inter-country

Would Jesus Adopt?

I saw her waiting in our usual booth near the expresso machine. The smell of fresh coffee and something cinnamon rewarded my early commute. I placed my order quickly and joined my friend. We said our hellos, and I had just begun to remove my layers of winter wear when her first question caught me off-guard.

“Would Jesus adopt?” she asked.

She sat back in her chair, arms folded with a challenging smile. We had a past — her questions and my answers. They often led to great debates, especially since we are usually on opposite sides.

She knows I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. She knows I’m pro-life. She knows I advocate for orphan care and adoption issues. Her question was a tricky one, especially the way it was asked.

“I don’t believe having children, however they joined the family, was a part of Jesus’ ministry plan,” I said. “However, if you’re asking me if Jesus supports adoption, that’s an interesting question?”

What I personally believed would mean nothing to my friend. What evidence did I have convincing enough? I began describing the Jesus I knew to my friend.

JESUS STOPPED

The first characteristic I shared with my friend was that Jesus was all about addressing individual needs. As he went about his ministry, Jesus was often interrupted by people. Yet it is during those interactions we learn just how important each person is to God.

We read in Mark 5:21-43 that Jesus was in a large crowd of people when a synagogue leader named Jairus fell at his feet, pleading with him to go to his home and heal his young daughter. Jesus agreed to leave those gathered to follow the worried father to his home.

While walking together, through the crowd, Jesus suddenly asked, “Who touched me?” Can you imagine the look on the faces of those immediately surrounding him? In verse 31, one disciple responded, “You see the people crowding against you, and yet you can ask “Who touched me?”” Jesus kept searching.

The woman who had reached out to touch Jesus’ robe knew she had been healed and fearfully admitted to Jesus that it was she who had touched him. Jesus let her know it was her faith that had healed her.

Now while this was happening, people from Jairus’ house came to tell him not to bother Jesus anymore for his daughter had died. Can you imagine all this happening in one small part of one day in ministry?

Jesus overheard what was said and told Jairus (verse 36), “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” And they continued to travel to Jairus’ house. They were met by people already in mourning for his daughter, but Jesus rebuked them and healed her.

All while he was to be somewhere else, addressing a crowd of people gathered to hear him, he healed both women, young and old. He took the time to address their individual needs.
It was the same in Luke 18:35-43 when Jesus was entering Jericho and heard a blind beggar calling out to him for healing. In Luke 18:40 it states, “Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him.” Then, healed him of his blindness.

Jesus stopped whatever he was doing to interact with those who believed in him. Regardless of the crowd, or where he was going, or who he was traveling with, he stopped what he was doing to heal and to love the blind man calling out to him, or the small girl in the house away from the crowd, or the desperate woman who simply wished to touch the hem of his garment because she believed.

Would Jesus have stopped for the orphan?

JESUS CARED

The second characteristic I shared with my friend was how Jesus came to encourage and lift those who were vulnerable to the world around them. We read of this throughout the New Testament, especially of those who were considered lowly, the children.

We read how Jesus made time for blessing the children parents brought to him. In Mark 10:13-16 there is a passage describing such a scene. The disciples had scolded those who had brought children to him. Jesus told the disciples not to stop the children “for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Then, Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them.

What a picture it paints in my mind. In our human frailty and fallen world, we, like the disciples, can only imagine children bothering Jesus, while he saw the opportunity to gather them in his arms and bless them. I can only imagine their curiosity and shy glances at Jesus. Their giggling and perhaps the brave child climbing onto his lap. I can see the face of Jesus, relaxing and smiling at their joy and energy.

Jesus spoke of children being considered the least here on earth yet the greatest in heaven (Luke 9:46-48). While his disciples were arguing who would be the greatest among themselves in heaven, Jesus wrapped his arms around a child and told them “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

Again, that beautiful image of Jesus taking a child into his arms.
I cannot imagine a more vulnerable sight, even today, then that of an orphaned child. Regardless of the why or the how they came to be unloved, their vulnerability is evident.

Would Jesus have cared for the orphan?

JESUS LOVED

The third characteristic I shared with my friend was that Jesus deeply loved those around them. Only in the book of John do we learn that his mother, Mary, was present at his crucifixion. In John 19:26-27 we read of Jesus seeing his mother near the disciple he loved, John, shortly before his death on the cross. Out of his limitless compassion, he spoke to them.

Jesus performed a sort of ceremony between Mary and John. To Mary he said, “Woman, here is your son.” To John he said, “Here is your mother.” This constituted a form of adoption and consolation for the two who would perhaps miss Jesus most, in his human form. The passage continues and tells us that John cared for Mary in his home from that time on.

In all his agony, Jesus loved Mary and John enough to make sure they remained in each other’s lives and looked after each other. To be that loving, during his own death by crucifixion, I cannot imagine. So complete and binding was his love.

That love is the same love we are adopted into, as God’s children. That limitless, incomprehensible love.

Would Jesus support adoption?

The Jesus I know stopped everything for one suffering person. The Jesus I know cared for the most vulnerable and lowly. The Jesus I know loved deeply and continues loving us today.

To me, the answer is clear.

My friend was leaning forward on the table. Then, she slowly leaned back in her chair, and smiled again.

“So, if you’re a Christian, you should adopt…is that what you’re saying?” she said.

I’ll have to tackle that question in a future post.

How Adoption Saves

It began as the story of a family that never was.

One by one, over a decade, four children were born to a single woman in Odessa, Ukraine. They each entered the orphanage system directly from the hospital they were born in. I was privileged to have known two of them.

One was internationally adopted into a family. It was an adjustment. Life in a western-cultured family is very different from an Eastern European orphanage.

For two years, nightmares terrified him. He never wanted to see an orphanage again. It was hard to even coax him into any large building — one look and you could see his fear.

The other had been a part of the system for sixteen years. She had finished high school and was on her way to trade school. She was ready to experience life on her own terms.

She didn’t want anyone telling her what to do anymore. She didn’t want to be adopted and said “No, thank you” to the offer. But, she wanted to meet her younger brother. I was there when they first met.

The young boy began to change, almost as soon as he entered his new family. His hair grew thicker. His paper-like nails grew strong. He started to grow so fast, he often complained of leg pain “in his bones.” His quick grasp of his third language in his first four years of life surprised all. He overcame his fear of crowds, the small family dog, and meeting new people.

The teenager, the young boy’s older half-sister, moved into her first apartment with a friend from the orphanage. She dreamed of becoming a cook and an accountant, so she might open her own “small but good” cafe one day. She took lots of photos. She kept in touch with her younger brother via Skype. Her life held promise.

The young boy had health concerns, some more serious than others. He received months of treatment and surgery in the U.S. His chances for a healthy life restored.

The young woman became ill and by the time it was discovered, the Tuberculous (TB) had developed pustules in her right lung. She started a rigid treatment plan in the government run TB treatment center in Odessa, Ukraine. It wasn’t long before her left lung became infected also.

The boy’s family was very concerned for the young woman. They flew to Ukraine to encourage her to receive treatment. They made sure she had medication and food. They urged her to enter into a hospital for proper dosing and care.

The boy is now in fifth grade and thriving. He loves mathematics, Legos, and Marvel Super Heros.

The young woman would have been 26 this year. However, she died on June 22, 2014. Her U.S. family held a service for her in America. They remain broken-hearted.

The boy is our son. I am convinced he was spared a similar fate due to his adoption. His life is one of love, family and continued promise.

Lena, the Ukrainian daughter of our hearts, had her life cut short by a cruel disease. She was a victim of faulty reasoning:
• One that believes a government can raise children;
• One that believes remaining in a birth country is more important than joining a waiting family, regardless of where they live; and
• One that believes children are merely headcounts of the country in which they were born, and have no human right to a family.

I know people who are avid adoption supporters, as I am one of them. I often hear from people who are anti-adoption. From personal experience, I can tell you they are equally passionate about their beliefs.

My pro-adoption beliefs aren’t formed from a successful or non-successful adoption experience.

My pro-adoption stance doesn’t stem from any extensive research or doctoral degree.

I am pro-adoption because of our son and his sister.

I am pro-adoption because love doesn’t recognize man-drawn boundaries.

I advocate for adoption because I believe the right to family is a basic human right.

I fight for (domestic and international) adoption because adoption saves lives. Our son is living proof.

Dear Lena. You will remain forever young and beautiful to the family who loved you and considered you their own. May you rest in peace, knowing you were loved.

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