Orphans in our City

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 1.48.14 AMIn one of the most popular chapters of the Bible, Jeremiah 29, we find a powerful statement from the Lord about how we ought to view the city…and how we should care for its orphans. Speaking to His people who have been exiled by the Babylonians and in fear of mixing with them, God says through His prophet:

“Multiply there (in the city), and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the lord on it’s behalf, for in it’s welfare you will find your welfare ” Jeremiah 29:6-7

When we think about seeking the “welfare of our city” there is much we can do. The needs are many. Amidst it all, the need of caring for the orphans of the city is massive. In any given metropolis in America there are literally hundreds of children that have no family and no permanent home. Over 400,000 children in America are in foster care. Over 104,000 children are literal orphans with no permanent family, most of whom are living in the neighborhoods of our cities.  In Austin, TX alone there are 244 of these dear children that are waiting to be adopted.

Imagine if the church took seriously this call to “seek the welfare of the city” and made caring for every child in foster care and every child available for adoption a part of that mission. What if the church became more known for its care of the children than for what it is against in our cities.

What if our cities were filled only with waiting parents instead of waiting children!

Providing permanent families for all the waiting children in our city is not an impossible task. It may just be the greatest opportunity the church has today to seek the renewal of our cities for God’s glory!

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Adoption is a Community Project

The very heart of biblical Christianity is the reality that we are saved from living for our individual self and placed into a family. Adoption reminds us this very thing. We are part of a family that is called to live life together with gospel-intentionality. We worship together. Eat together. Struggle together. We share our lives with one another. The writer to the Hebrews says that we need daily encouragement and exhortation in the gospel if we are going to grow (Hebrews 3:12-13).

Just as our growth in Christ is a community project, adoption is meant to be done in community.

Every adoptive and foster family needs people around them that will support them. This is sadly one of the more neglected areas of focus in the adoption and foster care world and it is also one of the leading reasons why families burn out and things breakdown.

So whether you are an adoptive or foster family already or if you are considering it; ask yourself who your community will be. Who are those people who will support you when things get tough (and they will).

If you have people in your life already that is great! Ask, what can you do to help them become an even more effective support network.

If you don’t have anyone, don’t be discouraged, pray hard for who they are. They may already be in your life but just don’t know how to support you. It may take time. You are definitely not alone though.

Share your thoughts on what has worked for you? How has your community wrapped their arms around you in a meaningful way? What resources would be helpful for you in developing a support network? 

What if 2013 was the year…

Screen Shot 2013 01 01 at 2 32 27 PMWhat if 2013 was the year that: 

  • Every waiting child in the US and Canada was adopted into a Christian family
  • Every child waiting for their family through international adoption was united with their family
  • Every Christian globally realized that they are called to care for the fatherless
  • Every country decided that they must do something to provide permanence for their orphans
  • Every country closed to international adoption opened back up
  • Every family waiting got the phone call or email they have been praying for
  • Every church developed a culture of adoption
  • Every orphan has a chance to hear the gospel

What would you add to the list? Will you join us in praying that this would be the year that God does more than we can ask or imagine for the fatherless! 

 

 

 

Should Children Ever Be Removed from Their Culture through Adoption?

Is it ever in the best interest of a child to remove them from their culture through adoption? In the debate over international adoption, this is one of the most common questions and issues raised against international adoption. I have found Dr. Elizabeth Bartholet’s arguments to be very helpful:

International adoption critics treat children as necessarily ‘belonging’ to their countries of birth. They defer to national governments as having important rights at stake, and accord overwhelming significance to the often arbitrary lines separating countries. This translates into policy preferences for virtually all in-country options as compared to out-of-country adoption, and into mandatory holding periods which delay and often entirely deny such adoption.  But children’s fundamental human rights to grow up in a nurturing family should trump nation-state rights to hold on to children. Moreover, keeping unparented children in their countries of origin does nothing to actually strengthen the economic and political situation of those countries. It is simply a symbolic way for the powerless to stand up to the powerful, for countries formerly victimized by colonialism to make an anti-colonialist statement. And it exploits the least powerful of all, the children of the poorest groups in these countries. Ironically these are often the children of the indigenous groups that were the primary victims of colonialism, while the rulers who decide to hold on to these children are often the descendants of the colonial invaders.

International adoption critics say they promote in-country solutions because this serves children’s heritage rights.  But this is retrograde thinking which ill-serves children’s real needs. Children are not defined in some essentialist way by the particular spot where they were born. Science provides no basis for believing that children are better off if raised in their community of origin (Bartholet, 2007a, pp. 360–361). Nor does common sense. Had Barack Obama been born in Kenya instead of Kansas, would we view him as deprived of his Kenyan heritage by being raised in the US? Was he deprived of his Kansas heritage by being raised in Hawaii and Indonesia? Is he deprived or enriched by his complex national, racial and ethnic heritage?  His testimony, as revealed in books and speeches, indicates that he feels enriched and empowered to act more effectively.

We live in a world increasingly defined by globalization, with adults eager to cross national boundaries for economic and other opportunities. Some 1.6 million per year immigrate to the US alone, and immigrants constitute 12.5 per cent of the US population.

In this world it would be laughable to argue that adults should be prevented from leaving their country of birth so they could enjoy their heritage rights. It would be thought outrageous for nations to hold on to adults behind walled boundaries because they constitute ‘precious resources’.  Heritage and state sovereignty claims can only be made in the international adoption context because children are involved, and children are peculiarly incapable of protesting.  Truly honoring children’s rights would require abandoning such talk, treating children as full members of the global community and responding to their most fundamental needs.

[from ‘International Adoption: The Human Rights Position’ By Elizabeth Bartholet]

Adoption Tax Credit and Health Care Reform

Good news for adoptive families from the health care bill signed into law. The adoption tax credit has been extended until the end of 2011 and increased from $12,170 to $13,170 for adoptions occurring after January 1, 2010 (it’s retroactive). The credit is also now refundable.

You can read the bills text on page 903 of 906 here.

USA Today’s brief analysis:

“Taxpayers who adopt children:  Effective in 2010, the bill makes the adoption credit refundable, increases the credit by $1,000 and extends the increased adoption credit through 2011.”

[HT: R. Austin Wilkerson, Wilkerson Legal PLLC]