As we prepared to bring Hakon home, we ran across all sorts of perspectives on adoption. One perspective is adoption as a “calling.” But, really, isn’t this just a Christian buzzword with many potential meanings? I’ve been thinking about what is meant when the word “calling” is used about adoption. I started by looking at some Scripture.

At the core of God’s nature is a father’s heart. Psalm 68 says, “His name is the Lord…a father to the fatherless …God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 10:18 encourages us to “do justice to the fatherless.” Isaiah 1:17 tells us to “defend the cause of the fatherless.” James 1:27 states, “religion that is pure and undefiled before God is this: to care for orphans…in their affliction.” Though Scripture has something to say about it, it may be a mistake to read these verses and idealize the “call” to adoption. It’s probably over-simplistic to imagine we can bring a child home, provide love, and live happily ever after. However, if God’s love does compel us in this way, how should we view our role as adoptive parents? What can we expect to come in tow with if we act on this "calling?"

What of our role? While we are surely called to live lives of compassion, focusing on the desire to “do good” may leave an adoptive family inadequately prepared. Thinking of adoption as “saving” a deprived child is problematic for many reasons. As Christians, don’t we believe that we don’t have enough “good” in us to “save” anyone? Only God is good. Rather, if we view adoption as an expression of God’s love that we are privileged to experience (instead of a benevolent “giving”)—then perhaps we are on to something.

So what, then, can we expect? As with all parenting, I have come to expect challenges I cannot avoid and pain I cannot heal. I have heard it said that all adoption involves loss. Examples might include loss associated with infertility, loss of bonding during pregnancy, loss of birthparent relationships, loss of biological history, loss of culture, etc. The choice to adopt may bring these realities into your life, and they are worth exploration. However, if we believe God’s love is motivating adoption, we can be assured that He has a plan to work in the hard stuff—a plan not to harm but for hope and a future.

Read up on the experiences of those touched by adoption—birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children. You may be surprised to find that adoption is not always met with unconditional support. There are people who will challenge your motivations. Adoption may make some people uncomfortable-- even angry. You’ll face insensitive comments and invasive questions more often that you may think. You’ll need to consider the adoption experience as a part of your child’s developing identity on a daily basis.

While feeling compassion for children and wanting to share love is a wonderful thing, some would say that’s not a good enough reason to adopt. Be sure to take a thoughtful look at what you are considering. Listen to various opinions to balance your assumptions. In the end, this kind of preparation will only make your family stronger!

So, the question I came to ask is, "Do I have a true desire to love, raise and parent a child through the good and the bad and everything in between?"