If you’ve been tracking with my blog for long, you know that orphan care through foster care and adoption are near and dear to my heart. My family includes two adopted kids. We have felt from very early in our marriage that we were being prepared to adopt, and specifically to adopt across racial boundaries. Has this always been easy? No. What is our motivation? This is near and dear to the heart of God, so it must be near and dear to the hearts of His children and His Church. Here are a few verses that have informed our theology of adoption:
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8.14-16 NET, emphasis added)
23And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 24And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. (Revelation 21.23-26 NET, emphasis added)
16 Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.He has sent me to proclaim releaseto the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind,to set free those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to tell them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read.” (Luke 4.16-21 NET, emphasis in the original)
27 Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1.27 NET, emphasis added)
34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’ (Matthew 25.34-40 NET, emphasis added)
These passages have been formative for us in our marriage, and therefore we’ve stressed them to our kids. We constantly talk about the picture of all of us being adopted by God. We stress that there is no primacy of our biological kids over our adopted kids, or vice versa. We are a family. Our family takes this seriously. After adopting in September of 2009, we have continued to talk about this with our kids. We’ve been involved in post-adoption groups. We’ve supported others in their adoptions through using our financial resources. We’ve donated goods to organizations that support the poor in our own communities, and discussed plans for increasing our personal involvement as our kids get older. While we discuss this theoretically, we also pray regularly for the biological mom (and dad) whose kids are now ours. This isn’t always popular with people that we talk about this. In some sense, it makes no sense to have feelings of love and sympathy for this woman who in many ways messed up our kids lives. We still deal daily with the effects of the neglect from their first year(s) of life and whatever drugs that their mom might have been on while she was pregnant. At various times, our three oldest have all expressed interest in someday adopting themselves. They’ve seen the vision. Of course, they know it isn’t easy. They know that all too well from their side. However, they also realize what it means to go from where they were to being adopted. I learn from them constantly about what it means to be adopted into God’s family, and what a messy blessing that is!
A couple of years ago we had a surprise blessing of an unexpected pregnancy. All three of our older kids were stoked. They have loved having a new little brother. Recently, though, they have begun to ask when we can adopt again. They want to open up our home to another little boy or girl who needs to be set free (liberated!) from a dysfunctional family situation and encouraged to really develop and feel the favor of the God who created him or her in His own image. We are prayerfully considering how God may yet be moving in our lives to prepare us for what He has next. This much we know: our family is called to be involved in spreading His liberation. Yes, we as individuals have a call and a role to play in this, but God has not only called individuals. Jesus left His body, the Church, here to work together. In our families, and in the Family of God, we need to be working together as a community to care for the least of these in every way possible.
How is your family called to care for the least, especially the orphans?
This blog is part of a blog tour in the build up to the Wild Goose Festival, 26-29 June in Hot Springs, NC (near Asheville). Please feel free to check them out, as they look to be set to have a great discussion about Living Liberation this summer through 10 tracks ranging from religion to sexuality. This post is emphasizing the Living Liberation as Family track, though I could easily have focused a similar discussion on the Living Liberation in Community or Practices for Liberation tracks, as well as a couple of others.