In an adoption class a few weeks ago, a man raised his hand. "Have you noticed a huge increase in adoption talk? It suddenly seems to be everywhere." The agency's trainer didn't know anything about it, but I knew. The buzz is coming from the church, because God is bringing it to her attention.
As Dan Cruver, former theology professor and current head of Together for Adoption, points out, for thousands of years, nobody really talked about adoption in the Bible. Then, quite suddenly, independent theologians around the world began simultaneously studying the biblical theme of adoption--a paper here, a dissertation there, a sermon, a conference. God was revealing what had always been there, but had never really been noticed.
Once the Father started pointing it out, it seems obvious, like a bright purple thread woven into a tapestry. We are children adopted by God, who are called to care for orphans, called to be missional, called to aid suffering and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a short step from understanding our Vertical Adoption by God to seeing the call for Horizontal Adoption of children in need. The church is responding in big ways, and huge numbers of Christ-followers are pursuing adoption, fostering, and orphan care as a natural outgrowth of their faith.
While not every Christian will be called to adopt, the Church as a whole can participate in reflecting God's heart for these children. Churches are starting adoption support groups and adoption funds. Pastors are preaching sermons on adoption theology and orphan care. People are posting podcasts and blogs. The Long Ride, a children's book by Don Regier, shares his true story of a family looking for children, and children looking for a family. Umbrella organizations like the Christian Alliance for Orphans coordinate adoption, foster, and orphan care ministries. Christian adoption agencies, long in the battle, are getting fresh help. Organizations like ABBA Fund and Steven Curtis Chapman's Shaohannah's Hope help fund the adoption process for Christians. Just a few days ago, Christianity Today published the article, "Churches Adopt Adoption". The buzz is growing.
The need for families and churches to help rescue a child from an abusive situation, or from an institutional orphanage, or from a country where they'll face physical and spiritual poverty and death is real. When these kids grow up loved and healthy in a Christ-centered home, God is glorified. And occasionally, when one of these kids grows up and is inspired to return to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, our Father will adopt more and more into our family.