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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

A Case for Adoption

By Maria Bundrick
Jan. 23, 2011

The young girl stood frozen, watching intently from a distance, hearing only the pounding of her own heart and the cries of her baby brother. Seeing the woman draw her baby brother from the floating cradle, she mustered up her courage, stepped out of the shadows, and spoke to the woman holding the infant. After their brief conversation, her tension gave way to excitement.

Miriam ran home and brought her mother, Jochebed, to Pharaoh’s daughter. “Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you’” (Exodus 2:9, NIV). Jochebed would care for her own son!

In a desperate attempt to spare his life, the Levite woman had unwittingly made an adoption plan that not only would allow her son to live, but would preserve God’s plan to further His kingdom purposes. Pharaoh’s daughter, the baby’s adoptive mother, named him Moses.

God’s perspective on adoption
While some in today’s culture are uncomfortable with the suggestion of adoption, apparently God is quite comfortable with it. Considering the stories of Moses and Esther — an orphan raised by her cousin Mordecai — God used adoption to provide for them and to accomplish great life-saving exploits on behalf of His people through them.

Stepping into the New Testament, Paul reminds us in Ephesians 1:4,5 that upon accepting salvation through Christ’s redemptive work we are adopted into God’s family. Matthew 25:35-40 indicates further responsibility on the part of Christ’s followers to feed, clothe and house those in need with no specification of age, but they are referred to as “the least of these.”

James 1:27 reveals God’s passionate concern for orphans and widows, and His care for the fatherless. In fact, in His foreknowledge that there would be little ones who needed loving families to welcome them into their hearts and homes, God chose an earthly adoptive father to parent His own Son, Jesus. What a model of attentive care for families to follow.

A network of agencies
These scriptural instructions are the motivation behind the partnership of the Assemblies of God Family Services Agency with other entities like Love Basket, Inc., a licensed, nonprofit, Christian adoption agency. Through these agencies, women facing unanticipated pregnancies are offered counseling with real options.

Love Basket began by working with missionaries in India. The missionaries would call and tell Director Frank Block that people were leaving their babies on the doorstep of the orphanage in baskets, thus the name that has stayed with the agency for 28 years. Love Basket facilitates both domestic and international adoptions of infants, providing caseworkers to walk with a woman through her pregnancy and help her formulate her adoption plan. The caseworkers also provide home study services for adoptive families.

Highland’s Maternity Home and Assemblies of God Family Services Adoption Agency provide a further service to expectant women who may not have a place to live. Highlands, an Assemblies of God agency operational since 1966, offers lodging both in a group maternity home setting and single-mother apartments at the Murry Transitional Living Center. Medical services, prenatal and childbirth classes and other resources are available through this agency’s assistance.

“We at AGFSA,” says Robert Michels, administrator, “are striving to bring as many partners as possible alongside us as we seek to create an adoption network that will maximize the number of options available for Assemblies of God families pursuing the ministry of adoption.”

Personal perception
How do you personally feel about adoption? Clarifying one’s feelings about adoption sometimes is necessary before attempting to present it to others. Perhaps asking a few simple questions will help illuminate the value of adoption in your perspective.

Do you have doubts in your heart as to whether adoption works? What are your hesitations to really believing in adoption? On what are your feelings based? The media? Personal experience? Uncertainty about legal aspects of the process? What do you know about adoption? 

Adoption has changed immensely in the past two decades. In the past, most adoptions were closed — meaning the baby was removed from the delivery room, placed with a family chosen by the agency, and all records were sealed. Now there are fully open and semi-open adoptions.

The mystery and secrecy have been eliminated with the birth mom choosing the family; names and contact information being exchanged; and correspondence and even visits being negotiated in the relationship between the birth mother and the adoptive family. Research confirms that these arrangements are much healthier for everyone involved.

Reading through 1 Corinthians 13, one finds amazingly descriptive parallels regarding the kind of love God approves — the kind demonstrated by young mothers choosing to place their babies for adoption as well as couples who wait patiently for God to respond to their agonizing prayers as they wrestle with the anguish of infertility and pregnancy loss.

But there are some misunderstandings about adoption.

Myth 1: Adoption equals abandonment.
When it comes to considering placing a baby for adoption, many pregnant teens refuse to discuss it. Somehow the perception exists that adoption equals abandonment. In response to that indictment, I concur with Curtis Young who wrote: “Adoption is not a breaking of trust, but a keeping of faith; not an abdication of responsibility, but an act of redemption; not the abandonment of a baby, but the abandonment of self for a baby’s sake” (Heartlink, January 2001).

Myth 2: Adoption is a selfish choice.
Contrary to the myth that adoption is a selfish choice, it actually is one of the hardest decisions a young woman or man will ever have to make. Having served in a local pregnancy resource center and now as an adoption caseworker, it is very clear that birth moms who follow through with an adoption plan generally do so out of a heart of deep, sacrificial love. Furthermore, they fully believe that a financially and emotionally stable, loving couple can offer their child far more than their own circumstances will allow.

When a woman is willing to consider entrusting her child to the welcoming arms of a Christian couple, she needs to be affirmed that she is acting in a mature, courageous and selfless way. “It [love] does not envy ... it is not proud ... it is not self-seeking” (1 Corinthians 13:4,5).

When a woman recognizes her own lack of emotional and financial resources to be a parent, she faces a difficult choice. By choosing to place her baby with a devoted family that will give her child the best chance in life, she is living out motherly love. This love is so strong that it inspires courage to look beyond personal feelings and desires so as to see to the welfare and best interest of her child. It is mature. It is forward-looking. It is profound. And it is possible.

Myth 3: True, deep love for the child requires a DNA connection.
Another prevalent misunderstanding is that no one can love a baby as much as the birth mother can. This implies that love and attachment are merely the result of biological connection. Child abuse statistics dissolve that argument.

Biology certainly is not an absolute guarantee of one’s readiness or willingness to love and parent a child. Nor does it mean that a couple who did not bear a child cannot love that child.

Many are the priceless moments when an adoptive family has stood in the hospital nursery, gazing at a newborn with whom they have had no biological ties or even prior contact and the first tender words that escape their lips are, “I love you, little one!” “It [love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthian 13:7). 

Myth 4: Adopted children are prone to develop psychological issues.
A final misunderstanding about adoption is that most adopted children grow up to have serious psychological issues and one can never be sure if an adoptive child will flourish. Truth is, the same can be said about biological children. Whether adopted or biological, the human personality is immensely influenced by the interaction of other human beings.

Research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and conducted by the Search Institute corroborates that teens whose adoption story was told to them with loving sensitivity and honesty at a young age grow up to be well-adjusted, secure and score high on indicators of well-being, such as school performance, friendships, optimism and self-esteem.

 In every state, there are children waiting to be adopted both in orphanages and through the foster system. Adoption, regardless of the circumstances, requires an enormous amount of love, a substantial amount of hope, and a generous sprinkling of faith. “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. ... And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:3,13).

MARIA BUNDRICK serves as an adoption caseworker for Love Basket, Inc., as well as a counselor in private practice.

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