ADOPTION ON TRIAL: THE TOP THREE QUESTIONS I GET ON INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

by Jared Wellman on May 12, 2014 · 24 comments

Since announcing our adoption roughly two years ago, my wife and I have encountered a range of questions concerning the details of the process. This article cites the three most often asked questions and provides insights into each of them.

1. WHY ADOPT WHEN YOU CAN HAVE KIDS OF YOUR OWN?

When my wife and I first announced our adoption, we didn’t have any kids. Today we have a biological daughter. Naturally, before the pregnancy, many assumed that we discovered that we were unable to have biological children. We began to hear comments like, “You just wait! I know of a lot of couples that decided to adopt and then got pregnant!” (You can imagine their elation once we announced our pregnancy!) We also began to get some sympathetic looks in attempts to mend our alleged pain. We even had some rather bold personalities directly ask us if we can’t have kids.

Now that we have a daughter we often hear the question, “Are you still planning to adopt?”

The question assumes that adoption is reserved as a secondary plan for parents that can’t have kids, and that adopting while also having the ability to have biological children is like adding an unneeded ingredient to a recipe.

The “cake” is just fine without the “extra cup of sugar.”

Our motivation for adoption is rooted in our faith in Christ. This is why it isn’t dependent on our ability or inability to have biological children. We knew we wanted to have biological children and we also knew we wanted to adopt, so we pursued both.

It doesn’t have to be “either/or”; it can be “both/and.”

2. WHY ADOPT OVERSEAS WHEN YOU CAN ADOPT IN AMERICA?

As a pastor I often get the question, “Pastor, why go on mission trips overseas whenever we have lost people right here in our own city!” My answer to such a question is likened to my answer to the current question concerning adoption: Why should love be restricted to regions?

Like the previous question, this one assumes that we have only one option. It also assumes that one option is better. But the gospel isn’t restricted to our local contexts. If I travel to a neighboring town and come across a lost person, I would never tell him, “I would love to share the gospel with you, but you see, there are a ton of lost people in my hometown, so I cannot talk to you about how you can have eternal life in Jesus.”

This is because the gospel is for everyone. We should share it with our neighbors across the street and with the strangers across the world.

This is what Jesus taught:

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:14).

The amazing thing about God’s love is that it is unrestricted. And this truth translates into the ministry of adoption. It is true that our nation hosts countless children that need a mom and dad, but this doesn’t negate the truth that other nations also host countless children that need a mom and dad. Like the calling of a missionary to serve in the field, so God calls couples to adopt children from all over the world, and that is a testimony to his relentless love for “all creation.”

3. WHY ARE YOU ADOPTING A CHILD OF A DIFFERENT ‘RACE’?

Of all the questions we have had, this one is the most vitriolic. We have lost longtime relationships with individuals because of their vehement opposition to our desire to adopt a child that might have a dark skin pigmentation.

Such a child, in their words, “Is not welcome in our home.”

It is important to note that this question is misguided in that there is one human race. If this truth could be understood then the type of thinking mentioned above could be abolished. While it is true that our race includes people with different skin pigmentations, such differences do not categorize people into different races. Such thinking leads to ethnocentrism, which results in things like the Holocaust.

It would be naive to suggest that a light skinned family adopting a child with a dark skin pigmentation does not come with its obstacles. I often think about what it would be like if I was the only light skinned person in a family, adopted out of my country of origin. It would undoubtedly invoke issues. But these issues are not insurmountable. In fact, victory in such issues would be beneficial. And this is one of the reasons why we believe God has called us to go in this direction.

Multi-ethnic families can provide a beautiful picture of God’s boundless love for people of all different colors and nations.

ADOPTION IS LOVE

Adoption is a glorious thing. It’s the act of a guardian embracing an unguarded child and saying, “I choose you as my son.” What a remarkable thought! An adopted child can claim something that nobody else can: “My mom and dad came after me. When I was lost, they found me and gave me love.”

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).

Such love is not bounded by the restrictions listed in the questions above. It transcends them. And it’s the love that God illustrates to the world. As potential parents of an adopted child, we choose to love this child because God chose to love us.

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tarheel May 12, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Excellent article!

I especially liked the Answer you give to the question about ‘race’ and geography!

“It is important to note that this question is misguided in that there is one human race. If this truth could be understood then the type of thinking mentioned above could be abolished. While it is true that our race includes people with different skin pigmentations, such differences do not categorize people into different races. Such thinking leads to ethnocentrism, which results in things like the Holocaust.”

Amen and amen!

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2 Tarheel May 12, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Adoption is a beautiful and godly endeavor! Thanks for this article.

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3 Jared Wellman May 12, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Thank you for the kind words Tarheel.

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4 Tarheel May 12, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Christians who adopt are demonstrating the gospel in multiple ways and I think that’s really cool.

I just wish it was more affordable.

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5 Jim G. May 12, 2014 at 10:00 pm

I want to wish you the very best in your adoption quest, Jared. We have adopted internationally three times in the past 11 years. Two of our children are from South Korea and one from China. God the Father will have a whole new meaning for you. You will see your adoption in Christ every time you look at that precious little one. I’m so happy for you.

Jim G.

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6 Jim G. May 12, 2014 at 10:02 pm

BTW, talking about adoption is so much more fun than all of this Calvinism nonsense. When compared to giving an orphan a forever family, a lot of this other stuff seems rightly insignificant.

By the way, Russ Moore’s “Adopted for Life” is a great book.

Jim G.

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7 andy May 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Dr. Moore is a 4-pointer, I think, so I’d be careful of anything HE says…

…just kidding!

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8 Tarheel May 12, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Bawahahahaha.

I was thinkin’ it. ;-)

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9 Rick White May 12, 2014 at 11:08 pm

As the father of an adopted daughter and the grandfather of an adopted granddaughter (both international) I applaud you. Blessings.

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10 parsonsmike May 12, 2014 at 11:12 pm

I am glad i was adopted!

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11 Jim Pemberton May 13, 2014 at 8:37 am

Adoption is a picture of our relationship with God as much as marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church. Especially since Gentiles have been grafted in, to mix metaphors, interracial adoption demonstrates the love that God has for us Gentiles. We are his just as surely as Abraham was his.

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12 Nick Horton May 13, 2014 at 9:50 am

My wife and I have been trying to adopt for three years now. We’ve run into all the same questions you’ve run in to. We’ve drawn lines with family members because we are adopting from Ethiopia. I have made it clear that if I have to choose between my child and them, my child wins.

We’ve run into nationalism (why not adopt an American kid?), racism (mentioned above), and other “isms” I can’t name. “But you have a biological child, why adopt?” “But you can still have children, why adopt?” Etc. Etc. Etc.

Add on to that our first agency went bankrupt and we lost everything (~20k in funding) and people say, “See, God is saying don’t adopt.” I want to scream from the roof tops at these times that God’s love is not so constrained, lazy, racist, or elitist that he didn’t come for me when I was lost in a far off country.

Sorry… blowing off steam. Rare that adoptive parents or hopefully expectant adoptive couples can vent anywhere.

God bless you and others mentioned here for obeying God’s call on you to embody the gospel so fully and visibly. Adoption is not for everyone. It’s hard. It’s painful. It will cost you a lot more than large sums of money.

But so did my sin cost Christ much.

I cling to that verse… “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Somewhere in Ethiopia is a daughter waiting for my wife and I. I will not leave her because it’s hard or expensive or she looks different. She is mine. I am coming for her.

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13 Jeff Johnson May 13, 2014 at 10:14 am

Nick, I think you have the right attitude. Why do people think that God’s will never requires us to take risks or make sacrifices? Regardless of what happens, you are right not to give up on your Ethiopian daughter. I’ll be praying for you, brother.

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14 Moz May 13, 2014 at 10:00 am

All good stuff. Did you really have people say that your adopted child would not be welcome in your home? I honestly cannot even imagine someone saying that out loud. If someone said that to me, I’d be looking for Ashton Kutcher to bust in and say I was being punked.

Moz

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15 Jeff Johnson May 13, 2014 at 10:11 am

I’m going to guess that most of the folks objecting “But there are kids here in America who need help” are not foster/adoptive parents to American orphans themselves.

Our family is hosting a teenager from an Eastern European orphanage this summer. We’re not going into the hosting program with the specific intent to adopt, but God may lead us to take that step. May God bless you and your family in the adoption journey, Jared!

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16 Jim Pemberton May 13, 2014 at 10:46 am

Regarding the “there are children in the US who need adopting,” I did a brief study last year to see how many adopting families there are compared to the number of children in the US. The data is hard to come by that compares apples to apples, but a conservative estimate revealed that there are several times more families waiting to adopt children than there are children to adopt in the US. There are enough families wanting to adopt to adopt all the children who will be aborted for at least the next five years. The average wait for children to be adopted in the US is a year (and I couldn’t find statistics for age groups, but I suspect babies get adopted much faster and there are more issues with older children who have unfit parents who won’t give up parental rights). So there are not as many children available for adoption in the US as many people might think. It’s more expensive typically to adopt from overseas, and at least as much red tape, but parents who want to adopt will go the extra mile to provide a good home for a child. God bless them all.

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17 Jeff Johnson May 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Interesting; I had not thought about it quite that way before. It makes sense, though. I’ve heard stories of parents waiting for an eligible child, and of having their hearts broken when the biological parent(s) have a last-minute change of heart.

I’ve just never been a fan of criticizing someone for the specific ministry or calling they’ve chosen. There are plenty of people around the world who need help. If someone has a burden for American orphans, then he should get involved himself and rally others to the cause rather than putting guilt on someone adopting from overseas.

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18 Nick Horton May 13, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Hear, hear.

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19 Frank Ligtvoet May 13, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Dear Sir,

You seem to live in a closed Evengelical world. May I ask you and your supporters to read Kathryn Joyce’s book The Child Cathers (http://kathrynjoyce.com), which documents the problems international adoption creates in other countries. Your co-evangelical David Smolin wrote about the issues with Orphan Theology: ‘OF ORPHANS AND ADOPTION, PARENTS AND THE POOR, EXPLOITATION AND RESCUE: A SCRIPTURAL AND THEOLOGICAL CRITIQUE OF THE EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN ADOPTION AND ORPHAN CARE MOVEMENT’ (http://works.bepress.com/david_smolin/10/) Further you may look into the work of John Raible and his work on transracial adoption (http://johnraible.wordpress.com).

Sincerely,

Frank Ligtvoet
Brooklyn

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20 Nick Horton May 14, 2014 at 8:25 am

A response to Ms. Joyce’s book based on its merits and shortfalls can be found here: http://www.christianalliancefororphans.org/childcatchers/

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21 Jim G. May 14, 2014 at 11:11 am

Dear Frank from Brooklyn,

I for one do not live in a closed Evangelical world. I am also not ignorant of the problems of international adoption. I’ve done it not once, not twice, but three times. Am I aware that human trafficking may very well exist in these circles? Yes. I experienced it once, while pursuing an international adoption from a country in Eastern Europe. I hung up on a guy who was willing to help my wife and I adopt who sounded like the Godfather.

That being said, to lump all international adoption into the scrap heap pile as do Joyce and Simolin is wrong on all levels. I for one am not willing to say that abandoned children here or abroad are better off not being adopted. Even with the evils in the “big system,” it is better for them to have a home and a family than not.

By the way, Simolin needs to stick to law. I am a terminally-degreed, trained theologian, and his biblical/hermeneutical argument against international adoption is an exercise in grasping at straws. He commits more hermeneutical blunders than you “can shake a stick at.” Just because somebody with a law degree writes a hack piece does not mean it is a solid example of biblical scholarship. I have no business writing legal briefs; he needs to stay out of fields where he is not an expert if he wants to be taken for an expert.

Sincerely,
Jim Gifford
Charlotte

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22 Frank Ligtvoet May 24, 2014 at 12:15 am

Dear Jim Gifford,

Thanks for your comments. I would love to hear from the author of the piece as well. It is by the way Smolin, not Simolin, David Smolin, who next to this piece extensively wrote about what he calls ‘child laundering’. I suggest that you read some blogs by international adoptees to get a better grasp what adoption means for those who are adopted. Further I would like you to look into the feelings and lives of first parents, like in this piece on Ethiopia: http://lightofdaystories.com/2014/05/22/invisible-silent-birth-parents-what-do-we-know-of-their-grief/

Sincerely,

Frank Ligtvoet

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23 DeLeith Gossett May 15, 2014 at 1:48 am

And then, there is this perspective. http://deeperstory.com/sovereignly-adopted/

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24 Joel May 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Great post! Here is how I have answered those three questions: 1. My daughter IS “a child of my own,” every bit as much as her two brothers are my kids, she is too! 2. She is of the SAME race…the human one! 3. Because that’s where my daughter was. If your daughter was overseas, wouldn’t you go get her, no matter where she was?

We need more conversations like this one. Thanks! :)

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