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Tag Archives: Adoption & Family

How can Australian Churches help orphans more?

Adoption has been practiced in almost every country and culture throughout history. Still today there are millions of children all over the world needing shelter, health services, education and a primary carer/family. However, you could be forgiven if you thought there was an anti-adoption culture within Australia. The use of adoption in jokes are still commonplace – Why is your brother so strange/odd/etc? He’s adopted! When couples cannot have children by natural conception, they are encouraged vigorously to pursue IVF and GIFT programs and in some cases can get government funding to aid them. Adoption is usually regarded as a last, desperate resort to have or extend a family. When some notice that an adopted child was adopted into a friends family it is spoken of in hushed embarrassed tones as though it is a dreaded, shameful sin that dare not speak its name. Adoptive couples are often bailed up by strangers with rude, intrusive questions and comments, like: Oh! So, you couldn’t have your own then?! For some reason, there are some people that assume normal social decorum and decency no longer apply. In the case of an interracial family strangers behave even bolder: Where were they born? What happened to the mother? Did they suffer in the orphanage? Adoptive parents soon learn how to deflect these novice paparazzi, mostly with gentle humor, but sometimes it gets a little much and the reply might be as curt and rude as the original question.

Historically, Australia’s involvement in adoption and orphan care (particularly interracial) hasn’t always had a healthy or positive outcome for the children, their biological families or the adoptive families. Recent moves at federal level, supported by private initiatives such as National Adoption Awareness Week are seeking to improve upon this by promoting a positive approach to adoption. This not only provides education to adoptive parents to help them learn about the factors of abandonment, attachment and identity of the child but also extends to, where possible, support for the biological families of the children. We have a long way to go, but as they say, you have to start somewhere.

Adoption and orphan care is far to complex to resolve in a simple blog post. However, what I would like you to consider is, how can Australian Christians and Churches become more interested, involved and committed to orphan care. Adoption is an wonderful and amazing picture of how God has brought us into his family. If anyone can understand the beauty of adoption, surely it is the bible believing evangelical Christian? Perhaps it is an education and awareness issue. Perhaps, in part, it stems from a reaction to the efforts of various social and welfare groups, that due to their focus on serving the community by way of providing aid, comfort and help to ease temporal suffering, the gospel message of Jesus has been diluted and in many cases dissolved completely. After all, they reason, what good is accomplished if you give a homeless person a bed for the night if they later die anyway and spend eternity in the torments of hell? I once had this exact attitude. When working in Africa as a Bible Teacher and Church Planter I became callous and cynical to the requests for medical aid, touting that, “I’d rather preach the gospel to them than give them chloroquine so they can be relieved of malaria symptoms and die later and go to hell.” Yet, as a wiser, older Christian pointed out to me when making my progress (!) reports later, “If you had given them medicine they might have lived longer to hear and respond to the gospel.” I had completely missed the point of mercy and welfare. I was no different to the arrogant, unloving priest and Levite, that crossed to the other side of the road so I wouldn’t be tainted by those I esteemed worse off than I.

Attitudes like this deaden our concern for children at risk, vulnerable to illness and disease and the orphaned in need of compassion, care, love, nurture, healing and restoration. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said that if you preach the gospel correctly you are going to be accused of heresy, licentiousness and lawlessness. (Commentary on Romans 6, ch1) Likewise, I would contend that a proper proclamation and application of the gospel by living a life of extravagant service and generosity, such as poverty relief and care of children, will result in accusations of diluting or neglecting the gospel in favour of social action.

If you have a genuine commitment to the gospel wouldn’t you will relish the opportunity to reenact the redemption and reconciliation found in Jesus Christ even it meant taking the risk that some might accuse you of wrong motives?

Mistreatment of vulnerable children was tantamount to the grossest of sins in the Old Testament. It belied a selfish, hateful cruelty that contradicted God’s character, justice, mercy, love and compassion. Describing genuine faith in Christ in the New Testament, James says:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world ~ James 1:27

A fair-dinkum commitment to the gospel, one that is theologically robust and historically orthodox, will be evident in our Churches when we have Christians, who are confident in God’s love for them and are compelled to love others. This is no more evident than when that love is manifest in the protection and nurture of orphans and vulnerable children. Our response needs to go well beyond a token Child Sponsorship or putting Christmas Gifts in a shoebox once a year. Don’t stop doing those things, but do realise that genuine orphan care goes considerably beyond that. How would your Church react, for instance, if a couple who were active members shared their wish to extend or start their family via adoption? Could you conceive that family being supported and prayed for in the same way as your favourite missionary couple off to New Guinea or Vanuatu? Could you see how assisting that couple with the exorbitant fees associated with adoption is an investment in not only caring for an orphan but also serving your brother and sister in Christ for the sake of the gospel? Adopting parents do not get any subsidy from the Government nor can they claim any fees or costs through Health Insurance. What a great way to start.

If you’re a pastor, how often do you talk about adoption? Would you consider doing a series on the doctrine of adoption that concluded with a challenge and call for families in your Church to adopt a child? There are some excellent resources to help you get started. Reclaiming Adoption (free Study Guide) and Adopted for Life are two very good ones.

Please, lets not sit back any longer, lets step forward and lead by example. How, where and when can you respond?

Note: Albert is a husband, adoptive Dad and Pastor of an independent non-denominational Church in Sydney. He has previously served as a volunteer in association with National Adoption Awareness in Australia supporting and promoting adoption awareness and education programs in the Sydney region.

Post Edit Comment: This article was written before the proposal for an Australian Royal Commission into Child Abuse amongst the Catholic Church. That is something that should be welcomed by any Church & Faith Community as an opportunity to protect our children. The Church should lead the way in the care, nurture and flourishing of our children. It is abominable to think she has not. All Christians and Churches should be on the front foot and take steps to cooperate with the Commission and put all possible processes in place for the flourishing of all children.

 
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Posted by on 18/11/2012 in church, Culture, Family

 

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Maybe Because by Aimee Garcia-Tice

A new Australian Children’s book about adoption from the perspective of “the best boy in the whole wide world” was launched in Sydney in 2010 at the same time as National Adoption Awareness Week that year.

There is a huge gap in positive adoption stories here in Australia so Aimee Garcia-Tice and Serena Geddes have provided a great resource for kids and families to start and encourage the adoption conversation. But it need not be restricted to adoptive families as it is, simply, a great little kids book full of adventure and imagination. Grab a copy from The Book Depository or Amazon for your kids!

NB: illustration linked from best little boys website.

 
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Posted by on 15/11/2012 in Books, Family, Info on Adoption, Reading

 

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Defend The Orphan – Wall Street Journal

Although I often make ‘tongue-in-cheek’ criticisms of our northern friends living in the so-called ‘land of the free and home of the brave’, I was impressed by the Wall Street Journal article about adoption. It is in part a encouragement (if not endorsement of) to John McCain to take a stand on matters relating to adoption as an opportunity to promote “adoption is part of a holistic sanctity-of-human-life ethic”. However it reveals that the anti-adoption philosophy so entrenched in Australian society is prevalent also in America.

The opening paragraph is something that Australian authorities should seriously consider:

In 1993, the McCains adopted a daughter from Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh, and the senator has co-sponsored legislation to aid adoption, including measures that would provide tax credits for expenses and would remove barriers to interracial and interethnic adoption.

The self-appointed politically-correct authorities here in Australia, whilst claiming to have the “best interests of the child in mind” when managing and screening applicants for adopting also have onerous and obstructive policies. In our experience, rather than encouraging and promoting adoption as a valid means of creating or extending a family, they to seek to prevent as many as possible from adopting. Thereby denying orphaned / relinquished / abandoned children the world over the opportunities to grow up in a loving, nurturing, family environment. The result of their argument is that it is better for the child to remain in their own culture and continue to suffer a life of poverty, slavery, abuse, neglect etc.

The WSJ article, as also alluded to by Al Mohler yesterday, also mentions the contradiction of these same authorities when it comes to dealing with racial discrimination. The do-right-ers who want a society of tolerance, peace and harmony are the same pundits who regularly oppose trans-racial and cross cultural adoptions. Quoting a Ms Rosati:

“Both are saying the same thing, ‘Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.’ And both pretend they’re just being realistic about racial discrimination.”

Join the cause Defend the orphan and help all children reach their God given potential!

 
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Posted by on 12/07/2011 in Family

 

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Care for the fatherless

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. ~ James 1:27

 
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Posted by on 07/07/2011 in Family, Info on Adoption

 

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An Adoptee Investing in Champions

Troy Matthews, or Dr. Matthews as he is better known today, was Dean of Students at my Bible College and was also Associate Pastor at my church in 1989/90. Troy was adopted at birth and always spoke openly, positively and generously about his experience. Although I was only 17/18 years old when I was one of his students and not really thinking about my future family too much at the time, his example influenced me significantly when the time came that my wife and I were considering adopting.

There are some heart-breaking stories of cases where adoption hasn’t been approached sensitively or lovingly (towards both the child and the birth parents). Unfortunately, some of those stories get a little more air time than the great majority of ones where children and families flourish through their experience with adoption. Troy is a fantastic example of a man who not only flourished, but is now helping others flourish also.

Together for Adoption recently published Troy’s story:

Troy was born to a young mother in Snyder, Texas, and because of the closed adoption he doesn’t know much more than that about his fraternal parents. Simultaneously to this woman’s pregnancy, a young couple had battled several miscarriages and were urged by a local pastor in Snyder to consider adoption – particularly the adoption of Troy. They quickly realized that this was their “gift from God.”

Today, Troy puts it in his own words, “They were his gift from God.” …

Dr. Matthews is now a professor of “Contemporary Issues”, a course required by all majors at Liberty. The subject matter directly approaches one’s world view – affirming a Biblical world view and also applying it. Topics such as adoption, abortion, and a Christian’s moral responsibility to such topics and understanding of absolute truth’s found in Scripture. These courses are designed to affirm a believers responsibility to the world around them.

Troy is “a champion, … reinvesting in others to be young champions as well. – just as (he) was invested in.”

If you’re in Australia and considering investing in adoption, National Adoption Awareness Week can provide you with the starting point. Click on the link for your state to find out more. If you have already been involved with Adoption there are many opportunities for networking and support with other families and adoptees.

In the USA check out the links on the Together for Adoption site.

Karen’s Adoption Links has information for other countries.

 
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Posted by on 28/06/2011 in church, Culture, Family

 

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Do orphans need saving?

This question is complex and volatile. There is a tendency to be over simplistic when talking about adoption using terms and phrases like “saving” the orphans. However it is important to distinguish between advocating adoption as a vital means to helping and serving children in need of a permanent family and “saving” them. Lets be clear about this, there’s only ONE saviourand it’s not me nor is it any other adoptive parent, advocate or ambassador.

Kawale Orphan Care in Lilongwe, Malawi

Kristen Howerton has a lengthy blog post about this and she deals with the issue with substance and sensitivity.

I don’t like the savior narratives applied to adoptive parents.  I don’t like people telling me I’m amazing just because I’ve adopted.  Because I’m not.  I am a very human mom who is sometimes shrill and selfish and impatient and just plain mean.  I did not “save” my adopted kids.

I am very careful to never give my adopted children the feeling that there is some extra gratitude required from them.  They are a part of my family just like my daughters.  They have every right to be ungrateful, or resent me, or wish that they had never been adopted.  I don’t talk to them about where they came from as if they needed to be saved.  So on the one hand, I do take care to avoid the savior meme.

Citing a detailed example from Haiti arising from the recent turmoil caused the earthquakes she urges readers, it’s time to sit up and take notice:

This is a long post.  I hope you will read the whole thing, and I hope you will read it without judgment of the people involved.  People who serve in Haiti face the awful task, every day, of how many people they can help.  Orphanages are overcrowded simply because some very good people have a hard time turning away one more helpless child.  If this outrages you, then think about what part YOU can play.  There can be no outrage at people who serve in Haiti, as we sit at our computer screens in our comfortable homes in America.  But you need to know that this is real.

Please, read the full post

 
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Posted by on 27/06/2011 in church, Culture, Family

 

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Was Joseph an Adoptive Dad AND Adoptee

When reading the genealogy accounts of Jesus in Matthew and Luke of the New Testament, an apparent contradiction surfaces. Each list uses a different perspective, one starts with Joseph and goes back to Abraham and then to Adam and the other starts with Abraham and then goes down to Joseph. There are also differences in the list of names in-between David and Joseph. The name of Joseph’s most immediate forbear is of particular interest. Matthew says Joseph is the son of Jacob (Matthew 1:16). In Luke’s account he is the son of Heli (Luke 3:23).

Robert L. Redmond provides the following explanation in the ‘Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible‘:

A widely held explanation is that Matthew gives Jesus’ ancestry through Joseph and that Luke gives his ancestry through Mary.

… many scholars prefer to regard Luke’s genealogy as that of Joseph rather than Mary, since it is to Joseph’s ancestry that Luke calls the reader’s attention (1:27; 2:4). Furthermore, nowhere in Scripture is Mary said to be of Davidic descent. …

A major difficulty for the view that regards both genealogies as Joseph’s is related to Joseph’s two fathers. One solution is that Matthew gives the legal descendants of David, but Luke gives the actual descendants of David in the line to which Joseph belonged. This would mean that Heli was Joseph’s [biological] father and that Jacob was his legal foster father.

… One other major objection to the view that regards both genealogies as Joseph’s is that, because of the virgin birth of Jesus, one may in no sense speak of Jesus as being literally the seed of David, a proposition that Scripture seems to insist upon. This objection has been adequately countered:

  1. because of the realistic manner in which the Jews looked upon adoptive fatherhood; and
  2. because the relationship in which Jesus stood to Joseph was much closer than a case of ordinary adoption, there being no earthly father to dispute Joseph’s paternal relation to Jesus.

Jesus could and would have been regarded as Joseph’s son and heir with complete propriety, satisfying every scriptural demand that he be the “seed of David.” ~ (Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. 1988. Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (850–851). Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, Mich.)

This understanding of Joseph as an adoptee was also advocated by Augustine in his Reply to Faustus and The Harmony of the Gospels.

Any one can see as well as you that Joseph has one father in Matthew and another in Luke, and so with the grandfather and with all the rest up to David. … the practice of adoption is common among our fathers, and in Scripture, … frequently in human life one man may have two fathers, one of whose flesh he is born, and another of whose will he is afterwards made a son by adoption … Careful students of sacred Scripture easily saw, from a little consideration, how, in the different genealogies of the two evangelists, Joseph had two fathers, and consequently two lists of ancestors.~ (Augustine Reply to Faustus 3.3 in Schaff, P. 1997. The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. IV (159-160). Logos Research Systems: Oak Harbor)

Joseph may have had two fathers,—namely, one by whom he was begotten, and a second by whom he may have been adopted. For it was an ancient custom also among that people to adopt children with the view of making sons for themselves of those whom they had not begotten.

… here is nothing absurd in saying that a person has begotten, not after the flesh, it may be, but in love, one whom he has adopted as a son. … It would be no departure from the truth, therefore, even had Luke said that Joseph was begotten by the person by whom he was really adopted. Even in that way he did in fact beget him, not indeed to be a man, but certainly to be a son ~ (Augustine De Consens Ev. 2.3.5-7 in Schaff, P. 1997. The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. VI (103-104). Logos Research Systems: Oak Harbor)

We can’t be too dogmatic about this. However it does reconcile the differences between Matthew and Luke and provides some insight into the character of Joseph. Perhaps this is why he was willing and ready to accept and adopt the unborn Jesus as his son and give them protection and care when Jesus’ life was threatened by Herod. It would also explain the power and significance of his influence on his other son, James, who would later describe authentic faith and Christianity as caring for widows and orphans. The formation of Joseph as a man came from first hand experience with adoption and care of children, both as an adoptee and an adoptive father. He passed this legacy to his sons and continues to give us a challenge and example to champion the cause of the defenseless.

 

 
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Posted by on 13/11/2010 in Apologetics, church, Culture, Family

 

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