November… what a month. It is that weird mix of pumpkins and turkeys and celebrating Thanksgiving, but if you’re like me, also pulling out Christmas decorations and singing Christmas songs before Thanksgiving even happens. It’s when we declare how grateful we are for what we have, yet make lists for what else we want and scour stores and the internet to find more stuff we want.
It is all of these things, but did you know that it is also Adoption Awareness Month? Most people have no idea, unless they are already somehow connected to adoption. But why? Why is this not something everyone knows about and recognizes? Everyone knows the Friday after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, and the Monday after is Cyber Monday. So why is it not common knowledge that in November we raise awareness for the orphans around the world?
There are 153 million orphans in the world (http://worldorphans.org/what-we-do/child/why-orphans/).
There are over 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, with over 100,000 waiting to be adopted.
These numbers are so large, it is hard to understand how it is not common knowledge, and how it is not something more people are standing up to put an end to. Maybe it’s because statistics don’t elicit much of a response… they are just numbers, and we can look past numbers. But the thing is, they are not just numbers. They are children. Children without parents to provide for their needs. Without a family to love them unconditionally. Without a mommy and daddy to tuck them in at night. To hug them when they are sad. To rejoice with them over accomplishments. To pray for their future.
When you actually think about each and every one of those 153 million and imagine the face of an individual child, it changes your perspective. And that is what we need. We need a perspective change. We need to realize that this is a crisis, and as believers, it is NOT okay to sit by and act like it is not our problem. The Bible tells us in James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
It does not say, “Those families who are crazy and are okay with having lots of children should care for orphans.”
It does not say, “Those people who know a lot of medical stuff and are equipped to adopt children with medical needs should care for orphans.”
It does not say, “Those who have tons of extra money sitting around and can readily afford the expenses of adoption should care for orphans.”
And it does not say, “Those who are totally comfortable with all that comes with bringing a child into your home should care for orphans.”
It says “pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans.” Meaning, those who call themselves believers and aim to live their lives with pure and genuine faith that honors God, are to care for orphans. He does not say anything about those who are equipped or feel perfectly comfortable. Just like most things related to living for Jesus, it is not about being perfectly equipped and comfortable. In fact, most of the time, it seems God wants us to feel unequipped and uncomfortable and unqualified, and then to step out in faith anyways, so that He receives the glory.
I don’t know where this hits you, but I pray the Lord uses my not so eloquent words to spark something in you. Not every single person is going to adopt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still care for orphans. Maybe you are supposed to foster. Maybe you are supposed to help finance an adoption. Maybe you are supposed to go on a mission trip to an orphanage. Or maybe you really should adopt – it is one of the greatest ways to put the gospel on display.
And to you who has never felt “called” to adopt, or has discounted it because you think you could never do it – I ask you to pause, pray, and at least tell the Lord you are open to it. Let HIM decide if it is for you or not, not the other way around. I think if more of us did that – changed our perspective and let the Lord lead – not only would more people know about Adoption Awareness Month, more adoptions would occur.
*** This post is not at all meant to condemn. It is just written by someone who has always had a heart for adoption (I can’t wait until it is time for my family to adopt!!!), and passionately desires for more believers to be the hands and feet of Jesus through foster care, orphan care, and adoption.