Sunday, November 8, 2015

World Adoption Day

Today is World Adoption Day- a day dedicated to raising awareness & support for those who are directly or indirectly affected by adoption. Birth parents, adoptees, adoptive families- those who are considering adoption, are enduring the road amid an adoption, or dealing with life "after" the gavel has dropped.  It's obviously a cause near and dear to my heart for many reasons! In conjunction with this, many churches across America have deemed this "Orphan Sunday"- one in which the Church discusses the many facets of children who need families and how to best care for those who are in the greatest need. 
I suppose it's easy for me, as a Christian, to see how my faith and our adoption have gone hand in hand. By no means do you have to be a follower of Christ to adopt- yet within my own adoption community of friends and fellow mama's I have met along the way we openly discuss leaning on our faith to get us through the tough times, being quick to give thanks to God for the good things, and offering prayerful support to those who ask.  I am a firm believer that the "Church" is comprised of people- not the building. That the bodies that fill the pews rather than the brick and mortar that hold the numbers for the address of a building are what I personally consider to be the body of faith that I am a part of. I do not care your denomination, title, or attendance record- to me if you call yourself a believer in Jesus and a follower of Him then you are part of the same "Church" I am. I wanted to very clearly define that, because I know I'm going to offend some people with what I have to say about the Church, and it's role in Adoption and "Orphan Care".   Please keep in mind when I speak of the Church I am speaking to the collective group of people who would consider themselves Christian, and not the members of the congregation I personally attend.
I also feel the need to disclose this: I hate the word "orphan". You will not catch me defining my child- or any child- with that word.  I have always thought long and hard about why that word irritates me, and I think I feel so strongly averse to it for two reasons. First, if you look up the definition in the dictionary, besides a child who has lost both parents to death the definition is also "a person that is without protective affiliation". When I consider that definition, and I call myself a Christian, I want to point out that we are all orphans, adopted by Christ into his Church. So I cannot define these children and classify them as having no "protective affiliation" when I know that as a Christian my job is to help care for them- to become their protective affiliation. The bible verses are numerous and the examples many where we are called to care for the fatherless. We- the Church- are called to be their protective affiliation.  I also hate the word because it implies that these children are parent-less. I believe that my son was created by God to be a member of my family. So to say that he was without parents- albeit maybe on technicality- is a statement I can't make. Not only did he have us, he also had his birth parents, for whom we are deeply grateful. Many of these children's stories are not clean and clear cut, but I believe each of them were created with their forever families in mind. I cannot call them orphans.   
With all that being said- I found myself asking this question during our adoption process:
Where is the Church?
Where are these Jesus-loving, God-following, hands-and-feet-of-Christ for the families who are filling out applications, submitting paperwork, waiting, praying, traveling and adopting? If we are directed to care for those without parents, does it mean that every family should adopt? I don't think so.  I don't think adoption is for everyone.  But being supportive is absolutely everyone's job in the Church, and I think we can collectively do a better job of being the support for those who have chosen that path.  I can count on one hand the number of times we were approached and told we were being prayed for during our adoption.  If someone in your "Church family" is adopting- reach out to them and ask them what you can pray for specifically for them. I promise it will mean the world to them.  The adoption journey can be long and lonely at times- because until you've done it, you can't fully understand it. Heck- the changes are so fluid and fast that in three years I will not fully understand how it works anymore either.  I think that-as the Church-if adopting a child is not your calling then your role is to be the hands and feet of Christ to lift and walk with the families you know who are adopting- and I think that is where the Church is failing adoptive families.
In fact within my own congregation- and I believe within my town (but I could be wrong)- we don't "do" Orphan Sunday.  I wonder why this is? I think, in part- it's because to acknowledge the needs of these children and to not be able to fix it is an ugly feeling.  Partly because we can read about the numbers- (close to an estimated SIX MILLION in Ethiopia alone)- but when we are allowed to sit in our nice church clothes on the padded pews and put faces to those numbers, it's uncomfortable.  We feel conflicted that we are not called to adopt yet we are being asked to care for these children.  Maybe it's because we can't stomach the fact that millions of children don't know the love of a parent, the feeling of a full belly and a warm bed, have never been rocked to sleep and no longer cry when they wake up in the night because they know nobody is coming to cuddle them. Maybe because the enormity of the problem seems insurmountable, especially when it's a single Sunday set aside to address it.  Where is the Church?
I can tell you where we should be. We should be seeking out the families within our Church who feel called to adopt, and supporting them. Lifting them in prayer, offering to pay one of their filing fees, encouraging them with cards and phone calls, championing for the cause, organizing fundraisers and bake sales and prayer chains and meals.  Becoming the proverbial hands and feet of Christ to do the heavy lifting and getting dirty and sweaty because God didn't call us all to adopt but he called us all to care for these children. 
So if your Church acknowledges Orphan Sunday, I hope you find out who in your Church is adopting and do your part to serve Christ by helping them. If you're considering adoption and feel called to adopt, I pray your Church helps you in big, Christ-like ways. If your congregations don't acknowledge this Sunday I hope that you can ask all the right people "why not?" until next year there is more discussion about the Church's role in becoming that "protective affiliation" for these children until their forever families have found them and brought them home. 
We are all orphans, adopted by Christ; and until these children know the love of a family like we in the Church know His love for us- our job is not done.  

photo credit Jenny Myers Photography

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave your words of encouragement here: