Correcting Wrong Thinking about Adoption

Earlier we put up a post about a letter we had received from someone who was not very supportive of our adoption. You can read the post here. I recommend you read it for background before reading this post, as everything will make a lot more sense.

Basically, the gist is this. We sent out letters to close friends and family letting them know how they could be a part of our adoption if God so led them to. We received back a negative anonymous letter accusing us of being financially irresponsible and out of line with God’s thinking on adoption. A simple nonresponse or a letter explaining why they were not able to help would have been just fine; we would gladly welcome either of those responses. But a letter attacking our motives and thinking about adoption needs to be addressed, especially when the reasons are incorrectly used under the guise of God’s thinking about adoption. Most of all we hoped that by responding in two blog posts, we could be an encouragement to those who will undergo similar issues in their adoptions, and that we could be a force for correcting unbiblical thinking about adoption. Neither of these posts is a direct response to whoever wrote the anonymous letter. We strongly suspect that they are not following our adoption and will never read our blog.

Below is a sentence-by-sentence response to their assertions.

Zane & Emmie –
I will have to say I was quite surprised to receive your request. Indeed we are called to care for orphans. We are also called to be good stewards of our money. That means living within the confines of what we make.

I totally agree that we are called to be good stewards of our money, and part of that is living within the confines of what we make. Good stewardship of all our resources, not just financial, is a clear principle taught in Matthew 25, among other passages. But look at the second sentence above. The clear implication here is that God does not direct his people to do things that they do not have the immediate financial resources to accomplish. Is this idea Scriptural? Let’s look at a couple of examples.

• Mark 6:30-44: This is one account of Jesus feeding the multitudes. After ministering to the crowds, Jesus realized they needed to eat. He directed the disciples to get food for the crowd. Look how the disciples respond. “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” They responded with sarcasm. It is important to notice the seeming impossibility of what Jesus has asked them to do here. A denarius was a day’s wage. Jesus has asked them to spend the equivalent of roughly 7.5 months of labor in food—money the disciples certainly did not have. On top of that, even if they did have the money, it is unlikely that they would have found anywhere to buy 200 denarii worth of bread. Who would have had that much bread on hand, much less that late in the day? In this passage, Jesus directs the disciples to something they did not have the financial means to do. Then he provided the means to do it through the contribution of a small boy and through his own miraculous power.

• God directed Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and numerous other New Testament leaders to be missionaries in the nations around them. How were they supposed to accomplish this? Well, many of them did have trades on the side (Paul was a tentmaker), but God also called his people to give generously to support their ministries. Paul and the rest could never have accomplished the things they did without the aid of others.

These are not the only examples. It is readily apparent that God often directs his people to do things that they do not have the immediate financial resources to achieve. God provides miraculously, and often through the generosity of other believers. We see this all the time today in the church. Most denominations still require their missionaries to raise support so that they can go out and serve God. People rightly give to these causes. Why is it that when someone who is not independently wealthy decides to follow God’s direction in becoming a missionary, everyone sees this as biblical, but anytime a family without the $30,000 needed to adopt decides to follow God’s direction, people decry this as fiscally irresponsible? There is absolutely no biblical basis for this distinction. It simply does not exist. The command to care for orphans is no less important than the Great Commission. In fact, they are no different at all. Adopting is part of the Great Commission. It is perhaps the truest visual representation we have of the gospel today. Adopting a child represents God rescuing spiritual orphans from their sins.

Finally, there is one other dangerous implication here. If only people who can afford the large upfront costs to adopt should adopt, what should we do with all the orphans? There are over 153 million orphans worldwide and not that many people who are capable of and willing to pay the amount of money required to adopt them. Any worldview that says, “too bad, just stay in an orphanage” to these orphans is not an acceptable one.

God calls us to follow his plans and also to be good stewards. Just because someone follows God’s plans, does not mean they are not being good stewards.

Having to solicit for an adoption is living outside your budget.

Most (actually all) families that I know that have raised money to complete an adoption live far more within their means than the people around them. Think about it. Almost nobody raises 100% of the funds needed. We all contribute much of our hard earned money to the cause, even if what we contribute does not come close to the $30,000 needed. How is this accomplished? By cutting corners. Families that have raised money to adopt clip coupons, skip going to the movies, and rarely go out to eat. These families do everything they can to scrape the money together to bring the child home. This is the very definition of living within a budget. Only illogical reasoning can lead someone to the opposite conclusion.

If you cannot afford this child, wait because you will not be able to afford it once it’s here.

This is unfortunately a very common notion, and one that is also very wrong. Most adoptions cost somewhere north of $30,000. Let’s set adoption to the side for a moment and just think about having biological children. If you have health insurance, a birth probably costs not much more than $2,000, sometimes less, and certainly nowhere close to $30,000. Even if you don’t have health insurance, it will not cost $30,000. But what if it did? How many families would be able to afford a one-time lump sum payment of $30,000 for the privilege of having their child? Not many. Of these families that would not have been able to afford the $30,000, how many were able to afford the care of their child after he was born? Almost all of them. Being able to afford the monthly expenditures associated with raising a child and preparing for the future is not even close to the same thing as having $30,000 in a savings account. I know we’ve never had $30,000 in our account, and I also know God has graciously provided enough cash flow to take care of our family, and even for it to grow. Most families would never even consider adopting unless they had the cash flow to actually care for the child. We, like many others, specifically waited until we were at that point before starting the process.

Or adopt from our own country where adoption might be affordable.

This is also unfortunately another common notion. Adopting from the United States is not significantly cheaper than adopting overseas, unless you adopt going through your state’s foster program. This is not an option for most Christians with biological children, because DCS can come into your home and tell you how to raise your children during a long, difficult process. They can even take away your biological child if a foster child files a complaint. They force you to either discipline the adopted child in a separate way (which further alienates him), or to lower your disciplinary standards of all your children to their level. For people who want to avoid these issues, adoption is unfortunately an extremely expensive thing, whether or not it is international.

Post-blog edit: It has been brought to our attention that this section could be construed as us saying foster care should not be an option for Christians. Additionally, each state’s foster care system is unique. It was not our intention to say this, and we should have worded this section more carefully. For reasons that are unique to our situation, foster care where we live is not an option for our family. It would either require different parenting styles for our biological kids and our adopted one, or it would require us to change the way we parent our biological children to methods we are not comfortable with. If we had no biological children, or if our children were in their teenage years, the situation would be different. But at this season in life, it is not an option for our family. Christians can and should adopt through the foster care system, if the realities of their family situation make it a good fit.

Your request is totally unrealistic in my book & I’m sure in other’s [sic] view also.

They are right. My request is totally unrealistic in their book, and many other people feel the same way. That’s the main reason we have decided to write this post. The request should not be viewed as unrealistic to anyone who loves God and strives to live a gospel-centered life.

If I give money it will be to my child – not yours.

Snarky tone aside, the letter never demanded (or even expected) the contribution to money. The only thing we asked for with any expectation, which is the same for any adoption letter I have read, is that they would pray for us. I suppose they were not willing to do this. I hope that anyone who gets a similar letter from someone in the future will at least consider offering the prayer. The request for prayer is not a throw in—it is a vitally important need for what adoptive parents are undertaking.

Best of luck & God’s blessings. Please re-evaluate your finances & thinking. Align them with God’s.

This, to us, was the saddest part of the whole letter. Whoever wrote us this letter genuinely believes that in striving to carry out the gospel through adoption, our thinking is not aligned with God’s. How can someone who claims to be a Christian have such a flawed understanding of the gospel? To look at something that is clearly gospel-driven, and to say, “It is not of God.” It truly breaks our hearts. I hope we can all be a part of correcting unbiblical thinking about adoption in whatever part of the church we belong to.

Once again, we want to reiterate that these two posts were in no way done to solicit pity or any sympathy. God has blessed us beyond words. He will continue to bless our adoption. He will provide all the resources necessary to complete our adoption, and when the time comes, we have a firm hope in Christ that just as we have chosen and adopted our future child, God will choose and adopt him or her as his own.

John 14:18: I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

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