Pastor Brad Werner -A new adoptive father shares
Father Is The Christian Name For God
Central Presbyterian Church
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.And by him we cry, "Abba,Father." 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (NIV)
What does it mean to be taken into God's family by adoption? How does our adoption by God change how we think about our status in this world? How does being adopted impact how we relate to God? How much do we matter to Him? Having been adopted, how secure are we?
Maybe an illustration from real life will help. There is a friend of mine named Joe, who, when he and his wife adopted their first child they sat before a judge who said words to them that they will never forget. These words went straight to their hearts because they showed the power of adoption. According to Joe, this is what the judge said:
"From this day forth…
This child is yours as if you birthed her.
All rights and privileges of your name are now hers.
No one can ever take her from you."
(1) This child is yours as if you birthed her. (That means new life)
(2) All rights and privileges of your name are now hers. (That means a new family)
(3) No one can ever take her from you." (That means a new future)
In other words she had been given…
A change in status through being given new life
A change in significance through being given a new family
and a change in security through being given a new future.
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And that's exactly what this passage is talking about…
(1) A change in status through being given new life
15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship (adoption).
The word (sonship/adoption) refers to the Greek and Roman, legal institution which, in the same way as in our time, a couple can "adopt" a child and give that child the same status as a natural child. The Spirit of adoption would also mean the Spirit who brings about adoption, the Spirit who enables us to believe in Christ. When this happens we are God's because He gave us Spiritual birth. We belong to Him and because of this we are no longer bound to a life of fear. We are no longer terrorized by judgment, guilt, disease, death or the future because of our status as children who have been given life by the Spirit of God. We bring absolutely nothing to God to earn this status. We simply receive. We are totally dependent. We come to Him, spiritually speaking, absolutely naked and afraid and God adopts us and gives us the very best He has. He robes us with the righteousness of Christ.
Inna came naked:
This whole idea of adoption came upon Lil and me as quite a surprise. There is an organization that brings about 20 children from Russia to St. Louis each year from ages 9-12 in the hope that they will be adopted. They stay with host families while they're here. My sister Marian got involved in this organization and Lil and I ended up going to one of the picnics. The picnics on the weekends are provided so that other potential adoptive families can spend time with the children. The next day we got a call from a woman we had met at the picnic. She said there was a little girl who had spent time with several families but still no one wanted to adopt her. She said her name is Inna and every time she prays for her we come to her mind. And if we want to spend time with her it would have to be tonight or tomorrow night because the children all go back to Russia at 3 in the morning on Tuesday. An hour and a half later Inna was at our home and over the next 24 hours we fell in love with her. Let's fast-forward 4 months. When we prepared to go to Russia in late December we not only packed our clothes but, as you can imagine, we packed some clothes for Inna too. We packed new clothes, the best we had for her. We thought she would enjoy having some new clothes to wear. But that's not the only reason we brought her clothes. We had been told to bring her something to wear because she would come to us without a stitch of clothing - absolutely naked. Stripped of everything including underwear. Inna had nothing to offer us. She is absolutely dependent on us. We, as her new parents, had the privilege and responsibility of giving her new clothes, the clothes of a precious daughter who has been given a new life.
Which spirit dominates your life - a spirit that rules your life by fear or the spirit of a trusting child? How do you find yourself relating to God these days - a power to be feared, a tyrant you have to keep at bay by your slavish keeping of rules?
Some of the biggest fears people have in our culture have to do with status. Status in terms of upbringing - (Where did you go to High School?). Or status in terms of where you live, what you drive, or where your children go to school. Or status in terms of titles: chairman, president, and vice-president. It doesn't really matter whether these titles are in the context of a large corporation with thousands of employees or the local PTA - they can dominate our lives. What does God say is the solution to our fear that someone has gotten ahead of us? Simply rest in your wonderful God-given status of an adopted child who has been given new life?
Our adoption by God not only gives us a change in status but also…
(2) A change in significance through being given a new family
And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
Believers are transformed from slaves to sons and daughters of God through the redeeming sacrifice of Christ. The Holy Spirit not only makes us God's children He makes us aware we are God's children. He gives us our significance as adopted sons and daughters and then He confirms it.
In using the verb "cry", Paul stresses that our awareness of God as Father comes from deep within us. Paul isn't saying that you must have an emotional experience to be aware of your adoption. But he is saying that if this truth never affects you emotionally there may be something wrong. The witness of the Holy Spirit about our adoption as children affects the deepest and innermost part of our beings. It is because of this we cry out to God.
What do we cry? We cry "Abba". This word has its root in an Aramaic form used by small children. When this word passed into usage among Greek-speaking churches it was amplified by the addition of the word Father by the Roman Christians. This prayer is not concerned with outward appearance or patterns. Most of you don't demand that your children make an appointment to see you. God doesn't do that with us either. This term Abba was the term Jesus himself used in speaking to His Father. It's amazing that our significance before the Father is comparable to that of Jesus himself. In "adopting" us, God has made us full members of the family and given us all the privileges belonging to Jesus Himself. This is not a gift we can give to ourselves. This significance must be given to us from beyond ourselves-from God. The Spirit not only gives us our significance as adopted sons and daughters, He confirms it, ratifies it, secures it and seals it so that we may cry Abba Father. We know who God is and we know who we are: Father and children.
Inna saying "Papa"!:
We had done all the paperwork, social worker home visits, sent several letters and even a basket of fruit to Inna. They won't let you tell the children you plan to adopt them so all we could write to Inna was that we want to come visit her in Russia. It was so hard not to tell her. We wanted her to know how we felt. We also really wondered how she felt. Did she want to be adopted by us? Did she like us as much as she liked her host family? Would she remember us? Did she want to take our name? The last leg of the trip was a 4 and a half hour drive from St. Petersburg to Pskov. This gave me a lot of time to really think about these questions and how crushing it would be if she rejected us. By the time we got to the orphanage it was very dark. I got out of the van to stretch and all my questions just melted away as I heard Inna yell "Papa" and run into my arms.
We had come to get her. We had followed through on our promise. We had been true to our word. If we can do this in a frail, human way think about the implications for our relationship with God. It is only because God has made promises and then followed through by coming to get us that we can call him affectionately, "Papa". Which is a good English rendering of Abba Father.
Our adoption by God not only gives us a new status and significance but also…
(3) A change in security through being given a new future
(A) Now if we are children, then we are heirs-
heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,
God cannot die so we are not his heirs in that sense. Our adoption and our inheritance rest on our relationship to God, on His having claimed us for His own. More particularly, we are heirs of God only by giving our lives to the One who is the heir of all God's promises. We are fellow heirs with Christ because the glory, which we are to inherit by grace, is the glory, which is his by right. The phrase co-heirs with Christ speaks of the certainty of our hope. Jesus Christ has already entered into his inheritance but we must still wait. The fact that He is already there is the guarantee that we too, who are His joint-heirs will not be disappointed.
Inna not wanting to wear her orphanage clothes:
I just told you that the orphanage made Inna leave all of her clothing at the orphanage when we came to pick her up. That's not entirely true. On the evening before the court date we got to visit the orphanage and have dinner with Inna and the Director. It was a wonderful meal and Lil and I were happy beyond words to finally be in the presence of our daughter. After dinner Inna tried on the clothes we had brought her. One of these items was a pair of snow boots we had brought her. A pair of snow boots that ended up being too small for her. Thankfully the orphanage allowed us to donate these boots so that Inna could keep the ones she had been wearing, and to Lil and me, these boots seemed just fine. So, after our time in court the next day, Inna was delivered to us wearing these boots. I thought: "Great!" "Now I won't have to buy another pair of boots." Boy, was I wrong. She wore those boots back to the hotel that day but that was it. Inna has not once put those boots on again. They are nice boots and they fit perfectly but she won't wear them. Of course, once I thought about it, it became perfectly clear. Those are the boots of an orphan. From now on she will only wear the shoes of a daughter - the shoes of an heir.
Inna's inheritance will more than likely not be much on a pastor's salary. Your inheritance is every spiritual blessing in Christ - the very glory of Christ. Once God adopts you don't ever put those orphan clothes back on again.
(B) if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Suffering is indispensable to glory. It is not merely that the glory is a reward for the suffering; it actually grows out of the suffering. The fact that we are now suffering with him does not call into question the reality of our adoption but proves it. It's a guarantee of our being glorified with him throughout eternity. This is the suffering, which is inseparable from faithfulness to Christ in a world, which does not yet know Him as Lord.
As a co-heir with Christ you will share in his sufferings. In what ways have you shared or are you sharing in the sufferings of Christ? Have you been asked to compromise at work? Have you been rejected by friends or even a spouse because of your stand for Christ. Remember, the fact that we are now suffering with him does not call into question the reality of our adoption but proves it.
It is understood in our society that adoption is meant to better the life of a child. It is meant to provide a new life, a new family and a new future - status, significance, and security. The Christmas story teaches us that Joseph married Mary after Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And just like any other adoption, everything changed for Jesus - His status, significance and security changed. But instead of getting better, Jesus life changed for the worse.
In terms of status, Jesus left the good life and laid aside His glory. He gave up His kingly authority and constant worship to become a human child of suspect birth. In terms of significance and family Jesus left His loving, intimate relationship with the Father in heaven to become, in the world's eyes, an absolute nobody. He gave up the security of heaven for a future of rejection, betrayal and death. He gave up power, glory and comfort for weakness, suffering and death. He died naked and exposed. And as He died He cried out to His Father. But He didn't cry out Abba Father this time. He cried out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" The Father had turned away from the Son because the holy and perfect Jesus had become sin. God cannot be in the presence of sin. So for a moment in time the perfect Father turned away from the unique Son of God. God disowned His Son.
Why did this have to happen? Why did the most loving Father disown the perfect Son? Jesus cried out My God so that you and I would be able to cry out Abba Father. Jesus took on human flesh so that you and I would be able to take on glory. Jesus died so that you and I could live. Jesus suffered so that our suffering would have meaning. Jesus was willing to become sin and be disowned so that you and I will never be disowned by God. The unique Son of God made sure that none of His adopted brothers and sisters will ever be let go. Jesus gave up status, significance and security, life, family and glory in exchange for your sin and my sin. He gave it all up, so we could have it all.
The Awesome Legacy of the Orphan
Perhaps when all is said and done, beneath the anger of many adoptees is the primal fear being forgotten. Forgotten by the one who gave them birth. Forgotten by the biological father whose name they may not even know. Forgotten by the blood relatives whose lives went on without them. But most of all, forgotten by God.
As I became aware of this issue personally and shared it with fellow adoptees in our support group, eyes welled. Searching for wisdom, I learned that far from being forgotten, the orphan is the object of God's special care and protection.
He does what is necessary to preserve the orphan's life (Jer. 49:11)
He gladdens the orphans' heart with the bounty of Providence (Dt. 24: 19
farmers were to only glean fields once & leave the rest for the orphans)
He feeds them from the "sacred portion" (Deut. 24: 19-21)
He defends the cause of the fatherless, giving food & clothing (Dt. 10: 18; Is. 1:17)
He hears even the faintest of cries from the orphan (Ex. 22: 22-24)
He becomes a Father to them (Psalm 68: 5)
He rescues when the orphan cries for help (Job 29: 12)
He considers helping orphans as an unblemished act of worship (Jas. 1: 27)
He provides what the orphan is searching for - love, pity, and mercy (Hosea 14: 3)
He blesses those who provide for the orphan (Dt. 14: 29)
He has a unique plan for the orphan in history (Esther 2: 15)
He strongly warns judges who issue unrighteous decrees & the magistrates who cause oppressive
decisions against the orphan (Is. 10: 2; Mal. 3: 5)
He is pleased when nations and people treat the orphan justly
He will draw nigh and be a swift witness against oppressors of the fatherless (Is. 10: 2)
He commands others not to remove "the ancient boundary stone" (could this be their biological history?)
or encroach on the fields of the fatherless (Pvb. 23: 10)
While studying the subject of feeling forgotten, I saw a poster-sized reproduction of a U.S. commemorative stamp. Two words grabbed my attention -"NEVER FORGOTTEN." The poster illustrated an army dog tag on a chain, inscribed with the words MIA & POW - NEVER FORGOTTEN. "That's what I, and possibly many others adoptees, need," I zealously concluded. "A tangible reminder that we will never be forgotten!" Then, fantasizing as only an adoptee can, I envisioned commissioning a talented jeweler to design a golden dog tag (diamond-studded, of course), inscribed with the words ADOPTEE - NEVER FORGOTTEN! It could be worn daily as a reminder. A symbol.
Why, we could even make it available through our organization! (smile) However, the purest of gold, the brightest of diamonds, and the boldest of letters will not erase an adoptee's primal feelings of being forgotten. Not that the feelings necessarily dominate or paralyze. Rather, they lay dormant, triggered into consciousness only by specific present-day events. An unanswered letter. A geographical move. The death of adoptive parents. The guard condescends, "Little girl, you don't know what you're asking. This is the chariot of the king!" With Shirley Temple boldness, she replies, "Sir, he may be your king, but he's my daddy." Within seconds, the chariot came to a stop and the little girl was ushered inside. With gleefulness, she climbed straight into the lap of her daddy, where she snuggled safe and secure within his strong arms.
This web site is a must visit. It contains materials for bible studies for adoptees. The only such material I know of. Thank you Sherry for permission to share this and for your work.
VOLUNTARY, REDEMPTIVE, SUFFERING
The whole Life Adoption book , Jayne E. Schooler
Wrapping one's heartstrings around someone else's child is a voluntary choice. Each year, hundreds upon hundreds of adoptive parents around the world voluntarily stand before a judge to make a promise to a stranger's child: "We will be your family forever, by our choice to do so."
Adoption is not only voluntary: it is also redemptive. "Redeem" means to release, to make up for, to restore. An adoptive family's guiding light is the vision to restore to an abused, neglected or abandoned child the dignity of life that was ripped from him. It is a dignity that child was born to enjoy.
In addition to being voluntary and redemptive, adoption involves suffering.
To extend your energies around the clock with no guarantee of a night's rest to care for a seriously ill child- that is suffering.
Perhaps to be told, when your child has a bout with anger, "You're not my real mom or dad," and to continue to give love, in spite of that rejection - that is suffering.
An older child may act out their past hurts. To see a child recoil from affection because of years of abuse, and to know that you would gladly carry the pain for them but can't - that is suffering.
Why do people adopt? Because they live their lives by these spiritual principles.
This holds true for foster parents as well.
To answer the second question - "What makes a child adoptable?" - We gain focus from the higher principle - that is "The value of life itself".
In an age that values life only if it is productive, and its presence convenient, there are still families who see beyond the ugly consequences of server abuse, beyond the fears of debilitating handicaps, beyond the barriers of age. They look beyond all these things and see a child.
They see a life that by virtue of its very existence has worth, value, and promise.
They see a child in need of adoption.
Yes, families still volunteer to take the risks inherent in restoring dignity to a child. In the process, they willingly suffer disappointment and pain. Yet they still choose to adopt because of their strong belief in the value of life. As they reach out to the abused, neglected, and dejected, these families are piloted by the Giver of Life Himself.
It's interesting, this sounds just like what Christ did for us?
As God's adopted children, let's celebrate the opportunities we have to follow His example.
The whole Life Adoption book , Jayne E. Schooler
What Does God Think About Adoption
From American World Adoption Association By Brian Luwis
Romans 8:15 - For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Through years of being involved with adoption in people's lives I have learned that adoption and orphans are high on God's list of priorities. His very plan of redemption for mankind is built upon his adopting us into his family through Jesus Christ his son.
On the other hand, have you ever considered the simple fact that Jesus is an adopted child? Yes, his earthly father Joseph adopted him. Even though one might pass over this truth as insignificant, I believe it shows us the importance of adoption to God. In fact the gospel of Matthew traces the bloodline of Jesus not through his biological mother, Mary, but through his adoptive father, Joseph. I believe this is also significant for it shows us that God does not view biological children as more desirable than adopted children… for His own son is adopted.
God not only lived his earthly life as an adopted child, He ever lives to intercede for mankind, and to adopt and redeem us into his life and his family. Adoption is definitely high on God's list.
Is God Punishing Me Through Infertility?
In the beginning, God commanded that Man be fruitful and multiply. For the average couple, obeying this command is many times just a matter of deciding when. Not so with the couple that is dealing with infertility.
Many infertile couples in America experience failure upon failure, month after month. In many cases these failures keep coming with no reasons being given by new technology or medical procedures.
They are faced with many hard questions such as "How far should we go with modern medicine?" "How many times should we try?" They may begin to think that God does not want them to have children.
The couple may think that God, the sovereign Lord, has closed their womb to punish them. Feelings of inferiority and depression can turn the dream of childbirth into a nightmare. Just attending the baby shower of a friend can become emotionally overwhelming for the infertile woman. Yet it need not be that way.
For Renée and me, release came with new realizations and changes in our basic beliefs. I do not believe that biological children are a right as I once thought but rather that children are God's miracle to give.
Because God has designed a husband and wife with bodies to produce and nurture a child, it is only natural for a man and woman to think that something is wrong in their lives if they can't conceive. Unless God specifically promises a child, as he did to Abraham and Sarah, I would rest in God's word and especially this verse:
Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Remember, God is not punishing you by preventing conception. He has other ways to fulfill the desires that He puts in our hearts.
Please read "In His Time" for a compelling account of how God miraculously moved in an infertile couple to allow their desire for children to be fulfilled through adoption.
Is Adoption God's Plan B?
Because we believed adoption was God's plan B, my wife and I struggled with this misconception after having a biological child.
After Sophie was born we could not imagine that God would have us put a lesser value on our two children by adoption. That concept seems so foreign in light of what God has shown us in His word and what we have experienced in the past nine years.
We decided to search the Bible to find out what God says about adoption. In time, we learned that the eternal bond between a parent and a child is through their relationship. It is not based on any genetic connection we have with them.
God's very plan to make us a part of His family shows the importance of adoption as a means for a child to enter a family.
Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.
If I had realized the full meaning of this verse early in our pursuit of having children it would have saved an abundance of sorrow.
God made adoption the way for anyone to become part of His family.
It was His "good pleasure" to adopt us and a definite indication that adoption is part of God's plan A. Unless one adopts, it is hard to imagine that adoption could be as fulfilling as having a biological child; but I know it is. I have lived it.
I also know that God makes no mistakes and he places the same importance on adoption as he does on childbirth as a means for placing children in our home.
There is another verse that shows us adoption is not God's Plan B. And it is found in Psalms 113 where God makes a barren woman a joyful mother.
He makes the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.
For me the important word is Joyful. A joyful mother is His plan A. And how can a barren woman be a joyful mother of children unless she adopts?
After having such a beautiful biological child I know how easy it could be to misconceive God's position on adoption. If we focus on the biological connection we have with our children we overlook the deeper bond we develop through our relationship with them. It is evident in all my children that it is not the sins passed down by their forefathers, or what genetic traits they inherit, but how we love them and how we communicate with them that molds their character.
Thus the biological connection is not the heart of the matter. The relational connection is. The means of obtaining children, biological or adoptive, has no real importance. So when the biological means fails, or is not preferred, God delights in providing the means Himself for bringing parent and child together. One plan A - no plan B.
How did you get through this struggle?
Psalms 127:4-5 - As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them...
The scripture has many examples of the happy estate of those who have children. We agree with these scriptures wholeheartedly. But what do you do when it is not true yet, when you do not have children and wonder if you ever will?
I frequently referred to this verse in Psalm 37 as a way to comfort myself while we were waiting to have children.
Psalms 37:4 - Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
I knew it was a good desire to have children and I believed, according to the verse, that God would take care of things.
So I followed my wife in her pursuit but I waited in the wings. I wasn't focusing on the first part of this verse that says, "Delight thyself also in the LORD and then He will give you the desires of your heart." I forgot my part of God's contract in this verse and I failed to see that adoption was part of His plan A. I know God is calling us to open our hearts to adoption and recognize it as part of His plan A and not His plan B. God does not make mistakes and He has no plan B.
God esteems adoption as an equal way to fulfill your desires for children. He knew this world would be filled with wars, famine, one-child policies and all sorts of ill from mankind. Before the world began He predestined children to be born in a woman's womb and raised by others. If we still lived in Eden, where no sin existed, there would be no abandoned children. However, as C.S. Lewis says, "It is not the best of all worlds but it is the only world possible."
James 1:2-3 - My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
We can take comfort in this challenging verse. God says we can do all things through Him. However we clearly cannot count it as joy unless He works through us. If infertility is taken as an opportunity for God to bless (as He did for our family) we can understand the depth of this verse.
I thank God time and again for our inability to conceive. Otherwise we never would have known or had the privilege of raising Fei, Gwenn or Abel. Our children are so precious and full of life. Each one is unique. We would never have known them if God had not directed us to adopt.
I know many of you might be in a situation similar to ours. Let me encourage you to take this opportunity God has put before you. I do not know if it is God's will that you adopt but I do know it is God's will that all believers visit, defend or be an advocate for orphans.
James 1:27 - Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble...
I also know that if you are dealing with infertility and desire children, adoption is not second best. It is an amazing way to be "fruitful and multiply."
What are God's Definitions of Mother and Father?
This concept has intrigued me as I have searched God's word to define what it means to be the father of a child by adoption. Not surprisingly, what I found was in keeping with God's character. Before searching I sometimes questioned whether being an adoptive father was less significant than being a biological father. Then I discovered what God's word says about being a father.
Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Ephesians 6:4 - And, you fathers provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
In these verses God defines "mother" and "father" as teachers and disciplinarians. I have yet to find a verse that stresses the necessity of a biological connection in order to have authority over a child, nor have I found any verses supporting the notion that authority should be shared between a biological family and an adoptive family.
I believe it is fair to conclude that when a child is adopted God grants the adoptive parents full and complete authority as mother and father. I have heard too many stories of open adoptions where the children are confused by parental roles and thus lack proper perspective on God's authority over them. God does not share His authority with another so I believe He is calling adoptive families to assume authority over their children.
Looking deeper it is evident that it is the relationship a parent has with a child, not the physical connection that matters. If we tear down our preconceptions and expectations of what it means to be a mother and father, is it not simply to love? Real love covers all aspects of how our heavenly Father gives to us protection, blessing, hope and discipline. If we define mother and father as ones who love and take responsibility for a child then it does not matter if the child is biological or adopted.
God has adopted us into his family through a relationship with His son. I believe we need to adopt our biological children as well as our adopted children through a relationship with them. A biological connection to a child does not automatically establish the relationship we need with our child to help them develop into men and women of God. As the old saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink." If, however, you have a good relationship with that horse he will be more willing to drink. If we have a good relationship with our children we can do the most important thing a mother and father will ever do for a child - teach them who God is.
Is an Adopted Child My Own?
This question encompasses the most common misconception about an adopted child. I had the same question when we first adopted but soon started asking another question, "Is any child truly our own?" After Sophia, our third daughter, was born we knew she was from our body but was she more ours than Fei, Gwenn or Abel in God's eyes?
I started to wonder. What was God's plan for explaining to Fei, Gwenn and Abel that they are not biologically ours? Were they somehow not our daughters or son, but rather belonged to someone
else? Who owns these children? I started to ask God: "Do we? Does somebody else? Or do you,
God?" Look at what God says:
1 Corinthians 6:19 - Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
Wow! If we are not our own and God owns us, then He must own our children too. They are His, for it is by His grace that we move, live, and have our being. We have children by His grace also, adopted or biological. This seems like such a logical conclusion but I think when we hear "That's my boy" more attention is often placed on the "my" than the "boy." That boy is God's and God entrusts him to us. God is the true Father in heaven and we are just the earthly fathers.
Our daughter Sophia is an example of God's awesome creation for she is beautiful. I think all of our girls are beautiful but because Sophia is from our bodies I could see us focusing on the biological connection instead of the relationship we have with her. Without knowing and living the truth that God owns our children I could easily see myself holding her and saying that's "my" girl, marveling at her physical beauty, wanting more children who look like her and my wife and me. I thank God that He allowed us to adopt children first so I could see that we never really own our children, rather we raise them as best as we can for 22 years until they leave…unless they decide to stay at home after college and try out the rent free, no-work plan...
God's word goes further to show we are not our own by naming us as His children. John 1:12 - But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
He calls us His sons. If we are His sons then so are our children. We can take comfort in knowing that the ownership of our children (adopted or biological) belongs to the Creator of the universe, our Eternal Father.
Why was I not Born from your Tummy, Mama?
This question is asked by most children of adoption, including our daughter Fei when she was five years old. Let me tell you a story to help illustrate how I believe God's plan of adoption is plan A for placing children in our homes.
One day I was looking at Sophia and marveling at the experience of being there when she was born. As I glanced at her I recalled being up late at night in the dimly lit hospital room, cutting her umbilical cord. It was a wonderful experience to see this innocent little girl come into the world. Cutting the cord somehow enabled me to connect with God's will in placing this precious child into our hands.
I was not there to cut the cords for Fei, Gwenn and Abel. I consider this a loss for us and for them. We of course shared with Fei and Gwenn our desire for them to have been carried in Renée's tummy. But there is something in the "Spirit of Adoption" that is just as significant (perhaps even more) as cutting the cord, that sealed our position of father and mother for Fei, Gwenn and Abel.
It is a mystery but God actually cut Fei, Gwenn and Abel free Himself - from the parents who gave them birth - by adoption. He placed them into our arms.
If we reflect on this we can see Fei, Gwenn and Abel's unique perspective on God's sovereignty and love. Their destiny was based on the intervention of God's "Spirit of Adoption" in their lives and ours.
It is a great blessing for Fei, Gwenn and Abel to know that the God of the universe came down to direct their futures and entrust them to Renée and me.
One verse can encompass my purpose. It tells us that God has no plan B for our lives, only a plan A.
It is awesome to think how God orchestrated all the events in the whole universe for us to meet Fei, Gwenn and Abel and become their Mama and Papa. And He can do the same for you. No one is reading this by accident; before the world began God's plan A was for you to receive this message.
Psalm 139:15-16 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
The Doctrine of Adoption
God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to arrange for our ADOPTION!
Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Galatians 4:4-5 could and perhaps should be called "The Gospel of Adoption"
Jn 1:12 As many as received Him (Jesus Christ), to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name (so we are no longer illegitimate)
Ephesians 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will
(15) For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" (16) The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, (17) and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (22) For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (23) And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
Hebrews 12:8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (if we are not sons, we are spiritual orphans)
1 Jn 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God.
John 14:18 Jesus said: "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."
He also said in John 14:2-3 "I go to prepare a place for you …and I will come again to (adopt
you) receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" Jesus knows how
important it is for orphans to belong, and to have a permanent home and a loving father.
He also said "I will never leave you or forsake you" Heb 13:5
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God calls us to help and care for orphans
Isa 1:17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend orphans. Fight for rights of widows.
Visit with a Purpose
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress. The word VISIT means far more than just a social call to an orphanage! VISIT - from the original Greek: Episkeptomai (Strong's 1980a)
To be concerned for - to go in person to discover what is needed (in order to fulfill the need)
The words INSPECT and SELECT are deeper meanings also found the translation of Episkeptomai. I believe that God wants us to diligently inspect orphans to discover their deep need for home and family and belonging, then to select one or more of them for the purpose of fulfilling all of their needs.
God Himself set the example when He visited us: Luke 1:68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us, (He saw our need for salvation), and accomplished redemption (adoption) for His people. (Rom 8:23 Redemption = adoption)
In both verses above the word "visit" and "visited" come from the same Greek root word: Episkeptomai
In Luke 1:68 we understand God's full reason for visiting us - for the specific purpose of accomplishing our adoption. I believe James 1:27 tells us to visit orphan children to accomplish their adoption.
James 2:15-17 If you do not give orphans what they need (adoption), what use is your faith?
Prepared by: Gerald D. Clark the Home For Good Foundation
Scripture: New American Standard Bible
God Defends and cares for orphans
Deut 10:18 He gives justice to orphans and widows
Ps 10:14 The helpless put their trust in you. You are the defender of orphans
Ps 10:18 You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed,
Ps 68:6 God places the lonely in families (Not institutions)
Ps 146:9 The LORD protects the foreigners among us. He cares for orphans and widows
The Bible includes warnings
Zech 7:10 Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people.
Mal 3:5 At that time I will put you on trial. I will be a ready witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice
Deut 27:19 Cursed is anyone who is unjust to foreigners, orphans, and widows
Isa 1:23 Your leaders are rebels, the companions of thieves. All of them take bribes and refuse to defend the orphans and the widows.
Jer 5:28 They are fat, they are sleek, they also excel in deeds of wickedness; they do not plead
the cause of the orphan, that they may prosper; and they do not defend the rights of the poor.
Exod 22:22-24 Do not exploit widows or orphans. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, then I will surely help them. 24 My anger will blaze forth against you, and I will kill you with the sword. Your wives will become widows, and your children will become fatherless.
Adoption and Culture
Paul was a Roman citizen and also a Pharisee, he was highly educated and knew of ancient Greek and Hebrew cultures. When Paul wrote about adoption in the bible, he was writing in the context of the existing ROMAN culture.
In Hebrew culture, adoption was not popular among the Jews and rarely practiced. They knew that the Messiah would come through the pure bloodline of King David, and in their pride, they did not want to "pollute" the bloodline with adopted children.
In Greek culture adoption was practiced, but if the adopted child did not please the family, he could be disowned at any time. There was no covenant relationship and no eternal security in a Greek adoption. Even though it was Greek culture and language that gave us the word "agape", agape was never applied to orphans.
In Roman culture and law, adoption was final and irrevocable - and it remains that way in modern American law. A father can disown a biological child but he cannot legally disown an adopted child.
God proves His irrevocable, agape love for us by ADOPTION, and He chose to send Jesus into the Roman culture, "in the fullness of time" so that (among other things) we could fully comprehend Paul's writing about adoption in the context of Roman law and practice.
Adoption has ALWAYS been dear to the heart of God. He arranged for Jesus to be adopted by Joseph. Moses and Queen Esther were both adopted, and both brought a form of "salvation" to the nation of Israel.
When a family decides to adopt a child, they make a conscious choice to seek out someone who does not know them, and they PRE-LOVE that child and agree to an irrevocable covenant relationship before ever meeting the child. Meanwhile, the child does not even know that someone is seeking and choosing them for adoption.
Adoption is such a beautiful picture of how God chose us and PRE-LOVED us before we even knew Him, and how He sought us out when we were not looking for Him. This is truly good news.
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Adoption is Evangelism
How can we tell an orphan child that God will never leave or forsake them when all we do is leave them behind in an orphanage? How can we tell them Jesus loves them when we don't love them enough to adopt them?
Christian families are the missionaries who can bring the love of God to orphans in a form they can understand - ADOPTION. This is truly evangelism and is exactly what Jesus did when He came into the world to bring God's love to us in a form we could understand - ADOPTION.
Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Jesus led us to His Father God, by arranging for our adoption, should we expect to be able to evangelize orphan children by doing anything less than adopting them? It is no wonder they don't believe we love them unless we adopt them!
Adoption by a Christian family is the best way for an orphan to become an adopted child of God.
Gerald D. Clark the Home For Good Foundation
Partakers of the Grace:
Biblical Foundations for Adoption
With permission - by June M. Ring, PPL Adoption Resources Coordinator
As Christians, we want the Scriptures to inform everything we do. The Bible provides both specific examples and general truths relating to adoption.
The Scriptures give us the context for the institution of adoption in the world God has created. There are solid scriptural foundations for adoption as a pregnancy choice, as a means of building families, and as a solution for children without two parents. Just as we find our foundation for the sanctity of life in the Scriptures, we find our foundation for a biblical view of sexuality and the family--including adoption--in the Scriptures.
The following six points can help us construct a biblical view of adoption.
1. Adoption embodies the biblical theme of the covenant
More Than Legal
Adoption in strict terms is a legal process. But it is important to see that adoption is more than a legal contract--it is a relationship of promise. In fact, this distinction can be made of all family relationships. The relationship between God and his people is always covenantal and never contractual, and God intends that family relationships mirror his covenant relationship with us. The adoption process goes through the courts and is made legal, but as in all parent/child relationships it becomes much more than that. Law and promise are different in principle, the one pivoting on recompense for conduct, the other on acceptance of an unconditional gift.
Families Formed by Covenants
John Calvin wrote of God's example for us in forming families by covenant:
...[T]he Lord, who adopted his people, promised that he would be their God
...[T]he chief part of the word [covenant] consists of promises, by which he adopts and receives us as his own people.
Authors Ray Anderson and Dennis Guernsey wrote about the connection between covenants and families, saying:
Covenant or commitment is something you give to another that cannot be taken away once it is given.... [T]his irrevocable deposit of affect we theologically call covenant and sociologically call commitment is the linchpin for a theology of the family.
God's Covenant Family
The significance of this permanent promise relationship was not lost on the apostle Paul. In the time that Paul was using the adoption analogy in his writings, his likening of the Christian faith to "adoption as sons" made sense to his contemporaries. Christians were adopted into God's family, a privilege originally bestowed exclusively on Israel but through Christ made available to all through faith in him. Interestingly, according to a Roman-Syrian law book, a man might be able to disown his biological son if he had good reason, but he could never disown his adopted son. The adoption analogy used by Paul was a strong one indeed.
This is not to say that children adopted into families today have a greater standing than children born into a family. But this should clarify any misconception that somehow adopted children are second-best, or not really members of the family. A true understanding of adoption gives us an overwhelming sense of permanence; God's permanent relationship to his children, and the permanent relationship of adopted children in their families.
Paul teaches that the gift of justification brings with it the status of sonship by adoption .... Adoption is the crowning blessing and belongs to all who receive Christ. The adopted status of believers means that in and through Christ God loves them as he loves his only-begotten Son. J.I. Packer Christianity Today
2. Adoption upholds marriage as the building block for parenting
God Designed Marriage!
We learn in the second chapter of Genesis that it was not good for Adam to be alone. Adam's aloneness is the only thing that God finds "not good" before the fall. God ordained marriage between a man and a woman to remedy this situation. Neither animals nor another man were given to Adam as the suitable helper; Adam is to "cleave" or cling faithfully to his wife. Thus, God ordained monogamous heterosexual marriage from the very beginning. This covenant of leaving, cleaving and becoming one flesh (in that order) was established before the fall.
It is no coincidence that it takes both a man and a woman to create a child. God's intent was for that unique combination to stay intact in a covenant relationship to raise the child. Marriage of the biological mother and father should be discussed as one of the options for a pregnancy resolution. Marvin and Susan Olasky's book, More Than Kindness, explores that option and analyzes how and why Christians might be doing more to explore and encourage marriage in crisis pregnancies.
When this does not take place, adoption is a viable alternative because it upholds God's original intent for two parents.
Families are an Extension of the Marriage Covenant
The husband and wife relationship, centered in Christ, builds a "tent" that not only shelters the couple, but means physical, emotional and spiritual security and shelter for their children. The relationship of parent to child is a covenantal relationship, bestowed on a family whether through birth or adoption. As Christ and his bride, the church, is a symbol of the marriage relationship, so God as Father to his people is a symbol of parental love for a child. God's plan for children is that they experience life in the midst of this covenantal relationship between a mother and a father.
It is worth noting that God desires not just a covenant between husband and wife as the foundation for family, but also a lasting relationship between that couple and himself. A marriage firmly rooted and grounded in Christ is the strongest possible foundation for family building, whether through birth or adoption. Proverbs 14:26 says, "He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge." Many birth parents realize the stability of a Christian family and view that quality as a priority when making their adoption plans.
Marriage Gives the Context for Parental Love
Like God's love for us, a parent's love is to be unconditional, selfless and sacrificial. This is an enormously difficult task that requires many years of faithfulness, not impossible for one person but much better accomplished by two. Of course there are many who through a spouse's death or abandonment are raising children as single parents, and the church can and should play a role in supporting them in a variety of ways.
Let us not let go, however, of the model that God has set before us, that of a husband-wife team rooted in Christ, supporting one another in their roles as parents. It is no wonder that God designed parents in two's from the very beginning.
Adoption can never be an easy choice, or a choice forced on a pregnant woman.
Yet Christians could do much more to present it as a loving and unselfish choice
that has benefits for mother and child. In order for Christians to view this question
properly, we must maintain the conviction that the ideal family has two parents.
Though divorce, unwed parenting, and even death can interfere with the ideal,
they do not erase it. Whenever possible we should encourage the establishment
of two-parent families, whether through marriage or adoption, because they are
more stable and safer places for people to live.
Marvin and Susan Olasky
More than Kindness: A Compassionate Approach to Crisis Childbearing
3. Adoption upholds the scriptural emphasis on the role of the father
Separate and Distinct
Although we have seen the importance of two parents, the father's role as illustrated in the Scriptures is separate and distinct from the mother's. The Bible speaks of the father as a man of compassion, a teacher at home, and a man to be honored by his children. Proverbs especially elaborates on these important roles a father can and should play in the lives of his children.
God chose to relate to us as Father. Our earthly fathers are important in modeling or being images of God as Father.
Joseph Adopted Jesus
God also assured that Jesus would have a father in Joseph. Perhaps the most profound example of adoption in the Scriptures is Joseph's adoption of Jesus. Joseph assumed the role of Jesus' father for all intents and purposes. It should not surprise us that God desired that Jesus have an earthly father, consistent with His plan for marriage and parenthood. The lineage of Jesus, as prophesied in the Old Testament, is fulfilled through Joseph (see Matthew 1:1-17). Joseph is fully and completely Jesus' father--participating in his naming, protecting him from danger by traveling to Egypt, teaching him a trade and presenting him at the temple.
Biblical Model Lost?
Much in today's society conflicts with the biblical model. We have denigrated and downplayed the importance of the father to the point of causing a major shift in our societal structure. For many women and children the father--who traditionally would have provided for them--has been replaced by our government. Estimates place the current number of fatherless children in the United States at 19 million, and the statistics regarding those children are grim:
-Half of fatherless families live below the poverty line.
-Adolescents of fatherless families are more likely to be sexually active, and daughters are more likely to become single-parent mothers.
-Adolescents in fatherless families are more likely to commit delinquent acts.
-Young adults who grew up in fatherless families were more likely to drop out of high school, divorce, and engage in drug and alcohol use.
Christians can emphasize the importance of the father by encouraging his inclusion in counseling, no matter what the outcome of the pregnancy may be. It is important to note that many women choose adoption because they see the father as vital for their child.
The forgotten contributor to the two-parent team is the father. Kids gain
confidence, self-esteem and the drive to be successful in life from their father.
Without a father children are more susceptible to peer pressure, substance
abuse and a whole host of social problems. It is not far reaching to say that a
child's perception of God is often affected through his relationship with his father.
A good father helps model to us and for us the love, discipline and sacrifice that
God imparts to us as his children. A young woman--and young man--making an
adoption plan can and should feel good about providing that vital part of the
parenting team to their child that they may not be able to provide--a permanent,
stable, capable and loving father.
National Center for Fathering
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4. Biblical examples show how God has used adoption to provide for children and to further his purposes and kingdom
There are a number of examples of adoption in Scripture. Not all were cases of providing for orphans, although God specifically calls his people to care for orphans. Some were occasions of placing a child in adoption for a specific purpose, but all were cases of providing for the well being of the child.
Pharaoh's Daughter and Moses
Moses was born to Israelite parents, Amram and Jochabed, at a time when all baby boys were being killed by an edict of Pharaoh. As the result of a plan by Jochabed to save Moses' life, Pharaoh's daughter took Moses from the river at three months of age. She recognized his heritage and knew that his birth parents had placed him in the river to save his life. Pharaoh's daughter gave the baby to Jochabed to be nursed, probably until about age five. At that time, "she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son" (Exodus 2:10).
However, we read that "Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter" (Hebrews 11:24). The book of Exodus describes Moses' subsequent forty years with his in-laws, his meeting with his birth brother Aaron, and his return to his birth family. Moses' adoption enabled him to have influence with Pharaoh yet identify with God's people, not only because of his genetic ancestry but also because of his faith. Moses did not so much reject his adoptive family as he did their sinful and unrepentant ways as a nation.
We can summarize Moses' adoption by seeing it in the context of two loving mothers whose first concern was a child--Jochabed, who parted with her child knowing that his life was at stake if he remained with her; and Pharaoh's daughter, who felt compassion on a child she knew by edict was to be killed. God used these two women to save Moses' life and provide him with a safe and secure childhood.
Jochabed's decision is a great example of a birth mother's love for her child. Her godly example sets straight the misconception that birth parents don't love their children. Her love for Moses prompted her to make the adoption plan.
Mordecai and Esther
Esther, an orphan, was adopted by her cousin Mordecai. The story of Mordecai and Esther is a beautiful example of respect and care between a father and daughter. We see simultaneously his love and concern for her--"Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her" (Esther 2:11)--and her respect and obedience toward him--"but Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai's instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up" (Esther 2:19-20). Their cooperation while Esther was in the king's favor saved the Jewish nation.
Biblical Types of Adoption
The two highlighted above, and Joseph and Jesus, are not the only examples of adoption in the Scriptures. Here are some other examples that are sometimes mentioned as types of adoptions. References are included so that you might explore them further.
Jacob's adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh--Genesis 48
Abram and Eliazar--Genesis 15
Eli and Samuel--1 Samuel 1
The overarching theme in the examples above, as it continues to be today, is two-fold. Adoptions take place for the well being of the child and with his best interest at heart, and as a means of accomplishing God's good purposes for his people.
5. Adoption is a scriptural metaphor that emphasizes the permanence of our relationship with God, our rights as his children and his redemption of us
Paul's Use of Adoption
The apostle Paul uses the adoption analogy in his writings several times, and in key passages. (Please see scripture references at the end of this text for examples.) Because adoption was common in Hellenistic times and culture, Paul's audience could understand the Old Testament teaching on adoption as an analogy to characterize God's relationship with his people. The scriptural idea of adoption emphasizes a) the sovereign character of God in planning our salvation, b) the newness of the family relationship he establishes, c) its climate of intimate trust and love and d) the gracious and immense inheritance our adoption affords us. This scriptural analogy gives us a wonderful picture of God's character and love for us as his children.
There are several similarities between adoption into God's family and a child's adoption into a human family. Calvin wrote, "God's covenant was not made to last only for a few days, or for a short time. When He adopted the children of Abraham, He took them under His keeping forever." The adoption metaphor is a compelling illustration of God's covenant love for his people and his desire to see us as part of His family. Adoptive families can experience a small piece of that in the permanence of the family God forms in their midst, and birth parents can know that they set an enduring plan into motion for their child, just as God, sacrificially through Christ, put our salvation in place. The miracle of that transfer and grafting of the child into his new permanent family is a wonderful image of our permanent place in God's family.
Together on the Child's Behalf
Birth parents and adoptive parents can act together on the child's behalf, following the example of God acting on our behalf. Birth parents plan for permanence, the full rights of an heir and child in their new family, and love lavished on that child, just as God lavishes the riches of his grace on us. An adopted child knows that love daily from his family, and as he grows he gains an understanding of the love of his birth parents who planned that permanence for him. Understanding this simple truth can break down the myth that children who are adopted will always experience rejection. It can also break the myth that there is some sort of animosity between birth and adoptive families, knowing that they have worked together in the life of a child in a way they could not have worked independently.
Adoption Embodies the Gospel
These images and metaphors are not just helpful in our understanding of the adoption process, but can deepen our understanding of God's covenant family and his love for us. Using simple but powerful adoption metaphors can more tangibly convey the truth of the Gospel as we seek to minister to young women, young men and their families in a holistic way.
It should come as no surprise that the two times Paul referred to God as Abba are also the times he described our adoption by God. God sent his Son to redeem us, and God sent his Spirit to confirm his love in our hearts to create a bonding with our Heavenly Father, enabling us to come as children before him and say "Daddy." David V. Anderson Christianity Today
6. Adoption is an outpouring of God's grace on all involved
Grace in the Time of Need
A crisis pregnancy is a time of intense struggle for a young woman. Her pregnancy could be a result of poor choices and lack of wisdom. Or, the events surrounding her baby's conception might have been out of her control, such as in the case of incest or rape. Whatever the situation, she is experiencing emotional pain and a feeling of helplessness to an extent that she may have never felt before. She is in the midst of a great time of need--the need for a resolution, the need for compassion, the need for support. Life seems on hold and things will never be the same again.
In a different set of circumstances, but feeling similar emotions, is the couple facing infertility. The inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term is one of the most difficult obstacles a family-oriented couple can face. Couples dealing with infertility experience a grieving process that can be debilitating and alienating. Again, life seems to be "on hold" and hopelessness can set in.
Perhaps most tragically, some children today experience utter hopelessness because of their family situation. More than 600,000 American children will spend all or part of this year in substitute care such as foster homes, group homes or shelters (135,000 of them are free to be adopted). Many of these children have experienced abuse or neglect, or have biological parents who cannot adequately care for them. Beyond our borders, many children in poor nations wait for permanent families.
Grace Breaks Through
In the midst of these types of seemingly hopeless struggles we have a loving God who gives us gracious answers. Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not
have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses....Let us
then approach the throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Women in crisis, couples desiring to parent, children in need of homes--adoption can be God's grace and mercy to them in their time of need.
Adoption Benefits Children
Children placed in adoption experience God's grace in a similar way to children who are born into a family. Adopted children can feel comfort and love, knowing that a future was planned for them that was in their best interest. As children grow older this can be palpable evidence of God's direction and sovereignty in their lives.
An adoption plan, as it progresses and after it is in place, can be a powerful example of God's working circumstances for good for all those involved. God uses adoption, just as He can any human relationship, to further His purposes and to bring about wholeness and healing.
The church's active involvement could vastly improve the prospects for adoption
in our country. Local churches could counsel young women toward adoption as
an alternative to either abortion or single parenthood.... It could give its hearty
endorsement to adoption as a way of prospering the lives of all concerned.
Terry Schlossberg and Elizabeth Achtemeier
Not My Own: Abortion and the Marks of the Church
The Care of Orphans: Guiding Principles and Best Practices
A Position Paper for Action International Ministries
by Daren Beck, ACTION International, Cambodia
The Purpose Statement
This paper is written to define the guiding principles and corresponding best practices concerning the care of orphans. Action International Ministries desires to engage our hearts and minds prayerfully in a subject area that we believe to be core to our organizational calling. It is a central ministry focus because of what we believe to be clear instructions in the Word of God concerning the care of orphans. We recognize that at the grass roots level the identification of 'what is best' in terms of individual models of care may change, but we seek to understand the underlying non-negotiable convictions that will serve as a foundation for our ministries. Our desire is that the fruit of our discussion will be ministry that is God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Bible- centered and Spirit-led.
The Global Issue
In our primary fields (Asia, Latin America and Africa) orphans comprise nearly 8% of the population under age 17. India had 35 million orphans in 2003, and 3.7 million new orphans were added in 2004. In Zambia orphans comprise a staggering 19% of the population under the age of 17! Brazil added 470,000 new orphans in 2004 and they will be added to the 4.3 million that have already been identified.1 Poverty, civil unrest, war and the AIDS pandemic are dealing a crushing blow to the current generation of children. There is no question as to whether we should engage in the care of orphans, but we seek to understand how God might be honored in our actions.
The Role of ACTION
The mission of ACTION is to see the Great Commission and the Great Commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled. We cooperate with churches and other Christian organizations to present Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (evangelism); assist Christians in their submission to Christ and their growth in the Church (discipleship); and minister in the name of Christ to the whole person, especially the poor, as in Matthew 25:31-46 (development).
We believe that the care of orphans is fundamental to God's plan for man and, as followers of Christ, we must actively engage in identifying those practices which are best and seek to implement them for the sake of those in need. Action International Ministries has taken up the banner of orphan care and advocacy around the world. We desire to stimulate one another in our current work, and exhort others to press on in this most needful ministry.
The Biblical Mandate
Any philosophical question becomes mere speculation without an agreed-upon foundational body of truth. We affirm that the Word of God serves as the Body of Truth for all discussion, is inerrant and infallible and must be faithfully applied to all questions of faith and practice. Therefore, we believe that examining the Biblical mandate in regard to the care of orphans is of paramount importance. The Bible mandate specific to the care of orphans is as follows:
Orphans, like all men, are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27; 5:1).
God takes special concern for the person and plight of orphans (Deuteronomy 10:18; Jeremiah 49:11; Psalm 146:9).
The care and protection of orphans are commanded by Scripture and that command is binding upon the Church, which includes all Christians for all times (James 1:27; Exodus 22:21; Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 24-26; Isaiah 1:17).
To care for orphans is denoted as pure religion before God and, therefore, the very act is God-honoring despite any hardships or suffering that result to God's servants (James 1:27).
The neglect of orphans is an abomination before the Lord and Divine judgment is promised to those who neglect, abuse and/or exploit orphans (Exodus 22:21-23; Job 24:9; Deuteronomy 27:19; Jeremiah 5:28; Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:10; Malachi 3:5).
Knowingly to disregard someone in need (including an orphan) constitutes unbelief and sin (James 2:14-17).
We are required to defend the orphan and be his advocate (Isaiah 1:17).
Justice is demanded on behalf of the orphan (Deuteronomy 10:17-22).
Christ commands that children (including orphans) be allowed access to Himself (Mark 10:13-16; Matt 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17).
We recognize that God's adoption of His elect constitutes a "best-care" model for followers of Christ (Ezekiel 16:3-6; Hosea 2:23; John 1:12-13, 11:52; Ephesians 1; Galatians 3:29; 4:5-6; Romans 8:15; 9:4, 24-26; II Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 2:10; I John 3:1).
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary on James 1:27 supports this conclusion: "Since orphans and widows were not provided for in ancient society, they were typical examples of those needing help".
V. R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament says regarding James 1:27, "Pure and undefiled religion demands personal contact with the world's sorrow: to visit the afflicted and to visit them in their affliction."
Strong's Concordance suggests bereaved, fatherless, and comfortless as ideas inherent in the word "orphans" or "fatherless."
Guiding Principles & Best Practices for Orphan Care
The best care for orphans will be achieved through following principles and practices that are derived from the Biblical foundation:
1. Following God's revealed will in Scripture about the care of orphans.
2. Recognizing that orphans are made in the image of God and therefore purposing to care for them in a way that reflects the kind of love, concern, protection and nurture that is commensurate with one who bears the image of the Creator.
3. Promoting the Biblically defined family unit, the sanctity of marriage and the necessity of Biblical fidelity to the institution of the family.
4. Exhorting, encouraging and empowering the local expression of the body of Christ to be a catalyst for proving the best possible care on behalf of orphans.
5. Working with and through models of care that are thoroughly Biblical (opposed to humanistic/psychological/anthropological models).
6. Assisting God-ordained institutions such as churches, families and schools to be empowered as the primary means by which Biblical models of care are instituted.
7. Leading by example through individual acts of compassion, sacrifice, suffering, and service to orphans for the glory of God.
8. Advocating on behalf of and, when necessary, defending orphans against exploitation, neglect and abuse.
9. Determining that the gospel must be central to any model that is deemed best, which is to include close attention to the content of the gospel message, the clear declaration of that message and a powerful demonstration of it.
10. Committing ourselves to the principles of Scripture in caring for orphans, being careful not to subject Scripture to the institutions of man when they are in conflict.
11. Embracing the fiscal realities of providing care that is determined to be best and most Christ-exalting.
12. Participating in models of care that mirror the love and care that God has for us.
Application of Biblical Principles within ACTION
It is beyond the scope of this paper to grapple fully with how specific models of care might be applied to the countless situations encountered by various individual ministries within ACTION around the world. It is certainly within our corporate wherewithal to commit ourselves to being involved in one of the most basic of Christian endeavors, namely, caring for orphans in the best possible manner. Currently ACTION and/or our ministry partners care for and minister to orphans through a wide range of models which include the following:
Advocacy and Representation.
Church-Based Foster Care Programs.
NGO-Run (Non-Governmental Organizations) Residential Care Facilities.
Short-Term Foster Care Placement Homes.
Long-Term Foster Care.
Community-Based Care Initiatives.
Residential Care for Displaced Orphans.
These models of ministry are very different in concept and focus, yet they are in line with our organizational purpose of demonstrating Christ to those in need. Our vision and mission at ACTION dictate that all of our ministries focus on the supremacy of Christ, the proclamation of the gospel, and the nurture and growth of followers of Christ.
We believe that God uses a variety of models to demonstrate His love and concern for orphans. But we also are concerned that these models can become platforms for abuse, neglect and exploitation. We are committed to making sure that those models of care we participate in are not only grounded on a Biblical foundation and guided by Biblical principles, but are also held to those standards. While models of care might be rooted in Biblical principles, they are run by humans and are, therefore, subject to corruption and sin. ACTION strongly encourages all ministry entities that participate in the care of orphans to subject themselves to the following guidelines:
1. Regular evaluation as to whether or not Biblical principles are being integrated.
2. Support and participation of local churches whenever possible.
3. Excellent training and equipping for all participants in orphan care.
4. Financial accountability as defined by the member country giving oversight.
5. Encouragement of strict adherence to ACTION's Child Protection Policy.
6. Initiation of regular reviews of stated purpose for ministry.
7. Establishment of clear lines of authority and accountability for said ministry.
8. Participation in networking with others involved in orphan care for the purpose of evaluation and identification of best practices.
9. Development of concise, yet thorough, documenting procedures.
10. All activities constantly bathed in prayer for the sake of the children God has entrusted to us.
Thoughts and Concerns
One central concern is that this topic may become a theoretical discussion, one of many that we put in our missiological 'hat' that can be discussed at a moment's notice. Is it possible that we have sanitized the whole issue with philosophical debate about 'what is best'? Ephesians 1:3-5 clearly teaches that we have been adopted into God's family solely through His gracious act of love and have been given access to all of the blessings, privileges and rewards of His act. In response should we not act accordingly by exalting Christ through various models of care that demonstrate love and concern and, when appropriate, the adoption of orphans. These acts are not based on results, pragmatic methodology or psychological principles, but are based on the nature of God's love for us and the response due Him. Is this not the best model that we should be pursuing? We should strive to provide the best care, love, instruction and opportunities for orphans, just as God has done for us.
An additional concern is that the Church is woefully uncommitted to the plight of orphans within the context of their own home cultures. Welfare-state governments and secular institutions in progressive nations have assumed responsibilities that have historically and Biblically belonged to the Church. The Church, accordingly, has lost sight of the tremendous needs of orphans everywhere and has forfeited her responsibilities and blessings. Perhaps we engage in debate in order to disinfect the heart of the matter even within the Church. God's people worldwide must take on the mantle of responsibility in responding to the current orphan crisis.
Moravian families in past centuries seldom raised less than a dozen children-many of whom were not their biological offspring. They did not rely on solutions from the government but simply acted in a way that seemed Biblically to be consistent. Presently, however, there is an ever-increasing erosion of family values and therefore a right concern for our own children. But then this does not justify feeding our own children with the proverbial 'silver spoon' while so many around the world starve. We debate whether or not a child should be left in the care of extended family members who not only have meager means to care for them, but who, themselves, are held captive by their ancestors' traditions that are often demonic. We talk of endorsing models that are morally corrupt for the sake of nationalization. How is it that we endorse the idea that a child is better off mired in economic poverty, banished to substandard education and condemned to a livelihood that will be meager at best...all because we would not want them to become disassociated with their cultural roots? God does not treat us like this, and to advocate it for an image bearer of the Almighty God of the universe is abominable.
We must act in a way that is wholly consistent with our message and take action. We must repent of our inaction and confess our sin personally and corporately and, if necessary, to change radically our own models first if we are to advocate the same for others.
We recognize that the sovereign and providential hand of God is at work in all things, in every circumstance and through every person. We understand that Scripture makes simple, yet forceful, directives to provide care for orphans. And we acknowledge that both the Biblical narrative and the historical record tell us that God has used many individuals who have come from 'less than best' circumstances in powerful ways for His glory. We count it a privilege to give love, care and concern for children who face unbelievably dire circumstances, and pray that through our action God will be exalted in the world.
A collection of short Inspirational messages, useful as bulletin inserts
Where credit is not given, Gerry or Maureen Clark composed the messages. Please give credit when re printing these articles. The Clark's give permission to re-print all material inspired by them as long as it is used in an effort to promote adoption in your church or to raise funds for adoption.
Our Fathers Business
Our father is asking us to be part of his business. His business is finding and caring for as many spiritual orphans as possible. We can fit into His business in many ways.
We can even apply His business plan to literal orphans among us.
It should be no surprise that a child that grows up as an orphan carries a void, an emptiness that is nearly impossible to fill, Just as we do in the spiritual sense, until we are filled up with the love of our heavenly father.
God's family business is open to all of us. We enter in with His word as guidance. Remember the high calling of James 1:27. For this is pure religion in His sight. To care for Orphans….. and to add my own words, to be a part of our Fathers family business.
Our Divine Privilege
From Beth Moore: Christ's royal lineage comes through His adoptive father. We should not be surprised at the profound significance with which God views adoption.
God the Father allowed His son to be adopted into a family on earth so that we could be adopted into His kingdom in heaven.
Ephesians 1:4-6 He predestined us to adoption, as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself according to His will. It should go without saying it's a topic close to God's heart. He chose adoption as an acceptable means of dealing with parentless children. Adoption is our divine privilege and way of expressing God's heart.
Let our prayer be: Disturb us from our complacency oh God. May your command to take care of orphans be burned into our hearts and drive us to action. When the day is over may we say thank you for this divine privilege.
"Modeling the heart of our Father"
His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the wonderful kindness he has poured out on us because we belong to his dearly loved Son. (Eph 1:5-6)
God has determined beforehand that those who believe in Jesus Christ will be adopted into his family and conformed to his son (Rom 8:29) It involves a choice on our part (Eph 1:4) It is done in love (v 4) It is based on the good pleasure of his perfect will (v 5,9,11) Its purpose is to glorify God (v 14) but it does not relieve man of his responsibility to believe the gospel in order to personally receive God's predestination.
This is an awesome plan, which we are eager to embrace, but one we are not likely to ever fully understand. It tugs on deep emotional strings because this is how we are made by our creator, - to long for Him, and although we are not always conscious of it, we are forever grateful for our adoption into His family.
Perhaps this is why we see such outflow of God's special love towards orphans. His word defines helping orphans as an unblemished act of worship. (Jas 1:27) He commands us to defend the orphan (Isaiah 1:17) and He has a strong warning for those who do not plead the cause of the orphan (Is 10:2; Jer 5:28; Mal 3:5)
When you consider God's design for adopting us, it becomes absolutely clear to the Christian that God's plan for the orphans in our land would not be to keep them isolated at arm's length, and merely feed and clothe them, but to adopt them into our family, making them our own - modeling the heart of our father who adopted us.
I will not leave you as orphans
I will not leave you as orphans. Why does God express His love for us in this way? It certainly implies that the condition of being an orphan is awful. It's something we don't want and if we were in that state we would want out of it badly. He has no intention of leaving us in that condition.
That's our example to follow, given to us by our perfect heavenly father. So, why do we settle for leaving the worlds children in this condition?
God's adoption of us is an awesome plan and not one we are likely to ever fully understand, but are eager to embrace. It tugs on our deep emotional strings because this is how we are made by our creator - to long for Him, to long for our adoption. Although we as Christians are not always conscious of it we are forever grateful for our adoption into His family.
Perhaps this is why we see such an outflow of God's special love towards orphans. He considers helping orphans as an unblemished act of worship James 1:27. He has a strong warning for those who do not plead their cause in Is. 10:1-2; and Mal. 3:5.
When you consider God's design for adopting us it becomes abundantly clear to the Christian that God's plan for the orphans in our land would not be to keep them isolated, merely clothed and feed, but to adopt them into our family, modeling the heart of our adopted Father.
I Am An Adopted Child
In John 1:12 we hear, for as many as receive Him. He gives the right to become children of God. Eph 1:5 He predestined us for adoption as sons.
Moses, Jesus, Esther we all adopted and all became deliverers.
To become an adopted child, we need to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
God does not have a wife or bear children. He only adopts. If God has established it, then He has also Sanctified and made it Holy. He has given us His model of adoption.
We as a church have a duty to erase the stigma attached to adoption and to the adoptive parents and children. Why would we want to hide the fact that we have been adopted or that we have an adopted child when there is no stigma in God's eyes. He freely and willingly adopted us even though we are flawed, sinners, rebellious and disobedient. He literally paid a ransom for us and as Christians He expects us to model Him.
God's word shows us that He blesses adopted children and their parents. Mordecai became the Prime Minister of Persia, second only to the King, and his adopted daughter Esther delivered her people. He gives us these stories as models for us to follow. Moses, adopted child of Pharaoh, delivered the Israelites. Jesus the most profound adoption story ever told, delivered us and made a way for us to be joint heirs with Him.
What is God's promise to us
if we are faithful to care for orphans?
He considers helping orphans as an unblemished act of worship (Jas. 1: 27)
He blesses those who provide for the orphan (Dt. 14: 29)
He strongly warns judges who issue unrighteous decrees & the magistrates who cause oppressive decisions against the orphan (Is. 10: 2; Mal. 3: 5)
He is pleased when nations and people treat the orphan justly. He will draw nigh and be a swift witness against oppressors of the fatherless (Isa. 10:2)
He says "Anyone who receives a child in My name receives Me." Mark 9:37
He commands others not to remove "the ancient boundary stone" or encroach on the fields of the fatherless (Pvb. 23: 10) (could this be their biological history?)
It is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father… ( James 1:17)
Adoptees - How fortunate I am
Because of them
People who met the children, who were adopted from the orphanage I worked with, often said, "How fortunate those children are". But I too am fortunate, because through them I have come to understand more deeply the awesome truth of how much God loves me as His adopted child.
If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior you too are an adopted child of God. Being there through the steps of a child's earthly adoption experience has imprinted this fact on my heart in the most profound way. I am forever grateful for what I have learned through these children who have experienced the adoption process into an earthly family, a family that is modeling Gods heart.
The word adoption has a deeper meaning than what we see and hear in the world's eyes and ears. Society brandishes the word around like so much slang, and it's meaning has been seriously trivialized. For the Christian there should be a sense of awe and reverence as it pricks our hearts in remembrance of our own adoption. It is our legacy as Christians.
Thank you adoptees for helping me truly understand my own legacy.
Can we pray for the million children still waiting for adoption into their earthly family - waiting for another Christian to decide to model God's heart in the pattern of their own adoption?
Adoption has God's handprint all over it. God the Father chose us before the foundation of the world. As believers we are his adopted children.
"I would have never appreciated the meaningfulness of this had I never experienced searching and searching for the right child to adopt and love" says, Pastor Ken Fong, in his book "Secure in God's Embrace" a book he wrote in response to his experience adopting a child.
I am convinced that adoption of a child in need is the earthly model God had in mind in his command to take care of orphans in James 1:27. Why did He give this action such a high status as to call it pure and undefiled religion? Could it be that we are to care for them the way He cared for us when we were spiritual orphans? He invites us to come live with Him. John 14:17 … He abides with you, and will be in you." 18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." He does not leave us to languish at a distance, wondering who our father is and if he will ever really love us?
Romans 8:16 says, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. 17, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…" This is a personal God who invites us into His family. He calls it pure and undefiled religion when we do the same with earthly children in need of a family. Anything else in respect to caring for orphans can not fully meet the intent of this divine calling by a holy and righteous God who takes so many opportunities in His Word to remind us of the plight of orphan children.
Affirming God's Call To Adopt
Two ways of becoming a member of a family, you are born into it or adopted into it. Adoption is in every sense of the word, a family God saw fit to bring together according to His own divine plan.
An adoptive mother in the book, "24 Stories of Adoption, published by Adoptive Families Foundation, inc. expresses it this way; "Every night, I would pray and ask the Lord if this was His will … that we take in this child and form a family. There was a particular Bible passage I would dwell on: "Do not withhold good if it is within our power to extend help." Luckily, too, our fellow church mates rallied to help us.
When they heard that Francis and I had taken Anna in, the Pastor's wife called me and asked what assistance or supplies we needed. Offers of help, occasional babysitting services, and even baby clothes came soon after. As the days went by, I was more and more convinced that this was what was meant to be…."
God's word itself will confirm His will for His children to reach out in this way. There are over 41 verses in the Bible declaring His concern for orphans. These verses are not directed at any one group of people. He is speaking to all of us. Just as the body of Christ is made up of many parts, so we all have a part in providing a loving home for a forgotten child.
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Adopted Child Of God
We're all spiritual orphans, illegitimate by nature, born of the flesh, without discipline says John 3:5-6, Deut. 23:2, Heb. 12:8. But God says, "I love you and I'll take good care of you in that orphanage down there called earth" John 10:10. "I love you so much I don't want you to remain as orphans, I want you to live with me" John 14:18.
To make that possible, I'll adopt you as my very own children so you can live with me forever. Gal 4: 4-5.
But what do WE say to children? "I love you, and I'll take good care of you in the orphanage, till you grow up."
Our actions say, "I don't love you enough to take you out of the orphanage, and I don't want you living with me" The message the orphan children hear is: You don't really love me at all. Why does a child see it this way? We are all wired for adoption and adoption is missing!
We are the body of Christ and Jesus commands us to love orphan children as He does. James 1:27. We most often fail at telling an orphan child Jesus loves them if we don't love them enough to adopt them. ADOPTION, The Gospel Message of God, "I LOVE YOU, COME, be my adopted child and live with me forever - STARTING TODAY!"
"I've sent Jesus to arrange everything for your adoption and homecoming, He's already paid for everything."
A Sold Out Witness
When I became completely sold out to adoption it was no time at all before people came to me with questions about adoption. Apparently there is some mystery surrounding it that keeps people from understanding God's plan for orphans. Perhaps there is an enemy that lurks who is happy with the ongoing crisis, and does not want to see such a critical problem solved..
Well-meaning people miss seeing the higher calling, only looking at the immediate problem. I am asked, "don't adopting parents wonder about the background of the child." Well of course they do but the love of our family will give them a new and better background. Why would people adopt that already have children? Responding to this, I would say, "can't God give us room in our hart and life for one more?" And the innocent questions go on.
This is a perfect opportunity to glorify God. Adoption is a natural thing when you consider, that Jesus was the adopted son of Joseph. Mathew 1:1-16 says the Messiah would come from the house of David. Joseph not Mary was a descendant of King David. Bible historical records place Jesus in the family of Joseph.
Remember dear friend, Mark 9:37 says, anyone who receives a child in my name - receives Me. What a great opportunity to witness is found in adoption.
Scriptures relating to Adoption,
Orphans and Children of God
shall not afflict any widow or orphan. Ex 22:22
justice for the orphan and the widow, Dt 10:18
the orphan and the widow who are in Dt 14:29
and the stranger and the orphan and the Dt 16:11
the stranger and the orphan and the widow Dt 16:14
the justice due an alien or an orphan, Dt 24:17
alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, Dt 24:19
alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. Dt 24:20
alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. Dt 24:21
to the orphan and to the widow, Dt 26:12
the alien, the orphan and the widow, Dt 26:13
justice due an alien, orphan, and widow. Dt 27:19
snatch the orphan from the breast, Jb 24:9
help, and the orphan who had no helper. Jb 29:12
And the orphan has not shared it Jb 31:17
lifted up my hand against the orphan, Jb 31:21
have been the helper of the orphan. Ps 10:14
vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, Ps 10:18
Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. Is 1:17
They do not defend the orphan, Is 1:23
the cause, The cause of the orphan, Jer 5:28
the alien, the orphan, or the widow, Jer 7:6
the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; Jer 22:3
For in You the orphan finds mercy." Hos 14:3
do not oppress the widow or the orphan, Zch 7:10
in his wages, the widow & orphan, Mal 3:5
would even cast lots for the orphans And Jb 6:27
strength of the orphans has been crushed. Jb 22:9
drive away the donkeys of the orphans; Jb 24:3
the stranger And murder the orphans. Ps 94:6
pity on their orphans or their widows; Is 9:17
And that they may plunder the orphans. Is 10:2
Leave your orphans behind, I will keep Jer 49:11
We have become orphans without a father La 5:3
"I will not leave you as orphans; Jn 14:18
visit orphans and widows in their distress, Jas 1:27
the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Ps 68:5
Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Ps 82:3
to be gracious to his fatherless children. Ps 109:12
He supports the fatherless and the widow, Ps 146:9
Or go into the fields of the fatherless, Pr 23:10
the fatherless and the widow they have Ezk 22:7
God places the lonely in families Ps 68:6
of adoption as sons by which we cry out, Ro 8:15
waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, Ro 8:23
to whom belongs the adoption as sons, Ro 9:4
we might receive the adoption as sons. Ga 4:5
He predestined us to adoption as sons Eph 1:5
CHILDREN OF GOD
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name Jn 1:12
The Spirit itself testifies with our spirit, that we are the children of God Rom 8:16 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ Rom 8:17
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God 1Jn 3:1
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join in Holy Adoption: (Parent's Names), and their newly adopted child(ren), Name(s)).
Christians are known as the Bride of Christ, therefore, just as we celebrate and solemnize the marriage of man and woman. We are also known as adopted children of God, and in the eyes of God, adoption and marriage are holy covenant relationships that are irrevocable (Rom 11:29). Therefore it is fitting and proper that we should celebrate and solemnize this adoption, which is holy and pleasing unto God.
God chose us for adoption before the foundation of the world, and this gave Him great pleasure. (Eph 1:4-5) God is proud that we are His adopted children, and we should be equally proud of our adoption.
When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Gal 4:4-5) And as many as received Him, to them He gave the right and power to become children of God. (John 1:12)
Our adoption is the ultimate expression of God's love, and was the ultimate purpose of Jesus' life on earth and death on the cross. Jesus died to cleanse our blood while we were yet sinners (Rom 5:8), and He also died for orphan children while they were yet orphans. Therefore, what God has cleansed, let no man consider unholy. Acts 11:9 Jesus was willing to give us His name, even though we still give Him shame.
Let us be proud to be adopted children of God and proud of the children we adopt. Let us also raise our children to be proud of adoption, and to follow God's model for loving orphan children by means of adoption. Jesus Himself said, "I will not leave you as orphans." (John 14:18) Remember, there are no orphans in heaven, only God's children by way of adoption.
Mister and Misses (family name) In the presence of God and Man, do you accept (names of children) to be your lawfully adopted child(ren), to have and to hold, to love and to cherish from this day forward for as long as you both shall live? Do you vow this day to raise (names of children) in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ to be as proud of [his / her / their] adoption as God is of [him / her / them]? If so, answer "WE DO."
New siblings could be asked to repeat these vows also.
(name of children) From this day forth - (repeat rest of vow)
" This child is now legally yours just as if you birthed him/her yourself (That means new life)
" All rights and privileges of your name are now his/hers. (That means a new family)
" No one can ever take him/her from you. (That means a new future)
In other words, (name of child(ren) has/have been given…
" A change in status through being given new life.
" A change in significance through being given a new family.
" A change in security through being given a new future.
And this is exactly what Jesus Christ did for us.
Our self-image, our sense of Value and self-worth derive entirely from the immense cost that Jesus was willing to pay with His blood to make our adoption possible. ANG MAHAL! Is it any wonder that only the word MAHAL can truly define LOVE? Let us never forget that our love for each other and for this newly adopted child, ANG MAHAL!
Ang Diyos ay purihin sa Kanyang Pag-Ibig. Minamahal namin po Kayo.
The body of Christ is not complete in a single family. Let us all join together as members of the greater family of God to uphold the (name) family and to share in raising (child name) in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, so that one day soon, he or she may also become an adopted child of God.
In the (court or church), in the eyes of man, your adoption has been finalized, and now in the eyes of God before these witnesses, this adoption is forever final. May I introduce to you the (name) Family.
A resource to the church - and to the community
John 14:18 - I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you
Maybe I don't need to tell you the value of an adoption ministry, but perhaps someone talked you into reading this manual, and you're still not sure. This manual is filled with convincing information. Scripture is the most inspirational. Open your heart and mind and ask God to reveal what He wants you to do. He will speak to you through His Word. So read it and soak it up. See the appendix for a list of Scripture references relating to orphans and adoption.
Adoption is the single most powerful word to describe God's love for mankind. Jesus brought God's love to us in a form we could understand - adoption. Galatians 4:4-5 tells us that God's primary purpose for sending Jesus into the world was to arrange for our adoption. "God sent forth His Son...that we might receive the adoption as sons." "But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name." (Jn 1:12) Jesus Himself said, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (Jn 14:18) He also said, "I go to prepare a place for you …and I will come again to receive you to Myself; (to adopt you Rom 8:23) that where I am, there you may be also." (Jn 14:2-3)
Most church-goers are familiar with the term "Redemption" but few have been taught the doctrine of adoption. Jesus paid for our redemption by shedding His blood on the cross. In Romans 8:23 the word adoption is synonymous with redemption! In other words, Jesus died on the cross to pay for our adoption.
Your study of the subject would not be complete without talking to others who already have adoption ministries. Refer to the list of churches engaged in adoption ministry and call or e-mail them with your questions. They are eager to share their stories, and will be a great source of inspiration. It is our heart's desire that your church body will become passionate about adoption. We are eager to help in any way we can. Don't hesitate to test us in this. And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. (Heb 10:24)
The role of the church can be as simple as coming along side of individuals with prayer and counseling, encouragement, and directing them to adoption resources. Or it could be as big as employing your own social worker, raising funds for adoption expenses, reaching out to the community, making a commitment to an orphanage or assisting families who are willing to provide foster care to children waiting for adoption. Your adoption ministry will create countless opportunities for evangelism.
Some believe that taking care of a child in an orphanage is enough. After all, there are far too many children to take them all home! But keep in mind, there are more churches in the Philippines than there are orphan children! Once you know what the bible says about orphans and adoption, you will be as convinced as we are that adoption is the very Father-Heart of God. Since adoption is the only way to enter into God's eternal kingdom, it stands to reason, adoption is probably one of the most important doctrines of the bible.
1st Saturday in February
Second Sunday in November
Some Foundations and Sites that Offer Assistance
A Child Waits Foundation
A Child Waits Foundation www.achildwaits.org/ is a nonprofit charitable foundation with a simple goal - to reduce the number of children who are not adopted because prospective parents do no have the savings to pay for the total cost of the adoption. They help parents with this cost by making low interest loans that cover a portion of the adoption fees.
The National Adoption Foundation
Grants ranging from $500 to $4,000 are available to prospective adoptive parents 4 times a year. You can access their website at http://www.nafadopt.org/NafGrants.htm or call (203) 791-3811. For unsecured loans, please call (800) 626-2760 and for secured loans (800) 841-1982.
Gift of Adoption Fund
Grants ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 are available monthly to families adopting children with serious medical issues, and for low-income families. You can access Gift of Adoption Fund's website at www.giftofadoption.org To contact the fund, please call (262) 268-1386 or (877) 905-2367, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Brittany's Hope is a little different than most grant programs. They put grant money on specific children that are submitted to them by placing agencies in the hopes of getting potential families interested in the child. On their site you can see a photo listing of children and how much the grant is that is being offered for that child.
His Kids Too
His Kids Too is a Christian nonprofit international humanitarian aid organization that provides aid to orphans and widows in several countries - their primary focus is Ukraine, Russia, and Albania. For parent(s) adopting international children, His Kids Too provides adoption grants of up to $2,000 for one child, and up to $4,000 for two children. Grants are paid directly to the agency or facilitation service (for independent adoptions, grants approved on a case-by-case basis). Your adoption agency must be on their preferred list.
Show Hope is dedicated to caring for orphans by engaging the church and helping Christian families reduce the financial burden of adoption. They accomplish this by awarding financial adoption grants to qualified families already in the process of adopting. The size of the grant awarded is determined by several factors, the most important being need. With a commitment in faith by the family, Shaohannah's Hope will provide up to $7,000 toward the cost of adopting, thereby reducing the financial barriers and allowing more families to experience the miracle of adoption. Don't let finances keep you from adopting a child. To submit an application go to www.showhope.org or call them toll free at 1-800-784-5361. Serious inquiries only please!
The Shepherds Crook Ministries offers financial assistance to Christian families who are led to adopt any of the children listed on their website. This is accomplished by awarding grants as their funds allow. Please contact them via e-mail if you desire an application for financial aid. email@example.com/ www.theshepherdscrook.org
World Association of Children & Parents is a well-established adoption agency offering financial assistance in the way of loans and grants to perspective parents that adopt through their organization. Their Promise Child Program has specific waiting children from all their country programs that have almost all fees waived for their adoptions. These children are selected by the WACAP staff and grants money provided to WACAP pays for almost the entire expense of the child's adoption. Call WACAP and ask for a staff member working under their "Family Finders Project" regarding children available. www.wacap.org/
Resources and information on adopting children with cleft-lip pallets.
United Way International
Provides assistance for costs of travel for children adopted with illness needing immediate medical attention. Applications selectively considered and must be supported with a Doctor's statement.
United Way International
Attn: Melissa Guerra
701 N. Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
"How to Make Adoption an Affordable Option"
A comprehensive booklet, published by the National Endowment for Financial Education.
Available free-of-charge from the:
Consumer Information Center
Pueblo, CO 81009
(719) 948-4000 - Ask for item # 603-E
If you belong to a particular church denomination, contact your headquarters for information on programs for members.
Books On Adoption
24 Stories of adoption, By Adoptive Families Foundation, Inc.
True-life stores of Filipino adoptions
Adoptive Families Foundation, Inc. C/O KBF, 56 10th Avenue, Cubao
Or The Home for Good Foundation
Secure in God's Embrace, Living as the Father's Adopted Child
By Ken Fong (Evangelistic with adoption theme)
Adopting for Good, A guide for People Considering Adoption
By Jorie Kincaid
The Whole Life Adoption Book
What to consider before you adopt
Creating a nurturing family environment
How to tell a child he or she is adopted
Understanding issues and behaviors that can surface in adolescence
How to respond when a child wants to search for a birth parent
By Jayne E. Schooler
Adopted For Life.. The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches by Russell D. Moore
Five Books by Sherry Eldridge - www.adoptionjewels.org
This web site offers free articles, books and workbooks. The workbooks are one of kind concerning adoption issues and are designed to be used in a group study setting. They can be down loaded free at: http://www.adoptionjewels.org/books_work.htm
Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew
Twenty Life-Transforming Choices Adoptees Need To Make
Under His Wings Creating a Safe Place for Adoptees to Talk about Adoption
Beauty for Ashes a Healing Journey for the Adoption Triad
Twelve Steps for Adopted Teens
The Adoption Network.. Your Guide to Starting a Support System by Laura Christinson