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3 verses to guide our adoption practices this National Adoption Awareness Month

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November 18, 2021

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve begun a conversation around adoption with, “Adoption is complex.” And to be honest, the further we have progressed in our journey as an adoptive family, I’ve come to realize how much we still must learn. And yet, although I’ve studied and read many books on adoption, I keep coming back to this question: How does Scripture influence the adoption practices within our family?

So today, I want to share three verses I’ve been meditating on that I believe correlate with good adoption practices.

Stay away from “savior” mentality and language

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

It is no secret that Christians are called to serve their communities, those in the margins, and those without families (specifically orphans and widows). These practices and loving our neighbor are nonnegotiables for the Christian life. However, our service should not center us as the heroes in our stories, nor should our own interests be disguised as “service” to others. Rather, in humility, we value others and their needs above ourselves.

The same can be said for adoptive families. There are many families who are motivated to adopt because of their faith, and yet we should never allow a savior mentality to seep in. Adoptive parents and social workers are not heroes. We are not our children’s saviors. Our world only needs one savior, and his name is Jesus. And so we actively fight against the savior narrative not only in adoption, but in any ministry where we’re serving others. And in adoption, we always remember that the goal is to find a safe and loving family for every child. Adoption doesn’t exist to serve families; it exists to meet the needs of children. 

Embrace a both/and life

Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

One of the most helpful things you can do as an adoptive family is to not sugarcoat or ignore the hard parts of your family’s or child’s story. The truth is, as many have stated, adoption is birthed from brokenness. It simply would not exist without it. So naively saying that “adoption is beautiful” without acknowledging that heartache and trauma that caused it, isn’t looking at the whole picture. 

As believers, we don’t have to sugarcoat the brokenness in our world because we know that sin, heartache, and brokenness exist; this is why our world so desperately needs a Savior. We can make space for the pain and heartache in our stories because we trust and know the One who will one day right every wrong. 

For the adoptive family, this means we must embrace the both/and nature of our families. We grieve with those who grieve, and we rejoice with those who rejoice. Sure, we celebrate that a child, who otherwise wouldn’t, now has a family. But we also grieve the circumstances that led up to their removal from their first families. I regularly grieve for our children’s birth mothers and how they miss out on the daily joys of seeing just how awesome these kids are. At the same time, I am unbelievably grateful that I get to be the one who kisses our kids boo-boo’s and tucks them in bed at night. One truth doesn’t negate or ignore the other. They both exist in every adoptive family, and it’s a tension that shouldn’t be ignored. Instead, we should hold it with great care and reliance on God.

Honor all people in the adoption triad

1 Peter 2:17: “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

One way you can ensure that you’re making room for both the hard and good in adoption is to honor and respect all members of the adoption triad. We do this by seeing every person with kingdom eyes. Regardless of how or why our children were removed from their first families, we can honor them by only speaking truthfully and with honor and respect. We love them because God loves them. We pray and believe and hope redemption over them, because we are a people who have tasted and seen the goodness of God.

Another way we honor them is by listening to a wide variety of voices from the adoption triad. This means that regardless of your placement in the adoption triad, you should be respectfully listening to and learning from other members. For adoptive parents, this means we’re learning from both adoptees and first families. And rather than criticizing their perspectives for being different from ours, we welcome their stories as opportunities to look at adoption from a different perspective. 

Like I said above, adoption is complex. And yet, it is one of many ways that God provides families for children. So, we allow his Word to guide us. And for those of us who are called to it, we take the time to learn and grow so we can better love and serve our children for the glory of God. May these verses bless your family this National Adoption Awareness Month. 

Brittany Salmon

Brittany Salmon is a professor, writer, and Bible teacher. She is the author of the book It Takes More than Love: A Christian Guide to Cross-Cultural Adoption releasing in April, 2022. She has an MA in Intercultural Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, an M.A. in Teaching from NC State … Read More