Whatever you do, don’t adopt an orphan. By the time you read this blog post, dozens of children will have lost their parents or been abandoned. They’ll have been taken to orphanages that likely do not have the resources to take care of them. They’ll be swallowed up in a crowd of over 200 million faces worldwide.
But don’t adopt them—at least, not until you count the cost. Dr. Russell Moore puts it this way:
But Jesus tells us we ought to know that a king going into battle must measure his troops, a tower-builder must count the expenses of the project (Lk. 14:28-31). Those who see adoption as a warm, sentimental way of having a baby are mistaken and dangerous. There are far too many who plunge in without counsel, without a commitment to fidelity no matter what. They search around for a baby who fits their specifications. And babies never fit your specifications… at least not when they grow up.
If what’s behind all of this isn’t crucified, war-fighting, eyes-open commitment, you are going to wind up with a child who is twice orphaned. He or she will be abandoned the first time by fatherlessness and the second time by the rejection of failing to live up to the expectations of parents who had no business imposing such expectations in the first place.
This month has been called National Adoption Month, and a number of articles have highlighted just how tragic the orphan epidemic has become. Joe Carter at The Gospel Coalition points out nine important facts:
5. Children raised in orphanages have an IQ 20 points lower than their peers in foster care, according to a meta-analysis of 75 studies (more than 3,800 children in 19 countries).
8. The average length of time a child waits to be adopted in foster care is over 3 years. Roughly 55% of these children have had three or more placements. One study found that 33% of children had changed elementary schools five or more times, losing relationships and falling behind educationally.
Jim Denison of the Denison Forum paints an even bleaker picture and shows how we got to this point:
Today, 5,760 children will become orphans around the world. Another 38,493 orphans will “age out” of institutional care with no family and no place to call home. Sixty percent of these girls will become prostitutes; 70 percent of these boys will become hardened criminals.
God is the Father of the fatherless (Psalm 68:5), and we are to follow His example by practicing true religion in reaching out to orphans and widows (James 1:27). But approaching adoption as a means of finding “just the right” orphan can, as Dr. Moore pointed out, lead to more heartache.
Instead, our attitude is to be that of Christ, who loved us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). He chose us, not for our goodness or attractiveness or social prestige, but because of His sacrificial love (Ephesians 1:4).
So, don’t adopt an orphan. Instead, count the cost, and then accept a child that God loves as a part of your family. They won’t be perfect… but then again, neither are you.
We’d love to hear from those who have or are in the midst of adding to their family. Share your experience in the comments.
I recently interview Craig Juntunen of Both Ends Burning on counting the costs of international adoption. See what he had to say: