Christian Biblical Counsel: ADOPTION

Adoption

A Child Born in the Heart

by June Hunt

By God’s plan, a child can become a cherished member of the family through adoption, and the family tree adds a small branch. That child is “grafted” into the family. But this new branch need not be viewed as inferior. A grafted branch can have just as much strength and bear just as much fruit as any other branch in the family. In fact, a grafted tree can have just as much strength and bear just as much fruit as any other family tree … maybe more. This is all according to God’s plan, and that is why those involved in adoption need to know God’s heart, for He says,

“I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

(Jeremiah 29:11)

I.     Definitions

A. What Is Adoption?

•     Adoption is the legal process of placing an infant or child with a nonbiological parent. In common terms, adoption is taking a child not born to you into your heart and home and making that child your own.

•     Adoption is also the process of placing an adult under the care of a nonbiological parent for the primary purpose of passing on an inheritance.

•     Adoption is designed by God to meet the very real needs of those whom He created.

“God sets the lonely in families.”

(Psalm 68:6)

B. What Are Two Avenues of Adoption?

•     Agency adoption

—  Public agencies are licensed by the state and funded by taxes.

—  Private agencies are licensed by the state and funded by private organizations.

•     Independent adoption

—  “Gray Market” adoption refers to a legal private adoption that is funded by the adoptive parents and processed by lawyers to insure legality.

—  “Black Market” adoption refers to an illegal private adoption funded by adoptive parents and usually involves excessive payments of money. Extreme cases can involve falsification of information and stolen babies.

Do not allow yourself or those you love to be involved in an illegal adoption. The Bible says,

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

(Proverbs 11:3)

C. What Are Two Types of Adoption?

     Closed adoption is a legal arrangement in which records are sealed and there is only initial contact through an agency or lawyer.

     Open adoption is an adoption relationship in which both the birth parents and the adoptive parents meet, exchange information and have the option of ongoing contact.

Why Opt for Open Adoption?

—  begins from a position of honesty

—  gives children the right to know their personal background

—  allows the adoptive parents to have access to information

—  helps to alleviate the child’s fear of “not belonging”

—  allows children to focus on growing up because they have knowledge of their background

—  prevents the emotional lifelong search for “Who am I?”

—  eliminates the child’s fear of the reason for his/her adoption

—  demonstrates genuine, sacrificial love!

“There is no fear in love.

But perfect love drives out fear.”

(1 John 4:18)

 

II.    Characteristics of the expectant Mother’s attitudes about adoption

Adoption is often the highest expression of love because it reflects God’s relationship with all who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. True Christians are “adopted” into the family of God.

“He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

(Ephesians 1:5)

A. What Does an Expectant Mother Need to Know about Adoption?

An expectant mother with an unwanted pregnancy needs to know this:

•     Adoption can provide the most stable environment for her baby.

•     Adoption can be an answer to prayer for countless childless couples.

•     Adoption is biblical—Moses was adopted.

•     Adoption agreements include provision that all birth expenses be paid by others.

•     Adoption offers peace to birth mothers who realize that their babies will be raised in a loving home.

•     Adoption gives many birth mothers the opportunity to get an education and a job and to marry at some future time.

•     Adoption (open adoption) allows the child’s mother to have meaningful contact with her child and with the adoptive family at agreed upon times.

•     Adoption can be the greatest gift of sacrificial love by a birth mother on behalf of her child.

•     Adoption is often the answer to the question, “What is in the child’s best interest?”

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

(Philippians 2:4)

B. What Is in the Child’s Best Interest?

The welfare of every child must be the first and foremost consideration for everyone involved when a child is about to be born into the world. When there is an unwanted pregnancy, always ask, “Is adoption in the child’s best interest?”

Question: “My boyfriend and I are in high school, and I’m expecting a baby. He says he is not ready to get married, but he wants me to move in with him. What should I do?”

Answer: A boy who only wants to “play house” with you cannot provide the right kind of home for you and your baby. If he is not willing to marry you and if you would have difficulty providing for your child alone, ask if he would be willing to sign over his parental rights so that this child can be adopted by a loving, mature couple … a husband and a wife who can love and provide for a child. For both of you, this would be a true act of love for your baby.

“[Love] is not self-seeking.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Question: “I’m sixteen, pregnant and not married. I feel I’m mature enough to raise my child. If I think I can do it, shouldn’t I?”

Answer: Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. If you really are mature, you will choose what is best for your child. The best home for a child is one with …

—  a two-parent home with both a father and a mother

—  a loving, committed marriage

—  a secure “nest” that provides time and finances for nurturing

Since you don’t have a mature, committed marriage, pray that your heart will be open to the option of adoption. The greatest expression of your love might be to allow your child to be raised by two parents who have earnestly prayed and prepared themselves to raise a child in their home. The Bible emphasizes the vital involvement of both parents.

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 1:8)

Question: “My husband and I went through the process of in vitro fertilization. We just had precious twins. Although we have three more frozen embryos, my husband now says he doesn’t want any more children. Morally, what should we do?”

Answer: You are involved in an ethical decision that still affords you several positive options. Instead of terminating the three little lives of your making, you have better choices.

—  Wait! Becoming a new parent is a major adjustment—especially as a parent of twins. After a period of time, he may want more children.

—  Investigate the option of adoption. Through another couple, you could offer your offspring the possibility of life. Other couples could be greatly blessed with children because you value the sanctity of life.

“I have set before you life and death.… Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

 

III.   Causes of Difficulty In adoptive families

A. Surface Traps for Troubled Relationships

Do you remember ever walking down a path in the fall of the year and stumbling because of some unseen hole covered by leaves? You didn’t see the trap that caused you trouble. Adoptive parents need to recognize their likely traps and then preplan how to handle those traps so as to avoid a fracture in the family.

“Free me from the trap that is set for me,

for you are my refuge.”

(Psalm 31:4)

Traits and other inherited differences

•     Lack of physical resemblance

•     Blaming the genes for personality disorders

•     Insufficient knowledge of medical background

Rigid or relaxed discipline

•     (Too rigid) Parent fears too much love will make the child irresponsible.

•     (Too relaxed) Parent fears discipline will turn the child away.

•     Too much or too little discipline produces bitterness in a child.

Afraid of rejection

•     Both the parents and the child become convinced that they are not wanted by each other.

•     Both fear lack of bonding.

Perfectionistic expectations

•     Myth of instant love

•     Myth of the ideal family

•     Myth of the perfect child

Sealed records (closed adoption)

•     Information about birth parents is not available.

•     Secrecy promotes fear and insecurity.

Question: “I was told that my birth mother loved me so much she gave me up for adoption. Since the Bible says God loves me, does that mean God will give me up also?”

Answer: No. Your birth mother loved you enough to want what was best for you. When circumstances do not offer the stability and security that every child needs, a mother can choose for those needs to be met in a home that will provide a stable, nurturing environment. However, your heavenly Father Himself is more than adequate to provide you with stability, security and everlasting love. He promises He will never separate you from His love and never—under any circumstances—leave you nor forsake you.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

B. Why the Fear of Failure?

Why do many adoptive parents feel like failures? A major reason is the feeling of inadequacy because of their own involuntary childlessness. And for those in adoptive homes, insensitive statements from family and friends simply compound the problem. If only there would be the sense of total acceptance! Acceptance would replace those feelings of fear of failure. If only this charge from God’s Word would be applied by everyone touched by adoption!

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

(Romans 15:7)

Feelings …

 

The Adoptive   Parent is …

 

The Adopted   Child is …

 

Fear

 

•     afraid of being rejected by the adopted   child

 

•     afraid of being rejected by the adoptive   parents

 

Anxiety

 

•     embarrassed over what others say

 

•     embarrassed over what others say

 

Isolation

 

•     feeling different from other families

 

•     feeling different from other children

 

Loss

 

•     unable to have natural children

 

•     unable to live with birth parents

 

Uncertainty

 

•     wondering, Will the birth parents want the child back?

 

•     wondering, Will I ever really know my birth parents?

 

Rejection

 

•     feeling rejected by God because of not   having a birth child

 

•     feeling rejected by the birth parents

 

Embitterment

 

•     angry and bitter at God

 

•     angry and bitter at God

 

Although adoption can have more than its fair share of difficulties, the Bible says,

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

(Hebrews 12:15)

Question: “I was adopted as a baby. Although I’m a Christian and my adoptive parents are wonderful, I’m bitter because I’ve always felt different. Can you help me?”

Answer: Keep in mind that Jesus was also different—technically adopted by His earthly father, Joseph. Jesus was a product of His mother, Mary, and the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:35 states, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Although Jesus was different, He continued to submit His will to the will of God the Father. And in order to be Christlike, accept the fact that you are adopted and trust that God knows exactly how to use this difference in your life.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18–19)

C. Root Cause for Difficulty with Adoption

Wrong Belief:

“In the deepest part of my heart, I really believe that adoption is a second best solution.”

Right Belief:

Although adoption may be my second choice, it is not second best. Adoption is a picture of God’s unconditional acceptance of me, and I know God has a special purpose for the circumstances of my life.

“He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (Ephesians 1:5–6)

 

IV.  steps to solutIon

Adoption can be the means by which two negative situations join hands to make a positive. On the one hand, a woman is in a negative predicament, struggling with an unwanted pregnancy. She knows she is not in a position to give her baby the security and stability needed. On the other hand, an infertile couple has a negative plight: they cannot conceive a child. But adoption is an optimal solution that meets both needs. As they both join hands, these two negatives become a positive!

A. Key Verses to Memorize

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

(Isaiah 43:18–19)

B. Key Passage to Read and Reread

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

(Romans 8:15–18)

C. Should You Consider Adopting a Child?

•     Don’t Adopt …

—  if you secretly feel that an adopted child is second best to having a birth child

—  if you are looking for a child to fill your emotional needs

—  if you feel it is your moral duty to help a homeless child

—  if you are seeking your identity through parenting

—  if you fear dealing with inherited weaknesses

—  if you cannot talk openly and honestly about the adoption

—  if you and your spouse are not in complete agreement about the adoption

—  if you are attempting to save your marriage

—  if you have unrealistic expectations of yourself and others

—  if you are uneasy about the biological history being revealed

“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.”

(Proverbs 21:2)

•     Do Adopt …

—  if you are willing to pursue only a legal adoption

—  if you have a happy, stable marriage that is flexible enough to include another person

—  if you can truly love and accept a child who is not born to you

—  if you and your spouse are ready for a lifelong commitment to love a child sacrificially

—  if you are realistically prepared to accept the bad times along with the good times

—  if you and your spouse believe adoption is God’s will for you

—  if you are prepared for tension you may experience if you conceive a child after adopting

—  if you can accept the child’s failures and imperfections

—  if you can accept possible rejection and can wait patiently for love and acceptance

—  if you have an understanding of godly discipline for children

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.”

(Proverbs 24:3)

D. Telling a Child about Adoption

•     Why should we tell our child?

—  Adoption is good; therefore, positive attitudes about adoption should be developed early.

—  The older a child is, the harder adoption is to accept.

—  Being truthful reinforces the values of honesty and trust.

—  When a child is told early in life, adoption becomes an accepted part of family life.

“The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment.”

(Proverbs 10:21)

•     What should we tell our child?

—  Develop positive attitudes involving warmth, comfort, pleasure, security and love in association with the word adoption.

—  Begin setting the stage with adoption stories, as well as with the child’s own personal story.

—  Explain the details of the story and answer all questions honestly.

—  Be prepared to talk about emotions and feelings when your child initiates conversations or when you sense special opportunities.

—  Watch your wording of adoptive terms.

Don’t Say:      “You were an illegitimate child.”

Say:      “You were born to unmarried parents.”

Don’t Say:      “They gave you up.”

Say:      “They looked for the right home for you through adoption.”

Don’t Say:      “She is your natural mother.”

Say:      “She is your birth mother.”

Don’t Say:      “He is your real father.”

Say:      “He is your biological father.”

Don’t Say:      “You were put up for adoption.”

Say:      “You were placed in our home and joined our family through adoption.”

Don’t Say:      “My adopted child.”

Say:      “My child.”

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

(Proverbs 12:18)

•     When should we tell our child?

0–3 Years    During your child’s infancy and toddler years, begin using the word adoption in a loving way.

3–5 Years    During your child’s early years, begin talking about the child’s personal adoption.

5–8 Years    Continue the dialogue during early school years, and be prepared to answer all your child’s questions honestly.

8–12 Years  Draw out feelings and emotions during the preteen years, and help your child understand the past. Be accepting of the child’s differences.

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.”

(Proverbs 16:21)

E. Questions from Birth Mothers

Rebuilding a Relationship

How do you rebuild a relationship with your grown child whom you allowed to be adopted? The answer is simple: with perseverance and prayer! The Bible says,

“Pray continually.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Question: “How can I help my adult daughter who is emotionally tormented? I gave her up at birth, and she is reluctant to see me?”

Answer: Rebuilding a relationship can be difficult, but in the end, rewarding. Take these beginning steps.

—  First, ask the forgiveness of your daughter for any wrong choices you made in the past that have impacted her life.

Say, “When I agreed to allow you to be adopted, I truly believed it was in your best interest. I realize that you life has been profoundly affected by that decision. I am asking you to forgive me for any way in which you feel I have wronged you and for any attitude of mine you perceive as hurtful.”

—  Follow by asking, “How have I hurt you?” Listen and don’t be defensive.

—  Then ask again, “Would you be willing to forgive me?”

—  If she says something casual like, “Oh, that’s okay,” explain that your actions were not okay and that it would mean a great deal to you if she would forgive you.

Forgiveness often begins the process of healing. If she refuses to forgive you, assure her that you understand that forgiveness is often difficult and that you will pray, for the benefit of both of you, that she will in time be able to forgive you. The Bible says,

“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23–24)

Question: “How can I connect with my grown daughter whom I gave up for adoption and have only recently met? She now has little children of her own.”

Answer: There are many ways you can show that you care about her. For example, to begin reconnecting with her, consider these suggestions.

—  Send her cards and letters on a regular basis.

—  Invest spiritually in her by praying for her and her family daily.

—  Send meaningful items that can minister to her and to her family. Go to a local Christian bookstore and purchase children’s books, music and videos to send to your grandchildren on a regular basis throughout the year.

Regardless of your daughter’s response to you, remain consistent in your efforts to maintain contact. Don’t focus on what you do or don’t get back from her. Focus on giving rather than on receiving. Remember the Lord Jesus Himself said,

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

F.  Have You Been Adopted into the Family of God?

Everyone wants and needs security. Lasting security begins with God. From the beginning of creation, God’s plan was to adopt you into His spiritual family. The Bible makes it clear, “He predestined us to be adopted” (Ephesians 1:5). Even now, He wants you to be secure in His love—secure in the hope that you will be with Him in heaven forever. He wants to be your true heavenly Father.

“You received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry ‘Abba, Father.’ ”

(Romans 8:15)

Four Truths Leading to Your Adoption into God’s Family

#1  Your Problem—Sin keeps you from being adopted into God’s family.

The Bible says that we all have sinned. Not one of us is perfect. We have all willfully chosen to go our own way instead of God’s way.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

#2  Your Position—Your sin separates you from God.

God is perfect—He is without sin. And because of His perfection, He requires perfection of all who come into His family. But, because we are not perfect, we cannot earn the right to become children of God. The consequence or penalty of our sins is separation from God.

“Your iniquities [sins] have separated you from your God.” (Isaiah 59:2)

#3  Your Provision—God provided the way for you to be adopted into His family.

God the Father sent His own Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins—a penalty that you should have paid. And Jesus, who is God (God the Son), did not want you to be separated from Him. That is why He left heaven, came to earth, lived a perfect life and died on the cross as your substitute in order to save you from being eternally separated from Him.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

#4  Your Part—You need to receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.

By trusting that Christ died as your substitute and by yielding your will to His will, you are forgiven for all your sins. And when God forgives you for all your sins, you are saved from that eternal separation! In fact, the heavenly Father adopts you as His very own child and gives you eternal life with Him in heaven.

“To all who received him [Jesus] … he [the Father] gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

You have a choice to yield control of your life to Christ—to the One who loves you and knows all about your past, present and future. If you open your heart to Him, you will see that He has a personalized plan that includes not only His purpose for creating you, but also His promise to fulfill you … to satisfy the deepest hunger of your heart.

If you desire to be adopted into God’s family, you can tell Him in a simple prayer.

“God,   deep within my being, I need security—a lasting security that only You can   provide. I admit that I have sinned and that because of my sins, I deserve to   be punished. Jesus, thank You for taking the penalty for my sins and for   dying in my place. Right now I receive You as my personal Lord and Saviour. I   give You control of my life. Come into my life and make me the person You   created me to be. And God, thank You for loving me, thank You for forgiving   me, thank You for adopting me into Your family. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

 

If you sincerely prayed this prayer, then …

Welcome to the Family of God!

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”

(1 John 3:1)

G. Understand God’s Concept of Adoptive Love

•     Adoptive Love is …

Selective         It makes a conscious decision to love.

“In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (Ephesians 1:5)

Extensive       It extends beyond family bloodlines.

“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.” (John 3:16)

Creative          It provides a new identity.

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Legal              It includes the guarantee of a child’s inheritance.

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:17)

Redemptive    It gives freedom to the one in fear or bondage.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.” (Romans 8:15)

Legacy of an Adopted Child

Once there were two women

Who never knew each other.

One you do not remember;

The other you call mother.

One gave you emotions;

The other calmed your fears.

One saw your first sweet smile;

The other dried your tears.

One gave you up;

It was all that she could do.

The other prayed for a child;

And God led her straight to you.

And now you ask me through your tears,

The age old question through the years:

Heredity or environment, which are you a product of?

Neither my darling, neither—

Just two different kinds of love.

—Author unknown

Adoption   should never be thought of as second best. Adoption is God’s choice for   placing every believer into His family. God did not have to adopt you. He   chose to adopt you.

—June   Hunt

 

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Booth, Sylvia. No Easy Choices: The Dilemma of Crisis Pregnancy. Birmingham, AL: New Hope, 1990.

Crain, Connie, and Janice Duffy. How to Adopt a Child: A Comprehensive Guide for Prospective Parents. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1994.

Felker, Donald W., and Evelyn H. Felker. Adoption Beginning to End: A Guide for Christian Parents. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987.

Field, Christine Moriarty. Should You Adopt? Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1997.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008

Mathewes-Green, Frederica. Real Choices: Offering Practical Life-Affirming Alternatives to Abortion. Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1994.

Schooler, Jayne E. The Whole Life Adoption Book: Realistic Advice for Building a Healthy Adoptive Family. Colorado Springs, CO: Piñon, 1993.

Strom, Kay Marshall, and Douglas R. Donnelly. The Complete Adoption Handbook. Rev. and updated ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.[1]

 


[1] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Adoption: A Child Born in the Heart (1–15). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s