What does God think of adoption?
It’s an interesting question: what does God think of adoption?
Abrazo is not a church-related adoption agency. We are not affiliated with any religious institution, nor does Abrazo receive funding from any faith-based organizations. Yet, our adoption community is undoubtedly fueled by faith, and even as a private, nonprofit, secular adoption agency, we do believe that the healthiest of children, parents and families typically are those with a strong spiritual foundation.
We do not purport to have “the answer” for everybody. We do, however, support each individual’s quest for answers as to life’s greatest questions, wherever that search may lead them.
What does the Bible say about adoption?
According to the Bible says, the concept of adoption goes as far back as the Old Testament, as found in the stories of Moses (Exodus 2:10,) Esther (Esther 2:7) and Genubath (1 Kings 11:20.) In the New Testament, Ephesians 1:5 tells us that God predestined us in love to be adopted as His children through Jesus Christ, “in accordance with God’s pleasure and God’s will.”
The Jews of the Old Testament had no adoption laws of which there are any records. Still, by the time of the New Testament, the Greeks, Romans and Babylonians had carefully-prescribed standards and rituals for adoption, and the loving and sacrificial connotations of adoption are reflected in the Scriptural references of adoption as a form of grace and salvation.
Yet if we are to assume that adoption is part of God’s plan, does that mean infertility and unplanned pregnancy (and the grief and loss that can also accompany adoption) are, too? And if God’s plan is perfect, how do reproductive issues fit that claim? It’s difficult to reconcile this with the concept of a loving, benevolent God whose parental desire is to shield His children from harm, isn’t it? Abrazo’s clients and staff often struggle to understand this at times– and yet, we have to believe that even God Himself/Herself compassionately hears and understands our questions, even if the answers may seem slow in coming.
We would never be so presumptuous as to seek to speak for our Creator. Based on our years of faithful service to the adoption community, however, this is how we make sense of it, here at Abrazo.
Where is God in all of this?
These are age-old questions for which there are no easy answers. Yet any loving parent can remember a time that their children failed to follow their parents’ wishes for their lives, resulting in disappointment or pain. Any child can remember a time when they thought their plan was better than that of some grownup they knew, only to find out it wasn’t so.
Most people of faith believe that God’s plans are not subject to human understanding, much as we strive to make sense of that which seems counter to our own wishes or desires. That’s where faith comes in, and trusting in God’s promise to bring God’s purposes to pass, in all situations. Most Christians believe that God gives human beings free will, which means our plans are sometimes subject to developments God would not have chosen for us, yet God is with us in the face of every challenge.
To quote Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People:
“God does not cause our misfortunes. Some are caused by bad luck, some are caused by bad people,and some are simply an inevitable consequence of our being human and being mortal, living in a world of inflexible natural laws. The painful things that happen to us are not punishments for our misbehavior, nor are they in any way part of some grand design on God’s part. Because the tragedy is not God’s will, we need not feel hurt or betrayed by God when tragedy strikes. We can turn to Him for help in overcoming it, precisely because we can tell ourselves that God is as outraged by it as we are.”
How to manage an adoption-related crisis of faith
Finding yourself pregnant at the worst possible time, or not pregnant at the best possible time, or feeling not at home in your adoptive family can easily lead to a crisis of faith.
It’s not uncommon for birthparents, adoptees or adoptive parents to wonder if adoption truly is/was part of God’s plan for their lives–or not? If you find yourself in this spot, rest assured that it’s okay to question where God is in all of this, because God is surely great enough to bear the burden of your uncertainty. God knows what is in your heart, and God can lead you to the answers that you seek– all in God’s perfect time.
Birthmothers considering adoption have often been told by well-meaning busybodies that if God didn’t want them to parent, God wouldn’t have allowed the pregnancy to occur, which may be a dangerous misconception (pun intended) of God’s presence in any sexual assault, incest case, date rape or one-night-stand. God doesn’t wish for His/Her children to become victims in any way, but the gift of free will means we sometimes find ourselves the victim of our own actions, or those of others. And if we are victimized, God responds to our cries for help, and yes, can bring blessings and miracles about– the amazing scope of which we never may have anticipated.
Some people with infertility who long to become parents sometimes find themselves thanking God for their unwanted fertility diagnosis after an adoption occurs. Why is this, when surely nobody would voluntarily have signed up for that heartache? It’s because they come to realize that for all the pain and loss of their infertility, they could never have had the child they now do had it not been for their inability to conceive as they had once hoped they would. God doesn’t (ever) wish tragedy upon us, but when tragedy strikes, God can send help and yes, bring about abundant blessings and miracles we may never have encountered any other way.
Adoptees who have gone through life longing to have known their birthfamilies or who never felt they truly fit into their adoptive families or who experienced abuse or rejection or shame can easily find themselves doubting God’s master plan for their lives. The God of wanderers like Moses and doubters like Sarah and lonely messiahs like Christ undoubtedly understands an adoptee’s sense of loss. God didn’t wish their loss on them, yet God surely longs to be a part of their redemption, drawing them close and enabling them to receive the blessing of belonging, the miracle of fullness and so much more.
If you are struggling with a crisis of faith in the midst of your adoption, please know that you do not have to go through it alone. If you belong to a faith community, find a pastor, priest or rabbi who you can talk to, and if you don’t have one, or can’t find one within your community that understands, keep searching for a qualified pastoral counselor who does– remember that they need not belong to your particular denomination to be effective. Other options that some have found helpful are keeping a prayer journal or meditation or making use of free prayer hotlines like the ones at KLOVE or Guideposts.
How does all this apply to me?
Glad you asked! (This is a lot to think about, isn’t it?)
We do believe that the God of the Gospels holds accountable anyone who exploits or misuses the adoption of children for nefarious purposes, considering the Scriptures (Matthew 18:6, Luke 17:2 and Mark 9:42) that warn that anyone who causes harm to a child would be better off drowning with a millstone around their neck.
We do not believe that adoption is ever intended by God to be a punishment, even if church institutions may have historically recommended the adoption option to unmarried women as a sort of penance for being pregnant out of wedlock.
We believe that God would almost surely frown on any parent using adoption as a threat voiced to misbehaving children, or making open adoption covenants they do not keep.
And we would strongly encourage any expectant parent or prospective adopter with infertility who harbors secret fears that God “struck them down” with pregnancy or infertility as a penalty for past mistakes to seek pastoral counseling to free themselves of such a notion.
After all: if the word of God assures us that God Himself/Herself intended for us all to be adopted by Him/Her, then we have it on good word that the answer to “what does God think of adoption?” is that He/She intends it to be “very, very good” (to quote the Creation story in Genesis)— if only we can all learn to do it in a more divine manner.