23 Nov Families Like Yours
I looked out across a cozy room full of families this week, all considering adoption and foster care. I saw the resolve on their faces and the fire in their hearts. I wondered how God had brought them to this place, and I prayed for where He would lead them next. Not one family was exactly alike, and I couldn’t help but smile at all these people God had brought together for just a few hours.
Because the truth is, we need all kinds of families in the world of adoption.
We need families willing to travel halfway around the world to bring their babies home. We need families willing to challenge centuries-old cultural traditions that say adoption is shameful, that kids with special needs are shameful, that kids without parents aren’t worthy of good jobs or good relationships. We need families willing to love kids in dingy orphanages, and kids on the brink of starvation or exploitation, and kids who need therapies and specialists they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. We need families willing to stand up for vulnerable children, vulnerable parents, and vulnerable communities, seeking first to keep parents and children and cultures together and then, and only then, stepping in as a permanent family. We need families willing to live with the holes in their child’s story, to love birth families they may never know and a culture they may never fully understand. We need international adoptive families.
We need families willing to walk alongside expectant mothers here in the United States. We need families willing to openly share their lives with their children’s biological mothers and fathers and cousins, down the street or across the country. We need families willing to fight against agencies that feed on desperation and coercion, to maintain high standards in an industry that doesn’t always have them, and to honor a baby’s biological family, even if their own picture of family is shattered. We need families willing to share the title of mother or father, even if it sometimes means sharing with mothers and fathers who struggle with drugs or alcohol or unhealthy relationships. We need families willing to set an example of empathy and positive adoption language in a culture – our own culture – that often has antiquated and even unloving views of adoption. We need families willing to love children with different skin colors, disabilities, and exposure. We need domestic adoptive families.
We need families willing to put aside their own desires for permanency and stability and safety in order to be a family – temporarily or forever – to children who don’t have permanency or stability or safety. We need families willing to fight for family preservation, to love hurting people and hurting families who can be desperately hard to love. We need families willing to brave the court rooms, social services offices, and school systems, families who lay aside their own careers or family schedules to make room for supervised visits, court hearings, and midnight requests for placement. We need families willing to both seek reunification and then to also open their hearts and their homes to adoption when the judge suddenly removes reunification from the plan. We need families willing to stand up for the 11-year-old, the 16-year-old, the sibling group already waiting for a family, still waiting because so many others gave up on them. We need families willing to live with their child’s story, the parts they don’t know and the parts they almost wish they didn’t know. We need foster families, foster-adoptive families, and families built by kinship adoptions.
And we need families willing to move to India or rural Kentucky or inner-city Chicago to help communities thrive. We need families willing to help struggling parents with housing, employment, childcare, and medical bills so that kids can stay with the moms and dads and siblings who already love them. We need families willing to listen to and learn from adoptees, from the ones who have walked this path before us. We need families willing to create nutrition programs for orphaned infants in Uganda, willing to build community-based foster programs in China, willing to write policies in Washington DC. We need families willing to speak up, stand up, and never give up until every child in our world knows they are loved and valuable and wanted.
The adoption and foster care and orphan care community is knit together by one thing. It’s not by our own strength or renown, and it’s certainly not for it. None of us are perfect or even perfectly equipped. In fact, we’re all just a little bit loud and a whole lot tired. We all have different stories and paths, different delights and struggles, different children of all races and cultures and backgrounds sitting at our tables. But we’re knit together by one simple thing: our YES.
And so long as our world is full of kids who need someone to love them, we need all kinds of families willing to say YES. We need all kinds of families willing to fight for these kids and their families, willing to love them even if loving them means laying down our own demands and desires and dreams of what our family could or should look like. We need families willing – whether for a season or a lifetime – to step into the messy, broken, ugly parts of our world because right in the middle is a kid who is worth it. Right in the middle is a beautiful, precious, amazing kid who will likely change our lives a whole heck of a lot more than we will change theirs.
We need families willing to see the world like Christ does. And Christ sees all of our kids like he sees each of us – wanted, loved, and cherished. American, Korean, South African, Columbian, white, brown, black, those with birth parents and those without, those with special needs and those without…all of them.
We need all kinds of families. We need families like yours and families like mine.
Let’s go love our world.