As I sank deep into the padded chair of a megachurch auditorium I felt the urge to melt into the floor or bolt for the exit sign. We had unsuspectingly visited this beautiful Baptist church on Orphan Sunday and the entire sermon was about adoption.
Adopt. Donate. 150 millions orphans. Do something.
The speaker had a beautiful adoption story of a family made whole and an orphan made a son. My emotions would have felt different had my adoption completed and my boys been in the seats next to me. I would have cheered for adoption and advocated for every orphan. I would have wanted everyone to do their part to eradicate the orphan situation in our times.
But that is not our story.
This year, we are serving on the music team with the same beautiful Baptist church. It has become a church home we are unspeakably grateful for. And this year, I know Orphan Sunday is coming – so I asked for a heads up. I did not want to be caught off guard again.
Orphan Sunday, an initiative of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, is described on their website as:
On Orphan Sunday, Christians stand for the orphan. We are a people called to defend the fatherless…to care for the child that has no family…to visit orphans in their distress. Each event is locally-led. Sermons and small groups, concerts and prayer gatherings, shared meals and youth activities—each rousing believers with God’s call to care for the orphan, and what we can do in response. From many sources, one voice. Each November, thousands of events will echo across America and around the globe, all sharing a single goal: that God’s great love for the orphan will find echo in our lives as well. Orphan Sunday is your opportunity to rouse church, community and friends to God’s call to care for the orphan.
As we rouse and echo, though, let us be mindful. Just as we consider those for whom Mother’s Day is painful or even single people on Valentine’s Day, let’s be compassionate towards those in the adoption community who have been left with a bitter taste in their mouths. They each have their own story. Be gentle.
For us, Orphan Sunday is tough. Caring for orphans is important and valuable. Adoption is a valid way to help the orphan crisis in our world. We believe this! I would not be continuing the fight for ethical adoption if we did not believe with our whole hearts adoption is good. But on Orphan Sunday while we celebrate our friends who have brought their One Less home, we feel the sting of a bruise still just under the surface. We did not get to bring our kids home because of fraud. It was not our fault, but we carry the mark. When an Orphan Sunday speaker says, “Not everyone is called to adopt, but we can all do something!” I want to stand up and shout back, “Hold up! As you are doing your ‘something’ – adopting, donating, fundraising, or advocating – use your brains! Be careful!” Not because I don’t like adoption, but because I believe it is worth the effort to protect the vulnerable.
Let’s exhort our churches and communities to care for the orphan with open eyes and sharp minds. Ethics matter.
Let’s honor those who have been wounded. Their experience is real.
And of course, let’s celebrate the beautiful, ethical adoptions completed around us!