If You’re Considering Adoption…

The other day, a fellow adoptive mama shared a really tragic article on her Facebook wall. The article relayed the unbelievably awful story of an Ethiopian adoptee who died as a result of abuse and neglect from her adoptive family. It went on to detail other instances where Christian adoptive families have abused, neglected or treated their adopted children with indifference.

I absolutely cringe when I read an article like this. I cringe because it is awful and horrific to think of this happening to any child — and especially to one who has undoubtedly suffered so much loss prior to her adoption.

I also cringe because this makes Christian adoptive parents look like crazy wingnuts.

I’m surrounded by adoptive families in our community who could not be more different from the families depicted in this article. The Christian mamas that I know are praying fervently for their children as they seek out ways to parent compassionately and lovingly, to help their children feel wanted and loved and to meet their needs. We meet weekly — and sometimes more often than that — to support one another and give guidance and advice during difficult situations. We seek out resources in our community — and bring outside resources into our community — so that we can be always learning more.

At the same time, I think there is something we can take away from this story, and other stories like it. Even though families like the ones detailed in the article may be the minority, the sad reality is that this stuff exists. This is happening to adopted children. What happened in Hana Williams’ adoption story that made her outcome so different than the thriving Ethiopian adoptees I know in our community?

Want to know what I think? It’s not enough to want to save a child. You have to want to love a child unconditionally.

At the adoption camp I attended this summer, Brandon and Jen Hatmaker summed up very beautifully what adoption is: entering the world of the orphan. When you adopt a child, you are adopting someone who has suffered trauma. You have a responsibility to become your child’s grieving partner and to teach him that his worth comes from Christ. You have a responsibility to provide your child with good nutrition and therapy and resources to help him overcome what challenges he faces as a result of institutionalization. You have a responsibility to learn about your child’s culture and to advocate for him at school. You have a responsibility to educate yourself about things like Reactive Attachment Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder and to learn what those things look like and to help your child through it — even though he may push away from you.

You have a responsibility to love selflessly and unconditionally.

This is a lot of responsibility, to be sure. But someone considering adoption must aware of the tremendous risk and responsibility that comes with choosing adoption. You owe it to your child to think this through and not to unleash unrealistic expectations on him about what adoption looks like. It’s bigger than being the happy, transracial family in the Christmas-card-worthy photos and it’s more than just saving an orphan.

If you want to “save” a child, then provide some financial support to an adoptive family in process or sponsor a child and be a tremendous part of providing that child with the stability his family needs so that they can remain intact. That is awesome and in keeping with how our Lord tells us to “look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).

If you’re willing to love a child as your own, through brokenness and ugliness and craziness — then that is also awesome and in keeping with James 1:27, too.

While the brokenness and ugliness and craziness looks different for every child and family — I can promise you that Jesus will come alongside you to heal and empower both you and your child.

And lest you think that I’m writing this to discourage adoption, I also want to tell you that for our family….

It was worth the risk.

Baby Benjamin 211



  1. Beautifully said, Carly ❤

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