Sunday, June 20, 2010

not enough

I have been putting off writing about this topic because I feel like in order to do it well I will need more time than I can seem to find. But I don't think that chunk of uninterrupted time is ever going to come, so instead of writing and editing for hours on end I will force myself to just share a few brief thoughts.

I have been poking around adoption blogs and adoptee blogs for awhile now. By no means do I consider myself an expert, but I am learning a lot (and realizing how much more I need to learn). In this process, one of the most important things I am coming to understand more fully is this:

Wanting to care for orphans is not a good reason to adopt.

Believe me, I am a strong advocate for adoption and I have a deep and passionate concern for orphaned children. I just don't necessarily believe that adoption should be promoted as the only reasonable response to the tragedy of orphaned children.

As another blogger put it:

If a person has a heart to care for the orphan that is really, really wonderful. As an adoptive parent my advice would be, send a check. Offer respite care for an adoptive parent. Help with a fundraiser. Take a missions trip to an orphanage. Sponsor a child. Sponsor several.

If a person
wants to parent children who were biologically born to someone else, adoption is a beautiful, transforming, life altering for all involved parties, option.

At its core, adoption is not about caring for orphans; it is about parenting a child. True, that child was at one point in time classified as an orphan, and true you are providing care, so in that literal sense, adoption is a type of orphan-care. But if your primary aim in adoption is anything other than being a parent -- even something noble, like rescuing an orphan or caring for the needy -- I wonder if it might be best to consider some other form of aid.

I can hear the protests: "But there's such a huge need! These kids need families! Everyone should consider helping to meet this need by opening their home to an orphan!" Well, yes and no. Yes, there's a huge need. Yes, these kids need families. And yes, I wish more people would carefully consider adoption as an option in their family planning.

But if you consider the prospect of parenting a child who was not biologically born to you and find that you are not called, equipped, and excited to do just that, then NO, you should not adopt. It doesn't mean you don't love orphans. It doesn't make you a "bad Christian" (as if there were such a thing). It's just not your particular God-given calling. By the same token, choosing to adopt doesn't give adoptive parents the right to look down our noses at anyone. As one adoptee blogger put it: Adopting a child doesn’t make you a saint. It doesn’t make you a hero. It makes you a parent.

To summarize, wanting to care for orphans is great, biblical, praise-worthy, etc... but as an adoptive parent it is simply not enough.


  1. Interesting. It seems like this should be obvious, but it's clearly not. Which leads me to think that the larger problem is a deeper misunderstanding or wrong expectations of parenting in general.

  2. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I feel you throw the word "orphan" around as though that doesn't have any negative connotation behind it. Maybe this is beside the point of your post, but as an adoptee, I resent your use of the word. "Orphan" denotes that we have NO other parents other than you adoptive parents. This is not true. I was not an orphan when I was put up for adoption. I HAVE natural parents out there, somewhere. They did not die. I was not adopted because I was "orphaned". It also implies a negative feel which I don't really like.

    This is just something else that you may like to think about.

  3. 윤선,

    Thank you so much for sharing this. The term 'orphan' does tend to be problematic... I didn't mean to throw it around nonchalantly. The problem lies in the difference between "a child whose biological parents are deceased" and "a child who is legally ready to be adopted". There is certainly a vast difference between those two categories of children, and yet the word orphan is used for both of them interchangeably. This can be confusing and (I'm learning - thank you again) painful for adoptees.

    It is interesting how powerful language can be in shaping people's assumptions and understandings when it comes to something as complicated and messy as adoption. I will do my best to be careful and considerate of the power behind the words I use.

  4. Technically, we are all orphans and in need of adoption by our Heavenly Father. An excerpt from the book of John, a quote from Jesus, "If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

    Could it be that the problem is not with our English language or the use of a particular word, but for some, having deep unresolved hurts that are triggered by a "politically incorrect" word?

    I am no longer an orphan, but loved and accepted by God himself.

    It's a matter of perspective...choosing to acknowledge all the people who love us now and in our past no matter what our family may have looked like.

    Jesus died so that none of us remain orphans, but be accepted as righteous into His home. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

  5. @The Smith Family: You're joking... right?

  6. I found it. On your blog and hers. (lol it was a slow night)
    Because I know you and how fiercely you love all three of your boys, how you are raising them to be self-assured, confident and love Jesus. Becuase I know how careful and purposeful you are with your words, and how much you want to learn, are willing to learn, and have learned in this area- I know this was difficult for you.
    You're a trooper.
    Lesson learned, huh?
    I am glad you learned it for me. :)