I am not writing this post to make people feel bad if they have made bad choices. Rather, I am writing it to shed light on a problem and help others to avoid painful and damaging mistakes that everyone will later regret. This post if about avoiding a practice called “rehoming.”
When jokes aren’t funny
We have probably all heard parents make joking comments about giving their children away. We also know that is typically just a way of making light of a difficult day, especially when we know those same parents truly love their children. We know this because they are always doing crazy things to dote on them. However, when it comes to adoption, that is not a joke that is funny. It is not funny in the first sense because that is one of the primal fears that these children have. You cannot joke about their fears because it only makes them trust you less, not more. They think they were adopted in, why can’t they be adopted out?
It is not funny in the second sense because adoptive parents really are giving their children away. There was a recent investigation by Reuters into the activity. I have a link to it the report below. I have to warn you that it will likely make you physically ill to read in the same way it did Beautiful and I.
Seeing what is inside
Adoption can, and should be an amazing blessing to both the parents and the children, but like anything in life, sometimes the reality does not live up to your romanticized preconceptions. When reality and preconceptions don’t have a play date and get along, that is when you God cuts right to the heart of the fruit and, you get a chance to look inside. You get a chance to see what you are really made of. I pray when you go through that experience, you are not heart broken over what you see inside.
Counting the Cost
In Luke 14:28-31 Jesus discusses counting the cost of following Him. He says,
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
Even though Jesus was describing the cost of discipleship, the principle applies. It is important that you know what you are getting into before you jump in, or you may have regrets. The bigger and more public the project, the bigger and more public the regrets.
Before you adopt, make sure you know the cost. What is it like? What are the children like? What are their hopes and dreams? What are their fears and concerns? What potential problems could you face? Are you prepared to tackle them? If not, how do you get prepared? Those are just a sample of questions to ask. If you aren’t asking, then you are not counting the cost.
What is Adoption?
The problem that this issue misses is a fundamental misunderstanding of adoption. Parents who would “rehome” their children like some dysfunctional puppy never came to grips with adoption to begin with. I believe our model of adoption is God’s adoption of us. What child could be more disappointing to their Father than us? Yet, He does not “rehome” his hurting children. Rather, He pours on more grace to help us heal from our self-inflicted wounds. When God adopts us, it is for life. We are not second class citizens in the family and our rights as His children are eternal. We have access to the Father and become recipients of His care and concern. Nothing can take that away.
In the same way we have come to view marriage as a legal contract that can severed the same way it started rather than a divine union, we have come to misunderstand adoption. If you view adoption as a legal contract rather than a divine gift, then you are going to hurt these children even if you keep them. You are going to hurt them because you are viewing them as something other than what they are and your perspective will come out in your actions one way or another.
Children from “hard places” are usually wounded, but it was almost never self-inflicted. Those wounds were likely inflicted by those that should be the source of healing and protection not harm, and that can lead them to see the world differently. Therein lies the problem. Are you going to commit to that child, no matter what their problems may be and help them understand that their perception of the world was based on experiences from a very small group of people? Or are you going to reinforce their perception of the world that they are the only ones that will care for them?
Love is not Enough
I cannot tell you the number of times that Beautiful and I have heard people make some comment about the children just needing to be loved. “That will fix what ails them.” If, by that, you mean lots of affection, I will tell you that that is a good start, but if you think food on the table, clothes, a warm bed and a hug at the end of the day is going to change their view of the world, you are sadly mistaken. However, if by love you mean what God does, then I am all in favor. What does God mean by love? He means doing whatever it takes to provide for the needs of His children. That includes making the ultimate sacrifice. That means putting aside your preconceived notions about the healthcare system and government agencies and whatever else may be preventing you from getting that child what they need. It means not taking no for an answer when your child needs help. That means swallowing your pride and reaching out to other parents and listening to what they say, not what you want to hear, but what they are actually saying.
Theology is not enough
I have also met folks that believe that sharing the Good News with them will fix their issues as well. I wholeheartedly believe that this is knowledge that we all need, but knowing God alone will not fix what is hurting in them. James discusses this very topic in Chapter 2:15-16.
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
If you believe a knowledge of Christ is sufficient to cure what ails them, you are doing exactly what James discusses. Knowledge of Christ will save their soul, but in the same way it will not fill their belly, it also will not heal the wounds they have.
If you are counting on your affection and gospel to help “fix” these little ones, you are like the man that Jesus described who wants to build a tower. You have not really counted the cost.
What are you made of?
So the million dollar question is this. When God slices you open like a fruit, what is inside? Are you ready to go the distance no matter the cost, or are you going to take your ball and go home because the other kids aren’t being nice? If you are ready to go the distance, then you might be called to adoption. If you are not willing to relearn all that you know about parenting, please do these children a favor and don’t start. You will not like what you see when God cuts you open.