Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Incredible Gift of Adoption: A Personal Reflection

I recently thought about the great power of adoption when reading a World magazine article (Bethany and I subscribe to World) from the most recent issue on the topic of huge, 14-child families. In reflecting on this piece, I am not attempting to tug your heartstrings, but to honestly share my personal thoughts on it.

Adoption is an incredible gift to parents who cannot have children. It is such a difficult thing when couples cannot conceive. It is heart-wrenching to watch couples go through years of trying, years of hoping, only to see their efforts produce a few miscarriages and a couple of broken hearts. When we observe this happening, we grieve with these people, and mourn with them in their mourning. But in God's kind grace, the story does not need to be closed for such people. God has made it possible that childless couples can indeed be parents. Though you and I take this for granted, stop and think about it for a moment. It hasn't always been this way. There hasn't always been an adoption agency in every state just waiting for couples to knock on their door. For many centuries of human history, couples who could not conceive could not have children, period. This was a source of great shame and heartbreak, both for men and for women. Men in these situations felt unmanly and unworthy and women felt ashamed and useless. These feelings were not deserved, but the reality is that they were felt for hundreds of years and thousands of couples. In our modern day, we live in a very different world, and parents who cannot conceive can nonetheless enjoy the blessings of children--and in some cases, can raise more children--and thereby bless more children--than can couples who can conceive. This is incredible, in a historical and theological sense.

Adoption also blesses children. Oh, how it blesses children. I speak as an adopted child, and I can tell you, if you are wrestling with whether or not to adopt, you should just know how much goodness adoption pours into a needy child's life. Think about it. Many children waiting to be adopted are in bad and often desperate situations. They face a long, difficult, and even tragic life. Many will bounce from home to home in foster situations and many will simply stay in the care of the government. My sister-in-law, Rachel, a girl with a wonderful heart and a vibrant faith, once told her family of her heartbreaking short-term missions work in Guatemala, where she worked with orphans. Even at an extremely young age, Rachel noted, the babies in the orphanage did not respond to touch or interest. Before they had learned to speak, they had learned to become numb to a cold and cruel world that did not want them. Though not all children waiting to be adopted are in quite such bad conditions, many are. Indeed, every unadopted child is a potential tragedy in the making. Think of your own life--what would it be like to have noone want you? What would it be like to meet with families and grow incredibly excited at the thought of being adopted, only to be told later that they had not chosen you? What kind of life is that? I do not believe that hell is on earth--no, not by a long shot. But the life of the unwanted, unadopted child comes very close to experiencing the deepest possible misery and sorrow of all the people who live on this earth.

I personally hope to become a father of children, children who are born naturally to my family. I thus can keenly understand what a childless couple who cannot conceive would be experiencing in seeing their efforts to conceive be frustrated time and again. As I said before, that would be heartbreaking, and a great test of faith, and a time for much comfort and encouragement from the body of Christ. At the same time, I want to strongly encourage couples who are in this position to consider adoption when the season of grieving has passed. In God's great grace, you can be parents! You can know the joys of parenting, and raise many children to know the Lord. Don't limit yourself. Adopt a small army of unwanted children. Trust in God's grace to help you through, remembering that families in the past raised far more children with far less than most of us have. Lift children--as many as possible--out of a desperate existence. If you doubt the power of such activity, the worthiness of it, the difficulty of such an investment, look into the eyes of an adopted child. You will see there the most profound reflection of thanksgiving and happiness that any earthly action can produce. This is true for me. To know the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior is my greatest joy in life, one that far outweighs any other. But the second is this--that though I was destined by birth to live a hard and even desperate life, the Lord moved my parents to adopt me, and give me an earthly gift that no other can approach.



Blogger Benjamin said...

Hey Owen,

You are certainly right in your appreciation for adoption. I had a similar experience to your sister-in-law when I went on a mission trip to Venezuela... the needs are just amazing.

I would also point out that it isn't just barren parents who can adopt. Samantha and I both desire to have both natural and adopted children. We feel it will be a blessing and a maturing experience for our natural children, and a blessing and a nurturing experience for our adopted children. And of course we must always realize that there is no better evangalization and discipleship opportunity in the world than having kids!

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Tyler W. said...

Insightful reflections with a personal stroke, Owen. Good stuff here.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Drew Dixon said...

James 1:27 "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

Great post Owen. Given what we say often say about abortion and the value of human life, we ought to be able to put our money where our mouth is and take care of the orphans through the means of adoption!

What would you say to the married Christian couple who said that there are so many orphans that even though they could have children biologically that they will instead adopt? Just curious. Thanks for this post Owen.

7:10 AM  

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