Guest post by Grant Hanson
Well, I’m going to try and infiltrate this “family” blog and share a bit about adoption. Jen doesn’t even know I’m doing this, but I’ve talked with her about writing stuff on here before, so it’s ok. 🙂 Ok, so I talked to her about writing a post on my thoughts on the relationship between Woody and Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story. Seriously, Potato Head has some issues! But, that’s for another day. Today, I’d like to talk about adoption.
As I’m sure most of you know, our family is adopting! We are currently in the middle of a long process as we wait to be matched with a child (or two) from South Africa. It’s been a long (over a year and a half) process already, and could be another year, give or take, until we come home with our child(ren).
Disclaimer: this post is not exhaustive or even comprehensive. Although, I feel led to share a few thoughts regarding adoption and our process and passion behind it. I especially would like to share at this time due to the upcoming Orphan Sunday and National Adoption Month.
We’ve become more and more passionate about the orphan as time has gone and as we have gotten deeper into the process. Which is a little weird to me, honestly, because a few years ago, I hadn’t thought about it at all. Through a series of circumstances, God had opened our hearts to children who have no families. Orphans. Now, I would not consider myself an expert by any means on all of the factors that go into a child becoming orphaned. In fact, when I think about all of the issues surrounding orphans/orphan care in the world, I’m overwhelmed.
To a point, I think that’s ok. I think that’s a bit of the point right now, to be overwhelmed. Let’s consider a few statistics for a minute. There are an estimated 153 million orphans in the world. Almost 18 million of those have lost both parents. In the United States alone, there are almost 400,000 children living without permanent families. And here’s something shocking- these numbers, estimated, don’t even include those just living on the streets, or in institutions, or involved in human-trafficking, etc.
Ugh. Think about it. Isn’t that just insane? Ok, maybe for some of you, it doesn’t sound so crazy because you know someone, are related to someone, or are someone who has been impacted by neglect, abuse, loss of a parent or parents, etc. And my heart literally breaks right now for both you and those that I’m talking about.
“So,” you might think, “there are many children in this world that are orphaned, and, yeah, something probably needs to happen. But what, and really, why?”
If you’re not interested in what the Bible has to say about this, I’m sure you can find some good humanitarian reasons to pursue orphan care through foster care or adoption. However, Jen and I follow Jesus and look to the Bible for guidance, so we’re coming at this from a Christian perspective, and we know many of you who are reading this will be doing the same.
I believe that in a sinful world, we are sinners and in need of a transformation. We are heading towards not only a physical death, but a spiritual one. Our hearts are full of sin and we can’t make any choice that isn’t affected by this. Our only hope lies in one who has power over sin and death, and that is the risen Jesus Christ. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21 If you would like to talk about this more in person, I’d love to. I’m sure you know how to drop me a line, or feel free to leave a comment here.
Jesus Christ has gripped and transformed my life in such a way. This is commonly known as the Gospel, or the Good News. The central story of the Gospel is that Jesus came to die in our place so that we might be known as God’s…children. In the Bible, how the Gospel applies to us is talked about frequently in the theme of Father and child.
1 John 3:1
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (all scripture references found in ESV)
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
It really seems crazy to me when I think about it that God would want me in his family. I’m so rebellious and unlovable, yet he loves me, he has chosen me, he has redeemed me, I am his child, I am his son.
One of our favorite quotes is from Voddie Baucham, “Adoption is a horizontal expression of a vertical reality.”
God has opened our hearts to see this truth and has basically insisted that we express our gratitude and his grace in the adoption of a child.
Jen and I see such a clear picture of the Gospel in orphan care and specifically in adoption. The correlation isn’t accidental. God calls every Christian to do something, in some way, for the orphan (and the widow).
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.
learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.
Pure and undefiled religion. Pure and undefiled! Visit orphans and widows in their affliction. God obviously has a huge heart for orphans and widows.
Look, I’m not the purest or most undefiled person in the world. I struggle daily to fight selfishness and pride, especially around my children! I mean, I have two toddlers under 4 for goodness sakes! And they’re both boys! That are constantly throwing things, fighting with weapons, talking about poop, climbing on things, sneaking under their beds, not sharing, talking about poop, etc. etc. poop poopy poop! But, I still love them, much like God loves me and embraces me in the midst of my rebellion.
I’m trying to do the same for my children and point them to God in the process. There are children that never get this chance! There are children who don’t get to climb on things or do anything but lay in their crib in the orphanage. There are kids who don’t have any toys to share or anyone to share them with. There are even kids that are forced to actually fight with weapons. Kids. If there’s something that I can do for at least one child, I’m going to ask God to help, give me grace, and provide.
I would ask that you consider the Gospel, consider God’s imperatives regarding the orphan (and the widow), and seriously pray. Ask God if he wants you to express His heart and the vertical reality of the Gospel in a specific way toward the “earthly” orphan and/or widow.
If you’re more interested in this whole “adoption” or “orphan care” thing, here are some resources for you to consider:
Bethany Christian Services – our adoption agency
Adopted for Life – an insanely good and important read for ANYONE.
Successful Adoption – a good book on how to navigate adoption as a Christian.
A Guide to Adoption and Orphan Care – a quick read but really informative and helpful!
Orphans and Adoption – a workshop given by Voddie Baucham and Russell Moore at the 2011 TGC National Conference- this hour long talk really educated/challenged/impacted us!!
Thank you for reading this lengthy post, and I hope you are encouraged!