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Focus on Adoptive Families

Reflections from CBE members and friends on their experiences with adoption

David and Jeannette Scholer

David and Jeannette Scholer adopted their daughter from Korea

In 1972, my wife Jeannette and I began the process of adopting an international child (considered in those days “hard to place”). We worked through the Boston Children’s Society and Holt International. We had been married for 13 years by the time our baby girl arrived from Korea.

As my wife says so often: “Every child must be adopted.” Even children physically born into a family must genuinely be accepted; they, too, need their parents’ “adoption.” We also can attest that adopted children are genuine children in the real family. Our family is blessed. 

Brandon & Erika (last name withheld by request)

Brandon & Erika adopted a sibling group of 5 children

We feel strongly that adoption is not something to be ashamed of or hidden, and in fact our children can take comfort in the fact that their adoptions are part of God’s plan for their lives.

A coworker and friend, who was also an adoptive parent and a Christian, first opened our eyes to the idea of earthly adoptions as the image of God’s love for all of us. While we are broken beings, God looks past our problems and loves us as we are, adopts us into his family, and cares for us and encourages us to heal, grow, and care for others.

Keeping that in mind, we felt strongly that we would not “shop” for children to adopt. We made no requests for “a healthy infant boy” or a “Caucasian girl” or children with any other qualities. God clearly placed our two oldest boys in our path and hearts. When additional siblings were born, we agreed with each other, God, and our children that we would continue to pursue adopting them all, regardless of gender, health, or number. Eventually, our family was made complete (we think...) with a total of four sons and one daughter.

Camilla Swain

Camilla adopted her daughter, Adonnya, from Guatemala

I had known for years that adoption would be a part of my future. When the seed was first planted in my heart, I assumed that adoption would come after a spouse, white picket fence, and biological children. Over time, my assumptions faded away and adoption became my first choice.

I chose an international adoption for multiple reasons. As a single parent the practical nature of the situation certainly impacted my decision—some international countries culturally and legally are much “friendlier” to my marital status and believe that a family with one parent is better than no family at all. 

I was also predisposed to adopt internationally because I have had the opportunity to travel and serve in multiple countries—my heart beats to the rhythm of many peoples and enjoyed the international aspects of our family’s growth. 

I carefully researched what adoption agency I would use, but ultimately it was a matter of prayer. I came to believe quite simply that God had sent my daughter to Guatemala and I had to go get her.

I have only begun to grasp the implications of God giving His children the “spirit of adoption” and making us His children. He came to get me when I was far away and He made a way for me to come home to Him when I was powerless to do it myself. Now He calls me fully His own and has granted me all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of bearing His name. I understand His love for me at a new depth because of the love I have for my daughter.

Pastor Francis Ondara

Pastor Francis and his congregation care for AIDS orphans

In our region, many people are dying because of the AIDS epidemic. Due to this, the number of orphans is drastically increasing. Most people here live far below the poverty line, and sustaining a child is not easy. When I read James 1:27 and Deuteronomy 14:28–29, I really felt I had to do something to look after children with special needs.

We help children with schooling and meals until they are old enough to take care of themselves. This is not all that easy. Caring for more than ten children who are not family members needs much determination. It is also expensive; most of the people in our area earn below a dollar a day. But we believe always in God. God has not abandoned us, and we are sure he never will.

I believe God has a plan for all of us, and this includes both men and women. So we understand the importance of caring for both boys and girls. God also directs us to care for the disabled, regardless of their gender. The great barrier we have in many places in Africa is that girls are not seen as all that important. But through the Bible, we have been made to know that God created all people with the same value. 

In Mathew 25:34–40, there is a great reward for those who care for the less fortunate in society. My soul gets satisfaction and pleasure seeing these children having their needs met. 

Fred and Heather Gingrich

Fred and Heather adopted 2 bi-racial brothers

We are often reminded by the obvious differences in how we look as a family that genetic ties are not what ultimately constitute a family. At times these differences cause tension, but understanding and appreciating our diversity has greatly enriched our family life. Adopting families need to wrestle openly and honestly with our biological differences and we can’t depend on sameness of genetics to get us through. Isn’t one of the key messages of the New Testament that we are all related by something more powerful than genetic ties? 

Our decision to adopt had little to do with the bigger issues of compassion and justice; it was purely emotional at the time. However, throughout the years the bigger issues have sustained a passion to broaden our understanding of family, to embrace multiculturalism and ethnic diversity, to support and advocate for adoption, especially interracially, and to champion the causes of equality.

Sonda Hansen

Sonda and her husband are in the process of adopting a daughter from China

I have wanted to adopt internationally since I was a teenager. I have enjoyed experiencing beautiful cultures and people in my travels to Mexico, Canada, Tanzania, Kenya, Egypt, India, Pakistan, England, Switzerland, France, Israel, and Jordan. It amazed me to see the Gospel blossom in the hearts of men, women, and children in contexts that were totally different from what was normal to me. I learned that all people have a basic need to be loved—by God and by others. I believe it was then that the seeds to adopt orphaned children from other countries were planted in my heart.

These children need to know that their Heavenly Father will never abandon them and He wants them to experience loving homes. My husband and I can’t adopt every orphan, but we want to open our hearts and home to at least one.

Dale and Galen Plett

Dale and Galen are in the process of adopting a First Nations baby

My husband and I are choosing an open adoption for a First Nations baby. We feel it is important for us to adopt because of my Ojibway heritage. We have learned that there are many First Nations children in need of adoption and it is becoming more difficult for white people to adopt them. We both feel that we have been overwhelmingly blessed, and we want to provide a home for a little one. Our hope is that this little one will someday be a leader amongst our people. 

There are many intersections between adopting and our beliefs about biblical equality and justice. We really believe that men and women are created equally and uniquely and that they complement one another. We also believe that we need to try our best to be a voice for the voiceless and care for those that need it most. Adoption is a way for us to do our small part and hopefully it will allow others—especially other First Nations people—to consider adoption. We desire for this little one to do greater things than what we are doing. We want to give him the tools, support, and love to allow him to be successful. 

I guess I take it quite literally that we are to take care of the orphans and the widows. There are just so many children in need of a loving, supportive homes. My husband and I just returned from Haiti after two weeks of basketball clinics for children and youth there. We left our hearts with them. It was this trip that really pushed us over the edge to go to Community Resources and begin this process of adopting. We just could not deny all that was in our hearts after seeing hundreds of children that need a family. We in Canada are so blessed. We have more than one shirt, one pair of shoes, a pair of pants, etc. How can we not consider it? 

Kathy Nesper

Kathy Nesper is an adult adoptee

As an adopted child, I would like to share a particular blessing that took years to recognize.

Many blessings were obvious all along. I was adopted by the closest thing to “perfect parents” possible in a fallen world. My mom and dad had been married thirteen years and had longed for a child when I came along. They provided a home permeated with love for God, for one another, for my brother (born three-and-a-half years later), and me.

Still, after giving birth to two of my own children, I wondered why: why had God felt it necessary to remove me from my birth family and place me elsewhere, wonderful as it had been? I posed this question in a time of meditative prayer one day, and God’s answer dropped immediately into my mind, as surely as if God had spoken it aloud: “Because,” God said to me, “I needed the genes of that family and the environment of this one, to make Kathy, Kathy.”

Well, of course! The Bible tells me God had had plans for me from the foundation of the earth. Yes, pain would be involved—for both my families and also for me. But God specializes in working all things together for good in order to develop me in the likeness of the Son (Rom. 8:28, 29). 

I realize that these words are hard to understand, especially for those whose adoption did not bring the happy childhood I had. But my life has brought pain in other ways, and still I have come to know the truth of these words.

My prayer for all adopted children and their parents is that they would come to rest in the knowledge of God’s care in their lives, even in the times when it isn’t immediately apparent. It does not come early or easily…but it is worth it.

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