Adoption is not the solution

Adoption is trending in the Christian church as of late.  We are seeing more and more racially mixed families as couples pursue international and domestic adoptions that cross cultures with their own.  The result is beautiful, but it also attracts attention.  Some negative, but mostly positive.  It also causes couples who have not experienced the joy of adoption to question whether or not they are “called” to adopt.  I have seen this become a source of conflict within marriages as well as friendships.  The spouse that wants to adopt becomes angry with the spouse who doesn’t, the friends who have adopted become critical of their friends who “don’t get it.” I find myself confused and somewhat irritated with these situations.  Let me first concede that, yes, one spouse may realize a call before the other and friends can sometimes be a great influencing factor as one prays and considers adoption.

Now, on to what I believe to be true.  Not all Christians are or will be called to adopt a child.  There is simply no biblical basis for this frame of thought.  Yes, we have the ever popular James 1:27 telling us to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.” The King James version tells us “to visit orphans.”  Let’s get hermeneutical here for a second: the original Greek: ἐπισκέπτεσθαι means “to go help.”  To GO Help.  Is adopting helping? Yes. Is it the best or only way? No.  I feel that many families experience such a direct calling and then such a wonderful blessing in adoption that they use God’s beautiful Word to promote adoption specifically and exclusively.  God’s word can definitely promote adoption as a option in orphan care, but not at the exclusion of other methods.  The facts speak loudly.  There are over 140 million orphans in the world today.  Only a very small portion of those children are even adoptable.  What are we doing for those that remain and who will always remain orphans?  What should we be doing?  Easy: sponsoring, visiting, loving, praying.  Isaiah 1:16-17 says “defend the oppressed, take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”  It is undeniable that Christians are to care for orphans.  Adoption is one great way, but it will never, seriously, never end the problem.  We can’t adopt the number.  There are great speakers and writers that promote their solutions- if every Christian family would adopt 1 we would wipe out the problem.  There is a big fat hole in that thinking.  Those kids?  They aren’t adoptable for the most part.

Enter in the doctrine of Adoption.  We are adopted by God when we accept his perfect gift of salvation. Awesome! Thank you Lord!  This doctrine is used, even by Third Day, as a reason to adopt children.  I will agree that our adoption by the Father may inspire us to adopt children but there are elements of our adoption that should not be compared.  First of all, we were born sinners, separated from God.  Our choices, our sin separated us from God.  Not a tragic life event or someone’s bad decision.  This is where I draw the line.  We cannot compare our previous life of sin to an orphan’s life before adoption.  It puts the blame, the result of the situation squarely on their shoulders.  Their orphan status has NOTHING to do with their choices while our state of sin before salvation has EVERYTHING to do with ours.  Our job as parents, family and friends is to make peace with that situation.  To help our children understand that they claim no fault in their loss.

In conclusion: adoption is hard, it’s a commitment, it’s a struggle.  You must be called or have a strong resolve to enter into this beautiful event.  Do you have to be called to care for or visit orphans? No. We are commanded to care for them.  So Churches/Christians: sponsor orphanages, build schools and support those families who DO adopt.  Do it all. But please don’t promote adoption as the solution.  It’s simply not true and it’s simply a dangerous way to think.

About the author


Erica is an advocate for simplicity, family time, making a cozy home and loving others well. She is the community coordinator for One Orphan, the orphan care ministry of America World Adoption Association. Erica and Calvin have four young children; Elliott, Charlotte, Lola and Liam. They currently reside in Nashville, TN.


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  • Thank you for writing this post. Since the “trend” to adopt has hit churches it has left many confused, including myself. This really helped me to see the big picture. Well written.

  • Right on sister! 🙂 I have often had many of these same thoughts and have even blogged about it to a point. I may have actually said though that we are all “called” to adopt – however, I said that does NOT mean the physical adoption of a child but the caring, supporting, praying for orphans and those who do choose to physically adopt. Adoption has been a wonderful experience for us if for not other reason that being a major faith builder and to experience God’s perfect will and love at work.

    And, I have been thinking about the “trend” you speak about – I was beginning to think it was just me! Since we began our adoption process I’ve suddenly found many others that I know who have adopted, in process or are considering in the near future. It’s amazing!! I was beginning to think though that perhaps there were always this many people adopting and I just wasn’t aware of it??? 😀

    Great post as always, Erica!

  • This is a wonderful post and I may pass along. I feel called to support those who adopt. I do not feel called to adopt into our own family at this time. That might change in the future, but I know that barely keeping up with the blessings I have is enough for me.

    Thank you for sharing your heart!!

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