By / May 3

Adoption is a beautiful picture of the gospel, but in this world, it’s fraught with a mixture of grief and gladness. In addition, particular joys and challenges can enter the picture when a family grows by cross-cultural adoption. In light of this, Brittany Salmon’s new book, It Takes More than Love: A Christian Guide to Navigating the Complexities of Cross-Cultural Adoption, is a welcome encouragement and guide for adoptive families or those who are seeking to support those who have adopted. Below, Salmon answers questions about the unique and practical aspects of cross-cultural adoption. 

Alex Ward: You start your book by saying you have a love/hate relationship with adoption because it’s “joy and suffering and loss and gain and hope and disappointment all in one.” How did your adoption story shape how you see adoption in this way? 

Brittany Salmon: It’s an odd thing for an adoptive parent to say they have a love/hate relationship with adoption, isn’t it? However, it’s true. I love parenting my children. It is such a gift! But I hate that in order for me to get to be their mom, they had to walk through the trauma of being separated from their first families. 

Adoption happens because brokenness exists in our world, and I felt that acutely the first time we were in the hospital meeting our son. I remember the heaviness of watching his first mom say goodbye, and my heart broke into a million pieces as she left the hospital without him in her arms. “It’s just not supposed to be this way,” I cried. I remember the heaviness of rocking him at night, singing to him, knowing that mine wasn’t the voice and the body he was used to hearing those months in utero. And yet, as our family grew and another one seemingly shrank, I learned to hold both joy and sorrow at the same time. Our joy and love for our son didn’t have to erase the sorrow that came along with it; both could coexist together.

AW: Recently, there has been considerable discussion about how much race and culture on the part of prospective adoptive parents should be considered. Bethany Child Services made news when they recommended acknowledging that a purely colorblind approach does a disservice to the child. At the same time, others criticized the move as capitulating to an ideology that sees white parents acting as “saviors.” How should parents think about their own race and culture when adopting transracially and how that may shape or affect a child?

BS: Well first off, I think we all need to acknowledge how complex of an issue this is, and in our current political climate it is easy to make this issue a polarized one. It requires a lot of nuance to fully understand the many complexities of cross-cultural families and the identity development of cross-cultural adoptees. 

However, as we’ve now listened and learned from adult adoptees, we can openly say that in adoption there is no room for a savior mentality or colorblindness. These are two separate ideologies that are indeed harmful to adoption communities. I’m not here to debate that, as the Bible affirms that we have only one savior, and his name is Jesus, and our God is a gloriously creative God who made all mankind in his image. 

So in answering your last question — how should parents think about their own race and culture when adopting? — the great part is that we all come from a culture and ethnicity that we can celebrate! Because every person who walked the Earth was made in the image of God, we can celebrate how each of us uniquely reflects the goodness of a creative God! For example, I’m Hungarian American, and one of the Hungarian dishes I grew up eating is called Turos Csusza. It’s one of my kids favorite dishes, and I tell them about my grandpa who was Hungarian American. One of our sons is half Puerto Rican, so I’ve been doing my best to master a delicious Arroz con Pollo. It’s more than just meals, but we’ve learned that if we’re going to be a multicultural family, we can’t live a monocultural life. And so we make space in our families to embrace all of our unique and God-given cultures. 

AW: How would you encourage parents who adopt transculturally to immerse their children in the culture of their birth? What does that look like practically, and why is it necessary? 

BS: Like I said above, if you’re called to be a crosscultural adoptive family, you’re called to live a multicultural life. And the great thing about this is that we get to choose where we spend our most valuable resource: time. We get to choose where our children attend schools and where our families attend church. We get to choose which sports and extracurricular organizations our families are a part of. We get to choose who we invite over for dinner and who we do life with.

For the multicultural family, I believe you must be intentional about doing life in spaces where your children can build genuine relationships with people who share their same ethnicity. In my book, I break down representation into three specific tiers, but the most important tier is ensuring that your child has racial representation in their real life and everyday community. 

AW: I doubt that when people are thinking through the adoption process, the question of haircuts comes up often. But you devote an entire chapter to the question of hair, beauty, and affirmation. What about these seemingly mundane tasks is part of the larger challenge of transcultural adoption? 

BS: I think one of the things that has stood out the most when talking with and learning from adult adoptees is how ill-equipped some of them felt to care for their hair. Many of them had stories about how they didn’t know how to take care of their hair or skin, or how their parents shamed them when they started exploring beauty practices outside of their parents’ Eurocentric beauty standards. Or worse, they had memories of their parents bemoaning how hard or horrible it was learning how to take care of their hair. 

I devoted an entire chapter to this topic because it is so much more than just hair care; it’s learning how to affirm your child’s beauty and giving them the tools to take care of themselves. Doing this is another way we can honor our children’s ethnic heritages rather than erase them. And from a biblical perspective, taking care of our bodies can be seen as a form of worship. For the adoptee, honoring their culture’s beauty standards can be a part of embracing their God-given racial identity.

AW: In the book you urge potential adoptive parents to consider the cost of adoption, and one literal cost that you bring up is the need for a specialized adoption counselor. Why do you think that counseling may be needed for the entire family, not just the child who experienced trauma? And is the fact that everyone needs counseling a reason to think we aren’t qualified to adopt? Should people have it all together perfectly before starting this process?

BS: Well first off, you should know that I think all parents should consider counseling. Every single person who walks this Earth has suffered and experienced heartache, many have experienced trauma, and I think it’s incredibly wise and healthy to pursue godly counsel. There is a stigma with counseling that it’s only for a certain type of person, and I would argue that it’s for all of us. I’ve used counseling for a number of different seasons in my life, not just the traumatic ones.

However, I do think when you’re walking through trauma or wrestling with past traumas, it’s wise and helpful for everyone involved to seek godly counsel from licensed professionals. And since adoption is birthed from trauma, it can be helpful for the whole family to get the tools they need in various seasons. 

For example, if a child joins a family and they have regular tantrums, issues with food, outbursts, etc., it is not only helpful for parents to receive counseling and learn how to parent in a trauma-informed way, but it’s helpful for the siblings in the home to also have a counselor to walk with them through witnessing angry outbursts they might not be used to. Also, some siblings of adoptees express frustration or the feeling of being left out because their parents’ attention is hyper-focused on helping a child transition into their home. Having a trauma-informed and adoption-informed counselor can be greatly beneficial for the whole family to process the changes needed to welcome a child. 

AW: I think that for most parents, they know that they won’t be perfect. They hope and plan, but seem to know that there are going to be days when they drop the ball. For parents who are honestly just struggling to know what they don’t know when it comes to transracial adoption, I think that fear of doing something wrong is probably even higher. So how did you handle it when you got something wrong?

BS: Every adoptive parent I know has gotten something wrong at some point. So if there was time, I would take every parent wrestling with shame out to coffee and would tell them this: Shame is a dirty liar, and conviction is a tool that God uses to prompt us to change. Which one are you feeling? 

You see, shame can keep us focused on our failures, whereas conviction pushes us toward repentance and change. It pushes us to do better, for our kids’ sake and the glory of God. So we don’t give a lot of time and mental space to shame. Instead, since we know that all people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we repent of our sins and then we use conviction as a catalyst for righting our wrongs. We’re going to make mistakes as parents. We know that going into parenthood, so we can be free from the fear or shame that Satan might use to paralyze us. And we can rest in the freedom of serving a God who calls us to live lives of repentance. 

AW: Is there anything else you would recommend people do as they are either considering transcultural adoption or are trying to serve those who are? What other resources would be helpful, and what practical steps can our churches and families take?

BS: I love the phrase, “You can’t know what you don’t know.” And I think it applies to this question. One of the greatest things people who are considering cross-cultural adoption or supporting those who are adopting can do is to start their educational journey now. That’s why I wrote one chapter specifically for families and friends supporting adoptive families. If communities and prospective adoptive families start learning and listening well before a child is placed into their home, they will be better equipped to handle some of the hard aspects of adoption that their family and community will experience at some point in their journey. 

As for some practical steps our churches can take? My biggest piece of advice for churches would be if you’re going to encourage your families to step into foster care and adoption, let’s make sure our churches are equipped to serve them! Two great steps would be: (1) to make sure your Sunday school curriculum and resources for children represent and support all the children in your congregation, and (2) consider partnering with local child welfare agencies and have trauma-informed training for your volunteers that work with children. 

By / Nov 15

This week, Chelsea Sobolik sits down with Herbie Newell of Lifeline Children’s Services to discuss National Adoption Month, how the church can care for vulnerable children, and how we can be preparing for a post-Roe world.

Guest Biography

Herbie Newell is the President/Executive Director of Lifeline Children’s Services and it’s ministry arms including (un)adopted, Crossings, and Lifeline Village. Herbie holds a Master’s degree in Accounting from Samford University. He joined the Lifeline staff in 2003 as Executive Director. From January 2004 to December 2008, he served as the president of the Alabama Adoption Coalition. Herbie was chosen as a Hague Intercountry Adoption evaluator and team leader by the Council of Accreditation and serves in that capacity currently. Under Herbie’s leadership, Lifeline has increased the international outreach to 23 countries, helped Lifeline attain membership in the ECFA (Evangelical Council on Financial Accountability), and led the creation of foster care ministry. Having witnessed the plight of older orphans on many trips overseas, Herbie’s burden for the fatherless was a catalyst for starting (un)adopted during 2009. He worked with WAKM Companies, LLC, a prominent accounting firm, for many years as an independent auditor before being led to Lifeline.  He and his wife, Ashley, live in Birmingham, Alabama, and are parents to son, Caleb, and daughters Adelynn and Emily.

Resources from the Conversation

By / Mar 30

At the very core of who we are exists a deep desire and fundamental need for connection, belonging, and security found only within relationships. This eternal truth can be traced back to the very beginning of time.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:26-27).

God’s design for connection

The community between the Father, Son, and Spirit is imprinted on the human soul—we bear the imago Dei, “image of God.” As the creation narrative unfolds, God reflects on his creation of Adam, remarking, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). God’s response to Adam’s solitude is the creation of Eve, Adam’s partner. The height of joy and depth of trust experienced through loving relationships and secure attachment are fundamentally God’s idea and God’s design. 

More than 2,000 years later, we take our place in history longing for connection—remembering this foundational truth and holding onto this eternal hope for ourselves, our neighbors, our communities, and perhaps most importantly for our children. Yes, God created us to be in relationship—at peace with him, with others, and in our hearts. And yet, with the fall of mankind into sin, we now experience the pain of broken relationships and the vulnerability of isolation. This is the painful reality for many of the children Show Hope seeks to serve—children who have been orphaned. 

It is not uncommon for children who come home through adoption and foster care to have had exposure to adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, trauma, loss, and/or neglect. As these children enter our families and our stories intertwine with theirs, tensions may surface. We must ask ourselves, How do we effectively communicate the truth of the gospel—an invitation into a forever relationship with Christ—to our children who may carry attachment injuries and associate belonging and connection with fear?

As scientific research expounds, our understanding of the human brain is only beginning to grasp the fullness and complexities of God’s design. And as only God could design, the human brain is pliable and can be rewired. Developmental psychologist and advocate for children Dr. Karyn Purvis once said, “Our children were harmed in relationship, and they will experience healing through nurturing relationships.” When we step into the journey of caring for children who have been affected by early loss and trauma, an incredible invitation is extended. We have the opportunity to help rewrite the narrative—to help lead our children to places of emotional, physical, and neurological healing by being the hands and feet of Christ. 

Furthermore, by choosing to love children from difficult beginnings, we are afforded a front-row seat as God’s miraculous work unfolds. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the sacredness, beauty, and peace of imago Dei is reimagined and reaffirmed as our children become at home with our love. 

Surely, no one person could do this work alone or without the encouragement and support of a wider community. This is why Show Hope’s Pre+Post Adoption Support exists. We understand—as many of you do—that the adoption journey doesn’t end the day a child is welcomed home. Because of the difficult beginnings many of our children have experienced, we must work diligently to help them reimagine home and experience belonging and connection.  

Learn how to build trust and connection with vulnerable children

Families affected by adoption and/or foster care can benefit from Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) methods developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross from the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at TCU, which exists to bring attachment and connection in families. TBRI “is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children.” At its core, TBRI works to promote trust and connection between caregivers and children by addressing physical and emotional needs while also disarming fear-based behavior. 

And, so, while TBRI may be perceived as clinical in nature as it involves the complexities of science, at Show Hope, we believe that at its core, TBRI is an expression of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Created to Connect: A Christian’s Guide to The Connected Child, Dr. Karyn Purvis, with Michael and Amy Monroe, wrote, 

The longing of the human heart is to connect and belong. We long to connect with our Creator, in whose image we have been made, and by God’s grace such a connection is possible. As relational beings, we also have a deep need and desire to connect with those around us. One of the most important and meaningful human conditions is undoubtedly between a parent and child.

Build a community of support

Another practical step in serving and equipping families and caregivers is launching a support or small group for individuals and parents affected by adoption and/or foster care within your church or faith community. Perhaps you can begin meeting weekly or monthly in prayer, study, and conversation. A great resource to walk through is Created to Connect. This study guide sheds light and goes deeper into the biblical principles that serve as the foundation for the philosophy and interventions detailed in The Connected Child by Drs. Purvis and Cross. 

As part of that support or small group, recruit volunteers who can be on-call to help meet the everyday needs of adoptive and/or foster care families. It can be as simple as setting up a meal train for heavy, busy seasons of life or offering childcare for parents to have a night out for reconnecting. The adoption and/or foster care journey is not meant to be traveled alone. As a local church or individuals, we have the opportunity to come alongside children and families in service and support. 

Find hope for the journey

Show Hope’s new Hope for the Journey Conference will premiere on Friday, April 9, with a broadcast period through Mon., May 31. The conference includes training in TBRI, a new teaching component called The Gospel + TBRI, and Practical Perspectives videos featuring the voices of adult adoptees and foster youth alumni as well as adoptive and foster families. The conference targets parents and caregivers meeting the everyday needs of children impacted by adoption and/or foster care, and remains a resource for churches, agencies, and other organizations as they support and equip the families, caregivers, and the communities they serve. It can be a great opportunity to educate volunteers on the needs of children and families affected by adoption and/or foster care. 

Will you join with us in showing up and showing hope?

By / Mar 26

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
United States House of Representatives
1236 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Jerry Nadler
House Committee on the Judiciary
United States House of Representatives
2132 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
2468 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Jim Jordan
Ranking Member
House Committee on the Judiciary
United States House of Representatives
2056 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McCarthy, Chairman Nadler and Ranking Member Jordan,

We are a diverse group of leaders representing a broad range of institutions that serve communities around the country and around the world. We are writing to bring your attention to a common-sense bill that ensures adopted individuals are treated as equal to biological individuals under U.S. law.

Prior to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, the administrative steps required of families adopting internationally were unnecessarily burdensome. The process included applying for and moving through a lengthy naturalization process for their children, in addition to the lengthy and costly adoption process. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 granted automatic citizenship to all foreign-born children brought to the United States, who had at least one parent who was a U.S. Citizen. Unfortunately, that Act only applied to adoptees under the age of 18 when the bill was enacted, leaving an entire population of adopted children without full U.S. citizenship.

The Adoptee Citizenship Act closes the loophole to provide immediate citizenship to these individuals already adopted by U.S. citizens, yet left out of the previous bill. This bill solves the innumerable problems these adopted Americans have had to endure because of their lack of legal immigration status. This has included challenges in attending college, accessing banking services, or starting their careers

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) recently reintroduced this important bipartisan bill. Adopting from other countries is a privilege. Not every nation chooses to participate in intercountry adoption, and the United States ought to respect the countries that do choose to participate, by quickly securing permanent citizenship for the thousands of adoptees who do not currently have citizenship. Once an adoption is finalized, an adoptee should be treated the same as a biological child. These adoptees were brought here lawfully and legally and deserve the full protection of U.S. law.

We strongly urge Congress to swiftly pass the bipartisan Adoptee Citizenship Act to provide a permanent legal remedy for the thousands of sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who were left behind and not granted American citizenship. 

We thank you for your commitment to adoptees, and we look forward to working with you on this important bill.


Russell Moore
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Scott Arbeiter
World Relief

Joy Alessi
Adoptee Rights Campaign

Lucy Armistead
Executive Director
All Blessings International

James An
Korean American Federation of Los Angeles

Becky Belcore
Executive Director
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium

Kurt Capelli
Family Coalition for Adoptee Citizenship

Chuck Johnson
President & CEO
National Council For Adoption

Heidi Bruegel Cox
Executive Vice President, General Counsel
The Gladney Center

Brian Kim
Korean American Civic Empowerment and Leadership

Kristie De Peña
VP of Policy, Dir. of Immigration
Niskanen Center

Dongchan Kim
Korean American Civic Empowerment for Community

James R. Fisher
Executive Director
Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation

Tammy Kim
Managing Director
Korean American Center/Korean Community Services

Genie Gillespie
Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys

Walter Kim
National Association of Evangelicals

Chris Palusky
President & CEO
Bethany Christian Services

Hyosoon Park
San Diego Korean Pungmul Institute

Silvia Patton
Korean American Women’s Association of the USA

Angie Penrose
Executive Director
Building Arizona Families Adoption Agency

Wonseok Song
Executive Director
Korean American Grassroots Conference

Phyllis Stephenson
Executive Director 
Carolina and ABC Adoption Services

Professor Suhyun Suh
Korea Corner at Auburn University

SukChan Yu
Korean Society of Dallas

By / Jan 11

Many women facing an unexpected pregnancy are unaware that they have another option beyond parenting or abortion. Lifeline’s pregnancy counselors work hard to train pregnancy resource centers and churches in another life-giving choice for these pregnancies: adoption. For many women, like Laura*, this is not an option they are educated about. As they learn more about the adoption option, this becomes one they consider for themselves and their child. 

When Laura first found out she was pregnant, she was devastated. She describes it as “the worst time of my life” or “a nightmare.” She found out she was pregnant at almost 11 weeks during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and also lost her job in the same week. She knew she could not care for a child and did not want to face her family and tell them of the pregnancy. So, she started down the only path she knew. 

She scrambled for phone numbers to abortion clinics. She found a clinic in another state that could perform an abortion up to 22 weeks. She said, “Nothing about going that route or considering that option felt right.” Yet, she knew parenting was not an option. Before she left with the abortion pill, she demanded to see the sonogram. When Laura learned she was carrying twins, she burst into tears because she is a twin herself. She got out of that clinic as quickly as she could. 

Considering adoption as another option

Still feeling as if abortion was not right, but also knowing she could not care for two sweet babies, she left uncertain of what she would do next. Thankfully, her family did find out about her pregnancy, and they gave her the encouragement she needed to consider adoption. After a family member told Laura about Lifeline, she was partnered with Jenna, a pregnancy counselor who lived close by. Jenna offered to meet with Laura as often as she needed to think through parenting and adoption, and make what she felt was the best decision for herself and her babies. 

It was during this first meeting that Jenna shared the gospel with Laura, as well. They talked about the weight of shame Laura was feeling and how all the paths she had followed in search of wholeness had left her in this broken place. Instead, Jesus was offering her forgiveness and wholeness right now, and Laura accepted that forgiveness. This changed her entire perspective on her pregnancy and hope for her future! 

She was able to hold on to the peace of God as she weighed her many factors. With God’s peace and Jenna’s support, Laura made the decision that adoption was the best life for her children. Then Jenna and Laura began talking about what Laura desired in an adoptive family, and she was connected to one that fit those desires. As the months went by and her due date approached, Laura worked with her pregnancy counselor to think about her hospital time, as well. 

Walking through adoption with support

For Laura, this is when she felt “all the questions started coming.” Would I be alone during hospital time, because of COVID? Will the adoptive parents be at the hospital? How would I feel afterward? Will I still have support after placing? Should I parent or is adoption really best? “Jenna reassured me that this was my plan and that it was OK to feel whatever I was feeling. We made my ideal plan and played the rest of it by ear (due to COVID). I would not be alone.” 

And she wasn’t. Not only did she have the support of her pregnancy counselor, but she also had the support of Lifeline staff and her twins’ new adoptive parents. After being connected with Lifeline, these adoptive parents, Tanya and Barrett, received a thorough home study and extensive education on adoption, prenatal trauma, open adoption, birthparent relationships, and more. While adoption used to be a secret process that was not discussed, now all adoptions through Lifeline are open for communication, unless the birthparents do not request it. 

Laura said her situation “has now ended in a beautiful story and blessing for so many people involved. Not only do the parents finally have what they have always wanted—children—[but] I get to see them grow and be involved with the open adoption plan we have created with the help of Lifeline. I have gained two friends in Tanya and Barrett.” 

This type of open and loving relationship is a priority to Lifeline’s adoptive parents, who are considered ministry partners. While Lifeline serves women in unexpected pregnancies considering adoption, adoption is not the goal when meeting with these precious image-bearers. The goal is for them to know Jesus, the one who overcame the shame and took the curse for them. In Laura’s case, the new lives of the babies are to be celebrated, and we can rejoice in the new life Laura has as a new sister in Christ. 

Prayerfully, these babies will grow up to be made a new creation in Christ, as well. Lifeline’s adoptive parents know that they are not only called to disciple the child in their home, but also minister to that child’s birth parents. Through adoption, they are not only adopting a child, but welcoming a relationship with that child’s mother or family, as well. We’ve found that this type of openness (however it may look for individual families), is healthy for the child, the family, and the birth family. 

Adoption, like parenting or abortion, is not without grief and loss. Yet, the support provided through Lifeline’s continued post-placement support for birth families and post-adoption support for adoptive families, as well as support by the local church, helps all members of the adoption triad to heal and thrive. 

“As far as myself personally,” shared Laura, “the girls have taught me so much about myself and where I want to stand in my life. The smallest decisions can impact so much whether they are good or bad, and sometimes the bad decisions can teach you more than the good. I can now see the bigger picture meant for myself and those sweet girls. I see a bright future ahead for [them], their mom, dad, and their entire family. I can’t wait to witness it . . . I plan to find a church, and I know that through prayer and his Word I have peace. I chose life for them, and I want to say thank you to those precious girls for also giving me life.”

By / Dec 15

My husband and I said “yes” a year and a half ago. We said yes to bringing a child with whom we do not share DNA into our home. We said yes to giving care, advocacy, and love to this child as if he was our own. We said yes to a path of uncertainty, but certain to be full of both highs and lows. We said yes with deep joy and tentative excitement. 

We didn’t say yes because we knew the process would be easy or pain free. It hasn’t been.  We didn’t say yes because we were sure the outcome would be permanent stability for this child in our family. We’re still not certain what the future holds. And we didn’t say yes because we were experiencing the empty ache of childlessness. We’d already received the gifts of three biological sons who fill our hearts and home. 

We had a better reason to say yes: It was clearly God’s will for us to do so. We know this to be true, not because God revealed it to us in a vision or audibly spoke into our particular situation. We know it to be true because God made his will clear in his Word, and his Spirit impressed it upon our hearts through three primary truths. 

1. Children are always a gift 

Guardianship, foster care, and adoption are messy ministries. Why? Because these ministries are a necessary result of brokenness. The fact that so many biological parents are unable or unwilling to care for their children reminds us that something has gone terribly askew in our world. But children, regardless of the circumstances through and into which they are born, are gifts. Always gifts. God made this clear by allowing our first parents Adam and Eve to “bear fruit” in spite of their sinful rebellion (Gen. 3:16, 20). And he confirms that all human life is a gift by revealing his tender heart for the orphan throughout Scripture (Isa. 1:17; Psa. 82:3; Deut. 10:18; James 1:27).

We live in a culture that says the natural fruit of our sexuality is only good when it’s wanted or chosen. It’s reasoned that if children are not wanted or chosen, parents should have the freedom to kill them in the womb. This killing is a hallmark of the kingdom of darkness. Think of the mass genocides of infant children led by Pharaoh (Ex. 1:22) and Herod (Matt. 2:16), both prototypical enemies of God. In contrast, God commands his people not to sacrifice their own children as the pagan nations do (Deut. 12:31). Disdaining the gift of children is the natural overflow of humanity’s rebellious quest for autonomy from God. And it’s hellish business.  

But God is in the business of graciously bringing the gift of fruit from barren places. The Bible is full of examples including Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 21:1-2), Isaac and Rebekah (Gen. 25:21), Elkanah and Hannah (1 Sam. 1:19b-20), Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:7,13), and Mary (Luke 1:31,34-35). Christians know that life is always a good gift to be received from the hand of God, and we demonstrate our belief in this truth when we are ready and willing to give our joyful yes to any children God puts before us who need tender love and care. 

2. We fight for life through death to self

The gift of fruitfulness is a heavy blessing. It’s heavy precisely because human life is so valuable. Receiving and stewarding the gift of a child, whether biologically one’s own or not, requires investments of time, energy, and financial resources in innumerable quantities. And if a child comes into one’s family from previously difficult circumstances, the investment may be even greater. In a very real sense, the gift of children requires parents to lay down their own lives for the life of another.

The culture of death all around us proclaims the lie that children aren’t always a gift worth the investment required to steward them, and this message rings true to fallen sensibilities. In a world that’s all about self-promotion, self-love, and self-care, self-denial sounds pretty ridiculous. But finding true life through death is the message of the cross, and it’s folly to those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18). 

Christians know that life is always a good gift to be received from the hand of God, and we demonstrate our belief in this truth when we are ready and willing to give our joyful yes to any children God puts before us who need tender love and care.

Jesus came to earth to conquer death through his own death, which led to resurrection glory. Through his sacrifice, he freely offers eternal life to all who trust him by faith. Then he calls those who believe to follow him in dying: “‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life finds it” (Luke 9:23-24). 

The indwelling Holy Spirit enables Christians to war against the culture of death by dying to self  in service to others. This means Christians can do hard things. We can be on the front lines of orphan care ministry, joyfully receiving and stewarding the gift of children (or supporting those who do), even though it costs us something. We tell the world the gospel is true when we willingly open our hands and homes to the good gift of children, even, and maybe especially, those we haven’t physically borne. 

3. The gospel changes everything 

My husband and I didn’t say yes to receiving a child into our home because we’re naturally noble and drawn toward service. Apart from Christ, we’re self-centered lovers of comfort and ease. No, we said yes because the gospel is true. It has changed (and is still changing) us. By grace through faith in Christ alone, we who were once orphaned by sin have been made sons and daughters of the Father. The Holy Spirit is now producing good fruit in our once spiritually barren hearts, enabling us to live for someone greater than ourselves. 

The Bible teaches that one primary evidence of gospel transformation in a person’s life is care for the least of these: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: To visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). Because we know the promises of God are all yes for us in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 1:19-20), the hearts of all Christians must be continually postured to offer our joyful “Yes!” to God in whatever he calls us to do. 

With empty hands, we’ve received his salvation and the gift of spiritual fruit. Now, with hands and hearts full of every spiritual blessing, we’re able to pour all we have back out in service to him as we steward the gifts and callings he has given us. Unstained by the world’s way of thinking, Christains say yes with our wallets, our time, our energy, and our very lives to receive the orphans of the world because God has done so for us. And this good news changes everything.    

By / Nov 13

For over two decades, National Adoption Month has been promoted and celebrated every November in the United States. The observance is intended to increase national awareness of the need for permanent families for children and youth in the U.S. foster care system. 
Here are five facts you should know about adoption in America:

1. Adoption is the social, emotional, and legal process in which children who will not be raised by their birth parents become full and permanent legal members of another family while maintaining connections, such as genetic or psychological, to their birth family. While adoption has existed throughout human history (e.g., the adoption of Moses by Pharaoh’s daughter in Exodus 2:10), it has not always involved a legal process. In fact, adoption as a legal process within the United States only began in the 1850s. In 1851, Massachusetts passed the Adoption of Children Act, the first law that recognized adoption as being based on child welfare rather than adult interests.

2. Adoption remains a rare event in the United States. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, between 1973 and 2002, the percentage of ever-married women 18-44 years of age who had adopted a child fluctuated between 1.3% and 2.2%. Men were twice as likely as women 18-44 years of age to have adopted a child. Among ever-married persons, men (3.8%) were more than 2.5 times as likely as women (1.4%) to have adopted. Relinquishment of infants at birth is extremely rare. Only 1% of children born in the United States in 1996-2002 to women 18-44 years of age as of 2002 were relinquished for adoption within their first month of life. (No newer studies could be found on this topic.) The most common form of adoption in the United States is stepchild adoption, where stepchildren are legally adopted by their stepparents.

3. Only about 1 in 4 children in the foster care system are waiting to be adopted. As of September 2019, there were 423,997 children in foster care in the U.S. Out of that number, only 122,216 were waiting to be adopted, and only 71,335 for whom parental rights for all living parents were terminated. The average age of a child in foster care waiting to be adopted was 7.8 years old and had been in foster care for an average of three years. About 44% of the children are White, 22% are Black, and 22% are Hispanic.

4. Each year thousands of U.S. citizens adopt children from abroad. In 2019, Americans adopted 2,971 children from abroad. The countries from which the most children came were China (819), Ukraine (298), Columbia (244), India (241), and South Korea (166). The total number of intercountry adoptions from 1999 to 2019 was 278,745. According to UNICEF, approximately 418 million children have lost one or both parents. 

5. The cost to adopt a child can range between nearly $0 and $50,000. The Child Welfare Information Gateway, a government-funded adoption information service, estimates the average U.S. adoption costs of various types of adoptions:

  • Public Agency (Foster Care) Adoptions: $0-$2,500
  • Independent Adoptions: $15,000-$40,000+
  • Private Agency Adoptions: $20,000-$40,000+
  • Intercountry Adoptions: $20,000-$50,000

To offset the cost, the federal government offers an adoption tax credit of up to $14,300 for qualified adoption expenses in 2020. The credit is available for each child adopted, whether via public foster care, domestic private adoption, or international adoption. Adoption assistance is also available at the individual state level

By / Nov 10

November is National Adoption Month. An important aspect of child welfare is the policies that govern how we care for the nation’s and world’s most vulnerable. Child welfare is one of the ERLC’s top priorities, and we regularly work with like-minded partners, Capitol Hill, and the administration to ensure that every child has a safe, permanent, and loving family.

Below are some of the child welfare policies the ERLC has been working on.

Adoptee Citizenship Act

Prior to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, the administrative steps required of families adopting internationally were unnecessarily burdensome. The process included applying for and moving through a lengthy naturalization process for their children, in addition to the lengthy and costly adoption process. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 granted automatic citizenship to all foreign-born children brought to the United States who had at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen. Unfortunately, that act only applied to adoptees under the age of 18 when the bill was enacted, leaving an entire population of adopted children without full U.S. citizenship.

The Adoptee Citizenship Act closes the loophole to provide immediate citizenship to these children already adopted by U.S. citizens yet left out of the previous bill. This bill solves the innumerable problems these adopted Americans have had to endure in attending college, accessing banking services, or starting their careers because of a lack of citizenship. This bill provides equity to these children because they should have every legal right of any other child of a U.S. citizen. 

One Pager: Adoptee Citizenship Act 

Explainer: Adoptee Citizenship Act

Fulton v. Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, Catholic Social Services (CSS) has cared for children and families in need for over 200 years. Then in 2018, a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer informed the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services that two of its private foster care agencies, including Catholic Social Services (CSS), would not work with same-sex couples as foster parents. The city investigated the allegation, which it considered a violation of the city’s anti-discrimination laws.

When the agencies confirmed that, because of their religious views on marriage, they would not work with gay couples—although no gay couple had ever attempted to partner with CSS—the department ceased referring foster children to them and demanded they change their religious practices or close down their ministries. The Supreme Court has taken up this case, and oral arguments were held on Nov. 4. 

The outcome of the case will also reach thousands of faith-affirming foster and adoption agencies across the country. An unfavorable outcome for CSS may force other agencies into a similarly devastating choice to either compromise their deeply-held religious convictions or close down. Should CSS receive a decision from the Supreme Court clarifying their First Amendment protections, they can continue serving Philadelphia during its foster care crisis. Like the City of Brotherly Love, many states face foster family shortages. So, the closing down of faith-affirming foster care agencies is nonsensical and will leave many foster children without the loving homes they urgently need.

With the foster care system burdened by the number of children in need, the government should not hinder the ability of agencies like Catholic Social Services to serve its community simply because of their religious beliefs. When the court decides this case, it is our hope that it not only protects religious liberty but also protects the ability of faith-based groups to continue serving the children in Philadelphia who need safe and loving homes.

Explainer: What you need to know about Fulton v. Philadelphia

Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act

Across the country, child welfare and child protection systems are overcrowded and under significant strain. It is in this context that some states and cities are working to close those child welfare providers who are seeking to operate in a manner consistent with their religious convictions. This leads to fewer families available for foster care and adoption. The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act would prohibit government discrimination against child welfare agencies on the basis of their beliefs, and ultimately protect children in the foster system and children waiting for adoption by ensuring that a wide range of child welfare providers are available to serve them. Although the legislation has yet to become law, the ERLC was pleased to see the Department of Health and Human Services issue a new regulation in November of 2019 requiring its grant programs to adhere to Supreme Court decisions and congressional laws, thus ensuring that religious freedom is not infringed upon by the federal government. 

This law would prohibit government discrimination against child welfare agencies on the basis of their religious beliefs. Thus, it would protect children in need as foster systems are overcrowded and under significant strain. 

Explainer: The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act

Ensuring Intercountry Adoption Remains a Viable Option

In 2019, only 2,971 children were welcomed into families through intercountry adoption. The reasons for this decline vary, from certain countries completely halting their intercountry programs to other countries placing more children in homes domestically. There’s also been a decline in stateside adoption agencies facilitating intercountry adoption, narrowing the options for prospective parents.

Many countries and cultures are becoming more open to domestic foster care and adoption. That is certainly good news, and ought to be encouraged. However, there are still millions of orphans worldwide who long to be raised in a family where they are known and loved instead of remaining a number in an impersonal institution. Intercountry adoption must remain a viable option for welcoming those children into homes, and we must do all we can to facilitate those adoptions. In some countries, especially developing nations, the only chance a child might have at growing up in a safe, loving, permanent home is intercountry. The ERLC is working with like-minded partners and the U.S. Department of State to ensure that intercountry adoption remains a viable option for families and vulnerable children around the world.

Read: Why Intercountry Adoption Must Remain a Viable Option

By / Sep 29

This week’s episode was originally scheduled to be an interview with fellow adoption advocate, McLane Layton, on the need for Congress to pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act. 

But then, after the passing of Supreme Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the high court vacancy. The ERLC team circled up after the nomination to talk about Judge Barrett’s incredible biography and inspiring career before turning to Chelsea Patterson Sobolik and Jeff Pickering’s interview with Layton about this important adoption issue.

Guest Biography

McLane Layton is the Founder and President of Equality for Adopted Children (EACH). She previously served as Legislative Counsel to former U.S. Senator Don Nickles (R–Okla.) from 1990 to 2005. Layton holds a Juris Doctor from Oral Roberts University and a Masters in Psychology from George Mason University. 

Resources from the Conversation

By / Sep 23

Adoption is a central theological theme throughout Scripture. God has adopted us and welcomed us into the family of God. (Gal. 4:4-6). As Paul wrote, those “led by the Spirit are the children of God” (Rom. 8:14). All children of God receive the spirit of adoption. This theological theme carries practical application for our families and communities. As followers of Christ, we are called to care for the vulnerable and oppressed, including orphans (James 1:27, Isaiah 1:17). 

For many vulnerable children in foreign countries, intercountry adoption is their only opportunity to grow up in a safe, permanent, and loving family. Intercountry adoption also provides children access to needed medical, therapeutic, and educational resources. In a world full of children in need, intercountry adoption is an essential measure of the Christian faith. 

Our government has an important role to play in ensuring the protection and welfare of children. An important aspect of child welfare policy is to remove barriers to adoption so that families are able to welcome children safely into their homes. Unfortunately, there have been many obstacles to intercountry adoption. 

What is the problem?

Prior to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, the administrative steps for an adoptive family were unnecessarily burdensome. In addition to the lengthy adoption process, families had to engage in a lengthy naturalization process for their children. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 streamlined the process, and granted automatic citizenship to all foreign-born children brought to the United States, who had at least one parent who was a U.S. Citizen. While the intercountry adoption process remains a lengthy one, taking anywhere from one to four years, adoptive families no longer have to worry about the lengthy naturalization process.

Unfortunately, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 did not include adoptees who were 18 and older when the law took effect. This loophole left people legally adopted as children and raised in the United States without citizenship. The exclusion resulted in numerous difficulties for impacted adoptees. Because of a lack of citizenship, everyday activities for these individuals like obtaining a driver’s license, receiving financial aid at college, applying for jobs, working for the government, or traveling abroad are restricted.

What does the Adoptee Citizenship Act do?

The Adoptee Citizenship Act fixes this problem by making citizenship automatic for international adoptees who were legally adopted by U.S. citizens as children, regardless of their age when the Child Citizenship Act took effect.

The legislation was introduced by Reps. Rod Woodall (R–Ga.) and Adam Smith (D–Wash.), and by Senators Roy Blunt (R–Mo.), Mazie K. Hirono (D–Hawaii), and provides equity to these children, now adults, who should have every legal right of any other child of U.S. citizens. 

When an adoption is finalized, the adoptee is treated by the law as if he or she had been born to the adoptive parents. The adoptee should also receive the same legal rights and privileges as natural born children. This important bill provides a permanent legal remedy for the thousands of sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who were left behind and not granted American citizenship. 

Why should Christians care about the Adoptee Citizenship Act?

Adopting from other countries is a privilege. Not every nation chooses to participate in intercountry adoption, and the United States should respect the countries that choose to participate by quickly securing permanent citizenship for the thousands of adoptees who are currently without.

Rather than make the adoption process more difficult, our government should make it easier to adopt these children in need of a family. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 rightly eased the burden on adopting families, and the Adoptee Citizenship Act continues that work by closing the loophole to provide immediate citizenship to these children already adopted by U.S. citizens yet left out of the previous bill. Christians should seek to promote the welfare of vulnerable children, both domestic and abroad.

What’s next?

The Adoptee Citizenship Act has large bipartisan and bicameral support. The ERLC is engaged with a broad coalition invested in child welfare to urge members of Congress to swiftly pass this bill and secure permanent citizenship for the thousands of impacted adoptees. The bill’s passage would be an important step to ensuring that adoptees are treated the same way under the law as natural born citizens.

ERLC intern Justin McDowell contributed to this article.

The ERLC strongly urges Congress to pass the bipartisan Adoptee Citizenship Act to provide a permanent legal remedy for the thousands of sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who were left in the gap of uncertainty. A great step you can take today on behalf of vulnerable children is to call your Representative and Senators to ask them to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act. To find your members of Congress and for more information on this bill, click here.