By Marsha Orbke
When one reads the Scriptures, adoption signifies a blessed gift from God in both the physical and spiritual. Both the adopted and the one adopting receive blessings in many ways. Right now, we see our local governments running much of the adoption & foster care process. They are constantly overwhelmed with so many children of various ages needing stable home environments either through foster care or adoption. How should Christians view orphan care, and why should the church get more involved? We will look at ways Scripture speaks to the Christian and/or the Church as adoption and/or orphan care being not only a blessing, but a reflection of Christianity and the Church.
First, let us look at some statistics of children in need of a stable home environment. In 2019 at the end of September, 251,359 children entered into foster care in the U.S. (according to Children’s Bureau division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Also, at that time, the report stated that there were over 400,000 children in foster care, with that number gaining speed. Many children need a loving home environment to advocate, love, and care for them, but do not have access to such a home today.
Adoption in the Bible
Moses was adopted by one of Pharoah’s daughters and grew up to faithfully serve God. Also, in the Old Testament we can look at Esther, whose parents both died. Mordecai (her cousin) adopted her as his own daughter. Esther became queen, and God equipped her to deliver His people (the Jews).
Jesus Christ, Himself, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, was adopted by Joseph (Mary’s husband). Joseph raised Jesus as his own son. We also get a vivid picture how God adopts us, believers in Christ Jesus, into God’s own family.
Throughout the Old and New Testament God speaks of the importance of protecting and caring for the fatherless or orphans. In the book of Deuteronomy alone, there are at least ten references speaking on how the twelve tribes are to reflect character by caring for orphans, widows, and sojourners of the land (Deuteronomy 10:18; 14:28-29; 24:17-21; 27:19; 26:12-13 and more). In fact, there are 60+ Scripture verses throughout the Bible speaking up for the fatherless or orphans and seeking justice for the weak and those who cannot speak for themselves. A verse in the book of James is familiar to most, which says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). When reading the book of Jeremiah, the prophet declares that caring for the fatherless is a prerequisite to dwell in the “promised land” that God prepared for them (Jeremiah 7:6-7). The Bible is not silent on caring for orphans, who need adopting and a voice to advocate for them.
Adoption and orphan care is also valuable to the Christian faith, because it is a beautiful illustration of the Gospel. We (Christians) do not become part of God’s family by conception, but through “adoption” (Romans 8:15 & Ephesians 1:5). When someone pictures a child, who was once without a family or permanent home, but has been found by loving adoptive parents, that child now has a new home, new life, and a new sense of security he/she may have never known before. This is a picture of how Christians become a part of the family of God. We too, were once Fatherless and without an eternal home, but God chose us and redeemed us from eternal condemnation through Jesus Christ and has given us a new heart, new eternal home, a new life, and a new spiritual family amongst all believers.
No other worldview aligns with adoption like Christianity. God became man (conceived of the Holy Spirit & born of the virgin Mary) and was adopted into a human family by Joseph. Even so, Joseph’s adoptive son was The Redeemer, who in turn adopted Joseph into the family of God.
Ephesians 5:1-2 states, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” We love God “because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). If we are to imitate Christ, what better way to show God’s love, especially His “adoptive love” but in caring for orphans through adoption and/or foster care? This is exactly what God has done by bringing Christians into His family, so now we call one another “brothers and sisters” in Christ. Therefore, we can demonstrate that love through the acts of adoption or even foster care.
Though God may not call every believer in Christ to physically adopt a child or even foster a child, we as the local church can work together to be a part of this beautiful experience. We, the church, have many members with a variety of spiritual gifts and talents as noted in 1 Corinthians. By this, the whole church can be involved in the work of adoption and caring for the fatherless and weak. Not everyone will work in the same way, but all of us have been called to care for orphans and defend the weak. A few examples:
- Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
- Psalm 82:3 “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.”
- Proverbs 21:3 “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”
Some ways that we can all work together as the church:
- Through adoption or fostering a child ourselves
- Giving financial support in any way of the process before or after
- Helping disciple families in adoptions or fostering
- Prayer support
- Encouraging families through the process by sharing experiences of other adoptive families or foster parents
- Helping advocate through the process of adoption or fostering
- Help support The Journey Church Foster Care Ministry – email Bo Linam (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get plugged in
- There may be other ways that someone’s heart leads them to get involved. As a church, we would celebrate life and adoption by creating a culture of orphan care.
We should see that God has instructed us to be “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-14). We can demonstrate the love of Christ in a big way, when we get involved in foster care and/or adoption. We cannot save every child, but we can show love and defend the weak one child at a time. Not every child is essentially “fatherless”, but many have been separated from their biological families and need defending & care. It was never the government’s responsibility to be the solution to this problem – it was the church. We should see the church as being the primary means of restoring and building families. So let Christians rise to the call of caring for orphans and defending & protecting the innocent. Let the church celebrate together that adoption and foster care are essential in reflecting the character of the Christian faith as imitators of Christ.