Tonight I had the opportunity to speak as part of a panel at our church about orphan care, foster care, and how we as a church can become a body of believers that takes James 1:27 to heart.
It was a great privilege to talk about something so dear to my heart: Adoption and Foster Care. Our associate pastor asked us several questions and I was hopefully able to encourage people to become more a part of God’s heart in widow and orphan care.
One of the things that the associate pastor wanted us to convey to the congregation was to help them replace fear with faith when it comes to thinking about adoption and foster care. I couldn’t help feeling conflicted about removing fear and replacing it with faith. But why? That seemed like an appropriate thing to do. I realized on the way home what my heart really wanted to do was encourage faith and tear down a false security that might inhibit adoption or foster care.
I think when considering adoption or foster care one of the first questions people find their hearts asking is: “What is this going to cost me and my family?” I don’t think this is a financial question, although that is a huge question as well. I think what people mean is “What sacrifice is this going to ask of me?” I think this is an important question to ask. I think people need to feel the freedom to ask this question. Is it not Christ that asks us to consider the cost? We should all enter into our faith understanding that it is a costly one. So asking that question and wrestling with it is not bad. Adoption or foster care is something not to be entered into flippantly or quickly.
The other part of the question that we need to consider is the fact that often times it is built on a false premise. The premise that this question is built upon is this: Foster care or adoption will cost us time, money, and energy. We might have to sacrifice things we just don’t want to. We are certain that it will cost us in unforeseen ways we can’t predict or know at the onset.
The reason that this is a false premise is that it is built on a false sense of security that does not exist. Christ tells us that we will have hard times in this life. That we will suffer. That the Christian life is a call to come and die to self and love self-sacrificially. Can you predict what will happen to your family? Can you control every aspect of your life so as to avoid suffering all together? Our goal for the Christian life should not be figuring out a way to find the path of least resistance that still leads up to heaven. Adoption and foster care are not the other side to the familial coin. On one side you have the suffering, hardship unknowns of orphan care and on the other you have the nuclear family. That is not the way it is. Thinking this way has been conditioned into us by our comfortable American middle-class life. You can no more control the sacrifice of adoption as you can control the sacrifice of your biological child getting a rare form of cancer several years from now. Either way you are still under God’s sovereign care.
Once we expose that lie we then can truly be free to consider adoption and foster care and how we can help those pursuing it. Once we realize that God through faith in Christ Jesus has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us whether that is in plenty or in want, sickness or in health, suffering or in peace, we reach a real freedom in Christ that will magnify our Gospel effectiveness.
So ask the tough questions, count the cost, recognize the false sense of security we all tend to have, then act to care for the least of these in the way God calls you. In the end you might find that what you thought was sacrifice looks more like sanctification and those whom you wanted to change have done more to change you.