. Will he like me at first? Will I know what to feed him? Will I be a good parent? When he's grieved by the loss of his birth family in years to come, will I handle that with love and grace? Will I be able to grieve with him well? What if others say hurtful things that I cannot shield him from? Since the day we said “yes” to this little boy, I have been kept on my knees. This is one of the greatest gifts God gives me in parenthood: dependency on Him. He's the only One who can accomplish any good anyway.
Adoption Celebrates Other Cultures
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9–10).
The family God has grafted us into is not one homogenous group of people; it is multi-ethnic, multicultural, and multilingual. It's not the sameness of the people of God that is beautiful; it is the diversity. Adopting internationally gives us the opportunity to enjoy, celebrate, and learn a culture different from our own. Our son will certainly be a Needham and an American in citizenship, but he will always be Indian in ethnicity. And because of him, we have the opportunity to celebrate the beauty of Indian culture in our home as we raise an Indian son. What a joy to get a small taste of the multicultural kingdom of God!
Adoption Takes a Village
And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need (Acts 2:45).
As you may know, international adoption is quite expensive. We did not decide to adopt from India because we had the money. We decided to adopt because we believed God was calling us to do so. And as each bill came through, as each round of paperwork needed to be done, our brothers and sister in Christ were there to fill in the gaps. Some watched our daughters for me so that I could do paperwork; some gave thousands of dollars to cover fees that we could not. Many have believed with us, cried with us, and rejoiced with us. In our journey to adopt, we have seen the Body of Christ, the Church, come to life before our eyes! The riches we have found in the community around us have been immeasurable. Our son isn't just coming home to a family but to a community who loves him.
Don't believe all the horror stories; adoption is a privilege and a joy. Resist the urge to stay safe within a cocoon to escape heartache. We follow a King who volunteered to take our grief, who volunteered to take our death. May we follow in His footsteps with courage and joy.