5 ways you can pray for adoptive families

April 5, 2019

Many of us bring to mind pictures of a family in the airport surrounded by balloons when we hear about adoption. Or, we picture a family smiling with a judge finalizing their adoption in court. Both are beautiful and true pictures of adoption. but they are not the full picture. The support an adoptive family needs does not end at the airport or in a courtroom. Indeed, their hardest days are still ahead.

Adoption is messy and full of brokenness. All adoption is borne out of loss. For a child to be adopted, they must have lost their birth family by death, abandonment, neglect, or legal intervention. A loss of that magnitude causes trauma for everyone involved. An adoptive family, therefore, has welcomed a child of trauma into their home and promised to love them as their own. It is beautiful and redemptive and hard.  

When adoption is beautiful, we can pray in gratitude. When it is obviously redemptive, we can pray in praise of the Redeemer. When adoption it is messy, we can intercede for those walking the difficult road.  

When we first came home from China with our daughter, many people asked how they could pray for us. I would say things were hard, but we had hope. I would talk about her upcoming speech evaluation, her new glasses, or her recovery from surgery. Those things felt easy to talk about; they were tangible and easily understood. Truthfully, though, they were not our biggest needs. I struggled to admit our life did not feel beautiful and redemptive. Things were really hard.  

The following list is what I should have used as my prayer requests. These are areas where we needed intercession for the the Lord’s intervention. At the time, I was not able to admit vulnerably that everything was not balloons and smiles. Today, however, I am able to admit our adoption was, and is still is, in need of prayer. Here are some ways you can pray for us and other adoptive families:

1. Pray for their personal relationship with their Savior

Adoption is a demanding experience. It may bring up questions and doubts that cause even a mature Christian parent’s faith to waver. The brokenness and difficulty of adoption may reveal idols or lies that have long been held dear. Strength, patience, and self-control may be in short supply. Hope, peace, and joy may be difficult to muster.  

Personally, I struggled with the idea that our love for our daughter was not enough to save her. She needed a family; that we could provide. But my daughter, like each of us, has a deep and abiding need for a Savior.  Only the Holy Spirit can work heart change; I cannot create a changed heart in her no matter the words or routines I use. I had to learn to let go of my desire to do the work that only God can do.

Lord, draw them close to you. Surround them with your peace that surpasses understanding. Bring your Word readily to mind and encourage them.       

2. Pray for their marriage

Adoption has the potential to shake a marriage. Even if both partners are completely supportive of the adoption, the daily strain of the transition can suck the life out of a marriage. Isolation and emotional fatigue may make it difficult for spouses to have much left for one another.

I am thankful that we got out ahead of this issue. When we returned from China with our daughter, we started at-home date nights; they gave us an opportunity to focus on our marriage even when we did not feel comfortable leaving our kids with a babysitter or have the financial resources to go out. We often used this time to discuss family issues that were too sensitive to work through in front of our four children. It also gave us something enjoyable to anticipate during especially difficult weeks.

Lord, what you have knit together in this couple, let nothing separate. May you fill each with love and grace toward their spouse. May they be rooted in you and committed to one another.  Multiply their time and energy to allow for margin for one another.

3. Pray for their finances

There’s no getting around it: adoption can be expensive. Even with wise planning, stewardship, and generous fundraising, many adoptive families find themselves with financial stress. Legal, medical, and mental health costs may be more than expected or a surprise altogether. Families may be hesitant to ask for post-adoption financial support, especially if they fundraised throughout their adoption process.

In our family, ongoing medical and mental health costs caught us by surprise. We were prepared to care for our daughter’s known medical needs, including open heart surgery. But once we started getting proper medical care for her, the care she required grew exponentially, as did the cost.    

Lord, supply all their needs from the abundance of your riches. Miraculously stretch what they have to be enough.

4. Pray for their attachment

Attachment is an often-used word in adoption. It refers to the emotional bond between child and parent. Although a family may be a family on paper, it may not feel like it in their home or hearts.  It can be scary for parents to realize they do not immediately love their adopted child the way they expected. They may be ashamed that they love their adopted child differently than their biological children. There may be habits, personality traits, health, or development issues in the child that make it difficult to enjoy one another.  

A child may have experienced emotional trauma that makes family interactions difficult or troubling. Past abuse or neglect may cause behavior that makes relationships with the parent painful and distressing for all involved. The emotions surrounding attachment can be embarrassing or painful to discuss.

We thought our attachment with our daughter was going beautifully, until one day, it wasn’t. We observed our daughter seeking attention from adults she did not know in ways she did not desire attention from us. It was humbling to discuss with our family and friends that our daughter was exhibiting signs of poor attachment. We sought help from professionals and communicated with those around us how they could encourage attachment between us and our daughter. It is an ongoing issue for many adoptive families, and we are no exception.  

Lord, bind this family together in love for You and for each other. Heal trauma and bind up the brokenhearted. Allow love for you and for each other to cover a multitude of sins. Give them opportunities to have fun as a family.

5. Pray for your ability to be a support

Adoptive families need help. The people surrounding an adoptive family may need a willingness to do things that seem hard or confusing in an effort to be supportive. The assistance an adoptive family requests may not make sense, or it may feel uncomfortable.  

For example, the family may ask for no visitors for a while to allow them to really bond as a family. Or, they may ask you to refrain from hugging or holding their child to encourage parent-child attachment. They may be in counseling. They may stop updating their social media to respect the privacy of their child or family as a whole. The parent may simply tell you things are hard when you thought everything was balloons and smiles.

We were the first in our church to adopt internationally. Conversations about counseling, attachment, and family privacy were tricky sometimes. We were figuring things out as we went along and trying our best to communicate that with our support system. We sometimes fielded advice from well-meaning people who were uninformed of adoption issues. We interacted with a church who had prayed our daughter home and wanted continued updates. It was both a privilege and a burden to educate those around us about our adoption.   

Lord, help me to reserve my judgments out of love and respect for this family. Allow me to be a support to them in their time of need. Help me to listen and love well. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear how I can encourage and support them.

The road of adoption is long and demanding, but it is also beautiful and redemptive. Thanks be to God for the beauty of adoption and for placing the lonely in families.

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24