My own story of adoption has shown me how the tragedy of my birth mother’s death could be redeemed into a powerful story of God’s grace and mercy.
I was born 23 years ago in Nairobi, Kenya. My mother died soon after giving birth to me. Subsequently, I was received by a children’s home in Nairobi, founded by an English missionary couple. It was here that I was adopted by a young married couple from Belfast.
Reflecting upon my story, I’ve seen how the Bible reveals God’s heart of inclusion and adoption throughout its unfolding redemptive narrative.
Time and time again, the scriptures point to how God has woven the lives of outsiders throughout Israel’s long journey towards Christ; from Ruth the Moabite to Rahab the Canaanite, God challenges Israel to remember the stranger and the outsider because they were once strangers in Egypt.
In light of this, it became apparent to me that the Church has been given a unique responsibility to be a shelter from the storm for those who have encountered all kinds of disaster. One of the most transformative ways the Church can do this is through adoption and fostering.
Adoption and fostering presents the Church with an opportunity to be part of the on-going redemption of the world. Children within the care system are much more vulnerable to problems of anti-social behaviour, homelessness and suicide than those children who grow up in a stable family environment. I say this not to discourage, but to help us reimagine how we can live out God’s redemptive plan through fostering or adoption. Caring for a child who is not blood related can be an exercise of faith; but it presents a opportunity for us to be part of real transformation in the life of another human-being. Christian homes can provide a healthy and safe space for vulnerable children to grow, develop and excel in their lives. Paul in his discourse to the Galatians outlines how Christ’s redemptive work on the cross has afforded all of us adoption into the family of God. Our posture of gratitude in response to his love should compel us to extend open arms of love and embrace the most vulnerable in our society.
“..But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”
Not everyone is called to adopt or foster, but as the Church we are all called to support, encourage and uplift those who do. The journey to become an adoptive or foster parent is often long but not without reward. On this journey we must always remember that our obedience will be God’s glory. The faith of my parents has given my sister and I blessings beyond words or measure; our lives are the fruit of their obedience.
There are around 2,800 children in Northern Ireland’s care system*. Furthermore, there are at least 2,000 churches in Northern Ireland at a conservative estimate. If one family from every Church began the journey to adopting or fostering at least one child, every child in Northern Ireland would have a home. In light of this, please take time to reflect if God is inviting your family to be part of his redemptive plan for humanity in this particular area.
Adoption has provided my sister and I with a hope and future beyond anything we could have asked or imagined.
All it took was the obedience and faith of a normal married couple from Belfast.
All this week we have been highlighting the cause of fostering and adoption here in Northern Ireland. If you are interested in finding out more, connect with our good friends at Home for Good.
* Information Analysis Directorate (2016) Table 3.6 in Children’s Social Care Statistics for Northern Ireland 2015/16.