Throughout our journey to adopt our sons from the foster care system we have encountered many people who, in conversation, volunteer their lists of reasons why they cannot adopt. I am often surprised at how many of these people are Christian. They will tell us how wonderful they think we are because we “saved” our kids. They tell us that we are special, that it takes a special person to adopt. They tell us that they don’t have enough money, enough space, enough time to adopt. They even tell us that they don’t feel “called” to help, to adopt these kids. I cringe at the mere suggestion that one could be excluded from the call to help the orphans.
James 1:27 (NIV) says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” I think this verse is often overlooked by the Christian community. To me, there are very few ways to interpret this statement. There are over 100 million children in the world who are orphans. In the US there are more than 150,000 children at any given moment who have been waiting some time to have a forever family. Our oldest son waited ten years. I look at him and at the pain he endured and ask myself where we as Christians are in all of this. What is our role? Does this passage in James tell us to look away? Does Jesus ever ask us to focus on our own comfort? Are we not all striving for “faultless religion”, the kind of religion our Father loves?
So often our desire for children is centered around our own wants, our own needs, our own ideas of what family should be. We focus on what it is we want and discard what it is that God wants. I really, really want the baby growing inside of me to be a girl. It is a bit ridiculous how badly I want this baby to be a girl. But no matter how hard I wish for a girl and no matter how much pink I buy, this baby will be whomever God wants it to be. I cannot request a healthy child with beautiful blue eyes. I cannot request a child who is easy to get along with, one who brings joy and peace wherever she goes. I can’t request that she be slender and tall. The only option I have is to trust that the Lord is leading our family and that He will bring us the child He means for us to have. In the same way, I cannot ask that He rearrange His word to suit my desires. Caring for the orphan is hard, hard work. Adoption will never be easy for any of us. It is an amazing blessing but at the root, there is heartache for someone, often most of all for our child. I cannot run from the call to care for the orphan because it is hard. I cannot run from it because it isn’t convenient. I cannot accept the excuses that my mind creates and allow them to turn me from pushing forward toward the call my Father has laid out for me. I must read this verse and make it my mantra. I must know in my heart that a call from God is never put forth lightly. He doesn’t mince His words. We are all called to care for the kids who hearts ache with the loneliness of waiting to be loved.
Don’t ask yourself IF you are called to these kids, ask HOW you can fulfill the calling God our Father has set forth. Then pursue your calling to help the orphans in their distress. It is true that not all of us can adopt for a variety of very valid reasons. So help the orphan in another way. Find your state’s photolisting of children who are waiting for a family. Print out a picture of a child or children who wait. Hang them on your fridge and pray for them daily. Pray for the family who will be matched with that child. Find a reputable Christian organization that offers child sponsorship and add a child to your family in that way. Find an adoptive family that could use some childcare and step up to the plate. So often, so many of us are tired and weary and don’t want to ask someone to take on the task of watching our difficult children. Go to your local Children’s Home and volunteer your time to read to children who have been brought in from abusive situations. Go to the store and buy a pile of diapers and deliver them to the mom who just brought her beautiful bundle of joy home from China. Send a note to a child in your church who was just adopted welcoming him or her into your church family. There are a million and one ways to care for the orphan. There are just as many ways to care for adoptive parents. Decide HOW you can be a part of God’s call to the orphan, and then pursue that task with your heart invested. We are ALL called.