What you communicate about adoption matters. Here are six things to keep in mind when teaching about adoption in your church.
By Kasi Pruitt
The call to care for vulnerable children and families through adoption is one the church has been aware of since its beginning. Scripture talks about caring for the orphan, widow, and “least of these” throughout both the Old and New Testaments. But how should the church view adoption? How should we teach about it?
It’s important we understand the “why” behind our care in communicating about adoption. For one, we want to make sure we’re communicating Scripture accurately. But also, we want to make sure we’re communicating in a way that has in mind everyone involved in adoption. Adoption impacts more than just the child being adopted. It involves biological parents, adoptive parents, biological siblings, adoptive siblings, grandparents, friends, and endless other relationships.
So, what we communicate matters. Here are six things to keep in mind when teaching about adoption in your church.
1. Adoption only exists because of the fall
In creation, what God created was good. There was unity between husband, wife, and God. When sin entered the world, those relationships were no longer perfect (Genesis 3:13-19). And sin has been passed down from generation to generation since. In a perfect world, families would stay together. Moms and dads would be able to raise their children. So, when communicating about adoption, we need to remember that if things were good and right, children would be able to stay in their families.“When communicating about adoption, we need to remember that if things were good and right, children would be able to stay in their families.” — Kasi Pruitt Click To Tweet
2. Adoptive parents are not saviors
Many times, when it comes to adoption, adoptive parents are put in the place of saviors. The problem with this is Jesus is the one and only Savior (1 John 4:14). When we place adoptive parents in a place of savior, we place them in a place only Jesus can fulfill. Yes, they’re walking in obedience to the call of adoption, but they cannot be their child’s “rescuer.” Jesus alone can meet all of their child’s needs.
3. Biological parents are not the enemy
As believers in Jesus, we believe all people are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). If we believe that, we should also believe biological parents are made in God’s image. Regardless of choices or background, God deeply loves them, which means we should too. We should be careful how we talk about biological families and not paint a picture of good vs. evil. We should encourage them, pray for them, and support them. Also, when “open adoption” is an option, we should support that 100%. When it’s possible, having connections with the biological family is incredibly healthy for adoptees.“When we place adoptive parents in a place of savior, we place them in a place only Jesus can fulfill.” — Kasi Pruitt Click To Tweet
4. Adoption can be beautiful
While it’s true that in a perfect world children would stay with their families, it’s also true that adoption can be beautiful. God can bring beauty out of hard situations. What Satan sees as an opportunity for evil, God can use for good (Genesis 50:20). God is in the business of turning “hard” into joy. It’s also important to remember this is not the story of all adoptees. Some have experienced little joy or beauty as a result of their adoption. Beauty is not always part of adoption, but it should be our prayer.
5. Adoption will always be both/and
When it comes to adoption, there’s a tendency to make it either all horrible or all amazing. But we will always live in the both/and. It’s both beauty and brokenness, both loss and joy, both traumatic and redemptive, and so on. But we see in Scripture that Christ is present in all kinds of situations and feelings (Philippians 4:11-13). To only focus on one, discounts the other. We do not have to pick. We can live in both. We can hold both. We can let people who have been adopted have both.
6. Adoption is a call on the church, not just individuals
While not everyone in the church will bring children into their homes through adoption, absolutely everyone can be a part of it in some way. When we see verses in Scripture that talk about the fatherless, they’re a call to everyone to do their part—not just to certain people (Psalm 82:3). This will look different for everyone. It can look like bringing children into your home, supporting a mom deciding to parent, mentoring someone, mowing a yard, taking a meal, buying diapers, etc. The ways to serve are endless. What are your gifts and passions? Whatever they are, use them to serve and support vulnerable kids and families.“We serve vulnerable children and families out of the overflow of the incredible love God first shows us.” — Kasi Pruitt Click To Tweet
According to a 2013 Barna Research report, 5% of practicing Christians have adopted. Compare this to the 2% of all U.S. households that have adopted. I have seen some use this stat to point out that the church is adopting more than double the “norm.” While this may be true, I think we need to look at it a little differently. If 5% of Christians are involved in adoption, 95% of the people in the church are not.
Instead of comparing ourselves to the “norm,” we should take to heart the call to serve fatherless and vulnerable children. It’s imperative that we challenge the people in our churches to live beyond themselves.
The apostle John writes, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19, CSB). This sums it all up perfectly. Because God loves us so dearly, we in turn, show that great love to others. We serve vulnerable children and families out of the overflow of the incredible love God first shows us.
For permission to republish this article, please email Marissa Postell Sullivan.
Follower of Jesus, wife, momma to six children (four of who are adopted—one from Uganda, one from Liberia, and two from Texas). Speaker, writer, and adoption and foster care advocate. Kasi and her family reside in Rockwall, TX