Yesterday, I shared an article that recently leveled some criticism at the way Christians have tenanciously approached orphan care and adoption. Christianity Today also tackled this issue with an editorial that offered some thoughts on how Christians should respond to such articles as well as how Christians should be responding to orphan care/adoption. Specifically, the author believes we must
1. understand that orphan care is a complex issue and wisely consider our responses
2. work with trustworthy organizations
3. speak out against irresponsible behavior
4. make orphan care about God's concern for the orphan.
My own thoughts are similar but are colored by my own experiences within the adoption world.
1. Orphan care cannot become just another item to check off of our spiritual to-do list. I think there is a temptation for people to get caught up in the moment and to feel like they must do certain things in order to please God. We should not get wrapped up in orphan care projects just to make God happy. I also think that it is a temption for people to feel like they must do certain thing in order to compete spiritually. If we are using our service to orphans as a way to make ourselves look good to the world, to fill up our spiritual tank, or to keep up appearances within our Christian circle, then we have to reevaluate what we are doing. It is okay to not be passionate about orphan care. (Oh how I cringe when I write that because it is a passion of mine!) Yes, God wants us to care and support orphans. But we are not all gifted in the same ways nor are we all given the same passions. It is okay if you don't want to spend a month out of your summer sitting in an unconditioned orphanage while a pack of kids climbs all over you so don't feel obligated to do so. Everyone should have a compassionate heart regarding orphans but it is okay if the way you do orphan care is by simply writing a check.
2. Adoption is not for every person. Do I think more people need to consider adoption? Absolutely. Do I wish more Christians would stop thinking about adoption and just step out in faith and do it? Definitely. But I also realize that it takes certain abilities to parent kids who come from hard places. There are plenty of success stories in adoption. But there are many stories of heartache and heartbreak, where people were not prepared to adopt or where people tried their best to understand but still found themselves unable to help a child heal or where people were simply given the impression that love is enough. The love that most of us possess is not enough to parent a kid who is struggling to heal. It takes committment. It takes resources that your family might not have. It takes a toll. And some families are just not the families who are able to do that. And it's okay.
3. Christians and the church as a whole must act responsibly in the ways they encourage orphan care and adoption. This means examining the ethics of adoption. This means understanding all of the perspectives in adoption from adoptees to birth parents to adoptive families. It means not being so eager in our desire to find adoptive homes for children that we ignore more appropriate solutions that would care for a child. Being creative and flexible and simply supportive might enable birth families to stay together. It means that it is not enough to encourage families to adopt but that the church needs to be prepared to educate beforehand and then support families who are dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a whole lot more alphabet soup type struggles adoptive families may face. It means those who are excited about orphan care must temper their words and consider how those words might sound when printed in black and white. And all individuals must be careful that their actions do not become high profile cases played out in the media that link Christians to child trafficking or baby stealing.