This article was originally written in response to the Haiti crisis of January 2010, but the information is important for anyone considering adoption.
For those interested in pursuing adoption of Haitian orphans, we want to share a few important thoughts regarding this desire. The process by which orphans will be adopted from Haiti post-earthquake is still unclear as much of the infrastructure has been wiped out. Regarding a desire to adopt a Haitian orphan—first of all, the reality of this crisis does not change the fact that the most important consideration in any adoption is obedience to God. If God is calling you to adopt from Haiti (or anywhere else for that matter) then you should pursue it. However, we must caution others to not mistake the emotional response to the devastation we see with the clear direction of God’s Spirit in our lives. Here are a few issues anyone thinking about adoption should consider:
1. How have we sensed God’s leading toward adoption prior to this tragedy?
While it is entirely possible that the Lord is using this tragedy to open your eyes to the needs of orphans and the possibility of adoption, you may want to proceed with caution if this tragedy is the first time you have ever considered adoption. You will want to take some necessary steps to insure that this is, in fact, the Lord’s leading and not simply an emotional response to the suffering you are seeing. This kind of response is natural but should not be the driving force in decision-making. Adoption is a life-long decision that should only be made after careful consideration.
2. Are you and your spouse unified in your decision to pursue adoption?
Two of the biggest temptations in adoption take place in the arena of your marriage. The first is to pressure or even nag a spouse who is not convinced of God’s calling to adopt. This temptation is especially strong at a time like this when the need seems so urgent. It is important to remember that for millions children, the need for a family is—and has been—urgent every day and this tragedy should not be used to apply additional pressure to a spouse that is unsure of God’s leading. The second temptation is to give in to a spouse that is applying pressure to adopt. It is natural to want to please our spouse, but additional and serious complications will come down the road in your marriage if both spouses are not equally convinced of God’s call to adopt.
3. Have you sought the insight and counsel from godly people who know you well?
The best insight into our lives and our motives often comes through the eyes of others. If you are inclined to consider adoption, talk to others who have your best interests at heart and whose lives demonstrate a commitment to the will of God. Also, it would be wise to seek counsel from others you know who have adopted. They can share with you the realities of raising children who have experienced great suffering and can help you to pursue adoption with healthy and realistic expectations.
4. Have you been faithfully praying about what God would have your response to be?
There is nothing more sobering than realizing that you are about to make a major life decision during a time when your prayer life is anemic. Caring for orphans is God’s will for everybody. Adoption is not. Spending regular time seeking the Lord in prayer is the best way to insure that you are not about to step outside of His will for your life.
5. Is my desire to adopt coming primarily from a desire to obey God or to “save” a child who is suffering?
The desire to help a child in need is very important. The thing to remember is that adoption is not the only way to do this. You can be a part of God’s care for the orphans of Haiti in other ways. Adoption is one aspect of orphan care and requires clear direction from the Lord.
If after considering these things, you feel God may not be calling you to adopt, remember there are other things He may lead you to do in response to this tragedy which we will be discussing in the days to come.
For centuries God’s word has taught that loving orphans, the poor and the widow are in fact pure worship. I pray that out of these ashes many more will seek to join God where He is working and worship Him there.
On behalf of the Hope for Orphans team,
Founder & Executive Director
Hope for Orphans: Serving every church to reach every orphan
(A ministry of FamilyLife)