Wednesday, June 26, 2013

christian adoption, foster care and pride.

there are many ways that foster and adoptive parents can easily fall into a trap of pride.  the job is hard, but many outsiders laud the sacrifice and service of foster and adoptive parents, and these parents can begin to believe that they are, in fact, special people with greater giftings than others.

i don't write these things because i see them in others, but because i see them in myself.  and i want to shine gospel light on ways that pride can creep up on foster/adoptive parents.  let us repent of this pride and rejoice that jesus' blood cleanses us from the guilt we should bear and ask for the fruit of the Holy Spirit to fill us rather than pride.

condemning/judging birth parents.

i have heard some pretty horrible stories of things that foster children have gone through, stories that many people couldn't stomach.  but the tragic reality is, the parents who do these things were often victims of these same abuses as a child.  history repeats itself.  as i wrote about recently, hearing our current foster baby girl's mother speak to a class of foster parents in training really helped me to see things from her perspective.

birth parents are not monsters.  there are many complex reasons that resulted in the situations that caused their children to have been taken away or having to give up their children. but remember that they were made in the image of God with many good qualities and giftings, just like you and i were.  i am not excusing their sin, but merely saying that it is important to not narrowly focus on their sin to the exclusion on their positive characteristics.

it is important to remember that as foster/adoptive parents our position is not to judge the parents.  quite literally (at least in the foster system) it is the judge's position to judge the parents and determine what the punishment for their sin is as well as if and when they can be reunited with their children.  our role is to love the children in our home, and part of loving them is by helping them to follow the biblical command to honor their parents.  when we talk about and treat their parents with respect, we teach them to respect their parents.  this doesn't mean that we need to lie about sins their parents have committed, but instead to talk about these sins (when appropriate to speak of them) in a factual, non-judgmental way.

a passage that really helps put this in perspective for me is 1 corinthians 5:9-13:
"I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside."
as jesus modeled, it is good to be in relationship with and love on unrepentant non-believers.  it is unrepentant believers whom we should be judging.

expecting the children to be grateful

all foster and adoptive children have experienced trauma and loss.  at the minimum, even if they were placed in a loving adoptive home at birth, they have been separated from their mom whom they emotionally attached to for nine months in the womb.  but realistically, most foster or adoptive children have faced more trauma than this, such as abuse, neglect, starvation or prenatal drug or alcohol exposure.

'Unfair' photo (c) 2013, Runar Pedersen Holkestad - license:
many parents naively assume that their children will automatically be grateful to be adopted and will easily forget their past hurts and love their new home.  unfortunately, these past hurts and losses must be grieved and worked through.  there is hope that God can and will work these things for good, but it is important for foster and adoptive parents to recognize these things.

for a helpful list of things to think through on this topic, i recommend the article "The 20 Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew About Adoption".

expecting the children to become believers

this is a similar sin of pride as the one mentioned above.  often we assume that children will see the beauty of how they have been adopted into our earthy families and think that they will probably also want to be adopted into God's family, becoming christians.

again it is important to repent of pride in this way.  again, we need to recognize the profound hurt that adopted and foster children have gone through, and beg God in prayer to work despite these hurts and draw these children to himself.  we need to recognize that it is not in our power to save our children, no matter what great deed we have done for them.

alex has mentioned to me before that in his experience, children adopted into christian families are actually less likely to become christians than the biological children of those families.  i don't know whether the actual statistics are the same as alex's personal experience, but no matter what, all parents need to fervently seek the Lord for their children's salvation.  He is mighty to save.


  1. hey sarah, I'd be curious to know what experience Alex is speaking of? Or what evidence he bases that on?

    1. just random people he has met throughout his life. mostly people we have known through churches we have been involved in. all the examples he is thinking of are adoptees who are now adults. nothing scientific, just based on what he has noticed.