Charles Dickens, Moses, Caesar Augustus, Faith Hill, Leo Tolstoy and Steve Jobs. What do these people have in common? They each were adopted.
The issues of adoption and foster care, however, do not boil down to a list of famous people. They, instead, are about the need of everyday children, the unsung hundreds of thousands of children in America, who are left without a stable home.
In 2012, in Oklahoma alone, there were more than 8,000 children who were in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS). According to an OKDHS affiliate, “They may not be orphans in the sense that they no longer have parents, but their families are not able to care for them due to incarceration, extreme poverty, physical abuse, drug abuse, neglect or abandonment.”
While the adoption and foster care needs at home and abroad continue to grow exponentially, there are some reasons to be encouraged. Oklahoma Baptists, whose stellar work through the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, have long recognized the need to care for orphans and understood that each of our boys and girls are created in God’s image and need our care.
Churches alike are increasingly aware of their role in being part of the solution. In fact, on April 25, Bethany, Council Road is hosting the Oklahoma Foster Care Forum. The event, held in conjunction with the “111 Project,” has a goal of asking God to raise up 111 families out of His church to foster children in Oklahoma. The initiative is asking Christians to pray and participate as God directs.
On the issue of adoption and foster care, however, talk is easy. Participation is much harder. First, there is a great investment of time and money. The adoption process, especially internationally, can be expensive. Next, there are the emotional risks. Hearts and homes that are open to adoption and fostering are also open to disappointment.
Yet anything worth doing is difficult. Our own leader, Anthony Jordan and his wife Polla, as adoptive parents, have set the bar high for us. We ought to applaud Oklahoma Baptist families who have adopted or chosen to foster care. Indeed, many churches throughout the state are forming adoption ministries in which whole congregations support those families in the church who are adopting or fostering children.
“Not all Christians are called to adopt,” said one Oklahoma Baptist pastor. “But all Christians are called to support adoption.” The newly elected leader for the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Russell D. Moore, is a leading voice in the adoption movement.
Moore, who has adopted, has written an important work called Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches. Moore recognizes that adoption in Christian circles is no longer viewed as a secondary option if you cannot have children biologically. I, for one, personally know many couples who have biological children and also have adopted children.
Perhaps what is most encouraging of all is Christians are seeing the act of adoption clearly paints a picture of the Gospel to a watching world. After all, even secular society can love their own (Luke 6:32). Adoption, meanwhile, is taking in someone left on the outside by circumstances and bringing them on the inside, grafting them into a loving home.
The Apostle Paul uses the picture of adoption to speak about our salvation in Christ. “He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will.” (Eph. 1:5). The Bible, in multiple accounts, extols the care of orphans (James 1:27).
With May being National Foster Care Awareness Month, now is the perfect time for every Christian to consider what role the Lord would have us take in foster care and adoption. Together, we can make a loud statement to the world that God’s people, more than any other group, love these children and care about their future.