Millions of God’s children here in the United States and throughout the world—born and still in embryonic stage—are orphans. The astounding number of children without families is tragic but also presents a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our belief in the value of life by taking action to join these children to permanent, loving, Christian families through adoption!
No matter their age or situation—from seven-year-old Coleen waiting in a Texas foster home, to 15-year-old Ezra waiting in a Bulgarian orphanage, to a 16-cell preborn girl waiting in frozen storage in Las Vegas, to a newborn baby boy delivered at a hospital in Omaha—each is created by, known by, and precious to God.
God’s design is for all children to be raised in families where they will be loved, nurtured, and protected. Open your heart and mind for the few minutes it will take you to read this article and consider these opportunities to make an eternal difference through adoption.
Adopt an Older Child
In the USA, 428,000 children are in foster care with 107,000 of them legally free to be adopted, having had ties to their birth families terminated. The only reason they are still waiting is that no one has come forward to adopt them. Each has his or her own unique story to tell, but they have one thing in common: a desire to be part of a permanent family. Read seven-year old Coleen’s story and learn more about adopting an older child at adoptuskids.org.
Hundreds of thousands of children, from infants to teens, live in orphanages in countries like Haiti, Bulgaria, China, and the Philippines, waiting for parents. In many of these orphanages, nutritious food and a safe environment are scarce—even more so emotional and spiritual nurturing. Meet 15-year-old Ezra and learn more about adopting internationally at www.allgodschildren.org.
Adopt an Infant
Many believe infant adoption in the United States is almost impossible, but the truth is over 18,000 infants are voluntarily placed by their birth mothers into the arms of adopting parents each year. Resources exist online for families interested in infant adoption and through books written to help prospective adopting families learn how to get started. One comprehensive source of information is the Adoptive Families Network at www.adoptivefamilies.com.
Adopt an Embryo
An amazing adoption opportunity exists for parents struggling with infertility, and for those who had children by birth but might consider adding another child to their family, through embryo adoption. Over 60,000 frozen embryos wait for their adopting parents today in cryogenic labs all over the country. Meet baby Marley who, after being frozen for 18 years, was adopted as an embryo by her parents Marty and Elizabeth Wilson through the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, found at www.nightlight.org.
The cost of adoption is a deterrent to many couples who would otherwise be able to provide a loving home for a child. It is expensive, but with a little creativity, it is possible! Infant adoption costs may range from several thousand to over $30,000, depending on where you live. International adoption can be the most expensive, with costs including all things paid for in domestic adoption plus other costs, including travel to your child’s country and support for your child’s originating orphanage. The cost of embryo adoption is less than domestic infant and international adoption, and adopting a child from foster care is even less expensive.
The good news is that there are resources that can help offset these costs. A Federal Tax Credit allows a direct income tax credit for adopting families of up to $13,810. (See IRS topic 607 for details at www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.) Many employers offer benefits designed to offset the costs of adoption for their employees. Also helpful are a variety of Christian organizations that help families fund adoption by providing low- or no-interest loans, grants, and fundraising assistance. Two examples are Lifesong for Orphans (www.lifesong.org) and the Abba Fund (www.abbafund.org).
What Can You Do?
As pro-life Lutherans, we affirm that there is no such thing as an “unwanted child” and profess that all children are gifts from God. We support a young mother faced with an unplanned pregnancy to choose life instead of abortion. We celebrate that decision. Now what? Is our job done? Is our witness complete?
Thousands of children have life but no one to support, care for, and guide them through this life to the next. Can you help? Consider these possibilities:
Adopt a child yourself. Explore the resources and see what doors God might open for you.
Share this information with a couple you know who might be able to adopt. Remember, this does not have to be a couple experiencing infertility. Perhaps it’s a couple who already has parenting experience and can provide a nurturing, stable home for just one more. Pastors, share this information with couples in your congregation whom you believe might be open to considering adoption.
Help a family who wants to adopt a child fund their adoption. If you don’t know of anyone personally, ask your pastor if he knows of anyone who is considering adopting but is hesitating because of the cost. Or contact an adoption agency with an offer to help a couple fund their adoption.
Sponsor a child or an orphanage through a reputable agency such as Ministry in Mission, a small Lutheran organization serving in Haiti (www.ministryinmission.org), or Compassion International, a large organization serving children throughout the world (www.compassion.com).
Pray for the children who, even as you read this, are waiting for families.
This article was submitted by Lutheran Family Service, a ministry of the LCMS congregations in Iowa (www.LutheranFamilyService.org).