“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress….”  James 1:27 NIV

It is a quandary in modern times that Christians who want to adopt children can’t afford it, while larger churches individually spend millions of dollars on buildings, and billions of dollars collectively on projects worldwide that are contrary to Biblical teaching (read: liberal political agenda.)  Orphan care should be a primary ministry of the Christian church, especially in America where families have spacious (compared to the rest of the world) homes with empty rooms just waiting to be filled with the joyful sound of safe and happy kids.

Speaking as an adoptive parent, who has been a faithful church member and attender for well over 45 of my 53 years (except for college falling away…), I have a few things to say about the Christian church in America in regards to adoption.  I’ll try to speak the truth in love.

Except for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) my family now attends, I have not experienced a church that actually walked the talk of orphan care.  Evangelical Free, Southern Baptist, Four Square, Nazarene, unaffiliated, United Presbyterian, not in one I attended as a long-term visitor or member, did I bear witnesss to the promotion of adoption as a way to serve Christ.  No consistent teaching, preaching, praying, modeling, or giving in order to support adoption as an indirect ministry.  Nor encouraging of members to consider adoption as a direct ministry, pledging full support of whatever it took to answer the call to ‘look after orphans…in their distress’. 

Churches think adoption is ‘nice’.  White congregations are glad to have a few new members ‘of color’ in their pews each week.  They smile and pat adopted kids on the head (FYI: adopted kids don’t really like that kind of physical invasion).  They tell parents they are special for what they are doing. They enjoy having adoptive families for their latest charity.  It doesn’t matter that you can’t use multiple bags of  out of style, too large or too small hand-me-downs.  You are written off as ‘ungrateful’ if you turn down such a gift.  It is not understood that your burden is so great you just don’t have the time, energy, or space to deal with such generosity. A better help would be to just ask what is needed.  I am very grateful for individuals who have come alongside us.  Their dear friendship, encouragement, prayer, and support via refinishing bedrooms, meat for our freezer, and discounted music lessons has made all the difference.

Most churches don’t have family integrated worship so your kids – who need 24/7/365 supervision – can be with you the whole time.  They don’t know how to accommodate your learning delayed kids into their classrooms.  They don’t want to deal with inappropriate ‘acting out’ behaviors during worship, or anywhere in the building.  They don’t to throw baby or new kid showers.  They don’t take the time to understand how hard it really is for you as parents, or the challenges your bio kids.  They don’t invite your large and unruly family over for dinner.  They don’t really even want to be your friend. That might mean sharing your burdens, or praying for you without ceasing, or helping you through severe depression because your teen has been running away.

The financial cost of raising more than 2 kids in 21st century America (yet on only one income as one parent invariably needs to be home for adopted kids), the social and emotional toll on the whole family as they deal with ‘issues’, the spiritual warfare attacks on innocent siblings and marriages, can all be devastating for the adoptive family.  Adoptive families need the full support of churches, with every member in the body of Christ doing some thing, some how, to come alongside them, in order to successfully raise all of their children.

There are models for success like Project 1:27, or individual churches that give $10,000 grants to adoptive families for any needs that are incurred, and of course para-church ministries that actually help with adoption services.  But, it is still the ‘big daddy’ government who must step in with subsidies and Medicaid for state adopted children because the church won’t do it’s job.

It is ultimately the church, Christ’s bride, that holds the key to worldwide orphan care solutions.  Church intervention, support, encouragement, modeling, and top-tier budget assignments would transform not only how children are percieved as wanted, precious, unique, and made in God’s image, but that they are worth all the time, resources, and effort to place into a forever family, God’s plan for society’s foundation.  Orphanages, no matter how well funded, can not model for children God’s plan for a man and a woman to happily married, growing in Christ, procreating and raising the next generation for His kingdom.

It’s time we Christians did our job of adopting orphans, and insisting that our churches help us to do so.  There is no better way to raise kids to become believers, than to raise them in our Christian homes, supported by the body of Christ, coming together for worship within the walls of His church.  Amen.