USA (MNN) — Did you know that November is National Adoption Awareness Month in the United States? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Adoption Awareness Month is celebrated across the country to bring attention to children and youth in foster care still waiting for a family.
The observance started in 1984 as National Adoption Awareness Week, announced by President Ronald Reagan. It was expanded by President Bill Clinton in 1995 to National Adoption Awareness Month for the entirety of November.
The concept of adoption seems like something everybody would naturally be on-board with and support as a positive thing, right? If so, why do we need to raise awareness?
To get some insight, we spoke with Life Matters Worldwide’s Tom Lothamer.
“There’s a lot of wrong thinking out there about adoption, the fears of it, and even the cost of it is amazing,” says Lothamer. “So there are a lot of things out there that inhibit people or keep them from even considering it.”
For those who could enter the adoptive process, a lot of fears and struggles come into play. The birth mother or father who would rather abort than go through the emotional strain of carrying a baby to full-term and giving the child to another family. The couple who are unable to get pregnant and worry about the financial burden of the adoption process. The teen who is terrified of what her peers, her family, and her church will think if her young pregnancy is discovered.
Lothamer says the words and terms we use when we talk about adoption are very important. Even using phrases with positive or negative connotations impacts how adoption is viewed by others.
“Many times, we hear that so-and-so, let’s call her Mary, ‘gave up’ her child for adoption. We would rather say that Mary ‘released’ her child for adoption, because it connotes the idea of love and sacrifice and selflessness, thinking of the well-being of the child.”
As Christians, we need to actively champion the love found in adoption, especially since God calls us His adopted sons and daughters too.
“That’s what happens in the Gospel. I was not of the tribe of Israel, but God chose me by His divine purpose. I didn’t necessarily go out and look for God, but He chose me. He made me aware of my needs, so I became adopted. I remember what it says in the book of Ephesians, the first chapter it says, ‘He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace….’” (Ephesians 1:5-6a, ESV)
Lothamer says, “That’s what it’s all about. The Gospel is about Him choosing us and adopting us into His family. And adoption in the sense with us is about a couple choosing that child and saying, ‘I want you to come into our home. We want to take care of you.’ So really, it connotes the idea of sacrifice, it’s a gift, it’s love.”
For National Adoption Awareness Month, your church can have a major role to play in championing adoption and encouraging those engaged in adoption.
“From the pulpits and in our churches, we can help people understand this is a very positive decision…. We’ve got to create an atmosphere where we raise the level of positiveness of adoption, and then, when a couple is considering it, be supportive of them.”
Lothamer gives a few practical examples: “As we think of this special month where we’re recognizing adoption, for people who have adopted children, try to be positive with them. Try to reach out and say, ‘How can we help you?’ Make their life a little bit easier, because sometimes if they have an adopted child or two or three, it’s nice to have people come alongside them.
“I have seen where people have helped them out financially, because it is a very expensive proposition to adopt a child. They can also provide resources for them if they’re thinking about adoption: clothing, encouragement, those kinds of things.”
Want to learn more about adoption and how you can get involved? Life Matters Worldwide has resources and ways to get you connected!
“We work very closely with adoption agencies such as Bethany Christian Services which is right here in Grand Rapids, Michigan and they have tremendous resources. We can guide you to that, we can guide you to other resources…. We can even get [you] in contact with people, not just through email, but actually talking to people about this and what’s involved, [both] on the mother’s side of considering releasing for adoption, and the other side for parents who are going to adopt. Many of our pregnancy care centers really are adept at this too. They know how to guide women coming in for their services in really dealing with this issue of adoption, as opposed to just getting an abortion. It’s a real positive choice for a young lady to consider.”
And, most importantly, pray fervently for those considering adoption this season or already in the process.
Pray for birth parents to feel Christ drawing close to them in this journey, and that others would come around them in support for their loving choice of life and adoption.
Pray for adoptive parents to be given financial, spiritual, and emotional encouragement as they go through the often arduous process of bringing their child home.
Pray for children and youth still in foster care, that they would know God adores them and already calls them “son” and “daughter”, and that they would find forever families here on earth as well.
Lothamer reflects, “There’s much we can do within the Church to say, ‘We’re with you. We want to support you, and we’re going to do that in various ways from prayer to actually providing resources, sometimes money and just helping out. We think this is a very noble, good thing you’re doing.’ And again, it is like mirroring what the Gospel is all about.”