The Bible offers a number of patterns which echo the idea of adoption. Gentiles are offered membership in Israel through proselytism under the Mosaic law. Later, Paul uses the twin figures of vine grafting and Roman adoption as illustrations for the church.

The modern practice of adoption is one embraced especially by the faithful.

“While Christians have built a reputation for many of the things they are against, adoption and foster care are emerging as a cause they are for,” a study by the Barna Group, an evangelical Christian polling firm based in Ventura, California, reported. “While only 2 percent of all Americans have adopted, this rises to 5 percent among practicing Christians. Practicing Christians are much more likely than others to have seriously considered adoption—38 percent of practicing Christians say they have, compared to 26 percent of all adults.”

Our Faith spoke with a number of adoptive parents as they reflected over Christmas on their faith journey as families. They all agreed that adoption can be a challenging option, but one they continue to value as part of their faith journey.

“As I reflect back on this Christmas season, adoption has helped me to know God in a more intimate way,” said Debbie Simmons, who runs a non-profit in League City. “There is no question that adoption is the heart of God. He has adopted each of us as his children and offered to us an eternity with him. In the Christmas story, we see the heart of Joseph opened up to be an adopting dad with Mary carrying Jesus in her womb. God has graciously provided us through his word an awesome picture of the power of adoption and his redemptive plan. He has given us an opportunity to participate in this grand adventure. It has been awesome.”

Simmons and her husband Scott have adopted 9 children since 2002, including one group of five siblings.

“Adoption has been a great journey for our family,” Scott Simmons said. “As a dad, it has challenged and motivated me to continue growing in my faith and living it out as a man, husband and father. I have been greatly blessed with beautiful moments and memories as well as moments or even seasons that cause me to dig deep even as my weaknesses are exposed. This journey has been an adventure that I wouldn’t trade and would choose all over again.”

Fostering, private and public adoption are all options, and the need for adoptive parents is perennial. The number of children in foster care has hit a record of 442,995, according to statistics provide by the Children’s Bureau, a federal agency.

Michelle Martin recalled how it all started for her and her husband, Troy, in 2007.

“I can still picture in my head my youngest son sitting upstairs on the balcony waiting for his baby sister to come,” Martin said. She arrived with a black garbage bag full of all her belongings. The caseworker placed her in my arms—and then left. A wave of emotions came over me. I was very joyful, excited, terrified, sad, and broken all at the same time. There are so many emotions I felt and still feel throughout the entire process of fostering and adopting. And now, 12 years later, we find ourselves back in a similar situation: this time God has given us two precious little girls to foster and we are now in the process of adopting them. God sustains you through every step of the process.”

Darren and Audrey Tidwell are another local couple who had their world rearranged when they adopted.

“Adoption has been an amazing journey of trusting God and seeing him unfold His beautiful plan for us and our family,” Audrey Tidwell said. “Darren and I knew God was calling us to adopt at the beginning of 2002, approximately the same time that our oldest son was conceived. We had many fears initially about adoption.”

And the fears can be real. Some adoptions fail. Some birth-mothers change their minds. A number of special needs adoptions have overwhelmed a family’s resources or capacity. But the Tidwells persevered, in part because they felt divinely called to the adoption option.

“When the birth mother handed me our son three days after he was born, our hearts not only connected forever with our son, but with her,” Tidwell said. “All of our fears were gone and we knew that God was giving us more than a child. He was giving us a whole new family.”

Next week in Our Faith: How to appear in this space in 2019, plus some expert tips on being spiritually fit in the new year.

Rick Cousins can be reached at rick.cousins@galvnews.com.

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