The sacrifice in adoption that I didn’t plan for

Counting the cost for our children

October 28, 2019

A little over two years ago, my husband and I decided it was finally time to start the adoption process. We had always thought we would wait until our 4-year-old started kindergarten to start any adoption talks, but knowing the amount of time adoption typically takes, we decided we were safe to go ahead and start the process. 

Adoption has always been a part of our plan. But much of “our plan” had already been uprooted through unexpected, though positive, job changes and the births of our three biological children. 

So, we started our adoption journey September 2017, sure of the fact that it would take at least a few years to complete. By September 2018, however, we were walking into an Indian orphanage to meet our son for the first time and bring him home.

Over the year leading up to traveling to India, we filled out mounds of paperwork, sat through conferences, and read books; we were fingerprinted, had multiple background checks, saved and spent a ton of money, and prayed endless prayers. Our agency did a wonderful job of walking us through every step of the process and educating us on the realities of adoption including, but not limited to, trauma and attachment. I felt confident in the strategies I had learned to help facilitate attachment with our son. Was there sacrifice involved? Of course. All of it, though hard, was still expected.

The surprise sacrifice 

There was, however, sacrifice that did surprise me. Every time we added a new child to our family, we made sure to prepare the other sibling(s) as best we could. We talked and educated our three “big” kids. We talked about some hard things that may happen and how their new brother would need extra attention because we had to make up for lost time. 

Our youngest daughter loved her new brother from day one. Even throughout the entire first year home, she played with and loved on him. There were rarely any signs of outward frustration or jealousy. But I was missing what was going on in her heart.

Within six months of our son being home, we started noticing some behaviors in our daughter that were quickly gaining intensity. She was lying frequently. As time went on, the lies increased and actions followed. She cut her hair. She blamed her older sister for things she had done. She constantly complained of a tummy ache and began dreading school. She began having trouble sleeping and became incredibly clingy to me. My husband and I had been talking with our case worker and even had her start seeing the school counselor on a weekly basis. Then, something happened that I would have never expected. 

Adoption is often referred to as a beautiful tragedy, and it is—for all involved. The tragedy of it is man-made, but the beauty of it is fully from God.

Our daughter was with family for the weekend and getting some much needed one-on-one attention. The second day, we received a phone call that she had taken an unknown amount of aspirin and was headed to the local ER. We had talked about safety with medicine, and I had never been concerned about her taking any without supervision.

Once at the hospital, she had a few X-rays, blood drawn several times, and an IV. We were eventually transported by ambulance to the closest children’s hospital. By the time we got there, she was doing better, and we were able to go home later that night.

This event terrified me and was the final straw. I immediately got in touch with our case worker and made an appointment to start Theraplay—a type of child and family therapy—with our agency’s trauma-informed family therapist. This was the best thing we could have done for our daughter. Over the next several months, we saw our therapist weekly as she helped our daughter unravel all the big feelings she had been keeping inside. She also equipped us with ways we could help our daughter work through her anger and jealousy in the day to day. 

I struggled greatly during this time. I had prepared myself for the sacrifices I knew I would have to make personally, maritally, and even professionally as I had transitioned to being a stay-at-home mom after 12 years of working outside the home. I had even prepared for the sacrifice my biological kids would have to make initially. But I had no idea that I would have to watch my sweet little girl struggle for months with questions of her worth and why God would allow her heart to hurt so badly.

I prayed frequently for guidance and healing, and worked hard to give all four of my kids what they needed. The sacrifice she was making on behalf of her brother having a home didn’t seem fair. It wasn’t fair that she was carrying the brunt of the hurt for something I had chosen.

A beautiful tragedy 

But God worked something beautiful amid the pain and struggle. He saved my sweet girl. He revealed himself to her and opened her eyes to her need for him. Through all the trials, struggles, and sacrifice, God was working. 

Adoption is often referred to as a beautiful tragedy, and it is—for all involved. The tragedy of it is man-made, but the beauty of it is fully from God. He used our adoption story to not only change the life of our precious baby boy, but he also used it to transform the life of our precious baby girl. 

I knew God would use my sacrifice to change my heart and draw me closer to him, but I had not been willing to let him do that with our children. Thank goodness he is the one in control, though. We still go to counseling once a month and have to work to give each of our kids what they need, but it is good work—work worth doing.

Would I do it again? Would I subject not only myself but my family to sacrifice in order to do that which the Lord has called us to? My answer is a cautious “yes”—a yes that will include “counting the cost” carefully and being more vigilant to care rightly for the ones he has entrusted to us. But it is also a joyful yes, knowing that I can trust in the Lord who sees, who is sovereign over all, and who deals with us kindly and lovingly. 

Lindsey Teat

Lindsey is an Alabama native, pastor's wife and mom of four awesome kiddos. She loves encouraging others in their walk with Christ and is passionate about serving those who are vulnerable. Lindsey is an advocate for orphan care and family restoration and currently leads a ministry serving vulnerable families in her community. … Read More

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