To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Loving an Adopted Child: "Can't" or "Won't"? (A Christian's Perspective)

Dallas Cowboy's linebacker, Demarcus Ware, and his adopted daughter, Marley.
*This is not just a post about adoption, but is specifically geared toward looking at adoption from a Christian/Jewish perspective.  Most of my posts about adoption are not specifically religious; so, I thought I would put this disclaimer here to warn my readers that this post is different.  Thanks! :-)

 Something's been bothering me for a while now...  It's been eating at my heart as I roll it over and over in my head.  At first, I took it for what it was and dismissed it; because I took it to be true.  But, it wouldn't lie dormant; it would wake me up at night over and over again until I was forced to really think it through properly.  And when I did that, well, like I said, it really bothered me.

I'm speaking of a concept here.  An idea.  And as history has shown us, ideas are powerful.  They take root and can cause action.  Every major revolution, whether religious, political, or social always starts as just an idea - a tiny spark that bursts in zealous flames of passionate fury.  So, you can see why this has been nagging at me; because I do not want this idea to flourish...because, to put it simply, I think it is wrong.

The idea I'm talking about is the notion that a person cannot possibly love an adopted child as much as a biological one.  That it is somehow, truly, just not possible.

I've heard this from more than one stranger, more than one acquaintance, more than one friend.  I've heard it from so many people now that my head starts to spin, "Oh, well, I could NEVER love an adopted child the way I love my own kids.  I just couldn't do it."  I'm paraphrasing, of course; but the idea is always the same.  I cannot love that which I did not birth out of me, that which I do not share actual DNA with.

Having an adopted mother, this kind of talk used to insult me a bit; but now that I am to become an adoptive mom myself, it out-right makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.  My mom used to agree with this statement.  Even being adopted herself, she would say, "Well, Mandie, some people just don't have a heart for adoption; and you can't expect them to."

Maybe she's right, I don't know.  I get a sneaking suspicion that the same people who say this are the kind of people who have no heart for animals or the poor or the sick.  Maybe some people just don't have a certain kind of love capability in their hearts?  Maybe?

But what has begun to really bother me most are those who say this to me who claim to be Christians.

Lately, I feel that God has really been showing me His heart - His great love for people (and He DOES loooooooooove people!  So much!).  There are too many examples to share in this blog at this time, but He has been showing me His goodness (after all, God told Moses to tell the newly freed Israelites to call him "Good").

It has been particularly heart-telling for me to watch His loving-kindness in regards to our adoption of Baby C.  Every day, I watch barriers being knocked down that would keep us and our baby in South Korea apart from one another.  Financial issues, timing and logistical struggles, paperwork snafus, etc. has been righted quickly and in our favor over and over again during this process.  This shows me that God truly cares about our adoption.  That He cares that our baby makes it home to us; that He cares that we become a family, and that He is personally knitting our hearts and souls together in love.

It also plainly says to me that God cares about adoption.  That He thinks this is important.  That He loves orphans and relinquished children and the families that are created by adoption.

When I dug into my Bible for "proof" of this, I was delighted with what I found:

In the Old Testament, there is only mention of three adopted people that I could find: Moses, Genubath, and Esther.  At first, I was a little unsettled by this, ONLY THREE?!  Was this because God found adoption shameful?  Was it because He thinks of orphans as "lowly"?  Was this because He wanted to discourage people from adopting?  Could it be?!  But as I delved into these stories, I found my fears assuaged; because these are not only stories of adoption, they are stories of triumph, mercy, and the glory of God.

Let's start with Moses:

"When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son.  She named him Moses, saying, 'I drew him out of the water'."  Exodus 2:10 (NIV)

Moses was a boy who should not have been.  He should not have survived even to his second birthday.  Pharaoh had become worried about the Israelites in his land.  There were so many!  If all of the young boys grew into men, at some point, they might try to rise up against him and his great nation.  This could not be allowed; so, as we know the story goes, he demanded the death of every Israelite son ages 2 and younger.

Moses was in this category.  He should have been killed.  His life should have been extinguished, but it was not.  And for me, the most amazing thing is that God didn't just deliver him from death, he didn't just hide him away in any old place, oh no!  He gave him the chance to be adopted and not by just anybody, but by a princess of Egypt!  Moses was adopted into the royal family; he became a PRINCE.  From lowly slave to grandson of the KING.  What an amazing transformation adoption proved to be for Moses.

Even more amazing to me is that God chose to use Moses to lead His people out of slavery and into the Promised Land.  He didn't choose some other young man living among the Israelites already.  He didn't choose the first-born son of a priest or judge.  NO.  He chose a relinquished child.  He chose an "orphan".  He chose someone who had been adopted.

Moses led the people of his birth-origin to freedom.  He saved them from starvation in the wilderness.  He showed them God's perfect laws in the form of the Ten Commandments.  He was a mighty man of God.  He was a friend of God.  He was a SON of God, and he was adopted.

Then there's Genubath:

"The sister of Tahpenes bore him a son named Genubath, whom Tahpenes brought up in the royal palace. There Genubath lived with Pharaoh's own children."  1st Kings 11:20 (NIV)

Another orphan raised as a prince of Egypt!  Another "lowly", relinquished child raised up to the status of a mighty one.  God had obviously protected these young boys.  He had not only saved their lives, He had given them great blessings.  He didn't just give them any old family; He made sure they were PRINCES among men!

And what about Esther?: 

" Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died." Esther 2:7

We all know the heroic and amazing story of Esther.  How she was most favored by Xerxes, king of Persia, how she became his queen and eventually saved not only the life of her adopted father, Mordecai; but also the lives of every Jew living in the Persian empire since Haman the Agagite (a well-honored prince in the area) had conspired to kill them all.

Esther was brave, and she spoke up revealing to her husband the truth of her ethnic origins; probably saving thousands upon thousands of lives and winning her adopted father a place as Xerxes' prime minister (not too shabby, eh?).  It is because of her story that Jewish people celebrate thanksgiving during Purim.

An orphan girl, transformed through adoption into a most-loved daughter which won her to right to be brought before a king, seeking a new wife and queen; which she became.  If adoption is anything, it would seem that it is transformative in the very best of ways.

God protected each of these three orphans.  He raised them up.  He transformed them through adoption into princes and a queen - royalty.  If God did not care about orphans and adoption, or even if He cared about them a little, but not much, He would not have chosen these people to do His important works and save His chose people.  He would have found some other mother's biological child; but He didn't.  God CHOSE specifically to work through adopted persons.

And we can't forget Jesus!:

When you get right down to it, Jesus was a step-son.  He was adopted by His earthly father, Joseph, who, after being visited by the archangel Gabriel, decided to parent Him as his own son.

Yes, it's true, Jesus was adopted.

I find this quite significant.  God could have brought Jesus to Earth any way He wished, but in the end He chose an unknown virgin girl and her fiance to parent His "only begotten son".  He chose to have Jesus live His life on Earth as an adopted son.  Powerful stuff!  The savior Himself, a "relinquished child" of orphan...adopted.

When I hear someone say, "I can't love an adopted child like my biological children."  I just want to say: 

I'm sure glad God doesn't feel that way; because without adoption, we would have no relationship with Him and no chance of eternal life.  We are ADOPTED to God through the atonement of Jesus Christ; and because of this, we get to live as legitimate sons and daughters with ALL the benefits of being a child of God...including living forever with Him!  AMEN to that!

Jesus is very clear about this: that we are all sons and daughters of God, and that He loves us very much.  But we weren't "born" of God.  He didn't "conceive" us or "birth" us.  He ADOPTED us!

" redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of SONS (or daughters!).  Because you are sons, God sent the spirit of His son into our hearts, the spirit who calls out 'Abba!  Father!'  So, you are no longer a slave, but a son; and because you are a son, God made you also an heir."  Galations 4:5-7

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of adoption.  And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father'!" Romans 8:15

"...He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ in accordance to His pleasure and will..." Ephesians 1:5

I could go on and on and on with scriptures proclaiming us God's adopted sons and daughters.  I could show you example after example of how Jesus called those He touched, encountered, and healed "daughter" and "son".  Yes, I could go on and on about how we are all adopted; and how much God loves adopted people and adoption, but I won't...not right now.

All I wish for is that the next time you or someone else says, "I can't love an adopted child."  You will stop and ask them (or perhaps yourself): "Can't"...or "Won't"?  Love is a choice, and I'm so glad that God didn't say "you were not born of me, I cannot love you."  I'm so glad He said instead, "I choose to agape love you perfectly; and I'm going to prove it by adopting you and making you my son/daughter." 

I am proud to be an adopted daughter of God!

Blessings and All the Love in the World to You,


  1. You go, girl! When we were dealing with fertility treatments, and I was fighting talks of adoption, God humbled my heart by using the gracious heart of my wife. I now have 2 beautiful oldest, a daughter who may not be bone of my bone or flesh of my flesh, but she is most certianly heart of my heart. I could not love any little girl in this whole world the way God has built my heart to love that lil brown beauty! Then there is my son, 14 months behind her. He has my eyes, my coloring, and the softest heart ever. He, too, loves his sissy with a God-like love. I love that little man who bears my deceased brother's name no more and no less than I do her. It's not through effort, but just thank you for writing this, loving a baby God knitted together in your heart rather than your womb, and just bein you!

  2. Mr. V! :-)
    Thank you for sharing your story; it is precious! I always knew I wanted to adopt, but I thought it would be a choice I made when I wanted...I had no clue that I was never in control, only God is. So, I totally understand how you felt going through fertility treatments. It wasn't that I didn't want to adopt; I just didn't want my other options taken from me. For whatever reason, God has brought us to adoption first - maybe that will be the only way we add to our family, I have no idea what the future holds; but I am just as excited about this baby half a world away as I would be if s/he were growing right here in my own belly. God is so good, and He always has an awesome plan!

    God bless you and your beautiful family,

  3. I agree with you Mandie...I could not imagine loving a child more than I love my little girl..can't wait to see pics baby C......

  4. Hi there,

    He does have a plan! If only there were 'previews'! I placed a child for adoption when I was a young girl and heard very similar stories and those thrice removed 'andecdotes'. I can testify to you it is simply not true. We have and open adoption and the story of how I found her parents is long but I can tell you it was clear they were her family long before she was born. While my daughter and I still certainly have a special connection, she has another even stronger bond with her Mom. The one who feeds and bathes and you holds you when you cry is your parent no matter how you got there.

    Adoption is as old as we are. Long before orphanages and foster homes, when biological parents couldn't raise their children, it was standard for them to to be adopted by someone who could.

    I am so excited for you to get to see The Plan in action soon!

  5. Having given birth and adopted I KNOW I love my adopted child as much as my bilogical. My pet peeve when people say he's not my "real child" What, he's my pretend child. I want to smack them upside their heads.

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