Adoption: What If?

By Lindsay Smith, Intern Have you noticed it’s not always an actual problem which bogs down our minds, bodies and spirits (at least mine anyway), but rather the unknown?  When I’m face-to-face with a problem, my determination kicks in high gear.  I want to find a way over it, around it, or through it, and thanks to God’s grace, I can.  Tangible problems do not burden me as much as those two, little, whispering words: “What if.” 

Perhaps you have felt this way at some point – maybe specifically about adoption.  Having experienced an adoption in my family, I know there can be a lot of “what ifs” throughout the process.  Sometimes those two little words can seem larger than life and greater than any current problem.  However, MARRI’s research brings reality back to these “what ifs,” and the reality is “Adoption Works Well.”
What if we adopt:
You might make fewer trips to the doctor because your child is more likely to “enjoy excellent health” while overcoming any physical delays and even in-utero drug effects as a result of his or her placement.  Adopted children excel academically, even beyond children from biological families, and “eventually, there are no differences between the IQ scores of adopted siblings and those of biological siblings reared together.”  Within a home, family dynamics are also strengthened through adoption: “A study of 450 adolescents found that adoptees communicate more positively and have more positive relationships with their parents than do even biological children.” 
Undoubtedly, parents of adopted children will experience struggles, as do parents of biological children.  Not all family structures are the same, and MARRI explains here the benefits for all children of living in an intact married family.  Based on this research, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that “married adoptive parents adjust more successfully than unmarried parents.”  Research also shows the earlier you adopt a child, the easier the transition and adjustment.  However, “all children will benefit, regardless of their age at placement.”  If children have such a positive response to adoption, perhaps the better question is, “What if we don’t adopt?”
What if we don’t adopt:
All over the world children are aging out of orphanages or foster care systems without a forever family.  Annually in Russia, 10,000 youth like these teens find themselves on their own.  Without a place to call home or a mom and dad to lean on, many tragically resort to crime, prostitution, or simply decide their lives aren’t worth living.  This is the answer from only one country, and sadly many other countries cry out with similar responses.  There are 153 million orphansin the world.  2007 was a record year for adoptions: 133,737 domestic adoptionsand 19,569 international agency adoptions* took place.  Since each of these numbers represents a precious boy or girl who joined a family, we should celebrate them.   However, the sobering truth is these adoptions affected only 0.1% of the world’s orphans.  Many, many more children still need a home, and I would hope Christians are the first to help. 
Adoption in its truest form is a response to the love and gospel of Jesus Christ.  We were adopted into His kingdom, so we in turn adopt children into our homes.  Not just so they will have an earthly room, bed or siblings, but so they may have a chance to know about a Heavenly Father who is recklessly and passionately pursuing their adoption to Himself. 
On Sunday, November 4th, churches all over the United States and the world will be celebrating “Orphan Sunday.”  Started by the Christian Alliance for Orphans, this Sunday raises awareness for the plight of the orphan through local church services. 
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” – Jesus
And that’s not a “What if.”
* Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2011). How many children were adopted in 2007 and 2008? Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. 14.

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