Consider Your Call PDF Print E-mail
Written by June Ring, PPL Adoption Consultant   

The following information is a compilation of a daily display from the Presbyterians Pro-Life booth at the 1996 PC(USA) General Assembly. It is meant to provide an introduction to several adoption-related topics.


Focus: A Pro-Adoption Church

The church today has the opportunity and responsibility to become more involved in supporting all facets of adoption. Studies consistently show that adoption benefits all parties involved.

Being pro-adoption means:

  • understanding the benefits of adoption for birth parents, children and adoptive parents
  • recognizing adoption as a godly and biblically-rooted concept
  • working toward an accurate concept and portrayal of adoption in our culture
  • being "for" the institution of adoption as a stabilizing force in our society, acknowledging that a society's positive view of the adoption choice could alleviate abortion rates and the negative consequences of out-of-wedlock childbearing
  • seeing adoption in context with a well-rounded biblical view of the family and the promotion of abstinence
  • being on the other side of the anti-adoption movement

Our denomination "encourage[s] local churches to heighten awareness of existing programs to show support for...women who choose adoption as an alternative" (1992 GA). Terry Schlossberg and Elizabeth Achtemeier write in their book Not My Own: Abortion and the Marks of the Church :

"The church's active involvement could vastly improve the prospects for adoption in our country. Local churches could counsel young women toward adoption as an alternative to either abortion or single parenthood . . . .. It could give its hearty endorsement to adoption as a way of prospering the lives of all concerned."


Focus: Interracial Adoption

Studies show that black children who have been adopted by white families suffer no adverse effects. Rita Simons, a sociologist at American University, reports that most children in mixed-race adoptions grow up "healthy, aware of their racial identity yet connected to their families."

Many agencies today are actively recruiting families of all races for minority and mixed-race children. Some social workers have realized that churches are a natural place to recruit adoptive families. A network of a dozen minority churches in Detroit has launched the Bandele Project (Bandele means "follow me home"). This private and public collaboration is working to find families to adopt older minority children in foster care.

The church can be a meeting place for agencies and families. Many more potential families could hear about waiting children on Sunday mornings, at women's circles or from missions updates.

Federal legislation is now pending regarding interracial adoption, barring all adoption providers receiving federal funds from prohibiting interracial adoption. Adopting interracially will soon be easier than ever, and the church needs to be ready to respond.

Parents who adopted a biracial daughter said, "One hurdle for us was that we would not know how to provide a balanced cultural environment for her. We want her to be aware of all the cultural influences on her heritage, but only to the degree of her interest. We have friends who encouraged us that first and foremost she will have a loving family; that is paramount to whatever cultural experiences she will have."


Focus: Older Children

Teenagers make up 16% of those waiting for adoption, while only 8% of those adopted are teens. Our own Presbyterian Children's Homes often serve and care for teens who are available for adoption. The Preparation for Adoption Program at the Grandfather Home in Banner Elk, NC focuses on increasing adoptions through intensive counseling for the teens and their new families. One representative of the program says, "I feel that God has moved in this place. He is giving us this program. Instead of housing children, we are now helping to make children what they were created to be: members of a family."

The consideration of adopting an older child can include sibling groups. A family who adopted five older siblings at the same time, found great emotional and material support from their church.

The need for families for older children doesn't necessarily stop at our borders. Thousands of older children overseas wait for a family to adopt them. Families could consider teenagers who are about to reach the age of ineligibility for adoption, providing them with a permanent family they might not otherwise have. Churches can help with the costs associated with international adoption.

Churches can play other roles in promoting the adoption of older children. A program in Cleveland, Ohio began the Celebration Youth Choir, a group of 15-20 youngsters who travel to churches in the area. The singers, ages 10-14, all await adoption. The choir doesn't just perform alone but with the other youth choirs at the churches they visit. The director of the program says this serves a purpose: "It says, 'Look. They're all kids, they all need love, they all need families. And up there, singing next to each other, they are all the same.' "


Focus: Integrating Adoption

Churches can integrate adoption into many areas of their outreach and ministry. Including adoption in the work of the church is limited only by our creativity and resolve.

Birth parents can be offered career counseling, tutoring and material support. Churches can also offer key emotional support and recognition; one Presbyterian church in Denver supports Operation Bear Hug, an outreach to birth moms who are given teddy bears in recognition of their recent adoption decision.

Individual church families can involve themselves in supporting the lifegiving option of adoption by becoming a shepherding home. Shepherding homes are usually families who invite a young woman in crisis pregnancy to live with them. This provides a young woman with a mother and father role model, and is also a good way to build partnerships with local agencies and pregnancy centers.

Churches can also support or even start maternity homes. Many maternity homes are staffed by married couples who model a godly marriage and the importance of fathers to young women. Adoption rates at maternity homes are usually higher than the national average, due in part to the continued counseling and support young women receive. Pastors can play a key role in providing important counseling during this time of decision-making.

Churches can play a key role in supporting families who adopt children with special needs. One Presbyterian pastor and his wife adopted a daughter with physical disabilities that confine her to a wheelchair. They found help from their former youth group; the high school students spent a short-term missions trip building a wheelchair ramp at their home.


Focus: Adoption as Missions

For international adoptions, it is not unusual for costs to be in the $15,000-$20,000 range. Agencies charge fees, travel for parents and child can add up, and some foreign governments have non-negotiable fees in order to adopt a child from their country.

Many families who would consider adding to their family through international adoption discount the idea after discovering the cost. One answer is for the church to view international adoption as a mission outreach, and to fund and support it accordingly.

Individual churches could set aside missions dollars to help families in their congregation afford this kind of adoption. Churches could also forge partnerships with orphanages and Christians in a particular country to facilitate adoptions. One Presbyterian church in Oklahoma is supporting a Russian orphanage the same size as their congregation, sending medical supplies and other material support to the children there.

Churches can also help with financial donations for children in foster care or orphanages who need surgery or other medical care before being adopted. Churches could direct missions dollars to a special needs fund at an agency, allowing interested families to adopt these waiting children.

One country in great need of adoptive families is China. Many are familiar with China's one-child policy, which has resulted in many forced abortions. Fewer Americans are aware that this policy, in combination with the cultural emphasis on sons, has left many infant girls stranded in orphanages. Over 1.7 million Chinese children are abandoned each year, and China has the greatest number of infants available for adoption in the world.


Focus: Making a Plan for Life

Of all the choices in an unmarried pregnancy, adoption is chosen the least often. On a national scale, less than 5% of unmarried women who carry their babies to term make adoption plans.

We often speak of adoption as "an alternative to abortion". However, adoption should not be promoted merely so that fewer abortions occur. Adoption is a wonderful alternative to abortion, but it is also a good thing in and of itself, and deserves to be examined and explained in that way. Adoption as an institution and choice should be taken in context with a full view of God's design for our sexuality, the family and the precious gift of children. Perhaps if more women were presented with a comprehensive, biblically-rooted view of adoption, they might choose it over abortion or single parenting.

Thoughts from a Birth Parent
I was single, no prospects of marriage. I thought about where I would be in 10 years, looking back. Would I rather look back on a life that began and was then abruptly ended? Or, would I want to look back on a life that I knew still existed, even if I had no part in it? I thought I could take this big mistake and turn it into something good for someone else. I could make something positive out of something negative.

I wanted my baby to have a mother, a father and lots of love. I was in no position to offer that. I knew I couldn't end its life, but I also knew that I couldn't give it anything more than that--life. But I did know that there were people out there who could. Adoption as a solution to my problem pregnancy seemed the first and best choice. I have the knowledge that my daughter was placed in a fine family. She has loving parents, grandparents, cousins, and even a dog that brings her toys to her. She has love and affection and everything I knew I couldn't give her and desperately wanted her to have.

Thoughts from an Adopted Adult
I often think of you, my birth mother. I think about the crisis situation in your life at the time that I was conceived. I know the fear, the panic and the struggle that you went through. You made the right decision. I thank God for your strength and your courage in choosing to give me life.

Even though I have not met you, I feel like I already know some of your attributes. The fact that you made a self-sacrificing decision like adoption leads me to believe that you are not only caring and unselfish, but also extremely brave. And because of this, you wanted a better life for me. For this, I will always be grateful.

Because of you, I have had a happy and healthy life. I have never resented you, never felt abandoned by you, but instead have felt very loved. You gave me the opportunity to have a family, an education and a wonderful outlook on life.

Thoughts from Adoptive Parents
We have not met our daughter's birth mother, but her plan for Melinda tells us much about her. She made a selfless decision in the midst of a society that would disdain her for not accepting a quick fix. She courageously did what fewer and fewer people would expect a woman to do; she put her life on temporary hold in order to later move forward. She saved a life and in doing so helped to create a family.

We are bombarded daily with our society's disregard for life. As God's people we can present a different picture, children given the chance to live as God intended them. We can love and help the birth mothers of these babies and provide them with the opportunity for the renewed hope that adoption can bring.

For more information on these and other adoption-related topics, contact Presbyterians Pro-Life.

 

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