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Adopting versus ‘Having Your Own’

I was once asked, “Why adopt when you can have children of your own?” To which I replied, “Why go through morning sickness and child birth when there are other ways to have children of your own?”.

The distinction commonly made between adopting and having children “of your own” is neither accurate nor helpful. When we talk like this, we alienate children who have been adopted. What we’re basically saying is that children we adopt are not really ours after all.

I’m told that in some African cultures it is commonly believed that the ancestors don’t recognise adopted children as legitimate. Often, these children are not treated as true members of the family. On the other hand, amongst westerners, there is the assumption that adoption should be a last resort if you can’t have children “of your own”. Someone once went as far as telling us, “I could never love something that’s not my own”. She clearly believes that her genes are more valuable than those of others. This is Darwinism at its worst. Having children by birth is certainly a wonderful thing, and to desire this is both natural and good. However, this doesn’t mean that adoption is any less of a joy or any less legitimate.

In 2010 we had the privilege of welcoming Talita into our family unreservedly and unconditionally. It just so happens that, unlike our first child, she was adopted. However, that is now neither here nor there. Lita is now our real child, and we are her real parents. She has been grafted into our family tree and therefore has the same language, culture, surname and ancestors. She is part of the same story. Our children are equally loved and entitled to equal inheritances. We are deeply grateful for the fact that our own legal system upholds this. We have a letter from the South African government stating that Lita may now be regarded as our “birth child”. In the eyes of the law, then, adoption overrides biology.

The Bible takes the same view of adoption. Jesus himself was adopted. His father, Joseph, was not a blood relative since Jesus was born of a virgin. Matthew begins his gospel by making the crucial point that Jesus was a descendant of David, but the way in which he does this is surprising. Matthew shows that Joseph is descended from David, and therefore, so is Jesus. He could have pointed out that Jesus’ mother too was descended from David, but he didn’t think this necessary. In the eyes of the God, then, adoption overrides biology.

This should be a great comfort to children adopted into a Christian home. It also comes as a relief to Christians in general, as those who have been adopted by God. When God adopts us, we don’t become his “adopted” children, we become his real children. There are no second class citizens in God’s family. On the contrary, God loves us just as he loves Jesus. What’s more, adoption is not God’s “Plan B”. God planned to adopt a people before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1). Adoption is at the heart of what God is doing in his world.

If you are a Christian, God has adopted you. May I then encourage you to consider showing that same love to one of the million-or-so orphans in this country. Adoption alone is not the solution to the orphan crisis, but it is certainly a part of it. Adoption is not the wisest option for everyone. There are numerous ways in which we can show love to those in need, but do consider adopting orphans as one of those ways.

Pierre Queripel

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