The Least of These by Melissa Brown
When I consider the phrase joy in faithful living, it takes me back to a time 10 years ago when our family stepped out in faith to adopt our youngest daughter. We prayed for what we thought we wanted, always finishing with the ultimate "thy will be done." As a couple, my husband and I are deliberate in our planning, measured in our decision making, and cautious as a rule. Yet, in this one instance of adoption, God asked us to simply trust Him. We applied to adopt through a private agency in Florida on March 3rd, our baby was born April 25th, and we brought her home May 10th, which also happened to be Mother’s Day that year.
Clearly the two-month timeline was the Lord’s, not ours, and yet I have never been more assured that we were following the will of God than at that very moment.
So many friends and acquaintances tell me, “I’ve always thought about adoption.” Do you fall into that category? What has stopped you from following through? What fears keep you from obedience and stepping out in faith?
Before our family adopted there were three fears we specifically had to overcome. First, will we love an adopted child the same as our biological children? Second, do we have enough time and finances to offer all four of our children? Last, can we accept a child no matter how they choose to see adoption (i.e. if they reject what we meant for good and consider it bad)? With each fear we named and tried to overcome, the Lord answered, "Do you trust me?"
He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end. He is love incarnate, come down to earth to show us the way. He is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord, my provider. While I confess to you that I fail each and every day, the Lord is all-powerful, all-sovereign, and all-sufficient.
God’s primary building block for all of society is the family, yet many children in America today find themselves without family. The Lord never intends for children to walk through life alone. My goal through this missive is to urge those of you who’ve seriously considered adoption to take the next step, to seek God and His answers to your fears and objections. James 1:27 tells us that true religion is taking care of widows and orphans. Are we doing this?
Last Saturday, we spent an hour helping to hammer 3,000 crosses into the ground to represent the number of children aborted each day in the United States. The church has made remarkable inroads into the cultural understanding of legalized abortion since 1973 and the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and how it affects our society. However, we fall woefully short when it comes to following through with positive options when circumstances do not find a child in a healthy family. The foster care system in America overflows with more than 400,000 children taken from their homes due to neglect or abuse. The church is failing to help these children by ignoring their most basic need for a family.
So, what are some steps we can take? Here are a few suggestions: Maybe this month you will consider reading a book about adoption. I personally found the book Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge extremely helpful. Eldridge was adopted herself and now studies and interviews other children about their experiences. Another I read was called Small Town, Big Miracle by W.C. Martin, a pastor in a tiny community in Texas, whose church members took in the most difficult foster care cases in their region. He chronicles the highs and lows of their experience and how they supported one another. If you prefer a shorter read, perhaps you could go to the website, www.adoptuskids.org, and read some of their many articles about adoption.
Perhaps this month you can ask a friend from church who has adopted about their experience. There are many different ways to adopt: international versus domestic, open versus closed, private versus foster care. Every story is unique, and as Christians we see God’s hand in every detail. Be prepared to hear the hard stories, though, too, because sometimes the Lord’s answer is “no” or “not yet,” and there can be grief in the story. We tried to adopt a second time, and the circumstances did not result in a child coming to our home, which still brings me to tears for the loss.
If bringing a child permanently into your home is truly not an option, consider some other great organizations that you might serve instead:
1. New Horizons for Children provides short-term, six-week hosting for orphans at Christmas and in the summer from Ukraine and Latvia: www.nhfc.org . Our family did this twice while stationed in Virginia. Our host ‘daughter’, Ieva, has remained in Latvia, and we purchase groceries through an online service for her about once a month to help with her two sons. During our second experience, we advocated for and financially sponsored our host ‘son’ who has now been adopted into a family in Pennsylvania.
2. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) provides volunteers to be a voice for the children in the court system who do not have permanency. Each geographic area has a different chapter of CASA, but the one in your area can easily be found through this website: www.nationalcasagal.org
3. Safe-Families for Children offers short-term solutions for families in crisis: https://safe-families.org/
4. Respite Care through the foster care system can offer much needed short-term breaks for permanent foster families. Training for this is done through each state’s foster care system.
Whoever you are and whatever your circumstances, I pray that the Holy Spirit would move in your heart to do something for children who find themselves as orphans through no fault of their own. And that by taking this step towards joy in faithful living, you would give another the chance to know God and the unsurpassed blessings of following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you, or thirsty, and give you a drink? And when did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:35-40 (NASB)
A little about the author: Melissa Brown thanks God for her role as a military spouse of 21years and mom to four pretty great kids. She has grey hair and college degrees in frames that get dusted every two years when they move. When not acting as chauffeur or chef, she enjoys jogging and reading. Her favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11 because the Lord is giving the Israelites hope for after their captivity.