November is National Adoption Month. Many advocates, and in particular evangelicals, are making the case for why Christians should prayerfully consider adoption. In reading through some of the material I was surprised to find a “hard sell” from one of an influential Christian leader against adoption.
“Don’t Adopt!” This is how Dr. Russell Moore began a recent article concerning adoption. Why would Moore, an outspoken proponent for adoption speak so emphatically against adoption? He simply wants people to consider why they want to adopt and how that motive will translate into a life of “cross-bearing love.”
Dr. Moore writes:
If you want your “dream baby,” do not adopt or foster a child: buy a cat and make-believe. Adopting an orphan isn’t ordering a consumer item or buying a pet. Such a mindset hurts the child, and countless other children and families. Adoption is about taking on risk as cross-bearing love.
Moore is saying that if you are considering adoption and approaching it like a consumer then you should stop and go buy something. Don’t adopt. The mindset behind adoption is not about meeting a need for you the parent. Instead, it is about meeting a need for the child.
If we are thinking biblically we would understand immediately what Moore is writing. His point is, “Don’t adopt in order to love yourself. Adopt in order to love someone else.”
We learn in the Bible that love “…does not seek its own…” (1 Cor. 13:5). The Bible also teaches that God is love (1 John 4:8). How does God demonstrate that love? By sending Jesus to lay down his life to save sinners like you and me (1 John 4:10). Love, therefore, is about a willful, joyful sacrifice of ourselves in the service of another for their holiness. Certainly you can hear Dr. Moore saying, “Don’t adopt if you are trying to love yourself through this.” What a disaster for the kids and the parents if this is the case.
His hard sell continues. Moore insists that we should not adopt if we are not ready to be hurt. This goes for all parents of course, but should be considered for prospective adoptive parents also.
Love of any kind brings risk, and, in a fallen world, brings hurt. Simeon tells our Lord’s mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, that a sword would pierce her heart. That’s true, in some sense, for every mother and every father. Even beyond that, every adoption, every orphan, represents a tragedy. Someone was killed, someone left, someone was impoverished or someone was diseased. Wrapped up in each situation is some kind of hurt, and all that accompanies that. That’s the reason there really is no adoption that is not a “special needs” adoption; you just might not know on the front end what those special needs are.
Don’t adopt if you are not ready to be hurt. When you give yourself to someone you give yourself to another sinner. This is done in the midst of a world that is cursed for sin. As a result, the stage and the actors, so to speak, are all beset by weakness. We should be surprised when good things happen. We should treasures such times and persevere by grace through the tough times.
Once we have examined our motives, counted the cost, and felt the stiff wind of a cursed world upon our face then we are able to, if God leads, to consider moving forward with adoption. In other words, Moore is arguing, once you have come to steep in the gospel for some time you will remember who you are, that you have been adopted, that you have been lavished with grace, that you have been loved (as defined above) by the One who is love, and that you are now motivated to show that love to others. Christian should never ignore the gospel in anything we do, but especially not in parenting.