There are many ways that you can express your pastoral care for those considering adoption and those who have adopted already. As an adoptive father and former pastor, I offer a few thoughts on how to help adoption become a biblically based, heart-led, missional movement in your church and not merely another program on your church’s list.
1. Develop your own heart for the fatherless.
God calls Himself a “father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5) and emphasizes throughout Scripture his special care for orphans. In fact, the very heart of the gospel is God’s passion to not only redeem sinners but to adopt them as his very sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:4-5).
Many adoptive parents and those pursuing adoption feel alone in their churches because it seems like no one understands. By communicating that adoption is fundamentally connected to the gospel and the nature of God you will challenge the view that adoption is a “plan B” if a couple cannot have children biologically.
2. Do a biblical study on God’s perspective on orphans.
As you develop your heart for adoption, pass this on to your people in your preaching. You can start by simply looking up all the instances in the Bible to the “fatherless.”
3. Educate yourself on basic facts about adoption and orphan care.
Did you know there are roughly 129,000 children waiting to be adopted today in the US and over 132 million orphans worldwide? That is a starting point to stir your heart to pray and cry to God for his justice and grace to be poured out on their behalf.
Some websites I've found helpful in keeping me aware of these issues are...
- Cry of the Orphan
- Joint Council of International Children's Services
- US State Department Office of Children's Issues
- US Department of Health and Human Services
Your awareness of these kinds of things will speak volumes to the church you lead. Whether it is through your preaching, teaching, or just regular conversation, your church will begin to hear this and will gain God’s heart and perspective on adoption.
Your understanding will also touch those who have adopted and who are considering it.
4. Ask questions.
Listening is one of the most powerful expressions of your care. Learn to ask the right questions. Here are a few good ones to ask:
- Why are you considering adoption? Are you both on the same page? If not, where do you differ?
- Do you both have the faith for adoption?
- Are you aware of the risks, ups, downs, and unknowns of adoption?
- Have you talked to other adoptive families about their experience?
- Have you been praying together about this?
- Where do you feel called to adopt from?
- What kind of support do you have in place?
- Are you aware of the cost of adoption? How will you pay for it? Will you need help?
5. Remind them that they desire a good and God-magnifying thing.
Encourage those pursuing adoption with God’s heart for the fatherless. Encourage them with God’s promises to direct their steps (Prov 16:9). Encourage them with God’s faithfulness to provide.
6. Keep on encouraging them.
Those who step out in faith to adopt enter a journey filled with many ups and downs. Keep supporting them throughout the process. Ideally, they will have a care group or some close friends that will be able to do this as well.
7. Provide financial counsel and help.
The majority of couples adopting are challenged by the high costs. Any ways that you can provide encouragement and help financially will express love in a very tangible way.
8. Cry with them and celebrate with them.
The majority of adoptions are filled with great highs and great lows.
There are often many tears shed due to failed placements and other setbacks. There is also unparalleled joy in being matched with your child and bringing them home.
Do what you can to enter into their experience. Embody the compassion and empathy of Christ in the hard times and magnify the joy of the Father in the celebration.
9. Celebrate adoptions publicly in services.
Give time during worship services not only to teach on God’s heart for orphans, but also to celebrate specific adoptions. You can perhaps do this as part of Sanctity of Life Sunday or in conjunction with another special day such as Mothers’ or Fathers’ Day. Also, November is National Adoption Awareness Month.
There are many ways you can publicly celebrate adoption during the service such having an adoptive family share their story, honoring adoptive parents in the congregation, or taking a special offering for your church adoption fund. Be creative!
10. Don’t feel like you have to have all the answers.
Use the wisdom and experience of the Christian adoption community. There are a growing number of resources available, including many churches that have ministries aimed at promoting and supporting adoption.
Encourage those in your church who have a passion for adoption to lead the church in caring for the fatherless and supporting adoption. And remember you are not alone! There is a community of others to support you and above all, God, the Father of the fatherless, is with you to provide all that is needed to follow his call to care for the “least of these.”
* * *
For more information on the connection between our adoption by God and our adoption of children please visit Together for Adoption. We will be hosting our second national conference on adoption this October in Nashville.